I have a couple questions for you. What is it that you dream about? How much passion do you experience in your daily life? Are you growing, learning new things and excited about it? How often do you take risks that require God’s power? Are you a part of something bigger than yourself?
I ask you these questions because last week Sam said that we can live bold and free.
18 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. 19 This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. 20 It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. 21 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! MSG I John 3:18-21
We can live bold and free. That means we have dreams. We have passion. We are growing and learning new things. We take risks. We are a part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s for everyone; bold and free. That’s available for everyone.
When Jesus started His ministry, He invited people to join Him.
16 As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon [Peter] and his brother Andrew, catching fish with a net. 17 Jesus said to them, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.” 18 At once they left their nets and went with him. GNT Mark 1:16-18
These men become known as disciples. They followed Jesus for three years. Their lives through the years were thrown upside down. Jesus walks on water. Jesus heals people. Jesus brings people back from the dead.
Jesus feeds thousands of people with a picnic basket of food. It’s like tailgating at a Penn State game. You have around ten burgers for you but everyone else forgot food so they come to your tailgate to eat. Everyone eats and has left over. The disciples witnessed that first hand.
Jesus had power over the weather and demons. Jesus broke the religious rules. People loved him and hated him. They saw it all. Jesus radically changed their lives.
In one story after a man named Zacchaeus was transformed, Jesus explained why He came to earth.
9 Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! …10 For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” MSG Luke 19:9-10
Please hear me, the greatest invitation you will ever have is to follow Christ and help find and restore the lost. That invitation, will radically change your life. Do you know why? Three quick reasons.
First, it will bring meaning and passion into your life. When you experience God’s grace to your core you are forever changed. That means, you know and have experienced God scrubbing your soul clean and God loves you for who you are. The Bible puts it like this:
3 I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down. 4 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. …Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. 7 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. MSG Psalms 51:3-7
When God’s grace has scrubbed you clean and you feel like there is nothing between you and God, you would do anything for others to feel that too. When you are in the process of praying for others and being friends with others in hopes to bring God’s grace to them, that brings meaning and passion to life.
Do you know what brings meaning to life? When you are solving a problem or investing into someone’s life. Do you know why people are looking for meaning and can never find it? They have made the choice to not get involved. They aren’t solving problems, they exist, they aren’t investing into others, they exist. They are building their small world and all along looking for meaning.
When Jesus comes to you and says, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people” it’s an invitation that will radically change your life. Jesus is inviting you to solve a problem or invest into people. You will have meaning.
Secondly, that invitation will pull you out of your little world into something huge. It pulls us all out of our little, petty, self-focused, I’m a victim, I’m hurt day to day existence into what God is doing. When we live in our little world, we try to control everything around us and we are miserable. When we are pulled into what God is doing, we give up control and follow God into an adventure. When we live in our little story, we are torn up with fear, doubt and worry. When we are pulled into God’s bigger story, we see opportunities to share about God’s grace. Scripture says this:
15 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” 16 God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. MSG Romans 8:15-16
Do you want to know why people are so miserable in our culture? They are focused on themselves. We are richest and healthiest and most miserable people on this planet. I can prove it. What you are focused on this Christmas? What presents you can get or how you can serve the families of New Hope who won’t have presents unless you get involved? Listen, being self-focused is defeating and a dead end. You will always conclude you are falling behind. You will always conclude you have it worse. You will always conclude that no one likes you. Self-focus is a dead end.
When Jesus comes to you and says, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people” it’s an invitation that will radically change your life. It will help you to stop focusing on yourself and be a part of what God is doing.
Third, this invitation will be hard. You will take a risk and put yourself in a spot where you will need the power of God. You will be on a mission that will demand that God give you ideas, strength, peace and courage. Not only will it be hard, you might fail. Yes. That’s life. That’s where passion is. We don’t run from hard times or possible failure. We walk through it face first with God. It’s called character, being resilient, perseverance. So wherever you are, whatever age you are, be amazing where you are. Face and overcome every hard thing that comes against you. To do less is missing what God is up to.
Everything that God has asked me to be a part of has come with really hard times. Years ago we started Youth Impact Project. We started it with another person, a Christian, allowing us to use his name and website. We had great success year one. He visited me privately after the event and said, to keep using my name that is copy righted you need to sign this document and give me thousands of dollars a year. I told him no; all the money we raise will be for the kids in poverty. That started months of arguments and attorneys. It cost me dearly. Lots of emotion and wasted time. That was hard, very hard. I wanted to quit. All I wanted was to unify the local church and community to help families in poverty and I had to deal with attorneys. Then I heard that someone said that I don’t do the little things anymore, all I wanted was to do big things. I thought… really!?!
We started MRC and couple years into it, we had to move to Saturday night and our attendance dropped. I was immature and was devastated. I felt like a loser and wanted to quit. We rebounded out of that and had people close to us leave in a hurtful way. I invested into them and their kids played with my kids. It hurt. I wanted to quit. All I wanted was to help find and restore the lost and now my family is hurting. I could go on and on about moments when I wanted to quit. Then I bump into people who think a Pastor’s life is so easy and I couldn’t be more offended. We absorb so much to protect people.
When Jesus comes to you and says, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people” it’s an invitation that will radically change your life. Everything God leads you to will have challenges and it’s the best thing you could experience. You will discover more about yourself and God. In Youth Impact Project and MRC, I can honestly tell you, it has crushed every idea I had about success and made me absolutely aware of my dependence on God. Without that pain, I probably wouldn’t be dependent on God.
Please hear me, the greatest invitation you will ever have is to follow Christ and help find and restore the lost. That invitation, will radically change your life.
I have a couple questions for you. What is it that you dream about? How much passion do you experience in your daily life? Are you growing, learning new things and excited about it? How often do you take risks that require God’s power? Are you a part of something bigger than yourself? Chances are, maybe, if you don’t have dreams, no passion, not growing, not risking, doing the least possible, it might mean, maybe, you haven’t accepted the invitation to follow Christ and help find and restore the lost. You might be trying to build your kingdom. Scripture calls this taking other paths.
18 There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. 19 But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
20 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. MSG Philippians 3:18-21
The greatest invitation you will ever have is to follow Christ and help find and restore the lost. That invitation, will radically change your life. It will bring you meaning and passion. It will pull you out of your little world into something huge. And, it will be hard, you will need to walk with God.
How do we follow Christ and help find and restore the lost? You live on purpose.
Love God. We just spent ten weeks on this in the Emotionally Healthy Series. If I wrapped it up into one sentence, it would be: how to walk in the presence of God.
Love Others. The proof of how close you are to God comes out in your capacity to love others. Our challenge to you would be to, on purpose, build a relationship with people who need Christ. You’re your neighbor, someone you work with, your kids friend’s parents and serve them. Want to have a small group? Be a volunteer coach, you will have immediate access to people who need Christ. Want to make a difference in our community? Volunteer at New Hope and you will have immediate access to people who need Christ.
Love Growing. That means do things that stretch your faith. That means read books, volunteer, lead. Do something that makes you grow. If you don’t your soul dies in routines and boredom.
Love Giving. Yes, give money. It impacts how you view life. Scripture says when we don’t give, our soul is like a dark room. But when we give, it’s like the windows open up and God pours in. Giving impacts your relationship with Christ. Giving back the first ten percent is announcing to God, I life in faith and you are the foundation of my life. It can completely transform the local church. If there is money, things can happen. If there is a struggle for money, things simply can’t happen.
Love Serving. Volunteer. Someday you will be before God and He will want to know what you did with the talents He gave you. What are you going to say? You built your kingdom or you built His kingdom.
I want to close with three huge mistakes Christians make. Mistake 1: I go to church but believe I am not worthy to get involved. This person attends church, hears lots of great information but doesn’t apply it into their lives. If you believe that you are not worthy, you don’t fully understand God’s grace. It has nothing to do with what you bring to God, it’s about what God brings to you.
It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. MSG Romans 12:3
So don’t hear Jesus’ invitation and conclude that you are not worthy or not educated enough or have sinned too much. Stop it.
Mistake 2: There is something missing so I need to search for it. People who believe this go from church to church looking for the perfect something. Here are a few. More and deeper bible study or teaching. Perfect community. Heavy focus on spiritual warfare. Heavy focus on aggressive worship, evangelism. Serving the poor, the prophetic, the legalism of following the rules to be holy. All of these things are important and play a role but notice what people aren’t doing; helping find and restore the lost. This breaks my heart.
Mistake 3: I go to church but check out. You can do this but it will cost you dearly. You will exist but live in a state of frustration. You can wake up, go to work, come home, eat, take out the trash, do the least possible and someday die. That’s not why Jesus came. He came to give you life to the full not a life of ruts and routines that bore the life out of you.
The greatest invitation you will ever have is to follow Christ and help find and restore the lost. That invitation, will radically change your life.
Where do you start? Do you remember the day that you first experienced God’s grace? That day someone put their hand on your shoulder and prayed for you and you felt God’s presence. That day you first realized all that junk of your past was washed away and God was there to pour out his love on you. That day when you felt like you couldn’t go one and God showed up and you just bawled. That day you physically and emotionally experienced freedom and love from God?
Jesus now wants you help others experience what you experienced.