We are continuing this morning in our REFOCUS series.
What we’re trying to accomplish in this series is moving our focus off ourselves…and onto what’s really important.
If you weren’t here last week, or you weren’t able to listen online, we talked about how important it is to refocus on God and move your focus off of yourself
And as we continue, you’re going to see that every message in this series ends with “not me.”
Because when we place focus on ourselves, we get distracted from our true purpose and our true mission.
Today, my hope is that we see that by placing the focus on ourselves we’ve become numb and unaware to so many hurts all around us.
Let me show you an example of this in the Bible in Luke chapter 5
(Luke 5:17-20) – NIV
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
After Jesus debates with the Pharisees (some of the Jewish religious leaders) for a while, he also heals the man…who gets up and walks.
WE ARE THE PEOPLE IN THE CROWD
We read stories so much…particularly as children…that we learn to subconsciously identify with one of the people in the story.
Often the main character.
Typically, we place ourselves in the role of the hero.
And so one might ask…who are we in this story?
Who do you identify yourself with?
Jesus??! Probably not.
The friends? The paralytic? Maybe.
Unfortunately, most of us are the people in the crowd…who’ve already crowded in the house to hear another great sermon from Jesus and perhaps be touched by him or see another miracle!
And what happens for most Christians over time is they become “the people in the crowded house.”
Their sole focus is on receiving yet ANOTHER word from Jesus…some more instruction…some more comfort.
And we get so focused on ourselves that we forget there’s a whole world of people out there that simply DO NOT know Jesus Christ…and that it’s our job to tell them.
We’ve become so overly (and perhaps irrationally) focused on ourselves…that we’ve become like a medic who runs from the battlefield of fallen and wounded soldiers…
A medic who has become more concerned about their own safety…a medic whose forgotten their original purpose.
And in some ways…by not even thinking about others…we’re even in their way!
I mean think about the 4 friends who are carrying their paralyzed friend to Jesus...
Why did they have to go up on the roof?
I remember the first time I read this story to my kids.
My 3-year-old son, Jeremiah, looked at me and said, “They tore a hole in the roof?!? They tore a hole in the roof?!? WHY??!”
You don’t think they asked first to walk in the front door?
Of course they did!
You don’t think they said, “Hey, could we squeeze through here…our friend really needs to get to Jesus?”
Of course they did!
The problem was people were so focused on themselves (and what THEY needed from Jesus) that they didn’t let them through!
I read an article not too long about people who’ve climbed Mount Everest.
No one actually climbed to the peak until Sir Edmund Hillary did in 1953.
Yet, since then, more than 2,700 people have reached the summit...many paying over $60,000 for the experience.
But there has been a shift in the type of people who are now climbing Everest.
It’s no longer just life-long climbers who understand the moral codes of working together and leaving no man behind.
But now the list of climbers is full of thrill seekers who are seeking their own “bucket list adventure”
And it’s had some dire consequences.
In fact, in 2006, 34-year old David Sharp managed to reach the top…but ran out of oxygen shortly after he began his descent back down.
But as he lay dying, 40 different climbers passed him by (that’s right, 40) without seeing if he was okay.
Everyone was too eager to achieve their own goals.
Too FOCUSED on their own desires to even realize that someone may need their help and too focused on their own needs to risk sharing some precious oxygen.
And shortly thereafter, David Sharp died on Mount Everest.
Now, of course, we hear that…and again…we identify ourselves with a hero in the story.
And we say, “But if I were climbing Mount Everest…I would never do such a thing!”
And yet…can we really be so sure?
Because in many ways, the way we live out our Christian faith is almost worse than leaving a stranded climber to die on Mt Everest.
We come in here…jam into church every week…profiting from hearing another teaching about God…all while so many of our friends and neighbors lay paralyzed outside.
And paralyzed is an accurate description.
They don’t know Jesus.
Many of them don’t even know that they NEED to know Jesus…and on their own…they aren’t going to walk towards him.
They need someone to lead them to Jesus.
Otherwise…what they face…is not just a physical death like those left on Mount Everest…but a spiritual death.
An eternity…that’s forever…separated from God in hell…where sin reigns forever.
How is it even possible that we live like this?
Flocking into church…singing songs of joy…while the people around us descend unknowingly on escalators that lead towards hell?
All while we know where they’re going…yet say nothing.
And listen…I know that sounds really strong…maybe even intense.
But part of the reason we don’t do much about this here in America…is most Christians have stopped using language like this.
It’s too scary to think about…so we just sort of numb it out…
And our numbing pain medication is to just focus on “me”…on ourselves…so much so that we forget about everyone else.
This is not a new thing.
Churches have been doing this for 2,000 years.
It’s how they die actually.
They forget that their main purpose and main mission is to “go therefore and make disciples”
It’s to go and reach the lost and help them become followers of Jesus.
WE NEED A CHANGE OF HEART
But even if it’s really hard…we need to REFOCUS.
To remember the only reason we have a relationship with Jesus is become somebody once carried US to Jesus!
Whether it was a parent, family member, or even stranger
I know many of you are new to this church in the past year, but this has been the heart of this church since we began 6.5 years ago.
It’s been our vision from the very beginning: “To be a people being changed by God to change the world”
We’re not being changed for our own sake.
We’re living to Glorify God and praying that He would renovate us in such a way that people would see God in us.
And ultimately that we could lead people to Him.
That’s the heart of God’s followers in the Bible.
When Jesus changes their life, their focus is always on other people…not just themselves.
Let me give you a few examples of this:
In John chapter 4, when the woman at the well meets Jesus and believes in Him, we’re told that this happens:
(John 4:28-30) – NIV
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Later, we also get this summary as well:
(John 4:39-42) – NIV
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Or, In John chapter 1, when “Philipp the Disciple” meets Jesus, the first thing he does is tell his brother to come and see Jesus too.
This is an obvious thing to many of us when we start out…
We’ve just heard the greatest news of our lives!
We don’t have to suffer for all of our sins…we can be forgiven! We can have a relationship with Jesus.
And the first thought of many new Christians is this: “I’ve got to tell people this good news!”
And so why is it not the first thought for those of us that have been walking with Him for years??
Because…the gravity of our sinful hearts always pull our necks back into our chests and directs our focus back to ourselves.
And so we need reawaken ourselves with God’s heart.
You want to know what God’s heart is?
What does Jesus do when they break through the roof?
Does he say, “Hey, sorry, you’ll need to wait in line…I’m already ministering to the sheep I already have.”
His heart is for the lost sheep.
(Luke 15:1-7) – NIV
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Pastor and author Andy Stanley puts it this way:
Say you have 4 credit cards, but you lose one of them.
Wouldn’t you leave the 3 behind and go looking for the lost one?!
Here’s what you wouldn’t do:
You wouldn’t call your friend and say, “Hey, friend…I’ve lost my Visa card. However, I still have my American Express…so come over…let’s celebrate with a party…and maybe buy somethings with that American Express I still have on Amazon to celebrate!”
You feel urgency about the things you truly care about…especially if they’re missing!
And you’re not satisfied until they’re found!
And that’s how God feels about the people all around us…even right here in Blaine.
In Coon Rapids. In Andover. All over Anoka County.
He’s not going to be satisfied until they’re found!
And He wants to use us to help find them!
He wants you…yes YOU…to REFOCUS your life.
In fact, he wants you to become someone else in the story.
To no longer just be the religious people crowding around Jesus in the house.
But he wants to use you…to be like one of the 4 friends…going out to get their friend…to lead them to Jesus!
Do you believe that?
Let me tell you what God’s been teaching me about people lately.
I think so many people are really ready to hear the Gospel…the Good news about Jesus and salvation.
We just need to get behind their walls.
When we were in Rwanda…we would do everything we can to get the Good News of Jesus right to where people were at.
We held huge outreaches…outside…right in their own neighborhoods.
But the best technique we used to get to right to people who need to hear the Gospel is what we call truck preaching.
Something that we could never get away with in the U.S….
And what they do…is a few of our team members will get in a truck with really loud speakers, and they’ll blast fun, loud Christian music.
They’ll then drive us into a crowded area like a market.
Or one time, they drove us right into a street that basically just consisted of 4 bars.
And as they parked the truck and the music played, everyone came walking down the street to see what was happening
And people came walking out of the 4 bars…some with their beers right in their hand.
And I stood up on the back of the truck…and for 15 minutes…told them Gospel…the Good News about Jesus.
That we all sin…all of us.
And for our sin, we deserve punishment…for God is just.
But God is also love…so He sent his son Jesus to die in our place.
And if we believe in that…God will take the punishment off of us and onto Jesus and we can be forgiven!
And have a relationship with Jesus
And go to heaven.
THAT’S THE GOSPEL!
And as I spoke to people from the truck…I wish I could show you footage of their faces.
They always start with a look of peculiarity…like “what are you doing here…strange person from America?!”
And then their faces turn serious.
And then…about 10 minutes in…there are 200 sets of eyes just locked in on the message
And when I finished speaking in front of those bars for instance, 45 people came forward and gave their lives to Christ.
And we saw this over and over again.
And here’s what God’s been teaching me about this.
The GOSPEL… is GOOD news.
And people (no matter who they are)…when they hear it…so many are ready to respond…and will respond!
In Rwanda…we would go everywhere…even into public schools and share about Jesus.
We went to this school of 1,000 students where we were told that the principal was not a believer in Christ…but after Tricia Carlson from our church shared a powerful testimony and I shared with them about Jesus and the Gospel.
The principal just thanked us profusely for sharing such an amazing message! And insisted that we must come back and teach them more about this!
It’s GOOD news!
But in our culture… The challenge is…that people have built up so many walls to prevent themselves from hearing the Gospel
Our culture has unspoken rules like, “Don’t talk to people about politics and religion” and “don’t share your faith at work unless you want HR to get involved” and on and on.
And so because of this…there are now so many people in America…that have never truly heard the Gospel.
And right here in Anoka County…behind their suburban picket fences…many people are hurting.
They’re longing for some Good News.
Maybe their marriage is falling apart…or maybe they just feel an emptiness from trying everything the world has to offer.
And they’re just waiting for some Good News.
They’re only hiding from it…they’ve only built up their walls…because many of them think that it’s bad news!
They think Christianity is going to condemn them and tell them to just live better lives!
That’s what they’re protecting themselves from.
But what if they could hear the truth?!
That God loves them anyway and wants to forgive them?!
We have that Good News!
We have it!
Will you tell them?
Will you pick them up and lead them to Jesus?
God wants to use you that way!
FAMILY FUN DAY
You know as I have been thinking about those people in Rwanda that day that stumbled out of the bar laughing…and then 15 minutes later gave their lives to Christ…
I think that principle is just as true here…if we can get behind people’s walls…so many are ready to respond to Jesus.
In fact, I believe God has showed this to us already in the past 12 months.
I think of even Easter 5 months ago:
We saw FORTY people (some of you are in this room today!) give their lives to Christ at Easter.
And yet, many of those people were just coming for an Egg Hunt…but when God got behind their walls, and they got to hear the GOOD News for the first time…they were ready to hear it!
They needed to hear it!
And so we try really hard as a church to provide opportunities for you to bring your friends to Jesus.
In fact, one of our principles for doing so comes right out of the next few verses of Luke 5.
Where Levi the tax collector becomes a follower of Jesus…and rather than inviting all of his friends to hear Jesus lecture or go to the synagogue…he throws a huge banquet for them to come and meet Jesus.
Because who is going to say “no” to a party?!
And so…like good missionaries in our own culture…we’ve tried to think and pray through how we can provide things for our community where people will feel both interested and safe in coming to a party where they might meet Jesus.
And for us, in the Fall, that is our event we are now calling Family Fun Day
(put up Family Fun day Slide)
We have done a version of this event the past two years, but we continue to grow it.
This year…we will giving out…FREE Cheese Curds, Mini Donuts, Kettle Corn, Shaved Ice, Roasted Corn, and Cotton Candy…all Free to everyone who comes.
We will also expanding our inflatables for kids…
We had three last year.
This year…we’re going to fill part of the field on the other side of the school with Nine J
We’re also going to leave the event open from after the first service (and there will be 3 services) until 3 in the afternoon…for people to hang out…enjoy…and hopefully rub shoulders with people like you…who know Jesus!
And so God wants to use you in this.
He wants to use you…to bring your friends to Jesus.
Because many of your friends are dying to hear some Good News.
I want every single person in this room to begin SERIOUSLY praying about who you are going to bring with you.
Everyone should shoot for a goal of 1-4 people. Pick a number. Pray about a number.
Next week we’ll hand you invite cards…if you have friends that don’t have kids…we have invites cards for them too that focus on just the cheese curds, etc.
We fully believe that God is going to do exponential things through you guys at this event.
We think we’re going to see a whole lot of people come to faith in Jesus.
We think we’re going to see a whole lot of people here.
IN fact, we think we’re going to see so many people here…and so many people sticking around…
that we’re adding parking all around at different lots.
We even have contacted the owner of the empty lot by the bank at the north end of the parking lot; we’re going to mow down his lot for him and park cars there that day.
God is going to move.
But I pray first that He moves in your heart.
That every single one of us decides that we aren’t going to be just a passive listener in a crowded house anymore.
But to show up on the 18th…with a friend…helping to lead someone to Jesus.
If you are a believer in Jesus…make it your goal that no matter what it takes, you won’t be just a member of the “crowd” on the 18th.
That you’re going to be on mission…REFOCUSED…carrying in a friend.
And if everyone you ask, can’t come…don’t give up.
It’s just one day...one seed.
I told the first person who asked me about Jesus that he had 10 seconds to get out of my house…and here I am today.
You gotta start somewhere.
And this is such an important moment for our church…we need every single one of you…not only leading people to Jesus…but being a part of it.
This will never work if we all just spectate on that day
In fact, we need over 60 extra volunteers to help just that day.
Serving at the inflatables, directing cars in the parking lots, and more!
In fact, get out your phone right now…and open up the Renovation App.
Tap on Connect. And Volunteer at Family Fun Day.
Bring your friend and serve afterwards. Do both.
Listen, this is who we are at Renovation.
We are the anti-spectator church.
We are the anti-cruise ship church.
We’re the type of people that pick up oars…
And you know what God uses that.
When we stop focusing on ourselves…and His mission…God uses that.
There is nothing more exciting than carrying a friend to Jesus…and seeing Jesus move in their life.
It beats spectating any day!
Let God use you!
This morning, as I close my message, are going to take communion together.
We’ve talked a lot to day about the Gospel…and communion is one of the best ways for us to really, physically understand it.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do. But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. To only do it if we truly believe it. And if you’re still just seeking, that’s ok. You’re on a journey. 2) Communion is an opportunity for believers to examine themselves (ask yourself some tough questions)
And so this is an opportunity for us to remember that Jesus came and scarified himself…for us
But not just for us…for the world.
And so before you go back today…I want you to pray a prayer for me.
Is there someone that God’s putting on your heart for you to carry to Jesus?
And I want you to pray…that the next time we take communion as a church…that they would be there sitting next to you.
In the back, there are 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
Sometime to remember what He’s done and what He will do
And when you’re ready, at any time during the next few songs (if you need to wait, wait), you can go back and take communion.
If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so. With each other, by yourself, or our prayer team will be in the back to pray for you as well (POINT THEM OUT)
We really just want you to encounter God during our service.
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.