Sermon from September 25th, 2016

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“God Is on the Move #3 - The Glorify Project”

Deuteronomy 6:4-8; Ephesians 3:14-21

By Pastor John Bent

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Sermon Text
Good morning and welcome to worship. God is on the move! If that were not true, we’d be wasting our time gathering here this morning. Don’t be afraid of the craziness in the culture around us. Things are not as crazy as they were in the days of the apostle Paul.

The words he wrote then are still true today. Let’s read them together…“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen” Eph 3:20-21

This is the theme for the building of our new sanctuary. God is on the move!  Let’s examine Paul’s words more closely!

“To Him be glory.”  God does what he does for the sake of his own glory.  Why? Because he alone is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. We get uncomfortable when people do things for their own glory because we instinctively know they are grabbing what belongs to God alone. That’s good. But there’s another reason we don’t like glory hounds that isn’t good!
Sometimes we are simply jealous. We want the glory for ourselves. But God isn’t like us, he truly is worthy of glory.  To not give him glory is to refuse to recognize him for who he is. To refuse to honor him and glorify him is to set ourselves in opposition to him.

Paul goes on to give us some reasons why the Lord deserves glory.  “He is able”.  God is the source of all power and ability.  Your power and ability come from him.  Jesus said, “without me, you can do nothing”.  So whatever your skill set is, it came from God as a gift to you.

Have you noticed that your ability is limited? You might be the best in the world at what you do right now, but tomorrow that will change. God’s ability is limitless, it never changes. He alone is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”.

The deeper scientists look into their instruments. The more mathematicians and physicists discover about the nature of creation, the more immense and complex it becomes. Our God specializes in what is humanly impossible.  That’s important to remember. But we should also remember, with God, all things are possible - even the salvation of a sinner like me.

Paul’s next phrase blows my mind! This power is at work in us, God’s people.  Are we willing to be channels of God’s saving power in the world? Or will we say, “No thanks, God, I’m busy?” Or “No thanks, I’d rather do it myself?”  Or “What’s in it for me?” How childish and self-centered!

God has a project - a massive project, an unimaginable project to save the world. His purpose is to bring all things back together again. Everything fractured in the fall. Everything Satan has vandalized.  His plan includes the people of the Flathead Valley.  People you might never imagine. His plan is to bring all things back together through the cross of Jesus.

We are building a worship center not just for ourselves, but for the sake of those who aren’t here yet – as the Bible says “generations not yet born”. Sometimes when I say that, I get some push back.  But this isn’t our world, it isn’t our church, and we aren’t even our own.  It all belongs to him.  He created it all, including us, for his glory! Our new sanctuary is just a tiny piece of God’s plan to do “immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine”.

Sixteen years ago, the Lord told us we needed to relocate from a brand new building across from Central School in Whitefish in order to meet the needs of our growing community, our growing congregation and the growing needs of Shepherd’s Hand Clinic.
So we began to pray, dream, plan.  Nobody imagined our new location would be out here in what was at that time a swamp. Nobody imagined we’d end up in the midst of this beautiful new housing development. Nobody but the Lord - he had it planned all along.

Nobody but the Lord imagined that we would build this facility and pay it off as quickly as we did. But he multiplied and blessed every sacrifice we brought just as he promised. The Lord isn’t finished and neither are we. Until he returns, we still have work to do.
God has a plan to bring glory to his name that is beyond what we can imagine sitting here this morning. Ninety years ago the sturdy pioneers that founded our congregation built their first sanctuary out of scrap lumber during the Great Depression. It was a labor of love and an act of faith. Today, we continue what they began.

How will we do it? Like they did!  We pray, we roll up our sleeves, we sacrifice time, talent, wealth according to our means, we become partners with God, and he does his thing.

So let’s imagine. Let’s imagine building this sanctuary without a long term debt. Let’s imagine finishing our new sanctuary by this coming June. And let’s imagine the miracles that need to take place for this to happen!

Here’s the facts as I understand them. The estimated cost of our project is $2.6M. We presently have $1.8M in gifts and pledges. That’s a miracle.  But these pledges are not due until the end of 2019 and we will need cash to continue our construction before then.

Once our present pledges have been paid in full, we will still be short $700-750K to finish the project.  We’ve been approved for a short term construction loan to help us with available cash, but this loan won’t be enough to finish the project. Once again God brings us to the end of ourselves. But we knew before we started we couldn’t do this by ourselves!

So what do we do? Pull back in fear? No! Listen carefully!  Every crisis is an opportunity for God to get the glory rather than us. At present, we will run out of cash on hand in January or February. Stopping construction is not a prudent option. As I said, our present approved construction loan isn’t enough to finish the project. So let’s imagine some possibilities.
Remember, God usually waits until we step into the water before he shows up with his part of the deal. Here are some possibilities …

1.    Pray – nothing happens until we pray!  We pray with thanksgiving. Ask the Lord to show you what he wants you to do. Then be courageous, have faith and do it.
2.    Believe that the Lord wants us to complete this project without long term debt. Obviously this is not something we can do in our own strength. But that’s the point.
3.    Believe the Lord will help us accomplish this as we all get involved in whatever way we can. The more we bring, the more he multiplies it.  We bring our little, he brings his big!
4.    Pay off your personal pledge as soon as possible. This increases our cash on hand.
5.    Prayerfully make a new pledge or gift as the Lord enables you to go against the remaining $750K.
6.    Continue your current monthly gift beyond the present 2 or 3 year pledge period.

Between now and the end of Oct, prayerfully consider how the Lord might want you to be involved.  Depending on what happens in the next month, the finance team and the council will put an action plan in place for our review at the semi-annual meeting Nov 13.  Your statement of intent prior to the semi-annual meeting will give us leverage if we need seek additional temporary funds from the bank. Let’s be in prayer and see what the Lord will do.

Have you ever wondered why the Lord puts us into situations like this? I have, and then I remember, my mom and dad used to do the same thing. They used mini-crises in my life as opportunities to teach me I was capable of far more than I thought I was. Every good teacher and coach does the same.

Paul put it this way, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13   He would have never learned that lesson if the Lord hadn’t put him in situations beyond his ability.

God sends these crises our way to build our spiritual muscle and deepen our faith. These challenges help us grow up into the fullness of what the Lord intends for us to be. But, listen carefully - they are also opportunities for God alone to receive the glory!
Let’s go back and look at what the Lord said to Israel as they stood on the border of the Promised Land.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deut 6:4-8

In a few minutes this is exactly what we are going to do!  We are going to have our coffee fellowship amid the bones of our future sanctuary. We’re going to cover the walls and floor of our new worship space with holy graffiti.  Bible verses, prayers, whatever you can think of that will bring glory to the Lord.

Then, we are going to stand on those promises, walk on them, worship amid them, be surrounded by them for as long as God’s people gather in that place.  I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what God is going to do!


Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615

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