HOUSE GROUPS INTRO
(House Groups slide)
Morning everybody. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here
Before we get into our message for this morning, I too want to talk for just for a minute or two about House Groups.
House Groups are at the core of who we are at Renovation Church.
They are perhaps the most unique thing about us.
Not only that the format of House Groups is really unique, but that 80% of our adults are in a Group. 80%
One of our Core Values as a church is that “We know our faith thrives in community but struggles without it.”
And this is so true.
And I think it’s why I talk to so many people who are new within the last year, that just rave to me about the House Group they joined.
I feel like half the Renovation Rundown meetings I lead (which is our meetings for newcomers), someone interrupts my section about House Groups, and they say, “Hey! Just so you all know, we started a House Group a month ago already, and they’re amazing!”
But what’s happening there?
What’s happening is that God made you (and your faith) to thrive when you’re with other people.
This is a truth confirmed by both Christian and secular psychologists and sociologists.
They will all tell you that one of THE main reasons that anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues are skyrocketing…
…is because we are…lonely.
We wake up, we go to work (or many of you don’t even do that…you work from home)…
And at night, you stare at a phone or device…and no one knows what’s happening in here (point to heart)
And it’s lonely
But God has laid out a plan for how you thrive, and a key part of that, is to be around other people who can help you grow spiritually!
SO take a leap!
If you haven’t already, seriously, grab that card on your chair, or use the app in your phone and sign up.
You will NOT regret it!
(Worthy Series Slide)
All right, this morning, we are starting a new 4-week series called “Worthy.”
And we are going to teach through John chapter 5 in the Bible.
Go ahead and grab a Bible
John chapter 5 is a fantastic chapter with a number of stories and teachings that you don’t find in other Gospels about Jesus: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
And we’re going to find Jesus in an interesting place.
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
(Worthy Series Slide)
Couple quick notes here.
Firstly, notice that our story takes place today at a pool called Bethesda.
Fascinatingly enough, many people, for centuries, used to think this story about Bethesda was proof that the Bible wasn’t true.
Because no one could find any such pool around the former temple grounds at Jerusalem.
Guess what German archeologist Conrad Schick dug up in 1888 next to the sheep gate?
The pool of Bethesda…along with the five colonnades...exactly like the Bible describes!
Secondly, look very closely at your Bibles at verse 4.
And you’ll see that in most Bibles, there is a number 4, and then no verse 4…just a letter.
In our church Bibles here, it’s a letter b…a footnote.
So look down to the footnotes at the bottom of the Bible, and let’s read it.
It says, “Some manuscripts include here, wholly or in part, paralyzed ---and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down ad stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.”
Okay, what’s happening here?
Well, the reason we know what the Bible says in the first place is because all of our ancient manuscripts say basically the same thing.
However, there are a few rare occurrences in the Bible (and this is one of them), where it appears that a copyist, at a later date, added a note to explain something…
So what they’re saying in that footnote is that most of their earliest manuscripts of the Bible don’t have verse 4
However, in this particular case, verse 4 is still probably true anyway, because the same situation is explained in the next section.
Let’s keep reading and you’ll see what I mean:
(John 5:5-9a) – NIV
5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
(“Who will help me” title Slide)
And so we see here (especially in verse 7) that the same point and story that we read in our footnote is reinforced.
Apparently, an angel would come and stir up the water of the pool of Bethesda, and the first person in would get healed.
It sounds odd, but the Lord heals in all sorts of unique ways in the Bible.
People get healed by an apron Paul touched, Moses holds up a bronze snake, Naaman dips in the river 7 times.
There is no clear-cut formula to God’s healing.
This man has been an invalid…barely able to move…for 38 years.
And somehow, he has found his way to the miraculous pool of Bethesda, but there he sits.
And I gotta tell you, verse 7 just messed with me all week.
Take a look at it.
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me.”
“I have no one to help me”
He wants to get healed.
He wants to know God and His power
He’s looking around, saying, “Who will help me?”
It’s just every man for himself.
“Who will help me?”
And how many people are there like this man all over our city?
Men and women who are looking for answers, for help…but no one will help them.
In a middle-class suburb like this, they may not be suffering in deep poverty like the man in John 5, but they are suffering from a spiritual poverty.
If you’ve seen the new Blaine City limits signs, you’ve noticed that there are now 70,000 people that live in this city alone.
How many of them are watching their marriages disintegrate in front of their eyes right now, and they don’t know where to turn?
And they’re thinking, “Who will help me? I don’t even know what to do?”
How many of your neighbors, drive by you each day, give a wave and a smile, only to have that smile disappear as soon as they drive by, and go into their homes, depressed, anxious, wondering what life is all about?
Who will help them?
As Romans 10 says in the Bible, “How can they believe in the one in whom they have not heard?”
Church this is our mission.
To follow Jesus and help others do the same.
And we will not rest until every person in our city has heard the gospel.
There are a lot of people all around us who are looking for help…looking for God….
But kind of like the man in our story, they don’t know what they’re really looking for.
That man just wanted help to get into the pool, not yet understanding that who He really needed was standing right beside Him.
And our mission is to help people realize that.
To realize just HOW WORTHY Jesus is.
You know, next Sunday is Family Fun Day for us.
(Family Fun Day slide)
It’s a HUGE outreach where we are going to share the Gospel with SO many people from our community.
After EACH service here, kids will get a wristband for the inflatables zone
And kids AND adults will each get too free food tickets for the food trucks.
So right after the service that you (and your friends) attend, you’ll head across 125th to Sunrise Elementary, and that’s where the inflatables and food trucks will be.
I know over half of you are knew since we were last able to do this event, so what you might not know is that next to Easter, this is our biggest outreach of the year.
It’s even bigger than Christmas.
And the pre-registration response so far this year has been jaw dropping.
First time visitors (who have to pre-register) have been doing so at a crazy rate.
So much so, that after doing the math this week, it became clear to our staff, that we are literally going to be out of room at Family Fun Day.
So we began to talk about adding a 5th service at 2:00pm to help make room for even more of your friends, family members, and neighbors to come hear about Jesus
But honestly (if I can just be vulnerable), we wrestled with it. I wrestled with it.
We already don’t have enough volunteers even for 4 services next week.
It’s a lot of work. It’s sacrifice.
I don’t know if I’ve ever preached 5 times in a row.
I know this will be really hard on our already tired staff and leaders.
And yet, it seems, every 30 minutes, another family registers…and they want to come.
And they want to see what’s happening here.
And many of them want to know about Jesus.
And others of them, want to know about Jesus, but they just don’t understand that they want to know about Jesus yet.
I think of Kelli Anderson from our church, whom many of you know.
If you don’t know Kellie, Kelli leads our amazing follow-up team.
Kelli got saved at our very first Family Fun Day years ago.
When she claimed, she was just coming for the food trucks.
And yet, deep down, she was looking for more.
And the Gospel got a hold of her that day
How many other Kelli’s are there in Blaine and beyond that God can do that with next Sunday?
And right now, those people are looking…
And they’re saying, “Who will help me?”
And so we’re going to add a 5th service at 2:00.
(“Who will help me” title Slide)
One of the reasons this is a leap of faith is because we need an incredible amount of people to pull this off.
In order to have space for all of the people that want to come, we need 53 more volunteers to serve out at the inflatables & food trucks at Sunrise Elementary, and we need 75 more people to serve here in our different ministries at the 2:00 service. (That’s ____ (128) total)
I don’t know how we’re going to do this.
I tell you to pray the impossible, so we’ve been praying the impossible
I just keep seeing new families signing up to come, and I just can’t turn them away at the door.
I don’t want them leaving saying, “Then who will help me?”
As I was praying and asking God for direction, I started thinking about the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10
And again, there is a man who is hurt, and in need of help.
And the first two people just walk by him on the other side of the road.
For one, they don’t want to get involved...
But also, they’re busy! They’ve got other things to do!
It’s the same problem in John 5.
No one helps the invalid because it’s every man for himself.
And we live that way, even as American Christians.
We say, “We love Jesus, but we’ve got our own stuff, and family to take care of, so people are just going to figure it out”
But I don’t want to live that way.
I don’t want to miss out on what God can do because I’ve got other things I could do…or because it’s hard.
So I ask you to serve with me, even if it’s hard.
Even if you are serving at 9:00, and would have to come back at 2:00
Even if you’re serving at 12:45, and would have to stay another hour.
Even if you’ve never signed up to serve with us before (and that’s many of you…a ton of you are new since June)
If that’s you, this is the time to pick up an oar.
People around us in this city are drowning, but right now they are swimming towards our boat, saying, “Will you help me?”
So if you’re new, what I’m saying is this: Don’t just come and WATCH people give their lives to Christ .
I want you to let God use you to be a part of people coming to Christ.
There are really 3 things I want you to do in preparation for this incredibly important day in our church’s year and life.
#1: Bring someone with you to hear about Jesus.
This is the most important.
If you have someone with you, don’t worry about serving or anything like that.
This trumps everything.
You sit next to them and pray your heart out.
Which leads me to #2:
We want you to pray.
(Show fall kickoff slide)
Our team has been preparing for this Sunday for months…it takes a TON of work…but now we need to pray
I want you to join us this week.
Pastor Josh and I will be leading prayer meetings this week at the church on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights at 6:30.
Children’s ministry is provided too.
We’d love for everyone to come to at least 1 of those!
And #3, is what we’ve been talking about.
Come here and serve that day.
I want you to get your feet wet serving and loving people.
And that’s how our passage finishes out
ARE WE JESUS OR THE PHARISEES?
(John 5:9b-15) – NIV
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
(“Who will help me” title Slide)
So the Jewish leaders, primarily the Pharisees (Jews who were very focused on rules and the law) here, see the man is healed and he’s carrying his mat.
However, it’s the sabbath, and Jews are supposed to rest on the sabbath.
Actually, the Pharisees had created complex list of what was considered “not resting”
And carrying a load outside your home was NOT RESTING!! 😊
And so they see this man who was looking for God (and just met Him!) carrying his mat with a smile he can’t wipe off his face…but all they see is sin.
And let me ask you what is a key underlying question of this passage: “When you see the people of your community that are just starting in their search for God…or they’re not living for God…what do you see?
When you see people heading down the wrong path with their family, or with their choices…how do you see them?
When you hear in the news about how the culture is changing so fast, and you learn about people whose values are so different than yours, how do you see those people?
Are you stuck in political mode, and you no longer see people who are hurting, but you see “liberals that disgust you” or “conservatives that are brainless”
How do you see other people? Particularly those that don’t know God?
Do you see people through the eyes of the Pharisees or the eyes of Jesus?
Because all the Pharisees see is a man who isn’t living like them.
But Jesus sees a man whom no one would help…and his heart went out to him
I mean, I was struck by this question studying this week: Why is Jesus even at the Pool of Bethesda?
He could have gone anywhere in Jerusalem on the sabbath.
He could have been relaxing with friends…in the temple
But he goes to the one place where all of the hurting people will be, and he serves them!
And this is the big picture, long-term takeaway I want you to get from this passage
The eyes through which you see non-Christians, will determine whether you are compelled in compassion towards them, or repelled in disgust away from them.
Sure, Jesus sees their sin.
But He looks deeper.
And deeper down, He sees many people who are saying, “Who will help me?”
Even if they don’t quite understand yet what that help actually looks like
And from a short-term perspective…we’ve got an opportunity to live this passage out 7 days from now.
To be a people that put God first…above our own schedules, preferences, and comforts.
Because He is worth it, and His mission is worth it.
I watched the movie “Thirteen Lives” this week. Anyone seen that?
It’s very good.
It’s the story of those 13 boys that were trapped in a cave for 18 days in Thailand.
And what struck me was how all of the local people were willing to do whatever it took to help get those boys out.
They couldn’t be the ones cave diving, but they wanted to be on the team to help.
And there was one scene in particular that really got me.
They needed to divert much of the excess water off of the mountain (so it didn’t flood down into the caves), but if they diverted that water, it would flood the local farmers’ fields…essentially ruining their entire crop.
And devastating their income.
And the local farmers as a group take a bit to think about it, and they come back, and the say, “For the boys, we’ll do it. Ruin our crop.”
They understood the stakes.
And church, we must be a people, that will say: “For our city, we’ll do it. We’ll do whatever it takes”
And if we live with that mentality, then absolutely we will see those who are trapped get rescued.
We will see those who feel powerless and paralyzed by life’s circumstances, come alive.
Our God can do that!
Our God does that!
He’s doing it in our midst already!
With so many people coming next week, and likely so many coming to Christ, I can almost guarantee you that there will be a husband and wife that will stand up together to accept Christ after the Gospel has been explained
And they will wipe the tears from their eyes…in shock of what God is doing in their hearts.
And in awe of His love for them that they never knew before.
And leaving that day, they’re going to get in the car with their kids, and one will say, “Mommy, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
And she’ll say, “I’m just so happy…Daddy and I just learned about how much Jesus loves us…and we want to tell you too.”
And so she will, and so will her husband.
And those kids will now grow up, not in a home torn apart like they were on the trajectory toward, but in a home of stability, and love, and forgiveness.
And in a home where they meet Jesus…and with a church family to support them as they grow.
And some day 80 years into the future, when that child is no longer a child, but a grandparent siting on a rocking chair telling the story of how their family’s history got turned around, and how now generations of their family have been followers of Jesus…
They will start that story, on September 18th, 2022 at Renovation Church.
That is what is going to happen next week.
And that’s why you need to be a part of it
Not just next week, but in loving lost people, and seeing them with his eyes…every day.
Let God use you!
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.