September 7-8, 2019
Pastor Joe Wittwer Fall Kickoff What God Wants For You
Introduction and offering:
ILL: In the winter of 2004, I was actively looking for a motorcycle. Pastor Noel, my father-in-law, lived with us and would often ask me how my search was going. I’d walk by his room and he’d call out, “Found a bike yet?” If I told him I had something I was interested in, he’d ask me to show him pictures, and had lots of questions. This went on for weeks. I was puzzled why Noel was so interested.
When I finally found one, Noel asked all about it. Then he asked eagerly, “Are you going to get it?” I hesitated—it was a great deal: a two year old bike with only 3900 miles, fully dressed; new cost $18,000, I’m getting it for $7200. But it was still a lot of money for me, so I was dragging my feet. “Go for it,” he told me. Then he handed me a check for half of it—$3600. It turns out that all those questions, all that interest was because Noel wanted to help me. He wanted something for me, not from me.
By the way, 15 years later, I’m still riding and loving that bike—it has 72,000 miles on it now! Thank you Noel!
Noel is a lot like God our Father. God keeps asking things of us, things He wants us to do, or know, or believe. It turns out that all that interest, all those questions and commands are because He wants something for us, more than from us!
What does God want for you?
When we think and talk about God’s will for our lives, it’s usually more about what God wants us to do. Does God want me to do this career, or move to this place, or marry this person? What does God want me to do? Nothing wrong with that…
But, have you ever thought of God’s will in terms of what He wants for you rather than from you? What does God want for you?
So…what does God want for you? I’m going to tell you right after the offering.
Offering (pass out Bibles)
What does God want for you?
God wants you to live Life to the full.
I capitalized Life on purpose. Jesus wants you to live Life with a capital L. Life to the full! Jesus says this in one of my favorite verses: (read aloud)
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Let’s take a look at that verse in it’s context.
John 10:7–11 (p. 922)
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In this passage, Jesus uses two metaphors about Himself. He is both the good shepherd and the gate to the sheepfold.
Jesus is the gate: all who enter through the gate will be saved or kept safe, secure and healthy. The Greek word for “saved” is sozo which can mean “to rescue, to make safe; to heal or make healthy or whole.” Jesus is the gate—He is the way to salvation and wholeness.
Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. When thieves or wolves attack, the good shepherd gives his life to save the sheep. Notice the contrast between Jesus and the thieves in verse 10. They come to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full. The thieves came to take something from us; Jesus comes to bring something for us: life to the full.
Jesus came to bring us life, life to the full. Not just life, but life to the full. Not just existing, but Life with a capital L. Abundant life! Overflowing life! Extraordinary life!
The Greek word for full or abundant is perissos. It’s a really cool word! It refers to something “extraordinary or remarkable; extraordinary in amount, exceeding the usual number or size; abundant and profuse; considerably more than what you would expect or anticipate; more than enough.”
Jesus is offering us a new kind of life, a life that is extraordinary, a life that is more than what is normally experienced. How many of you would like that to describe your life? That is what God wants for you. Life to the full! Extraordinary life! Overflowing life—more than enough—plenty for you and lots to give away to others.
What what does that look like? Please, don’t reduce it just to the spiritual. Some people have—they talk about “the abundant Christian life” as though it is just about being more spiritual. Friends, Jesus didn’t come to make you more religious; He came to make you more alive—fully human as God intended you to be! Think of it this way:
ILL: Parents, what do you want for your kids? (If you’re not a parent, think of what you want for your spouse, best friend, or even yourself.) Take answers from people. I want my kids to thrive, to flourish in every way.
I want them to flourish spiritually—to know and follow Jesus with a fully surrendered heart.
I want them to flourish relationally: to have great friendships and a loving marriage; I want them to have lots of children—lots and lots! That’s something I want forthem!
I want them to flourish vocationally: to succeed at their callings and make a positive contribution to our community and world.
I want them to flourish financially: do well so they can take care of me in my old age.
I want them to flourish physically: to be healthy and fit.
I want them to flourish personally: to be wise, to have integrity, to be happy, to be fully alive!
I want them to flourish in every way—spiritually, yes, but not just spiritually—in every way.
Do you think that I am or you are a better parent than God? Don’t you think our heavenly Father wants His children to flourish, to thrive in every way? I do.
Jesus didn’t come to make you more religious; He came to make you more alive! Fully alive in every dimension of your life! Let me describe another way:
Our mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. Said another way: it’s to make disciples. Many years ago, we realized that if we’re making disciples, we ought to know what they look like. We scanned the New Testament and came up with a long list of characteristics of disciples of Jesus. They grouped themselves into four big categories: God, Me, We, World.
God: a growing love relationship with God. This is the foundation of everything else. God wants a relationship with you. Wouldn’t you love to really know God, hear His voice, know His will and be able to do what He wants? God wants this for you.
Me: developing Christ-like character. When you know God, the first thing that changes is you. You start to become more like Jesus. The Spirit produces fruit in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Wouldn’t you like to be a better person? God wants this for you.
We: healthy relationships with others. When you know God, the first thing that changes is you; the second thing is your relationships with others. You become a better spouse, a better parent or child, a better friend, a better colleague, a better neighbor. Wouldn’t you like all of your relationships to get healthier? God wants this for you.
World: service to God and people. When you know God and are becoming more like Jesus, and your relationships are getting healthy, you have something worth giving away. God designed you to make a difference in the world. You begin using your unique gifts to serve Him and others. Wouldn’t you like to live a life that changes the world around you? God wants this for you.
God wants you to thrive in every way: spiritually, personally, relationally, vocationally—in every way. This is what God wants for you: Life to the full!
Sam Shoemaker wrote a book entitled, Extraordinary Living for Ordinary Men. I’ve always loved that title because that’s what I’ve experienced. I’m an ordinary Joe living an extraordinary life because of Jesus. Which leads me to the next question: How can I experience this Life to the full?
The way to this life is following Jesus.
We read in John 10 that Jesus is the gate—everyone who enters through Him will be saved and will find life to the full. Jesus is the way to this life. Jesus makes this point in John 14, where He tells the disciples that He is going to the Father to prepare a place for them.
John 14:4-6 (p. 927)
4 “You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus is the way to this life—because Jesus is the Life. The life you’re looking for, the life you’re longing for is found in Jesus. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. He is the gate. There is no other way.
ILL: Bryan Wilkerson took his young kids to a themed restaurant with TV’s all over walls, playing cartoons with no sound. Their youngest son, who was about four at the time, had his eyes glued to the TV screen, watching a continuous loop of Road Runner cartoons. He watched as Wile E. Coyote strapped on rocket-propelled roller skates, or shot himself out of a cannon, or launched himself from a giant slingshot in pursuit of the elusive Road Runner. After watching intently for a long time, he had an epiphany. Without taking his eyes off the screen, he quietly announced to our family, “No matter what he does, he’s never going to get the chicken.”
No matter what you do, you’re never going to get the chicken! You’re never going to find Life with a capital L anywhere else. The life you’re looking for is only found in Jesus.
John 17:3 (p. 929)
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Eternal life is not just a quantity of life that goes on forever; it is a quality of life that is extraordinary. And this life, eternal life, Life with a capital L is found in knowing God and knowing Jesus. Without Jesus, you’re never going to get the chicken! One last Scripture:
Matthew 16:24–25 (p. 843)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
I chose this Scripture because I don’t want you to think that I’m promising you a rose garden. “Say yes to Jesus and your every dream will come true. All your problems will go away and you’ll get everything you ever wanted.” Wouldn’t that be swell? Jesus calls us to follow and that means denying ourselves and taking up a cross—dying! Dying to my selfishness. Dying to having my own way. “Wait,” you say. “That doesn’t sound like Life to the full. That sounds like a drag!” Au contraire! Jesus goes on to say that it is in losing our lives that we find them.
ILL: Think of it this way. Have you ever been in a strange city and have no idea where you are, let alone how to get where you need to go? Imagine having a friend from that city in the car with you. Who should lead? Your friend! It would be crazy for you to insist on leading. “I’m the master of my own fate, the captain of my own ship. No one tells me what to do or where to go.” Ok—you’re lost. It’s really simple: you give up the lead and follow her directions and you get where you’re going.
The life you’re looking for is found when you let Jesus lead. It’s not always a bed of roses, but it’s Life with a capital L.
God wants to give you Life to the full.
The way to this life is following Jesus.
So our mission is to help people find and follow Jesus.
Matthew 18:18-20 (p. 857)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We want everyone to experience Life to the full. So our mission is to make disciples of all people—to help people find and follow Jesus. I’ll finish with one exciting goal for each.
Find: each one reach one.
We often ask you to have a Love List—a list of people you love who are not following Jesus that you pray for regularly. Would you write down 3 or 4 names, and start praying every day for them. Ask God to give you a chance to love them, to have a conversation with them about Jesus, to tell your story and listen to theirs, to do Find, Tell, Bring.
Find someone you love.
Tell them what you know.
Bring them with you to church or group.
We want to take this one step farther and ask if you’d be willing to set a goal. Here’s the goal:
Goal: with God’s help, I will make one disciple this year. (Say it; write it.)
I will help one person I love find Jesus and help them begin to follow Jesus. It starts with prayer, and then just doing find, tell, bring.
ILL: A few months ago, I started scheduling a weekly MAD meeting. Make a Disciple meeting. It pops up on my to do list every week: schedule a MAD meeting. I have lunch or coffee or hang out with someone who is not following Jesus. I’m investing in the friendship; I’m praying, and I’m having conversations about why I follow Jesus. It’s been really cool. What if each of us became more intentional about this?
What if each of us prayerfully, with God’s help, set a goal of helping one person find and follow Jesus this year? Each one reach one—if we did it, we’d rock our community for Jesus! Why do we want to help people find Jesus? Because we love them and He is the way to Life with a capital L.
That’s a goal for helping people find Jesus. Here’s one for helping people follow:
Follow: ten week turbo-charge.
We realized that many people don’t sign up for groups because they think it might be forever. “I will have to be in this group every week until I die!” But all our groups—Rooted and Mission Groups—are set up for 10 week runs. You sign up for a 10 week session, and you’re done. If you want to go again (and we hope you will), you can. But you’re only committed for 10 weeks—10 weeks that could turbo-charge your relationship with Jesus! So here’s a goal:
Goal: I will turbo-charge my faith by participating in one 10 week group this year.
If everyone would participate in just one 10 week session of Rooted or a Mission Group, we think everyone would be that much closer to Life to the full!
I’m calling it the 10 week turbocharge! 10 weeks to grow your relationship with Jesus. 10 weeks to get closer to Life to the full! It’s worth it! Our fall Rooted and Mission Groups Launch is Sept 24. You can sign up and get more info at lifecenter.net/nextsteps
3 John 2 Dear friends, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.