How Do We Pursue Revival? (Matthew 9:9-13)March 26, 2023 | Brandon Cooper
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Good morning, church. Good to be back. Thank you, by the way for praying for me just before I get going, was great to be in Bolivia last weekend able to train some 14 churches there in La Paz in life on life disciplemaking training went very well, a little bit exhausting, especially exhausting was trying to preach in Spanish for 45 minutes last week, but I think I’m back in English at this point. So hopefully that won’t be an issue this morning. Now you can go ahead grab your Bibles open up to Matthew chapter nine. Matthew, chapter nine will be in verses nine to 13. This morning, Matthew nine, nine to 13. As you’re turning there, there is a web site, the nicest place.net. And I know some of you are just going to be too tempted by this. So if you pull out your phone and check it out, that’s okay. I won’t yell at you, so long as you’re still listening while you do it. But the nicest place that and that if you were to go to it, what you’re going to find when you get there is a whole bunch of random strangers who have recorded themselves giving a hugs to a webcam, so that you can receive a hug virtually, from people all over the country and even the world. It’s kind of sweet, hence the name by way, the nicest place there are a lot of not nice places on the internet, like the internet, for example. But here’s one at least so kind of sweet, but it’s also really depressing if you think about it. Because why on earth would a website like that be necessary? I mean, especially because it’s so insufficient. A virtual hug is not helping anyone who is really deep in it. It exposes this deep need in our culture, then, that we feel so fragmented or lonely, isolated, unloved, that we would be willing to seek out even a virtual hug from a stranger. And that reality points us toward the answer to the question we’re asking this morning. How do we pursue revival? How do we pursue revival? Now, we’ve already talked through some of this, of course, in this series, especially week one, we talked about the importance of prayer, and confession, and yes, that’s all great. I’m speaking today specifically about how we go about our outreach efforts, though, how do we do that? What does effective outreach look like today, with a culture like ours that’s in such desperate need of a hug? I’m gonna promise you this, as we go through this this morning, I am not going to while you I’m just not some of you are like, you don’t need to tell us that we’ve been here for a few years, we know that. What I mean by this is I’m going to offer you absolutely no new strategies or ideas or program because we don’t need any of that we just need to be normal. You guys are getting better at this. I would even go so far as to say we need to read learn how to be normal, how to have normal human interactions, not virtual interactions, or hurried interactions or divided and divisive interactions. We’re going to see this by looking at the life of Jesus one story in particular, of course, we could look at dozens we could open up almost at random to one of Jesus’s story, we’d see this but it’s a very simple point I’m trying to make how do we pursue revival your main idea this morning is just two words, open up, open up. That’s how we’re gonna see three ways to open up in Jesus’s call of Matthew that hated tax collector. So let’s look at the first way from verse nine. He read it for us now. As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collectors booth. Follow me, he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him a little bit of context, just before we get to verse nine here, Jesus has just healed a paralytic, as proof of his power, yes, but also as proof of his right to forgive sins, because He is God. And so since all sin is ultimately against God, he has the right to forgive and in every sin, so this is proof of his divinity. But in that story, we’ve seen something of his heart already then. And that Jesus is not just dealing with the physical as though what this man needed most was to be able to walk. That is not what he needed most. What he needed most was to have his deep spiritual need met to be reconciled to God, all mighty. So there’s Jesus’s heart and then what do we read here in verse nine, going from there? As he as he leaves that place? We see his heart on display once more going from there, he saw nothing more. Just he saw Ah, he saw someone’s a lot like last week if you were here, I was not, but I listen to it. What we see in Matthew nine, he saw the crowds and had compassion on them, Jesus walks around with his eyes open, not just in the sense that people are in his field of vision so that he doesn’t bump into them. But this is a true seeing a scene with a heart, a scene with gospel shaped eyes as it were. And so he sees people sees Matthew before him now, as God sees him. In other words, not as a hated tax collector, a traitor to his country, a hopeless case, no possibility of someone like this being reconciled to God. Now he sees the image of God within each and every person, and he sees what the power of the gospel what grace can accomplish in his and anybody’s life. That’s not always how we see today, is it? If we see it all, I think our biggest problem is we just don’t see anything anymore. Because we’re usually rushing around us so fast that we just don’t notice. There’s a famous story, I swear they did this just so pastors would have illustrations. But when Joshua Bell, the world renowned violinists played the Stratovarius, outside of New York City subway station, and you just watched the security cameras of a hundreds and hundreds of people blowing by him, maybe, you know, toss a quarter into his Stratovarius case, it would have paid $200, the night before to see him play, but couldn’t be bothered to slow down. And listen, that’s us so often. But even when we do see, we see only the surface, we see what’s on the outside. Matthew collects taxes for the Romans, he’s bad. Period, end of story. He’s certainly not for me, not somebody I want to be friends with, have you closed your eyes to people, you know, won’t follow God. Or maybe even if we could throw open the shades of your heart for a moment here, people that you don’t really want to follow God. At its extreme, of course, this is people who’ve wounded you. And I understand that I can’t imagine being in, say, Ukraine today and praying for Russian soldiers, that God would change their hearts, that would be really, really hard. But it’s not always at that extreme. Sometimes it’s just people who are different, unlovely messy, people, you know, wouldn’t fit in that church, or in your social circle. And so you close your eyes and your life to them. What we have here really is just a short recap of last week, right? It’s the urgency of the moment, Jesus sees the great need, but here we see it embodied in a single person, Matthew, and maybe that’s the key shift we have to make. We’re not talking about abstract crowds, abstract people, we’re talking about him or her, then those people that are in your life that you see. So once we see once we identify was our eye word last week, once we identify the people around us, we do what Jesus does, which is to call them the only difference of course, saying we say, when you follow him, instead of follow me, if you’re going to follow me, you’re only following me because I’m trying to follow him. And if I get off the path, keep following him. You don’t need to worry about me. But that’s the call we make Follow. Follow comm follow Jesus. And we make that call without excluding anyone. Not even a tax collector. And I don’t know, maybe got IRS agents on your block. And this is really applicable to you right here. But for most of us is probably someone else, right? This is someone maybe it’s somebody who is from another faith, or a hardened atheist that you know, in your family or a notorious sinner, whatever that means for you. I got news for you have read the Bible, the Gospel can reach all those people, right? Absolutely.
Why is it that we are not worried about those people because what is decisive is not the person’s backstory. What is decisive is the call of God. And if God calls that person will follow. That’s the promise we have in Romans eight verse 30. Those He predestined, he also called those he called, he also justified, those he justified, he glorified. And I love that because that’s it. The future by the way, and it’s so certain that Paul talks about it like it’s in the past, you’re already glorified. Trust me, it’s come in. So we don’t rule anyone out. We don’t say no for anyone else. If God can save Paul, who wrote Romans 830 terrorists, that he was attacking the nascent Church of God, he can save anyone. Or better still, if Paul can save you, he can save anyone, because you know your sin. And you know, you got no business being here right now. That’s the confidence we have but but that requires an openness on our end, doesn’t it? How do we pursue revival we open up but how do we open up? You got to open your history, to the unexpected. Open your history, to the unexpected trust that God might use your story, or put in the record of your life, some unexpected twists and turns that God is writing a fascinating history in your life. So here’s a cool history. Just to give you a sense of what this looks like is the story I heard from a friend of mine who is a fellow trainer with life on Life Ministries down in pure yet Grace Presbyterian down there. Some of you heard this story when he trained us back in January here at church, but he told us a story of Dale, who is an engineer with Caterpillar, he lives in Peoria, therefore he works for Caterpillar that’s Can I get an amen, John. Yes. Okay. We got this down here. So Dale is Caterpillar engineer. He is a journey group leader at that church. He is also in this is not incidental, very white, very white. But He’s opening his eyes. He’s opening his life. He’s opening his history, all of that. And so he actually had selected a few members of his church who had an Indian background to be a part of his journey group. These were also cat engineers. Well, they met on Wednesday nights at church just happened to be at the same time that this church was hosting their English language learners class. And so what would happen there is you’d see all of these husbands sitting around in the atrium, while their wives were in class. Not uncommon, by the way the husband worked for cat, so they already had decent proficiency in English, but the wives were, for the most part, isolated as a result of the language barrier. So here, the wives would go into the class, and the husband were all just sitting out there. Well, they’re in Journey group. They’re learning to open their eyes to the missional opportunities that they see around them. And so they go, What if we started just a little bit later? What if we pushed our group back 1520 30 minutes and invested in these husbands? What could happen? Well, I mean, you know how the story’s gonna go, right? God called one of those husbands was actually in their journey group that next year, because he had come to Christ. But it’s even cooler than that, because the pandemic hit not long afterwards. And although Zoom is awful in so many ways, it does have one advantage. And that’s that is not bound by geography. So they hosted some exploratory gospel services, invited all these friends that they were making, they’re in Peoria, but those friends in Peoria invited friends from all over the country and actually even in India, to this gospel service. Why? Because Dale opened his personal history, to the unexpected. Instead of saying, Well, God couldn’t possibly use me with this group. I look different. They’re different. We don’t fit together. He said, Here I am. Senator, here they are, we can reach them, like Jesus, this group they saw, and they called, and those God called got up and followed Jesus. First way, we open up second way that we see here verses 10 and 11. Let’s keep reading. Well, Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? Alright, a little time has passed. This is not immediate This isn’t that evening or anything like that. But a little time has passed and Matthew invites Jesus to his house, along with a whole bunch of like real sinners. Sidenote, this is a huge part of our evangelism strategy at Cityview right here, right, it says he invited them over to his house. You know the word for house or IKEA, right there, you know, cousins with our oil costs word that is Matthew is reaching his sphere of influence. And the good news is that Matthew sphere of influence is centers with one The problems we have with being church folk, is after a while you realize I don’t know anyone, except for church folk. One of the reasons why we’re always so grateful to when sinners come into our church, because it’s like, look, we need your friends. Okay? Can you if you make some introductions for us? Can we have a party at your house, that’s what’s happening here. But notice, this is the part that shocks me is that these sinners, these outcasts, this aidid group, like the tax collectors, they came to Jesus, they wanted to be near him. Even despite his impeccable lifestyle, he was without sin, the only one of us without sin. And that’s shocking, because usually sinners don’t like to hang around with the holier than thou types. And there was no one holier than Jesus may in fact, you may be here this morning, and a little skeptical of church folk, because of that holier than thou thing. We apologize for that that’s not who Jesus is, though. We have to ask ourselves, why did they come to him? Why are they flocking to Jesus? And then the follow up question, of course is, do they come to us? And if not, why not? They came to Jesus because they saw in Jesus true gospel love. They knew that he would love them completely, even if he knew them completely, could know them from the inside out all their junk and would still love them, do our lives communicate that same heart? I mean, it’s true. We won’t love all that everyone does. That’s fair. Love gets angry at anything that threatens to destroy the beloved and sin destroys sure we won’t love all that you do. But we will always love you. Is that what our lives communicate? Mean? How complete is Jesus’s acceptance here? How fully does he enter into a relationship with these notorious sinners? He doesn’t just eat the word there is actually he reclines with them, he reclines with them. Now table fellowship is a big deal in the ancient Near East like this is saying something about these people he opened himself up entirely to them. I know some of you remember at Psalm one and journey groups and you got questions now. Bless it is the one who does not walk in step with wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers. And Jesus didn’t just walk or stand or sit, he’s lying down now. But we know what someone’s talking about is talking about influence but whose delight is in the law of the Lord who meditates on it day and night. I will not be influenced by sin. But Jesus has not been influenced by Jesus is influencing sinners. That’s what’s happening here. And he’s still doing it today. He’s still willing to have this type of fellowship with me who will come. Even today, even with you, Revelation three, verse 20, here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and do just what I did with Matthew and his friends will eat with that person. Now I know the context, Revelation three, he is speaking there to a wayward church. Absolutely. But Matthew nine, our passage here makes clear the wider application, Jesus will join you. For me, if you will invite him he’s not embarrassed to be seen with you. He’s not embarrassed to be seen with anyone. Because all are welcome to come the fall to trust him. That’s not always true of those who claim Christ is it. And look at verse 11. When the Pharisees saw this, well, the religious they got a big problem with what’s happening here, don’t they?
Because for many religion is about closing yourself off. It’s about separating from them, the icky people, and there is an element of separation. Of course, that’s what holiness mean, but we are set apart in terms of our behavior, not in terms of our relationships. But for some religion becomes about separation and distinction. We’re better we’re cleaner because we are not like them. Sinners didn’t flock to the Pharisees, because they knew they were unwelcome. But Jesus is different. And God help us if we claim Christ we should be different to should be no one unwelcome who’s willing to hear no finite number of chances before you’re like Well, that’s it that person is no good. No Have you ever been to public pools like a hotel or something like that, and it’s got this sign up there that says you must shower before entering the pool. I think that’s what we do with our churches sometimes, right? You got to shower before you come in. You got to get your life in order before you’re welcome in here. That’s not how Jesus approached this, the only requirement is come, come on in, the doors are open, be sure of this. The greatest roadblock to revival is religion is religious folk, who want to hoard the seed of the gospel in their silos instead of scattering it freely in the hopes that all will come. And that is why as we said, week, one revival always, always, always begins in the church. When people like us realize we’re not following Jesus, and we repent, and maybe even convert, and then reach out to sinners. Think of how powerful a witness this would be. If this is the kind of church we were Rosaria Butterfield tells the story in her book, The Gospel comes with the hausky, which is all about this, what we’re talking about this morning, so the whole book is really about a story of her befriending a new neighbor across the street, who was kind of a weird dude. And had a girlfriend who was a weird dudette. And they were weird, and no one really liked them. But they became friends. Kids became friends with this guy, they like, you know, walk their dogs together, all that kind of stuff. How weird was he turns out, he was running a meth lab in his house. That’s what was happening. Well, they found this out when, you know, the FBI came and raided the house. And so the whole neighborhood’s in a tizzy over you’re gonna have their windows open and stuff, because there’s a danger that this noxious fumes could blow up and kill a bunch of people kind of thing. So So everybody’s freaking out the neighborhood. So the Butterfields open their home, really their front lawn to everyone in the neighborhood, they invited 300 people over to dinner that night to just have some conversation about this, especially because they knew that the Butterfield’s were the ones who were friends with these people. Some of the neighbors were angry with the Butterfields for this. And here’s the quote, This is what one of the neighbors said you want to know the problem with you Christians. You Christians are so open minded, your brains are falling out of your ears. I want to make sure you heard that you Christians are so open minded. That is not what people accuse Christians of being typically. Butterfield writes this after he says that the whole neighborhood accused us of loving this sinner was likely the best Christian witness we ever had. painful as it was, and it could be painful, but that’s exactly what’s happened to Jesus here. Jesus, you’re too open minded. You’re too open arm to open life, to let these people in. But how powerfully would that openness speak today to a culture that talks a big talk about openness and tolerance, but does not actually live it out? But you understand this requires openness. How do we pursue revival we open up but how do we open up we open your home to the unwelcome unwelcome maybe in your eyes. These are not my people. unwelcome maybe in their eyes, they’re gonna they would never let me in. I mean this figuratively and literally, so open home in the sense of just throw your the doors of your life open, but also literally open your home like we need to practice gospel hospitality. Whether that involves inviting someone over to dinner or just making eye contact with people on the street that otherwise you would look down as they were passing by. Now I can hear 150 objections fluttering through your brains right now. What’s the objection? It’s messy. It’s messy. I want to do this. And I get it. It is messy. And I don’t like messy. I have a son who’s not quite to I have been heard to say to him many, many times. But uh, you can’t hug data right now. You’re covered in peanut butter. Okay, like you need to deal with that. And then we’ll talk about hooks. I don’t like messes. So I get it. It’s messy. It’s also Christ like Kim Reisman, who does some outreach help with the Wesleyan Church here in the States tells a story about a local church that was hosted a dinner for the homeless pretty routinely. I think it was monthly and she’s like, this is great. This is what churches should be doing. Tell me about it. What do you do like wow, then the whole church is involved. There’s so much to do. All these people are setting up and they make the food. And then of course, we got somebody who shares a devotional during the dinner and then there’s all have a clean up afterwards and she’s listening and she says, Does anyone sit with them during the dinner? You could see the pastor was just like, that had never even occurred to be a normal person had not occurred to me in ministry. Because that’s the problem we have. What that’s what I mean, by open your home, like open your life, to those who are unwelcome. So what might this look like? Practically because I know some of you are going I don’t know where to start here. We do offer some ways to do this. In ministries we partner with a church or run here at church, we have a lot of Christians against poverty debt counseling center that we run here, and people who are saddled with debt are, you know, sometimes unwelcome, like that’s mess that we can enter into for sure, I know that they would be happy for more volunteers, we’ve got the clothes closet that we run monthly here. And yeah, you could just come and fold clothes. Sure, you could also engage with the people who are shopping for the clothes here. And that’s something else. We’ve got Safe Families, which is very definitely opening your home. We know what that’s like, like that was a dump truck of peanut butter. Just our house is never gonna be clean again, kind of thing in a good way, in a good way. So sure, there’s that but with the first point about just opening your eyes and seeing people like we’re talking about the people around you, too. I don’t think you need to do this through the church who’s on your block. Who do you see when you get coffee every morning? Who is the parent on your kids team or something like that? Like who do you know who’s gotten mental health struggles? That’s peanut butter, isn’t it? You gotta clean that off before I’m gonna hug you. Who do you know who’s shut in? are isolated in some other way? Who’s in tough circumstances, the single mom who’s just barely scraping by or maybe it is like our friend Dale, the immigrant, the refugee. Like Dale, I’ll tell you another story from Dale. Now his eyes are open as a home is open at this point, even to people who don’t look like he does. So he’s expanding his reach. There’s a college down there in Peoria. So he invited a grad student who was doing some internship stuff at cat and all that is another Indian student invited him over for dinner him and his family. He knew what the guy said to him when he got there. He said, We’ve been living in this country for two years. This is the first time anyone’s invited us into their home. What there’s no church in Peoria What is wrong with us? What is wrong with us? We got to deal with this. By the way, it is fine to go to them. I’ve shared a lot of examples ways we can go to people it is so powerful to invite them in to your home. We don’t like to do that. That’s boundaries. This is a safe place clean place. What if they break something? What do they smell funny? That smell just lingers in our home? I got news for you you stink to spiritually speaking. And what did Jesus say to you? Well, he did come to us, thank God but then he said I’m gonna go back I’m gonna build you a room in my Father’s house even though you stink.
Think again, how powerful this could be in our culture. Jen Pollock Michel wrote an article of Christianity Today a few months back dealing with school shootings in particular. And she said it’s time to move past tired debates. What we need is more guns or fewer guns or any of that kind of stuff. She said, what we need to do in the words of missionary Andrew walls is to embody alternatives, that challenge culture. That’s what Christians are called to do. By the way, that means we got to get our face out of cable news and into Scripture so that we can begin to embody alternatives that are taken from the Word of God and not from our culture. But she says this, she says you want to solve this issue. We know the profile of these troubled teens. I don’t mean to stereotype here. This is not to say that everyone like this will be a school shooter. But it’s just that every school shooter is in this category. Gotta make sure you got your logic going here. Okay, we what I just said, we know the profile, it is a traumatized loner. And more than that, every time one of these happens, what do we find next? Their social media profile, their YouTube channel, their journals? What do we see in it? The pain leaks in everything they do, so that they’re always these warning signs that everybody ignored? What if we didn’t ignore them? Like this is a cry for embrace, but we are too busy to isolate and to online to care, but care we must as Christians, what if every Christian just looked at our neighbors? There’s a Christian on every block in America. I guarantee that. What if every Christian just looked at their neighbors and opened their homes? Might we have solved this problem? And it wasn’t a political solution. Big surprise, we welcome the unwelcome precisely because God welcomed us When he should have slammed the door in our faces, we open our home. The unwelcome last point. Then, the third way we open up verses 12 and 13. On hearing this, Jesus said, It is not that healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But go and learn with this means I desire mercy, not sacrifice for I have not come to call the righteous but sinners. So Jesus learns of their questions the Pharisees questions and responds to lovingly but firmly sinners need forgiveness, like the sick need healing. And so he says, I’m reaching out to centers for the same reason that doctors visit patients, not despite their sickness, but precisely because of it. Why are you hanging out with sinners? Why did doctors hang out with sick people? What did you think was going to happen here? Now, you have to be clear here. He is not suggesting that the Pharisees don’t need him that the Pharisees aren’t sick. The point he’s making is that the tax collectors are at least aware of their sickness. Because who goes to a doctor, it’s the person who feels crummy. So they got symptoms. And what’s most dangerous, of course, is when you have no symptoms, and the sickness is just eating you away from the inside. That’s the problem with the Pharisees. We know that Jesus is saying this to the Pharisees because he quotes from Hosea, which Kyle read for us earlier. He quotes it with a standard rabbinic intro, by the way when he says but go and learn what this means. That’s what the rabbi’s would say to their pupils, but he’s speaking to the rabbi’s. So there’s a little bit of a twist to the knife here to kind of say you think you’re teachers, but you have not understood the Word of God yet go and learn. listen more carefully. Because what does Hosea say here? God through his prophet Jose accuses Israel, of losing the center, the heart of their faith, despite keeping the formal ritual in place. He’s saying you guys are actually apostate, you do not belong to the one you call God. It doesn’t matter what practices you’ve got in your life that’s important for us. You could go to church weekly. You could open your Bible daily. You could probably even mumble some prayers and have absolutely no relationship with Jesus. Like there’s a word for us today, of course, but what does that mean that Jesus is saying here? Jesus is not just saying, Look, Pharisees, you guys need to have more sympathy for sinners. That’s not it because then he wouldn’t use the word compassion, not mercy, the word mercy here. And Hosea is the is the word for God’s covenant love. It’s basically grace. You need grace, not ritual. So what is he saying to the Pharisees not you need to have more sympathy for sinners. He’s saying you are also apostate. unregenerate, you do not belong to God, because you kept the formal shell of religion, ritual purity, but you’ve lost its center. at its root, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what Messiah came to do Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, what did they think the Messiah was gonna come to do? They thought he was gonna crush sinners, like tax collectors and Romans and exalt the righteous will call them Pharisees. No, Messiah came to forgive and transform sinners into the truly righteous, which is not a matter of the outside. But an internal change first, then manifests in an outward change of behavior. He came to forgive and transform sinners and to dismiss the religious hypocrites. No relevance, I’m sure today for anyone in the church. No one here who just wants people to change their behavior, so that they’re good like me. When God is in the business of changing hearts This is the gospel motivation for our outreach by the way, this is what will propel us the impetus for us to keep doing this. It is driven by our understanding of our sin and God’s grace. We are all equally undeserving and yet God welcomes us at the cost of his son. He reclines with rebels like us. This is a Romans five eight sort of love of God demonstrates His Don’t love for us in this. While we were still sinners while we were still covered in peanut butter. Christ died for us that should shock and humble us, and then should send us out proclaiming news this good to everyone that requires openness. How do we pursue revival we open up? How do we open up, you got to open your heart to the undeserving. Open your heart to the undeserving. And by the way, that is, all of us. Every one of us you to sinners need salvation, absolutely. But the religious, too often are unwilling to grant it as if it were ours to grant anyway. But Jesus is willing to heal all. So we want to exclude, to feel better about ourselves, but not Jesus, because Jesus is the friend of sinners. And thank God Jesus is the friend of hard hearted saints, who are actually sinners, and who finally realize it. And he’s willing to heal all of us. So we should be willing to share the gift of grace with all and not to rule anyone out. It’s a bit ironic, I’ll grant but this room right here, this should be the place where sinners feel the most welcome. And we’re self proclaimed saints feel the most put out. That’s what this room should be. It’s this wonderful tension in the Gospel, isn’t it? That the gospel calls out our sin boldly, but meets us with Grace beautifully. So the Gospels not going to lie and tell you that you’re okay as you are because you’re not, you need to change. But the gospel also won’t leave you there either. And in this, it provides us with true hope, the hope we’re longing for I need to change and by the grace of God, I actually can change even bad sinners like Matthew and his friends. That’s the message we proclaim when we open our hearts to the undeserving. Can we just agree that the fields are ripe for harvest where sin abounds? Because those are the people who are feeling the symptoms? Who know they need a doctor. How do we pursue revival we open up? We open our history, the unexpected. We open our homes, the unwelcome we open our hearts to the undeserving. And I know you I see you you’re all sitting there and you are so desperate for your I word this week. What is my take away? Cooper? Just give it to me.
You got your last few of course, two weeks ago, our AI word was intercede. I think it’s worth asking that one still? Are you actually praying for the people around you? Has been this become a burden in your life. You’re constantly crying out to God for them. And then last week, just as Jesus saw the crowds, and had compassion on them, we identify the people around us who are in need of compassion, who are in need of grace. And that’s everyone, by the way, so should be really easy to identify people. Third, what do we do after we identify them when we sense God calling us to minister to somebody, we invest? We invest in their lives, we invest in people, like I said in the introduction, this is not a crazy new strategy. It’s not exciting. It’s not faddish, because we don’t want to do faddish things because those are just dumb, okay. Just be a normal person, interact well with the people in your life, invest in the relationships in a word. Just love. Really just love people. That’s all I’ve said. 40 minutes said you just love people. We open our arms wide, willing to embrace anyone and everyone. In fact, that idea of embrace the hug. That’s where we started, right? The nice place the hug is a good illustration. For what I’m talking about here. There are three distinct stages to a hug, or you open your arms. Then you got to wait. And if the person comes, you close. There’s actually a fourth stage. At some point, you should open your arms. That’s to send them out do the same in the lives of others. But let’s look at those three stages. So you open your arms, you open your arms that’s reached out to all those groups. I mentioned the peanut butter challenge groups in our lives. You open your doors, your homes, your lives. One way to do this, literally and metaphorically is we’re backyard culture, we need to become a front yard culture, again, just live, where you can interact with people. This can be very intentional. I know of a church where everyone in that church has chosen two or three families that either live by them, or if they live too far away, live by the church. And they’ve got these two or three families, you know what they’re doing with them. Just getting to know them. That’s it. Just get to know them invest in people, like let’s do that. Let’s be willing to break barriers as we do. Like maybe those two or three families are saddled with that. Homeless, immigrants. loners shut ins. What do we do next? So you open your arms, and then you gotta wait. You gotta wait. We cannot make people embrace us. We really can’t make people embrace the gospel. That is not our job. But the offer is there. Now invest is a great word, because most investments take time. Like how’s your stock portfolio doing? Some of you are glad like me that I got a few decades left at least before I need to tap into this. investments take time, you might have to wait. But we’re always there. And the arms are always open. Or evangelism today will often be a chaplaincy ministry. Because chaplains are always there ready to talk. But usually people don’t call on them. Until crisis hits. And that may be what it is for us think of the parable of the prodigal son, which by the way, is this whole sermon in a parable of what happens the son comes home, the the dad arms are open and he’s waiting. We know he’s waiting because he saw the guy from a long way off. He’s always been looking for him. Good, we got that part. But why did the son come home because there was a famine. Because there was a famine. So he ran out of money. So all of a sudden, that’s what woke him up. So he came to his senses. We may be standing here until famine hits. But we wait. We wait, arms open. And then lastly, when they come we embrace. This is when we welcome people into our history into our home, into our heart into our church, and best of all into the kingdom of God. We love because he first loved us and just as he embraced us when we believe we will embrace those around us. So open up have compassion on the harass the hurting the helpless around you. Open your history to the unexpected. Your homes, the unwelcome your hearts, the undeserving, let’s pray
Father, how grateful we are that you open yourself up to us. We know this was not without costs. When Jesus stretched wide his arms to embrace us We nailed them to across love costs. We know that. But with a love like that showered upon us with a welcome that we’ve received even though we were sinners in rebellion against you, how could we not welcome others? Love them open our lives to them? So God would you help us to open our eyes to see the people around us. And then help us to open our hearts and homes and lives to those people, to love them where they are. To love them well in the Gospel, and to call them into your Kingdom trusting Lord, that you will call some they will get up they will follow you. And that’s why we’re doing this Lord. That’s what we pray for. So this series is about how we longed to see revival. Whether it’s extraordinary or ordinary Lord, would you call would you call people into your kingdom? Would you use us to do so? Would you help us to love them? Well, to grow them up in Christ, we pray for the glory of your name, amen.