A Superbowl Sermon
A Superbowl Sermon…a week early. Yes, I know Superbowl is next week but this message is in preparation for next week and I’m going to go ahead and get a stir started this morning… Chiefs or Eagles??? Now, I am an odd ball man - I do not care for professional football. Love high school and college football - there is some talent and exciting games. Professional football is like watching two dump trucks smashing into each other. Just doesn’t have the same excitement for me. But…whether I like it or not, there will probably be over 100 million people gathering to watch the game. (We know there have been around 96.4 million during Covid - a 15% decrease but back up to 99.6 million last year only a 12% decrease) . History reveals they have met 9 other times in regular season with Chief winning 5, the Eagles winning 4 AND the last three meetings (2013, 2017, 2021) has shown the Chief’s victorious. According to current statistics, Philadelphia is predicted (50.1%) to win. Wow. Look at those stats. We can break down players, yards rushing, passing yards, touchdowns, and everything we would ever want to know…about football.
Now, let’s take a look at other statistics…there are around 258 million adults in the United States, and of those approximately 70-80 million are professing evangelicals. According to Lifeway, in 2019, 34% of Americans attended a religious service at least once or twice a month. That fell to 31% in 2020 and 28% in 2021. By September 2021, 98% of churches had returned to in-person worship services, according to Lifeway Research. Yet the same study found that the average pastor saw 73% of their church members in person on Sunday mornings. That is an improvement from early 2021 when churches were close to 60% pre-pandemic attendance, but still not at the 91% of churchgoers who said they planned to return when COVID-19 is no longer an active threat to people’s health.
So, football has a 12% decrease in viewers with a rebout of 3% watching in the last year BUT church attendance has decreased 27% with little to no rebound. Those stats don’t make sense.
Now, this isn’t for our regular attenders or our shut ins…I’m preaching to the choir there, but I want you to take time to digest this…If you can quote from heart Jalen Hurt or Patrick Mahones stats, but can’t remember the last time you read your bible, the last time you attended Sunday School, the last time you tithed, the last time you prayed, the last time you attended church in person…then we have a problem.
Now, as I was studying for this message it hit me. We really have three types of people we deal with in churches. We have the team players (those who are faithful and working), we have the arm chair quarterback (those who offers advice, usually complaining or second guessing everything, but never lift a finger to make anything better), and we have the Free Agents (those who will not make any commitments and will abandon ship when something else catches their attention).
Arm Chair Quarterback
Arm Chair Quarterback
How many of you have ever heard the song “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)”? Listen to these lyrics:
Anything you can do, I can do better I can do any thing better than you
No, you can't, yes, I can No, you can't, yes, I can No, you can't, yes, I can, yes I can
Have you ever heard one of these conversations in church??? Maybe not to that extent, but we have biblical examples of people who “thought” they were experts in areas they we still ignorant about.
7 “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? 8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
Jobs friends started out on the right track. They heard of the misfortune of their friend and they went to be with him, support him, and they were quiet for 7 days and 7 nights. But after those 7 days, wow. They all became experts in Job’s calamity. No one who is innocent in the eyes of God could ever be punished. It’s ONLY those who are sinning against God that are judged and punished.
They had no idea God was allowing Job to be tested and tried as an example of faith.
Too often, we want to pass judgment in the same manner. We may be trying to protect or preserve the “golden cow” (in other words something we make an idol in our churches). We may be hesitant to move away from tradition and step out into a new ministry or mission field. Or we may be quick to be critical when a new outreach flounders or fails. All the while, not contributing to anything. We want to look from the outside and judge others … just like Job’s friends. We are acting as Arm Chair Quarterbacks. I had a person early in my ministry make this comment “If you are unwilling to be part of the solution, don’t bring up all the problems”. Kind of harsh, in some ways, but we must also remember scripture tells us we will be judged for the way we judge others and other things.
2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
God will judge us the same way we are judging others right now. AND we receive from other people the same kind of way we judge them.
Christ goes on to warn of this in Luke 6:41-42
41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
We must be careful to not be complacent in our walk with God or the service to the church, and become a salty arm chair quarterback always wanting to tell of how everything should have been done - but never doing anything ourselves.
8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
I love this verse. He will never leave you nor forsake you. But, do we pay the same respect to God as He gives to us? I would want to confidently be able to say “yes”! but I know that is not true. We see examples of this in the Old Testament with Israel.
6 The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him.
Israel was the prime example of forgetting the blessings God had given them. Pray to God for food during a long drought, Joseph had already been placed in Egypt for the preservation of the nation of Israel. After Joseph the new Pharoah saw Israel as a threat and made them servants of Egypt. Pray for release from bondage. Released from slavery, witnesses the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of their captors, complains about being brought out into the wilderness to die. Provided with manna, quail, sweet water, taken to the Promised Land. Told by God they could enter…sent spies over and they convinced themselves they couldn’t. Holy Smokes Batman… it seems as though they deliberately tried to ignore the goodness of God and His provisions for their nation. They were free-agents wandering around to whatever caught their eye. But even though they turned from God, God would not turn from them.
22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.
God loves us so much, He will not give up on us, even though we chase everything else in this world but Him.
As we have said in the past, you may be able to bring people in with a hotdog, but they’ll leave just as quickly for a hamburger somewhere else.
Let me change course a little bit. What is the local church? A corporate body of like-minded believers who (should be) living the great commission in their community. So. Why are there so many denominations, and so many churches in such a small area? From a quick survey, there were 23 churches with a Pennington Gap zip code. Church of God, Methodist, Freewill Baptist, Primitive Baptist, Missionary Baptist, “First” Missionary Baptist (have you ever seen a “Second” Baptist anywhere?), Church of the Living God, Christian Church, and I know that’s not an exhaustive list but my point is this…how many denominations are mentioned in Scripture? NONE - all of us who accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior are Christians. It’s because of human nature that we have denominations and multiple church sites/locations. Remember the song I mentioned earlier “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”???
How many of you have heard the old saying “there’s no “I” in team”? I have used that before, and had one smart aleck say “no but I can spell “me””.
I will step out on faith when I make this statement. I truly believe most of the people who attend churches are good people, committed to their church. They look out for each other, they look out for their community, they work well with others, they are team players. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 we are told:
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
This is an important aspect of our spiritual life also - God does not intend for us to be alone in our ministry. There is strength in numbers! We are able to share not only the load, but lift praises during the successes and encourage one another through the trials of life.
We join together in prayer, we join together in work, and we produce more than any of us could individually. Trying to minister alone is a lonely place to be. It leaves us down trodden, worn out, and vulnerable. Solomon sees this, and makes these observation: If there are two together and one falls there is another to help lift them up. This doesn’t just mean physical falls, but spiritual stumbles also - our Christian friends can help us walk a straight path. If travelling, two can keep each other warm - the heat from one body provides comfort to the other and vice versa. Alone there would be the issue of carrying extra blankets, setting up a tent by yourself, and gathering firewood for extra warmth. The final thing is looking at those who mean to do you harm. You might be overtaken if you are alone, and there is safety in numbers. But also notice Solomon’s use of numbers. He starts with one who is alone, two will withstand, but THREE cords woven together is not easily broken. To me, it shows the perfect example of two working for the Lord and how He weaves himself into their lives to strengthen them to a point they are not easily broken. This can be in a marriage, a friendship, a discipleship or mentorship, the takeaway is there is strength in numbers.
The other consideration about ministering with others is we bring about different strengths that can complement each other. Where one is weak, the other may be strong and vice versa. There is strength in numbers, and especially the spiritual strengths each brings and how they interweave with each other to become the body of Christ.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
We SHOULD BE a body of like-minded believers, praising when others have praises, crying when others have reason to cry, supporting one another, picking each other up, and ministering together and living a life pleasing to the Lord.
But what is reality? We live in a sinful world, living in sinful human flesh, and working along side other sinful people. We have a lot to overcome to be the team, the corporate body, and the FAMILY God wants us to all be. But there first has to be a personal desire. Remember there is no I in team. We must all focus on the same goal, telling others of Christ.
Martin Ralph DeHaan an American Bible teacher, founder of Radio Bible Class, and the co-editor of the monthly devotional guide Our Daily Bread made this comment “God cares nothing about our manmade divisions and groups and is not interested in our self-righteous, hair-splitting, and religious, man-made formulas and organizations. He wants you to recognize the unity of the body of Christ.”
Not only does God want us to recognize the unity of the body of Christ, He wants us to join together in corporate praise and worship.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
But, how can we be the Christian God wants us to be if we don’t commit ourselves to Him? Don’t commit ourselves to a body of believers in a church?
If you have never asked Jesus to save you, today you can have a promise of eternal life in heaven.
If you have never joined the church membership, today we offer you an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of fellowship here at Mount Carmel.
Today, is the day to follow where God is leading. Through salvation, through membership, through rededication. Don’t be an arm chair quarterback. Don’t be a free agent. But be the team player God has called you to be.