Are you growing weary of the war yet? “What war?” you ask... The one our enemy, the devil, has drawn you into. The war you have come to believe is holy because it protects the unborn... or offers justice to the oppressed... or protects your personal & religious freedom... or offers help... or keeps your taxes low. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the war you see raging every time you pick up your phone or turn on the TV; the one that pits the left and right against one another, makes black and white and “different” enemies and forces the rich and poor to work against one another. It the one that gets hotter during election years but never really ends. And during a global pandemic its the war that forces you to choose between money & safety. Are you weary of it yet?
Christian friend, this war is not ours. Earth bound battles have always raged and will continue on... The version we’re experiencing right now is especially hot. But you need to know, this war is not ours. I know it feels like it is because there are issues being debated and fought over that Christians on both sides of the political divide value. And there are even injustices and truths that believers aught to stand for in the public square. But still, what is happening around us... its not our war. What is going on out there is not Christian or a part of the work of God’s Kingdom. As a matter of fact.. our enemy the devil is using the war around us is to distract us from what matters most.
We are a part of a different Kingdom and God has called us into something that is far more significant than any battle that we see being waged on our little screens.
I want to invite you to consider something for a few minutes. Consider the world Jesus sent the 72 followers and disciples into back in Luke 10. The text says:
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
Politics and social issues were on fire in that day. God’s people were under the oppressive rule of Rome. People were being killed and imprisoned left and right. Nobody was focused on JESUS. They were focused on political issues and injustices. And Christ said, I’m coming.. Go ahead of me. When you go.. you’ll be like lambs in the midst of wolves.
Yeah. That’s exactly how I feel about living in the world today. And what instructions did Jesus give?
—Don’t take a bunch of stuff with you to rely on.. rely on me.
—Look for people who seek or live for peace.
—Build into those people. Eat what they provide. Don’t go house to house, person to person.
—Tell them that “The Kingdom of God has come to say with them.”
—If nobody is picking up what you are laying down.. move on!
This is our mission... our war if you will. To go into the world proclaiming the kingdom of Christ and making disciples. So we must ask ourselves.. will we continue to fight earth bound battles or join Jesus in his kingdom mission?
We can only do one of two things in relationship to earth bound battles: double down or take a step back. I want to invite you to take a step back! “But evil might prevail!” Calm down, calm down. No matter what you feel right now the world is not coming to an end. It will one day... but not today. Every nation tribe & tongue must be accounted for first.. and we’re not close.
So why step back? Not because you need rest so you can then reengage. Rather so that you can take the time to seek the Lord, grow to see more clearly and to repent. I’ll say it again, the war that is ongoing is not our war. And the aim of the war is not our aim. It’s a bunch of earth bound skirmishes that are distracting you, Christian friend, from what actually matters.
That is not to say that there are not important matters being discussed in the world, things that Christians should care about. But THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN OUR NATION is the pandemic or racial injustices or the election. Instead the BIG problem lies within the doors of the Church. In human hearts that claim Christ as king. We wear him like a hat rather than worship him as the Christ.
Friend, THERE IS ANOTHER WAY! It’s the way of God’s Kingdom, the way of Jesus.
In order to grow and make a greater kingdom impact we need offices for staff, dedicated quality space for children and youth, rooms for Sunday morning small groups and space to expand community ministries. Right now we have a small worship center, no offices, no dedicated community ministry space, no dedicated small group space and lower quality kids space than any of us would like.
Lately our church has been really growing! We've had new visitors in worship every week since August 1st, most weeks we've had new faces in small groups too!
Because of the growth of Metairie Church urgency for expanded space is growing. We're not busting at the seams just yet... but I believe we will be before long! So please, join me and our pastors and leaders in praying that God would provide a more permanent place for us to gather.
What gift do you long for above all else? I hope it is to see the Glory of the Lord. This is the gift Isaiah longed to receive. Consider his cry before the Lord during a particularly difficult season in the history of God's people. He prayed in Isa 64:1-4...
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence--
as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil--to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
I've been there. Have you every called out to God asking to see his glory like Isaiah did? "God, please come quickly. Set the world on fire! Make your name known among your enemies and the nations! ..like you've done before! I'll wait, trusting you will come. I want to see your glory!!"
Well, what if God has already answered our cry?
Fast forward almost 800 years after the life of Isaiah.. in 1 Corinthians 2 the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 64:4 in reference to the Messiah's arrival. Paul implies here that Isaiah's cry was heard and answered. But not only in the coming of Jesus but also in the unleashing of the Spirit of God in the world through his new covenant, Spirit filled people. Christians believe that the Glory of the Lord came down when Jesus arrived.. but that's not the end of the story! Jesus came to make a way for the whole world to see the Glory of God. How?
By the unleashing of the Holy Spirit in the World through the redeemed people of God.
1 Corinthians 2:10 says: "these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." Do you know what this, and surrounding verses mean!? That the Holy Spirit knows and possesses the fullness of God! Everything there is to know about God, the Spirit knows (because he is God!) And he lives in his redeemed!
So today.. if you have surrendered your life to Jesus then His Spirit lives in you.. and your heart's cry, like Isaiah's, has been answered! "God, come down.. shake the earth.. set the world on fire.. make your name known among your enemies and the nations!" Well, he did it. By putting his Spirit in you. You might say: "But Pastor Matt, I'm not seeing the power and glory of God alive and working in and through my life!"
If you're saved, the Spirit is in you.. The lack of evidence or experience in your life is not really God's issue, it's ours. Look with me at the life of Paul for a moment to learn how to walk and live by the Spirit and see God's glory unleashed in your life and through your life in the world. Ask yourself, am I practicing the things Paul is practicing? Am I walking by the Spirit of God?
In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 we find 4 important truths about walking in the Spirit through the life of the Apostle Paul. In verse one Paul says.. "I DID NOT come with eloquence or human wisdom." Here we see that Paul laid his own thoughts and plans. He rejected all influences that might direct his heart, actions and words. He repented of maintaining control over his life and ministry and he let the Holy Spirit lead him. This is the hardest part! To walk by the Spirit we must also repent and relinquish control over every aspect of our lives yielding to the Holy Spirits leadership and guidance in every moment and in every decision and in every word. This requires an active practice of the presence of God though prayer.
In verse 2 Paul says.. "I know NOTHING but Christ and him crucified." Paul centered his life.. his mind and heart on the person and work of Jesus. When Paul fixed himself on Christ and the Gospel, laying everything else aside, the Holy Spirit took his hand and led him in the way of Christ. To walk by the Spirit we must open the Word of God and fix our eyes on the life, character and sacrifice of Jesus.. yielding our will as the Spirit leads us to follow Jesus' example. We must confirm everything the Spirit leads us to do or say with the truths of the Word of God.
In verse 3 Paul says: "I came to you in weakness and with great fear and trembling." Paul recognized that he walked under the mighty hand of God as a representation of Christ in the World. God called Paul to become a demonstration of Christ's life and a preacher of Christ's truth. And God has called us to do that too! Living out this responsibility was only possible when we embrace weakness and proceed with our mission by the Spirits power. To walk in the Spirit we must humble ourselves, embrace our own weakness and proceed with a healthy fear of the Lord concerning our place in Gods plan. "For his power is made perfect in our weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9)
Then finally, in verse 4 Paul says that his "message and preaching were not with wise or persuasive words, instead they were a demonstration of the Spirits power." Paul is saying here that the words he received from God, he spoke to others in order that people might know Christ and see the power of God. We must listen to the Spirit and be committed to declare what the Spirit says to us - to other people for the sake of their grow or even salvation. This is how we see the Glory of God unfold in the world around us!
The Holy Spirit revealed the Glory of God through Pauls life because Paul repented of his own agenda and thoughts, Paul walked with Christ every before him, Paul walked fearfully dependent upon the Spirit of God and he opened his mouth to speak what the Spirit spoke to him.
Church... God has come down. He lives in you. And you have everything you need to access his power and to demonstrate his Glory. So lets become desperately dependent upon the Spirits work in us and through us in the church and in the world.