Before we launch into the Christmas season with coupons and credit cards a-blazing, I want to speak one more time to our Advance 2020 plan. Specifically, I want us to understand that doing what we are going to attempt will require an unusual level of commitment from every person, both in prayer and in willingness to be used to move forward. This will engage time, resources, focus and persistence to accomplish all we wish to do by 2020.
I do not feel the timeline is unrealistic, nor is it arbitrary. Sometimes churches and church leaders can be guilty of moving too quickly or attempting to move unilaterally to accomplish goals and vision realization. I was gently reminded by a friend the day I preached on Advance 2020 a couple of weeks ago that “It is not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit says the Lord.” This has been a life verse for me for a number of years since being at Fruit Cove. He didn’t know what I was going to preach that morning, and sent it with a note that God had impressed him to send it to me.
While I do not wish to be guilty of running ahead of God, I am also aware that churches can be guilty of the “ready-aim-aim-aim….” syndrome and never get around to pulling the trigger. We can plan something to the extent that the reason we were doing it in the first place passes us by!
Somewhere between “aim-aim-aim” and running ahead of God lies the truth of where we need to be. I know that growth is coming, and we could certainly grow content in doing what we are doing and hope that people find us. We have taken that posture before. This time, I think it will be different. We must go. We must reach. We must engage people with the Gospel. We must intentionally meet them where they are.
And there is a pastoral urgency that I sense in this. People are dying without Jesus. People are hurting, not just here around us but around our nation and in the nations. We must reposition ourselves to maximize our sending, our giving, our going to our “Jerusalem, our Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” People need to hear about Jesus and we are called to share Him. David Platt said, “Every saved person this side of Heaven owes the Gospel to every lost person this side of Hell.”
I agree with him. I think that is exactly what is placed upon us as redeemed people of God. We don’t get to keep Jesus to ourselves. Nik Ripken said that persecution is most effective when people are kept from coming to Jesus. We are missionaries and we must share Him freely with others as He was shared freely with us.
And so as you travel prayerfully through this Christmas season, remember something. Remember the reason this baby we will be singing about came in the first place. Remember why He made the long journey from the Father’s house… to a cattle stall in Bethlehem.
And remember first of all…
… He did it for you.
FOR MEMORIZATION: So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”
FOR REFLECTION: Is there a person on your heart… an individual or a family… that you would pray specifically for in the next 30 days… that you might introduce them to Jesus?