Growing Beyond Me
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode 2 · 2 years ago

Growing Beyond Me


Growing in your relationship with God is a great thing! As we grow, we get excited about loving others. But we've got to be aware of the "not me" phase and continuously fight against it.

Together as connectors church. We want to dive into the word and whether it's me or somebody else who's preaching, we want to do our best to explain the word of God in such a way that in it inspires you to apply things to your life, to change your life, to live it out. And so when we talk about connect those church, so to connect you to God's next step for your life, we hope that there's always something next that you can grow in, something that you can learn, something that you can hold on to. And so remember our this way. Our title of our message this evening is growing beyond me, growing beyond me as we focus on this aspect of growing as a follower of Jesus. And so our mission statement is to connect you to God's next step for your life. Connect those church reaches out to invite all people to connect to a Gospel Community and challenges you to take God's next step for your life. And so we want to reach out to people that aren't here. We want to reach out to people that aren't within these walls. We want to reach out to our people in our homes and in our schools and in the places that we work, and we want to invite them to come and be a part of a gospel community, someone, a group of people centered on Jesus and the good news of Jesus and what he's done for us, and whether that's a big environment like this or a small environment and a home, we want to give people the opportunity to come and engage with us in that way and we want to challenge you to take God's next step for your life like that's a thing that we're serious about and and fits so baked into the statements. It's a lot of next. There's a lot of things coming up next. And you know what what happens is if we do this mission, that's the vision, we will multiply more and better disciples, and so, if you hash that out a little longer, will connect those. Church provides an exciting and thriving experience when the church gathers together and partners with God in the community. We Value Church planting and will we multiplying disciples and churches across central PA and beyond. And so there's this idea that we want to gather together and they find exciting driving experience where you hear from God and God does something in your heart and in your life and inspires you to make a apply it in your life, you know, wherever you may be during the week. And then we also realize that God is working in our community more than just right here like so we want to partner with what God is doing in your neighborhoods, in your workplaces, in your schools. And then, as we do that, we value church planting because we want to multiply disciples and churches so as we reach people and as we help people grow in their faith, to that in turn reach people. This is a multiplication effect and we so we want to see this grand vision of people being reached, as people come to faith and grow in their faith and turn turn around and do that with other people. So it's a big vision. Then you guys are here at the beginning of it all,...

...which is super, super exciting and we're so thankful that you are here. And it's really exciting to think about and dream about all that God has for us. And we believe that we can accomplish this big vision because we are focused on Jesus. We value me and focused on Jesus, everything we do is to the glory of God, at Church or outside of Church. It was interested in Jordan. You shared all these amount of days that you were with Bonny, because I was thinking. I mean, if you're in church one hour or we EA er two, there's a hundred and sixty issues, a hundred sixty six ish hours that you have during the week that you are not in a church context. Then so what you do during those hours is super important. I imagine if you or your children were in school for only one hour a week, like would you have learned anything? Would you have learned how to do math or how to read? Would you have learned how to you know, whatever they you know, I'll stay teach you in school. Would you have learned that? Well, it would depend on what you did the other a hundred and sixty six hours that you weren't in that school. Because if you went home and you read and you studied and you did math problems and and you problem, you would know. But if you didn't, if all as you put into your studying was what happened when you were at school, then yeah, of course you wouldn't. It would not go so well. And so we want to engage with Jesus, follow Jesus more than just being in a place like this. But everywhere we are. And one of the aspects of that, of what we want to do, is we want to study the Bible. We Value Biblical teaching because we believe that there's no other book more helpful and relevant for today than the Bible. And the Bible is an incredible, incredible book. It was written over the course of two thousand years by over forty different human authors. These authors came from all different cultures, all different kind of empires and world situations and they were writing, you know, all these different things, but there is one main storyline through it all and that points to one main author, who's God. And so the more that we value God's word and let it impact our life, the more our lives will will be better as we follow Jesus and it's Super Helpful, as we learn what God has said to us and it's super relevant for today. So we should focus on Jesus and everything that we do we value Biblical teaching and, as we talked about last week, last vision to night when we got together, we want to connect you to God's and x step for your life. Like we value this relational we want to connect, we value you and it's great. It's great when you, when you... me right. We want to connect you to God's next step for your life, and that's that's that's awesome. You know, the message like sounded like it was directly for me. I felt that God was speaking to me. The song that you say was perfect. I was listening to it all we long. It was for me. God Is there for me, and it's great when you is me, and that's great. But we want to grow, grow beyond me. You want to grow beyond me. In the Bible there's I want to draw our attention to a passage from the book of Luke. Luke was a friend the follower of Jesus and he did his research. He took as much information as he could find about this person of Jesus and what he's done, and so he put them together in this Gospel Account of Luke and he tells, retells the story that Jesus tells and Luke Chapter Eighteen and he introduces us to a person in the person is a tax collector. Luke eighteen, thirteen, and he says Jesus was telling the story that this tax collector went to the able to pray and he stood at a distance and they're not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. So this tax collector, if you know about tax collectors in the first century, they were not well liked at all then. They didn't no one like them and so and they knew that. One of the reasons why they didn't like them is because they were collecting money for the evil empire, or Rome, and the people would Israel do not want Rome to be ruling over them, and yet they were there collecting money. Imagine giving money to something that you didn't want to have happened like that is not fun. And what made it worse is that this tax collectors were oftentimes Jewish people, the very own people were working for the evil empire collecting your money. And what made it even worse is that if Rome was asking for a dollar of tax, they would take two dollars worth of tax and keep the extra dollar. So these tax collectors were hated. I mean I would hate them, I would despise them, I would if someone was doing that to me. Come on, and he knew it. Let's tax collector knew what he was doing. As he came to the temple, he stood at a distance. He couldn't even go close and he didn't lift his eyes up to heaven as he prayed because he knew that this wasn't this wasn't right, this was this wasn't good. He's got it. I've got nothing to offer God, and the same as can be said of us. I mean we've got nothing to offer, to offer God,...

...and we might not be working for the evil empire and stealing people's money, but we all do stuff all the time that makes you say, I really love that. At least I do. And I think sometimes we feel a distance. We feel distance are in our relationship with God, or we think about church in this like I really got to show up there, like I'd rather just stay far, far away because I know that I got nothing to offer. But look at this guy's prayer. It says instead, this is what he beat his chest and sorrow, saying, Oh God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner. See, this was his posture. It was one of sadness, of sorrow, of recognizing the types of things that he's done, and he called himself a sinner. And now that is not a very popular thing to say nowadays, but I think it's really helpful and a really healthy thing is when you label something what it is. It's really really helpful, because we all feel guilty for different things that we do and we fall short of our own standards, when we fall short of God's perfect standard, we feel this guilt or we feel the shame or whatever we feel, and it's good to put a label on it. You're like I see it, and if we don't do that, then we just keep moving on and this it doesn't change the way we feel, but we don't have the right label to deal with it. Because when this guy, when this tax collector, labeled himself this way as what he was, it caused him to cry out to God and he cried out to him and said, why be merciful to me? He knew that he deserved something bad and he's he knew he deserves some punishment for his wrongdoings, and rightfully so. But he cries out to God for mercy. And so when we think about you being me right, when we want to connect you, when everything's working well for you or for me, let's use me right down, when God is working in your life, when God loves you, when you feel like God is merciful to you, when you feel like God is moving in your life and changing your life and you feel that way, that that's an amazing thing. Like when we mess up and we need need God's mercy, and we turn to him, he promises to be Merciful. They who should? Who's excited for God's mercy? Anybody? There we go. So we get excited about what God does for us, even though we've got nothing to offer him. And what's really interesting about this mercy word is that it's only used two times in the New Testament. And what really is going on here is it's a picture of this old testament system, this old testament thing. And so if you can imagine Jesus telling the story, he shows up at the...

...temple, and Jesus hasn't died yet, and he sees this tax collector who's praying near the temple, and inside the temple there's things that have been set up by God to deal with people sin. And so if you imagine, the tax collector is standing at a distance and he sees the big, huge building and he says over there, he's like God, you built this thing. And inside this temple is a room. It's called the holy of holies, and it's a special room and inside this room is this Ark of the covenant. It's this little wooden chest and on top of this wooden chest is what's called the mercy seat. And so this tax collectors probably saying, God, you put all of this together and you put this plan in place so that when an animal is sacrificed, and once a year, the high priest would go into this temple and he would sprinkle blood onto this thing called the mercy seat, and it would do that to pay for or a tone or cover up the sins of the people. And so the tax collectors saying, I know I've got nothing to offer God, I am a sinner, but God, you've promised, just inside this building, right over here, that you are going to show mercy to me, because we've done the sacrifices by sin has been paid for, it's been covered up. God, you've promised that, so show it to me. And God's like, I want to show it to you, I want to show you mercy, I want to give you what you don't deserve, because I love you and my grace is for you. And so the tax collector is thinking all of this at the temple as he's envisioning what God has done for him. And so now, ultimately, we know that Jesus is that ultimate animal sacrifice that you know he that Jesus is sacrifice of himself. Was the perfect sacrifice that did what no animal sacrifice could do. Eat. Jesus died once for all to pay for and cover all the sins of all the people for all time. And those animals have to be sacrificed over and over and over again. But the same idea of mercy, of this animal, this innocent thing, taking the place of the guilty person. It's the same idea Jesus, the innocent person taking the place of the guilty person. And so when we cry out to God for mercy, he's ready. He's ready to give it to you. And so the more we understand that, the more excited we get about that, the more we love God and we love him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Jesus asked what to that next command and the love our neighbor as ourselves. And so the more that we grow in our understanding of faith, the more that we realize that there's more to give. And so Jesus tells us in Luke eighteen fourteen that I tell you this sin or...

...return home justified before God, because this tax collector turned to God, he was declared righteous. But we want to grow in that understanding of what it means to be have a relationship with God, to be forgiven, to have God show you mercy. But we want to grow beyond me. And when we do that, God develops a heart in US for other people. And so you, I know, I don't know all of you, but I know that you have a heart for people and especially if you're a follower of Jesus, you have a heart for people because God wants you to have a heart for people. Like there's something inside of us that wants to reach out to those who are hurting, those who might be dealing with different family situations. There's something inside of us that wants to help those who are in need. Maybe they're hopeless on the side of the road and what can we do to help them? Maybe they need a meal, maybe they're thirsty, maybe they just need someone to be there for them and say hi and recognize them as a real person. So, but whenever it is inside of us, there's something in us that has a heart for that next person, for that you across the table or that you that your office or that you at your school, wherever it may be. We have a heart for those other people and that's a great, great thing. But in order to get there we have to go through what I'm calling the not me stage, the not me stage, and so I brought some fun tools here and you got some of these to take home. This is a little absorbent, little toy thing. If this is me, it's a great representation of me. But if this is me and I now am put myself into an environment that causes me to grow, which is a great thing. We want you to grow. We want to help you grow. It's going to take a while. So I have this Guy Whoa who has been in that absorbent water for a while now and he has grown a lot, which is great, right. That's that's super awesome. But the more that you grow in our faith, the more we understand and develop this heart for you. And so we want to reach out and we but soon, here's the point. We soon realize that this guy, he's not like me. I mean, I've spent a lot of time it church, I spent a lot of time reading my Bible. I spent a lot of time praying and I know all the right words to say it's God's worked in my life and he's changed the way that I speak, he's changed the way that I post on social media, he's changed the way that I do relationships, and God has really grown me so much and he's... me a heart to reach other people. But what in the world is wrong with this guy? Like, why isn't he as big as I am? I mean, hasn't he, you know, spent time reading his Bible? Or what does he do at Church? Maybe just sleeps all the time? Or what? What's wrong with him? See, there's an idea that we got to fight against, this idea of not me. And so Jesus goes back to the story. He says there's two men who went to the temple to pray. The one was a Pharis in the other was that tax collector we talked about, and the Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer. He stood on a pedestal and pray God, I thank you that I'm not like other people, I'm not like you, and it's like, well, half, how are you like him, Mr Pharisee? Well, I'm thankful that I'm not a cheater like him, I'm thankful I'm not a sinner like him, I'm thankful I'm certainly not an adulter like him. And it's like, okay, Mr Pharisee, anything else like that add tor prayer and I'm certainly not like that tax collector. mean the Pharisee knows that he's right. Like, he's good, he does all the right things, he's been in church, he's he knows the Bible, he knows all the songs, he does all the right things. And when he looks at someone else, he said that person's not like me. And then he says I fast twice a week and I give you a tend to my income. It's like, Mr Pharisee, do you know what this tax collector does in his own house? When he looks at his fridge, do you know what this tax collector does with his own personal pocketbook? There is no way that you know what he does, but you're assuming, you're are judging, you are casting this image on to him because he's not like you. And on the surface of prayer like this seems pretty ridiculous. But I just challenge us to consider how often have we prayed prayers like this? We think God, we're thankful, we're not not like that other person. See, the more we experience what God has done for us, the more we love what God has done, the more we that you is me, that God is changing our lives. He's growing us, he's shaving us, he's building us up, he's he's putting us into all these ministry situations and all these things. We will have a heart for other people and when we do we've got to push through that at not me faith. So many Christians get stuck here. Let's not get stuck here. We had to keep that heart, keep developing that heart as we grow, and we certainly want to grow, but we can't develop that not me attitude of looking at others. And so practically it looks like I attend church, I know all the songs and know all the worship music, I know the right things to do. But then this other person who also...

...attends the same church, and maybe you're sitting right next to him right now. Don't look at him. It's not as far along as you are and you wonder is it all worth it? Have I put in so much effort? Have I studied so much, have I done so much to be sitting next to somebody else that doesn't even look like it cares, and I just I just want us to push through that. If you're not like me, don't let it stop you, because when we start sitting next to people like that, we might wonder, Hey, maybe there's other Christians and other churches that we can go to that might be growing like me. Or maybe we get discourage that we put it all that effort and it doesn't seem to make a difference. But I encourage you. It does make a difference when we grow. Jesus says those who exult themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted, that Jesus told this story that we just talked about to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorn everyone else. So I want to give you hope today that we want you and I'm going to do my best to help you grow in your faith. I want you to be as big, as absorbent as you possibly can, and as you do that, you will develop a heart for other people. You will want to reach out to those who are hurting and those who are far from God. You will want to reach out to these people and we can't get stuck in that not me phase. And when we don't and when we push through that, we will be reaching people who are far from God. We will be reaching people from all different nationalities, all different cultures. We will be teaching people, reaching people, praying for people, caring for people, sharing a gospel with people who have been through all different kinds of life situations and from all different family backgrounds. We will be reaching people that have deal dealt with all different kinds of habits and hang ups and they won't get in the way of US connecting with them. So we've got a great vision, a great mission to accomplish that. I hope that you will be along the ride with us.

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