Posted on 29 Jul 2018

Excerpts from August 12 message: Love…Jesus

Matthew 4: 19 (NLT)

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

When I say why…you say Jesus!

 In 1929 (89 years ago) a group of people started a Church of God church here in Evansville by meeting in homes? Why? They then decided to move into a barbershop and worship. Why? To get a shave, haircut and the Word…I don’t think so. Then they moved to Elliot Street in 1938 worshipping in a 45 X 45 tabernacle with a pot belly stove and sawdust floors. Why? They built a new building in 1948. Why? They chose to move to the west side and worship and serve with another group of Church of God folks in 1994. Why? Then in 1997 folks began work on this building which was completed in 1999. Lots of work and resources went into this building. Why? Why all the effort? Why all the commitment? Why all the faith?

One Word: Jesus!

Following his resurrection, before his ascension to heaven and before the sending of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave these words to his followers…his disciples:

Matthew 28: 18-20 (on screen)…

Jesus’ mission for the church was simply this: go make more disciples (on Screen).

Go grow my kingdom by seeking those who do not have a relationship with me like you do. Teach them what it means to follow me. Then empower them to go as well.

What Jesus didn’t tell them was how to go about doing that, at least not exactly. Above everything else he told them to love God and to love people. And we know somewhat what the early church looked like from Luke’s writing in Acts and through Paul’s letters to the various church’s he helped to plant.

But Jesus didn’t tell his followers what style of music to play, what shape of building to to call home, what color of carpet to put in the foyer and so forth. He left those things up to us. That is why every church has the same mission: Matthew 28: 18-20, but not the exact same vision.

Introduction: Defining Mission and Vision…

You see: Vision is the way you carry out the mission (on screen)

 More than a year ago, I truly believed God spoke to my heart about the vision of his church here at MPC. I believe his message was that we needed to reboot. We needed to consider once again, who we are and how we can (as God has put us together) carry out the mission God has given us. We needed to understand our Why once again. Why did this church begin here in Evansville 89 years ago? It was about Jesus. To make disciples. And not just to make them but to grow them and multiply the church through  discipleship.

Through a special committee, a town hall meeting and lots of prayer and discussion, two themes emerged:

  • Jesus is the subject. This happens to be the vision of the Church of God movement, but it also kept coming back to our discussion that we must make Jesus the focus of everything we do.
  • Discipleship. We need to consider again what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We need to understand that as individuals and as a church. And we need to have a process by which we can grow in our faith to the point we can help others know Jesus personally and then help them to grow in their faith so that they can help others do the same.

 So with those themes in mind, your vision committee adopted the following vision statement for MPC: Love, Learn and Live…Jesus.

 Our Scriptural foundation for this vision is found in Matthew 4: 19 (NLT) – on screen.

Jesus called out to them, Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

 This passage led me back to the why question. Why in the world would 12 men leave the lives they had always known for this man called Jesus.

 Why did the Disciples follow Jesus?

Although their initial decision to follow Him might have been self-serving…”Jesus which one of us is going to sit at  your right hand…”

…they were compelled to by his love, message and mission! And the transformation He brought to their lives!

With some understanding of why the disciples said yes to Jesus’ invitation, I want us to consider the first part of our vision statement which is Love…Jesus. How do we show our love for Jesus?

Here’s what some of your fellow members had to say to that question:

  • I love Jesus by welcoming his desire to shape my life with love, and I try to follow his commands from the Bible. (Andy Scheller)
  • To know Him personally and able to communicate to Him thru prayers. (Dixie)

 If I focus on my love for Jesus, I am more likely to say and do the right things. (Carol Meese)

  • Spend time getting to know him and doing things with him. (Prayer, Bible study, serving others). (Susan)
·         To love Jesus means living right with God and love others as you would like others to love you. (Janet Roe)
·         I give Him my heart as worthless as I am and tell other’s about His love for them. (Janet Roe)
·         Bill Foucault:  Thank you Jesus for dying for me. Wow!  Brenda Foucault:  Number one in my life.
  • To love Jesus is to first know Him and trust Him and then live in obedience to His will.  Like any relationship, as the trust grows so grows the love. (Jim Stephens)
  • “Jesus Knows Me This I Love.” Church Sign (Nancy Bolin)

We Love Jesus By: 

  • Accepting His invitation (Matthew 4: 20; Luke 5: 10b)

We first show our love to Jesus by accepting his invitation to follow him. We simply say yes when he says come follow me. You must believe that He came to die for your sins and accept his gift of salvation. It is a genuine, sincere acceptance of His gracious love to you. Jesus…I understand that you love me and have given me an invitation to heaven by trusting in you and your work on the cross. I accept your invitation and choose to join you in your mission to save this world.

But it’s not like accepting an invitation to a birthday party or wedding. I believe it’s a choice to follow Jesus’ invitation every day. We wake up in the morning with the mindset that we are going to follow Jesus again and again and again.

We also show our love for Jesus by:

  • Obeying His Teaching (John 14: 15, 21, 23-24; 15: 9-11)

Let’s look at these texts together (on Screen):

John 14: 15, 21, 23-24…

John 15: 9-11…

What are these Scriptures saying? We show our love by doing what He asks us to do. We say we love Him but are we willing to do the things he asks us to do?

In His book, A Redeemed People, Dr. Gilbert Stafford says this:

People love the idea of Jesus as Savior. But the idea of Jesus as Lord of their lives is a different thing. To love Jesus is to make Him Lord of our life. The leader of our life. The #1 priority…the one to whom we turnover our will.

But what about temptation? What about that old sin nature that wants to raise its ugly head and tempt us to not be obedient?

A Christian blogger I read quite often wrote this recently:

Several years ago, I attended a clergy workshop on the dangers of pornography. One of my colleagues made an observation I have not forgotten: we must love Jesus more than we love sin.

It is one thing to love Jesus but another to be in love with him. So, ask the Spirit to help you be more in love with your Savior today.

And remember all that Jesus has done for you. Charles Spurgeon: “If we know but little of the excellencies of Jesus, what He has done for us, and what He is doing now, we cannot love Him much; but the more we know Him, the more we shall love Him.”

Would Jesus say you’re in love with him today?

This brings us to the third way that I want to share about how we show our love for Jesus…

  • Making Him #1 in our lives (John 21: 1-6; Matthew 10: 37-39)

SEVEN of Jesus’ disciples had just spent the entire night fishing in the Sea of Galilee but had not caught anything. From the beach, the resurrected Jesus observed the group.

John 21: 1-6 (on Screen)…

2 After serving them breakfast, Jesus turned to Simon Peter and said: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” To what was Jesus referring? Peter was quite attached to fishing (I can relate to Peter on this). So it seems that Jesus was asking him where his true affection lay. Did he have greater affection for the fish and the fishing business than for Jesus and the things that he taught? In answer, Peter said: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” (John 21:15) Peter certainly lived up to his word. From that point forward, he proved his love for Christ by busying himself in the disciple-making work, becoming a pillar in the first-century Christian congregation.

3 What can we learn from the words that Jesus spoke to Peter? We need to be careful not to allow our love for Christ to weaken and let ourselves be distracted from Kingdom interests. Jesus was keenly aware of the pressures associated with the anxieties of this system of things. In his illustration of the sower, Jesus said that some would accept “the word of the Kingdom” and make initial progress but that “the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of riches” would “choke the word.” (Matt. 13:19-22; Mark 4:19) Indeed, if we are not careful, the everyday concerns of life could entice our heart and cause us to slow down spiritually. Thus, Jesus warned his disciples: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life.”—Luke 21:34.

4 Just as Peter did after his experience with the resurrected Jesus, we prove the depth of our love for Christ by putting the work he has given us to do in first place. How can we make sure that we continue to do so? From time to time, we need to ask ourselves: ‘Where does my true affection lie? Does most of my joy come from engaging in mundane activities or in spiritual activities?’

Our vision is to LOVE, Learn and Live…Jesus!

 As a church, our vision is going to focusing on loving Jesus…practicing our love so that we can fulfill the mission of the church…make more disciples!