Setting the Stage 4/16/23
Setting the Stage
Setting the Stage
Good morning everyone. My name is Josh, I’m the preaching minister here at ACC.
And if you’re wondering why I introduced myself like that, just hold that thought. we’re going to talk about that.
Prepare Us to Study the Book of Matthew
Prepare Us to Apply the book of Matthew
Specifics not General
Not going to talk about vague Ideas
Going to Point out Specific places where we are doing well as a church, and specific places where we are failing and need to do better.
What that means:
Some of this sermon is going to make you feel good
I’m going to point out some specific places where you are doing an amazing job
Places where you can be proud of the work that God is doing within this church body.
But some of this message is not going to make you feel that way
We are going to talk about specific areas where we need to do better
I’ll be upfront, some of this message is going to be uncomfortable
You might leave here today and be mad at me
I’m OK with that.
Like in the sports movies
The team goes in to the locker room, and they’re down at half-time
And they feel really bad
The coach comes in and says You’ve got to be better on defense, you’ve got to be going for those rebounds.
and he coaches them. He point out where they need to do better, he points out where they’re doing well and need to continue doing well
And the result is that they are inspired, they have a plan, and they go out in the second half and — at least in the movies — they take back the lead and win the game.
That’s my goal. I want today to be a rallying point for us as a church. Where we fight back, and claw back, and accomplish the Goal God has set before us. And that goal is:
Kingdom of Heaven
We’re going to be spending the summer in the book of Matthew. In this book alone, Jesus says the word kingdom 54 Times. More often than any other book in the new testament
In the book of Matthew alone, Jesus talks about the Kingdom more than all of Paul’s letters combined.
It was a big deal for Jesus
And it was a big deal for Matthew
Out of all four accounts of the Gospel Matthew is the one who tells us about what Jesus has to say about the Kingdom the most. More than Mark and Luke, and John. And it’s not even close
When Matthew sat down and was like “I’m going to write about the life of Jesus” “The Kingdom” And everything Jesus had to say about the Kingdom of Heaven was the thing that he remembered the most.
Who was Matthew
Matthew was one of the twelve. He was formerly a Tax-collector, which means he had a lot of experience working directly for the Roman kingdom, and then working directly with Jesus.
So that was a big theme for him.
Matthew looked back on the Old Testament, at the time he would have just called it “the Bible”
And he looked back on Genesis, he looked back on King Saul and King David, and and all failed kings from the Bible
And then he looked at Jesus and said this the one we’ve been waiting for.
When the time comes for you to die, I will raise up your descendant, one of your own sons, to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for my name, and I will make his dynasty permanent.
The purpose of Matthew
When Matthew sat down to write this book, he had a purpose in mind, which was to convince you to Join, and serve, and follow this king in his kingdom.
And to devote your entire existence to service in His Kingdom, doing whatever the King asks of you.
Here’s what Matthew is not. And this is important.
Matthew is Not a chronology of the Life of Jesus.
Matthew actually tells some of the story out of order, or he takes a lot of the teachings of Jesus and re-arranges them or lumps them all together. on purpose.
So if you have this idea that Everything that Matthew talks about in the life of Jesus is exactly the Order it happened in the Life of Jesus, I want you to get that idea out of your head.
If you want a chronology, Read Mark
Mark is the book where he’s like
This thing happened, and then this thing happpened, and then this thing happened, and then they killed Jesus, and he rose from the dead, the end.
Mark’s goal was just to tell you the facts, Mark doesn’t explain it to you, mark doesn’t tell you why it’s important,
Mark doesn’t give you details
Mark is just like “And then Jesus got Baptized”
and you’re like what?! why would Jesus get baptized?!
Matthew is the one who is like “it was done to fulfill all righteousness”
Mark is like: “Then jesus was tempted by satan in the desert, and then he went to gallilee and called simon and andrew, and then they went to capernaum”
and you’re like woah woah woah, back up there, did you say Satan in the desert?!
Matthew is the one who is like “here’s what happened. Here’s why it’s important. Here’s the scripture that was fulfilled.
How we’re going to read Matthew
I’m not going to stress the order of things and how they happened in the actual life of Jesus, because that wasn’t what he was going for.
The other thing that we’re not going to do is we’re not going to compare and contrast what Matthew wrote with what Mark or Luke or John wrote
Matthew had a different goal than mark or luke or John.
And I want to give Matthew all of the attention he deserves
I want to hear him out
Because the Holy spirit worked through matthew, and God made sure that Matthew wrote exactly what God wanted matthew to write.
But matthew was a real person
He had a personality, he had a relationship with Jesus, he had certain things that he rememberd Jesus saying that he thought were more important to write down than others. He had a style of writing.
Even the way he organized his book shows us a little bit of his style
Remember I told you he didn’t write chronologically
He actually broke his book up into five major chapters
There’s five big speeches of Jesus that are the pillars, and then the takes the story and inserts the story in between all of those five big speeches.
He’s very subtly trying to remind us of the five books of Moses.
So don’t think of Matthew as a linear chronology of the life of Jesus. Mark already did that.
Think of Matthew as a work of Art, where he is pointing you to the king.
And how we should relate to the king in his kingdom.
Then Jesus went throughout all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest-ready fields.”
If we are subjects in his kingdom, our entire existence is predicated on this verse
God has given us this kingdom, and our Job is to grow it.
To plant seeds, to make disciples, to Grow God’s church.
In order to do that we need this place to be the kind of place where people show up and say “This is it! This is the kingdom!”
Last week during our Easter service
That was one of the most incredible experiences of my life
I had asked you all to bring a word of scripture, a song to sing,
I’ll be honest there was a little part of me that thought “what if nobody participates”
What if this whole thing is bust, and nobody brings any food, and I have to try and muddle through leading some songs and communion,
You guys went above and beyond
I had people texting me: hey can we sing this song? can you get the words printed out?
Hey can you get this video up so we can sing with it?
I asked for a communion meditation, and on the spot we had that amazing story about the bummer lambs.
you brought your families, you made visitors and guests feel welcome
you did that.
I want us to do more like that. That felt like family
Last October when we handed out candy on halloween
you showed up.
you brought candy
you dressed up in silly costumes
you invited people to it
you played games with the kids
you did that
We have a Children’s ministry
I know it seems silly, and I know it’s small, and we don’t always do the best job organizing it
I know that some weeks the children’s ministry is just my two kids
But you know what, it’s a heck of a LOT more than the children’s ministry we had before which was nothing
you did that. you volunteered. You brought crafts. You brought gifts. My daughter takes that little bunny she got last week everywhere.
I want us to grow that
But here’s the deal, we’re just gettin started. There are a lot of places where we need to dig deep and continue to grow
We’re still not at the point where parents don’t feel like this is a good place to take their kids to church
We’re working on it, but as it stands right now, we’ve got some work to do.
And we need your help
we need your ideas. We need you to walk into this building every sunday and pretend like you have three kids that you just spent the last 2 hours getting into clothes and shoes early on a sunday morning when you could have just as easily plopped them in front of cartoons. But you came here.
And what do you feel when you come in
What do you like?
What don’t you like?
what do you wish was better?
Here’s the deal a lot of these things fall on me. and Ron, and stew.
and so I guess what I’m really trying to say is we’re falling short as leadership, and we need help.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
I need you to be coming to me and saying this stinks
we should be doing X instead.
And you have done that.
Another area where we’re trying to do better is worship
You've all pretty much grabbed us by the shoulders and said “we want new music”
So we’re bringing that to you.
But again, here’s where I need your help
I’m going to be busy in the mornings getting the guitar and the sound ready and all of that stuff
which mean’s I’m not going to be at the door welcoming people into the building
So I need someone to step up and volunteer to come a little early and just camp out by the front door and hold open the door and say come in, welcome to Alliance Christian Church.
I haven’t been able to do that as much, and that’s another area where I could use some help.
Something as simple as hey I’m gonna come a little early and greet people at the door
Because again, I want us to think about what Church is like for the new person who’s never been here before.
Final thing, that falls on me and stew and ron. 100%, and so all I need from you all is just patience
And that’s the fact that our biggest strength, the fact that we’re such a tight knit family, end up being our biggest weaknesss
What do I mean by that?
When I stand up here to preach a sermon, or to give a communion meditation
you all know who I am.
you know what my role is in the church
I’m coming up on a year of being here
You know who doesn’t know me from adam?
that new person who walks in
So for us, for ron, for stew, for me, for Marie,
we need to be in the habit of saying “good morning, my name is Josh, I’m the preaching minister here at alliance Christian Church”
Because if we don’t do it now, it’s not going to be a habit
When we take communion, everyone here knows the drill
everyone knows that after the presenter takes the elements, he goes and sits down ,and then the first row comes up, and then the next and the next.
you know who doesn’t know that? the visitors don’t know that
because we don’t explain it, and then one of you has to lean over and touch them on the shoulder and let them know they can take communion
and they end up feeling awkward, and they feel like they don’t belong
And so we need to do better at explaining it, and saying how it needs to happen
And with these things, all I need from you is just the understanding that it’s going to be a little bit weird, and to just be ok with that. Because I need to build that habit every single week, so that it become second nature
I’m going to say Good morning My name is Josh, even though you’ve all known me for almost a year
I’m going to invite you to become a christian, and call you to even though most of you were baptized before I was born
The point of it all
Again, I’m not bringing all of this stuff up with the goal of making us feel bad. That’s not it at all.
I’ve just spent a lot of time reading this book, and looking at the things that Jesus has asked us to do in the book of Matthew. And I’m just taking a running inventory of where where we’re meeting Jesus’ expectations, and what we need to work on.
In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.
We’re doing that. Nobody would ever accuse this church of not letting their light shine
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I think we’re actively trying to do that.
And I know that sometimes it feels like running uphill in sand, trying to grow this church
I get a little sad and discouraged every time I look back there and see that empty baptismal.
But we can do this
God can do this.
The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is going to raise up this church, and build up this kingdom. and honor the king.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
I know I’ve talked about how this verse comes with a caveat
if it’s god’s will
but you know what, I believe that the Bible teaches that it is God’s will to grow his kingdom