This is NOT DiY- #4 Time For Repair

2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Galatians 5:14 ESV 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Colossians 3:13 (ESV)

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

A house does not fall into disrepair overnight. Neither does a church. It’s often a through focusing on the past, without looking to what lies ahead. Last time we talked about tradition versus traditionalism, and its effect on a church. Today, we are going to look ahead to what lies in front of us. Addressing what needs repair and restoration. 

We have addressed the foundation.  We have talked about a clear view of the 3 p’s, a clear view of the purpose of the local church, ministries that fit with our God given passions, and the people in our community that God has uniquely equipped us to reach.  

After we have addressed the foundation, we need to look at what is there. What resources does the church have that will pull it closer to a clear view and execution of the 3 P’s? Once we have determined the vision, the foundation going forward, then it’s time to start looking at the ministries and programming of the church.  

We pull out the damaged or no longer effective material: 

Just like remodeling a house, a church in transition needs to have everything examined and questioned. Is this program or ministry fulfilling the cause of Christ or the preference of us? Is the ministry or program still effective? Was it started in another era and carried on only for traditions sake? Has the ministry simply “run its course”? 

Another issue I see in churches that I’ve worked with is that they have ministries or programming that were started when there many more in attendance than what there are presently. This stretches thin people and financial resources. By continuing the ministry or program “because we’ve always done it” overcommits the church, based on its resources.  

Church consultant Thom Rainer also has encountered this many times and had this to say about it: 

Many churches have become too busy for their own good. The overcommitted church has become the ineffective church. 

  1. Programs and ministries became ends instead of means. I recently asked a pastor why he continued a ministry that had dwindled from 220 participants to 23 participants. “Because,” he said, “this program is a part of the history and heritage that defines our church.” Warning: If a program defines your church, your church is in trouble. 
  1. Failure of churches to have a clear purpose. Even the best of churches can only do so many things well. Once a church has no clear and defining purpose, it has no reason to start or discontinue a program or ministry.  
  1. Fear of eliminating. Once a program, ministry, or activity has begun, it can be exceedingly difficult to let it die. Sometimes leaders lack courage to kill programs. Sometimes they are blinded to the need to kill programs. Sometimes they hesitate to kill a program because they don’t know a better alternative. We need more churches in the program killing business. 

About two years ago at this time, we and some friends and family were knee deep in some remodel work that most would call minor. All involved would have called it major, because we were the ones doing it. We had a house in Missouri that I mentioned last week rented out. The renter was leaving, we were ready to sell. One problem. The renter and her dogs had trashed the inside of the house and had not taken care of the outside. 

We had to rip out carpets, paint the subfloor with Kilz, replace several broken interior doors, repair a couple holes in the drywall, and clean up outside, before we could replace paint and floors, then get the house ready to sell.  

Maybe this is where we are. Things have been let go for too long. Maybe we need to put on our work gloves and make some major changes before we can go forward. We need to regularly be in prayer about this. All of us. 

Just like a home that has had damaged carpet, there may be underlying issues that need addressing. In a church, that may be dealing with some damaged or broken relationships.  

We work to repair the relationships  

There are three types of relationships that we need to seek to repair as we go forward in this time of transition. The first and most important is the relationship between man and God. Then we need to look at the relationships between those in this room. And finally, the relationships between the congregation and community. If any of these three are not right, we will not be able to fulfill all that God has called us to do. The only way to repair those relationships is through asking forgiveness.  

Between man and God 

I want to be clear and never assume anything. I do not truly know the hearts of everyone reading. In moving forward, I want to make sure that we are all “plowing in the same direction”. I am going to share the following for two reasons. 1) to make it clear that everyone listening, whether in this room, “on the cloud, in the cloud, or even if your head is in the clouds” has an opportunity to hear the Gospel today. Like CH Spurgeon often said and did “take the text and make a beeline to the Cross”. And 2) I posed the question last week of what if someone at work, or in the grocery store, or even in your family asked what the Gospel is, or why it makes a difference in your life. Could you give a quick, clear and concise answer? If you answered “no”, let’s start toward making that a “yes”

The following is an acrostic that Dare2Share developed several years ago as a way to teach teenagers to not only be able to share the Gospel, but for the teenagers to be able to share the Gospel. Some of you have learned the Romans Road, the Four Spiritual Laws, or many other methods of sharing your faith over the years.  

It’s kind of like choosing a Bible translation. A friend of mine, who was a former Deacon at a church I served told me often. “For the most part, which translation of the Bible is the best? The one you’ll read and live… “

It’s not a “silver bullet”, “magic formula” or anything like that. Its another tool for the tool box. Because the thing you fix with a screwdriver can’t be fixed with a hammer.  

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2) 

In these two chapters God creates all of the universe and everything in it (Genesis 1:1) God made them to be in complete fellowship with Him and with each other.  

The only command God gave to them was not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – you had one job! 

Our sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3) 

When Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6), and thereby sinned, they immediately became aware of their “error.” Men and women have been hiding from God ever since, covering their sin and shame with the fig leaves of religion or philosophy. 

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 – Malachi 4) 

From the beginning humanity has attempted to remove the stain of sin by good deeds. When Cain offered God vegetables as an appeasement for his sin God rejected it (Genesis 4:1-4).  

The rest of the Old Testament tells the story of the Jewish people, some of whom realized they were sinners and needed God to save them (Psalm 51:1,2) and most of whom trusted in their own goodness instead of the mercy and grace of God (Isaiah 64:6). 

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke) 

When Jesus came to the earth he came as the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17) and the ultimate sacrifice (Luke 24:46). He lived the perfect life that we could not live and died in our place, for our sin. When he died upon the cross he screamed the words “It is finished” (John 19:30). As a perfect human he could die for other humans.  

Jesus rose from the dead three days after he was murdered on the cross (Mark 16:6). He was seen by over 500 witnesses (I Corinthians 15:6) on at least 12 separate occasions over the course of forty days (Acts 1:3). Because he died our sins are paid for entirely. Because he rose from the dead we know that Jesus was who he claimed to be, God in the flesh. 

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John) 

The amazing thing about eternal life is that it is a free gift given to us by God through faith alone and not by any of our good deeds (Ephesians 2:8,9). When we believe that Jesus died for our sins and trust in Him alone we receive eternal life, are passed out of death into life and are guaranteed a home in heaven (John 5:24). 

Eternal life is not achieved by good deeds but received through faith. It’s not a matter of trying but trusting. When we believe we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Almost the entire New Testament is dedicated to talking about this eternal life and the implications of it in our everyday lives.  

Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts – Revelation) 

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead we will be with Jesus forever in heaven. When we trust in Jesus we enter into a personal, permanent relationship with God called “eternal life.” 

Part of the reality of eternal life is that it doesn’t start after you die but as soon as you believe (John 10:10). This life is the joy of a real, exciting relationship with Jesus every single day through prayer, worship and living in the strength that God provides through his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). 

Once we receive it is ours forever and we are his forever! 

New life with God makes us a new creation! 

Which takes us to one of our passages for today – 2 Corinthians 5:17  

2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

The Clarke Commentary explains this passage beautifully: 

The man is not only mended, but he is new made; he is a new creature, a new creation, a little world in himself; formerly, all was in chaotic disorder; now, there is a new creation, which God himself owns as his workmanship, and which he can look on and pronounce very good 

If you believe in and follow Christ, you are a new creation. Do you live like it? Do you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you daily? Or do you still live in the weakness of this worldly flesh? One of the things that can trap us in old patterns is a lack of forgiveness and grace in our lives. Refusing to forgive others, refusing to forgive ourselves. Let’s look a little deeper at our relationship with others.  

Between believers  

Colossians 3:13 (ESV) 

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

If you are living like you have been redeemed, are you extending to other believers the grace you have received? 

Are we working past disagreements with other believers that may not be in our congregation or denomination? Are there long standing grudges? It could be a misunderstanding that was never cleared up.  

We must forgive to move forward. There is no question about it.  

What about our community? 

Between the congregation and community 

The apostle Paul had a lot to say about our relationships with our neighbors. Here are a couple examples: 

Galatians 5:14 ESV 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV) 

24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 

In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus laid out plainly that our neighbor is those near us.   

Maybe our neighbor is our schools… Today is national pray for school Sunday. Many national ministries have cooperated (including NNYM) to promote a single day at the beginning of the school year to pray for our local schools. We are going to do that in a bit.  

God desires for us to be light in our communities. An old quote from Billy Graham points to this fact.  

God is more interested in your future and your relationships than you are. – Billy Graham 

My question this morning is this: As we see to repair the relationships in our lives – Between God and Man, between believers, an between in our church and the community we have ask ourselves, – Are we a lighthouse in our community, shining the light of Christ, or hiding that light under a bushel basket?  

What are we doing to share that light of the Gospel? How are we working with other believers to build the kingdom? Are we working with leadership in our communities to build opportunities to share Christ’s love? Schools? Community Groups? Local Youth Sports Leagues? Law enforcement and First Responders? Those in office?  

How can we live the love of Christ to each of these groups?

 Is there a relationship in my life that I need to start working to repair this week? 

Am I regularly praying for those in my local schools? Students, staff and administration? 

What can I do to help this church be a lighthouse for the Gospel in our community?

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