February 16, 2014
Pastor Joe Wittwer
I See…
#1—What I See for You…

Introduction:

I love those guys!  God has done remarkable things in Chris and in Charlie. They are new men. God wants to do remarkable things in you too, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

For the next three weeks, I am going to cast vision—a vision for you, a vision for our church, and a vision for our community and world. A vision is a picture of a preferred future. A compelling vision is a picture of a preferred future that moves people to action.  I’m calling this series, “I See…”.  In the Bible, prophets were often called “seers” because they could see into the future.  Sometimes what they saw was approaching disaster and they warned people to repent.  But they also saw visions of God’s Kingdom on earth—what it would look like if, as we prayed last week, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I’ve listed a couple examples on your outline; here’s one.

Revelation 21:1–4 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

The apostle John saw a future in which God would live among us, wipe every tear from our eyes, and there would be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  It’s a beautiful vision.

The Bible is full of visions like these.  Does God have a vision for you?  Yes. Today, I want to be a seer, and tell you what I think God sees for you.

The Big Idea: Jesus died to make you awesome!  I see you loving God, growing up, loving people, doing good and making disciples!

I want to start by reminding you of our mission as a church. 

Our mission: we help people find and follow Jesus.  We believe that this is not just our mission, but the mission of every church, of Christians everywhere.  Jesus told his followers to make disciples wherever they go. Our mission is to make disciples.  A disciple is a learner or follower.  We help people find and follow Jesus.  How do we do it?

We help people find Jesus using find, tell, bring. In John 1, the first thing Andrew did after meeting Jesus was to find his brother Peter, tell him about Jesus, and bring him to meet Jesus.   A little later in that same chapter, Philip found his friend, Nathanael, and told him about Jesus, and then brought him to meet Jesus. “Come and see,” he said. In John 4, the woman at the well, went back to her village, found her neighbors, told them about Jesus, and brought them to meet him.  Each of them found someone they loved—a brother, friend or neighbor.  They told them what they knew about Jesus.  And they brought them to meet him. 

We do the same. We simply find people we love—people in our natural networks—family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors. We love people and then we tell them what we know—what we believe about Jesus, what He has done in our lives. Then we bring them. We invite them to “come and see.” We may bring them to church, or to our Life Group, but we bring them so they can see and hear more. Find, tell, bring.

We help people find Jesus.  Who are you helping find Jesus?  Who are you finding, telling and bringing?

We help people follow Jesus using meet, seek, serve, give, share.  Once someone believes in Jesus, we have to help her follow Him and grow.  We want to help them become mature in Christ—to live out their faith in every day life. It’s not just about going to church; it’s about living it the other six days of the week.  My friend Jerry Sittser calls this “functional maturity.”  You don’t just know stuff; you do it.  You are living it.  You are following Jesus.

We help people follow Jesus by using meet, seek, serve, give, share. Here’s a quick summary.

  • Meet in church and Life Groups.
  • Seek God in daily prayer, Bible reading and journaling.
  • Serve others in our church and community.
  • Give to God and the poor.
  • Share your faith with your friends.

Each of these helps you grow spiritually and live your faith.  We ask each other, “What is your next step?”

So that’s our mission—we help people find and follow Jesus—and how we do it. We are making disciples. But what does a disciple look like? We scoured the Bible and came up with a working description of a disciple.  You heard Chris say these.

  • God: love God with all you’ve got.
  • Me: grow up to become more like Christ.
  • We: love people.
  • World: do good and make disciples.

Love God, grow up, love people, do good and make disciples.  We have fleshed each of these out, and I’d like to use them today to paint a picture of what I see for you.  Here’s the person that I see and I think God sees you becoming!

1. I see you loving God with all you’ve got.

It all starts with our relationship with God.  God—me—we—world. When you become a follower of Jesus, you begin a love relationship with God. When Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Love God with all you’ve got.

What does it mean to love God? Love is doing what is best for another no matter what it costs you. To love God means you put Him above yourself.  You want to do not just what’s best for you, but what’s best for Him.  And to love Him with all you’ve got is to give Him your highest and best.  You love Him above all else and above all others.  God first.

Here’s some good news: when we love God first, we love others better. When we love God with all we’ve got, we’re more able to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Loving God with all I’ve got doesn’t mean that I love people less, but more. 

I see you loving God with all you’ve got.  You are not just a church-goer; you are someone who really knows God and loves Him.  You are not just religious; you have an authentic relationship with God.  You know Him and you love Him.  You are the real deal!

I see you living in God’s grace. You have been fully forgiven—every sin washed away.  You have been reconciled to God—everything that stood between you and God has been removed and banished by Jesus on the cross.  When you sin—yes, you still sin—you gladly own up because you know you are forgiven.  When you fail—yes, you still fail—you no longer beat yourself up and mope around, but you smile and forgive yourself and go on, knowing that God’s grace is greater than your sin or failure.  You are full of God’s grace; it permeates everything about you.  You are so full of grace that it splashes out on everyone around you.  You are no longer motivated by shame and guilt, and you don’t use it to motivate others. God’s grace has made you gracious. You reek of grace!

I see you reading your Bible. For you, it’s not a religious duty.  It’s like a love letter from God and you want to know Him, so every day, you read and drink it in. It’s about knowing and loving Him. I see you learning to hear God’s voice as you read and pray.  You are eager to learn about Him, eager to learn what He wants, and eager to do it.  That’s why you read each day. “Speak to me Lord. I want to know You.” That’s your prayer. This (Bible) is not a duty—it’s dinner! It’s food for your spirit, and you know it.  I see you growing closer to God and stronger in your faith as you do PBJ each day—prayer, Bible and journal.  You are spiritually hungry and you are learning to feed yourself on God’s word and in prayer. Learn it, love it, live it—that’s what I see you doing.

I see you being an owner at Life Center.  (Or wherever your home church is.)  There is a difference between being an attender, and being an owner. You are owners! This is your church.  This is your family.  These are your brothers and sisters.  You don’t just attend; you belong. You are fully engaged in the life of the church, you are living in community with other believers. You don’t just do church together; you do life together.  I see you in a Life Group that challenges you to love God with all you’ve got, and accelerates your spiritual growth.  I see you developing lifelong friends that will do the journey with you. None of us go alone. We are on this journey together. By the way, yesterday I officiated at a funeral here: my friend, Mike Rojan is with Jesus.  Mike was an owner here for 35 years.  He’s been a big part of my journey, and many others here and we’ll miss him.  I’ve got a Mike story later…he was an owner.

I see you worshiping God, not just at church on Sunday, but all week long.  You have learned that worship is honoring God not only with our lips but with our lives.  All of life is worship.  We do it all for God. 

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I see you doing your very best at work, giving your very best at school—all for Jesus.  It’s all worship, and because you love Him, you do everything for Him. 

I see you filled with the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus left us, He promised to send another Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would fill us and empower us to do God’s work and be like Jesus.  Paul wrote:

Ephesians 5:18 Don’t be drunk with wine which is a waste, but be filled with the Spirit.

I often say that the Christian life isn’t difficult—it’s impossible.  You can’t do it on your own; you need God’s help.  That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is not an option just for the super-spiritual; it is a necessity for every Christian. I see you filled with Spirit, empowered to do God’s work right where you live: in your family, your neighborhood, on your job and at your school.  I see you so filled with the Spirit that He becomes what others notice about you: “He/she is filled with God!”   You are so full of the Spirit that wherever you go, Jesus is there. And Jesus-things happen everywhere, because you are full of Him!

I see you loving God with all you’ve got…and being awesome!

2. I see you growing up to become more like Jesus.

The Christian life starts with a relationship with God.  And the first thing to change is you.  God—me—we—world. God starts transforming us from the inside out.  We change; we become new and different people.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.

You are a brand new person in Christ. What kind of person? God is changing you to become more like Jesus.

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

God’s destiny for you is that you are “conformed to the likeness of His Son”—that you become more and more like Jesus.

I see you becoming more like Jesus.

I see you dripping with the fruit of the Spirit.  I see you filled with the Holy Spirit, and this is the fruit—this is what He produces in you. 

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Would you like to be more like that? Me too!  I see you being more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more patient, more kind, more good, more faithful, more gentle, more self-controlled—more like Jesus.  The fruit of the Spirit are character qualities that we see in Jesus. When you are filled with the Spirit, you naturally become more like Jesus. 

I see you brimming with integrity.  Jesus had integrity.  What you saw was what you got.  He was consistent, the same person in public or private.  There was nothing hidden, there was no pretense. He was truthful through and through: true in His actions, true in His words.  I see you becoming more like Jesus: a truth teller, someone others can count on, consistent, honest, and faithful.  Jesus saw it in Nathanael: “Here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47)  I see it in you—you are becoming more like Jesus, true and faithful.

I see you being courageous. I can’t think of anyone more courageous than Jesus.  Knowing that a terrible death and worse, the full judgment of God for the world’s sins, awaited Him, He walked into it anyway.  It wasn’t that He didn’t feel fear—He prayed in the garden for God to spare Him.  But as that great theologian John Wayne says, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”  Jesus saddled up and rode straight into hell for us.  That’s courage.  And I see you growing up and being courageous like Jesus.  I see you facing your fears and doing what God wants anyway. Saying what needs to be said; doing what needs to be done; no matter what.

Jesus changes everything…starting with you!

I see you growing up to become more like Jesus…and being awesome!

3. I see you loving people more and more.

The Christian life starts with God—you begin relationship with Him and love Him with all you’ve got.  The first thing that changes is you—you grow up and become more like Jesus. The next thing to change is your relationships—you love people better.  God—me—we—world.

The New Testament is filled with teaching about relationships. When you know God and you’re changed inside, you begin to treat people differently.  Better.  More loving.  More honest. More kind.  More grace.  It seems to me that Christians ought to make the best spouses, the best parents, the best friends, the best bosses or employees, the best neighbors. Why?  Because Jesus is changing us and making us like Himself—more loving.

So I see you having healthy relationships.

I see you loving your family. The apostle Paul wrote to Christians living in a culture where women were treated as property, and unwanted children were abandoned and exposed.  He told the Christians that husbands and wives were to live in mutual submission and love, taking Jesus as their model.  He told them that they were to love their children and raise them to follow Jesus.  He told children to honor and respect their parents.  Jesus is the Lord of our families, and because we love Him first, we love each other better.  I see you becoming a better spouse, a better parent, a better son or daughter. I see your family becoming stronger and healthier, and your home a sanctuary.

I see you loving your friends and neighbors.  Jesus not only transforms our families, but our friendships.  I see you healing broken relationships, bringing forgiveness where animosity festered.  I see you building bridges where other people put up walls.  I see you taking the time to listen, to care, to pray. You build the kind of friendships that last a lifetime and that carry people through the hard times. Others will say of you, “He is one of the most faithful friends a person could have. She is a great friend.” I see you reaching out beyond your circle and including others, bringing people together who otherwise would stay apart. 

I see you loving each other. Jesus said, John 13:34–35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Here is the mark of a Christian. It’s not our bumper stickers or the fact that our radio is tuned to a Christian station.  It’s that we love each other.  In the third century, Tertullian reported that pagans said of Christians, “Look how they love one another, and how they are ready to die for one another.”  I see you loving each other, taking time to listen.  I see you opening your homes to each other, not only for hospitality, but also to take in those in trouble or in need.  I see you opening your heart and your wallets to help each other when needed.  I see you lingering here—it’s not a race for the parking lot—because this is family, and you love each other and enjoy being together.  This isn’t just a meeting you attend and then leave. This is a family reunion. “Look how they love one another.”

I see you loving the lost. You care about those who are still far from God, who haven’t experienced God’s love and forgiveness and the new life He gives.  So you build relationships.  You love them until they ask you why.  You tell them what Jesus means to you, what He’s done in your life.  And you bring them with you.  All because you love them, and you want them to experience what you have.

ILL: I mentioned Mike Rojan.  35 years ago, Mike came to Life Center because one of his students, Vicki Orsillo, brought him.  He stuck. His wife, Cathy, was a good Catholic girl and wasn’t so excited.  But eventually Cathy came, and stuck.  She worked on our staff for 20 years.  Mike was influential in helping Dave Compogno meet Jesus—Dave is our sound tech.  The chain goes on and on.

It’s what happens when you love Jesus. I see you loving the lost.

I see you loving your enemies. Jesus turns us into peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  We turn enemies into friends.  Why?  Because that’s what God did with us.  We were God’s enemies, at war with Him.  Jesus came and made peace and reconciled us to God—He made us God’s friends.  And Jesus gave us that same work to carry on.  So we see people differently—an enemy is someone who needs to be made into a friend. I see you loving people that others reject, including them in the circle of your friendship. I see you reaching out to the lonely, the lost, the hurting, the unlovely and the outcast.

Jesus changes everything.  He changes us and our relationships.

I see you loving people more and more…and being awesome!

4. I see you doing good and making disciples.

First you have a relationship with God; that changes you and you grow up to become more like Christ.  The new you has new relationships: you love people more and more.  And then you begin to change the world. You do good and you make disciples.  God—me—we—world.

The kind of people I’m describing—people who love God, grow up and love others—they change the world.  They do good and make disciples.  I see you being that kind of person—a world changer, one person at a time. 

I see you becoming a servant. This is part of becoming more like Jesus—He came not be served, but to serve and give His life for us. I see you becoming more like Him, willing to serve Him and others.  We often say that a servant says, “Yes Lord to anything, anytime, anywhere.” I see you willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever God asks of you.  I see you with a servant’s heart, ready and willing. “Yes Lord, to anything, anytime, anywhere.”

I see you using your gifts to serve others.  God has gifted each one of us with a unique personality, with natural talents, with spiritual gifts, and with specific passions—things we care about deeply. God gifted you for a reason. There’s only one of you—you are a unique masterpiece.  And God wants to use you to do things that no one else can do quite like you. I see you discerning how God wired you, determining God’s calling in your life and fulfilling it. I see you living out God’s dream for you, God’s vision.

This is a vision series—what I see for you, based on what I think God sees for you. So often, vision in a church is only about the church.  I think that’s a terrible mistake.  We’ll talk about what I see for us, the church, next Sunday.  But today, I want you to know that God has a vision for you! And we’re here together to help each other live out those visions.  I see you doing that.  I see you using your gifts to make a difference in the world.

I see you using all God gave you: your time, talent and treasure.  The old word for this is stewardship, which means “management.”  The idea is that we’re not owners.  God owns everything.  I am not my own.  I belong to God.  Everything I am and has is His, and I manage it for Him.  I see you becoming a better manager of all you have.  I see you becoming more generous with your time, serving others.  I see you being more generous with your money and material possessions, using them to serve others.  “It all belongs to You, Lord.  What do you want me to do with it?”  That’s how we think and live.

I see you making disciples. Jesus calls us to follow, but He also calls us to help others follow Him.  We are not just disciples; we are also disciple makers. We follow Jesus and we invite others to join us on the journey.  I see you becoming a disciple maker.  I see you being a bringer and includer, someone who often has a seeking friend at your elbow when you come to church.  I see you opening your home to invite friends over to build friendships, knowing that those friendships are the bridge to Jesus for many people. I see you praying for lost friends because you love them so much.  I see you gathering at a coffee shop with a couple new Christians, opening your Bibles together and talking about what it means to follow Christ. I see you growing in your faith so that you can mentor others.  Others have helped you grow; now you’re passing it on and you’re helping others.  

I see you caring for the poor. Jesus had a heart for the poor, and since we love and follow Jesus, His heart changes ours. We can’t be selfish any more. I see you finding ways to make a difference in the lives of the poor and needy.  I see you volunteering in many different ways in our community.  I see you sponsoring children around the world.  You’ve heard me say that we think that’s just part of following Jesus: believe in Jesus, be baptized, sponsor a kid.  I see our hearts getting bigger and bigger, like the heart of Jesus.

I see you becoming world Christians.  There are 4 billion people in our world who still don’t know Jesus. And there are also that many living in deep poverty, despair, sickness, and even slavery.  I see you becoming uneasy with that, and deciding to do more about it.  I see some of you becoming missionaries and taking the gospel around the world.  I see others of you linking arms with Christian relief organizations and giving a year or two or more to bring relief and development to the poorest of the poor in Jesus’ name.  I see our hearts getting bigger and bigger.

I see you being leaders. We all lead in different ways and spheres, some small and others large.  But we all lead.  Leadership is influence.  And I see you becoming more and more influential as you follow Jesus. God wants to use you in ways you’ve never dreamed! 

Jesus changes everything, starting with us and our relationships, then stretching out to include the whole world!

I see you doing good and making disciples and changing your world…and being awesome!

This is what I see for you.