In Scripture today, we’re going to start a new series together in just a couple weeks, but today, I’m really going to follow a theme just to encourage you knowing that we’re in the New Year. On January 16th, we’re going to start through the book of Esther. And so if you’d like to be a part of that, love the book of Esther and what it represents. It really helps us in the ordinary of life trying to discover how to follow the Lord. Esther’s a great book to encourage us that way. And so we’ll start that January 16th.
Today, I’m going to bounce around a little bit. So if you’ve got your notes, you can fall along in the notes. If you didn’t grab any notes off the information counter, under the Alpine Bible Church app, it should be under the sermons, but if not, you can follow along on the screen as well. And today we’re going to talk about our pursuits in the Lord. Can you pull it up on the screen up here, Shalom? Is that possible to get that? Oh, there we go. Awesome. We’re going to talk about your pursuits because, well, it’s 2022 and this time of year is the time of resolutions and new goals, right?
You could come with all kinds of priorities for this year. You’re going to lose some weight. You’re going to learn something new. You’re going to go somewhere. You’re going to save some money. You’re going to pay off something, you’re going to read through the Bible in the year. We come up all sorts of resolutions at the beginning of the year. And I know like some of us get really enthusiastic about that. Some of you even go so far as you’re like, you got a word for the year and you like to share your word, and let people know what your word is. And then there’s some others that are like a bah humbug about resolutions. You don’t like to make resolutions.
And I got a little bit of encouragement for you today if you don’t like to make resolutions. I have a theory that for those that are anti-resolutionists that perhaps you’ve been knocked off your horse one too many times, and you just need some encouragement to get back up on the saddle and continue on with your resolutions. I will just tell you this, here’s my encouragement for you this year, don’t make a single resolution. Be your bah humbug self. Don’t make one, all right? And at the end of the year, when you look back at your year and whatever great thing that you think you accomplished, pretend like that was your resolution all along, okay? And then tell people about it.
Just don’t won’t say anything at the beginning of the year. The end of the year, brag. It’s kind of like you just sort of throw a dart out in life and wherever it lands, then you paint your bullseye, okay? And then it just looks like you hit home runs all the time. So that’ll help you be like, I did it at the end of 2021, or what year? We just finished the 2021, right? So the end of this year, you think back, they just blow by me right now. I can’t remember what year we’re in, but the end of this year, you can look back, what great thing did you do? And then just brag about it all year long how great you are at all the resolutions you accomplished and do the same thing this year until you feel confident about preemptively making your resolutions.
And I don’t want to discourage you from resolutions. I think biblically there’s some basis for it. Like the Bible tells us 1 Timothy 4:8, “For physical training is up some value.” There’s certain goals you set for your life and they’re good, they’re important, but I want us to recognize this morning that it’s not just important to have physical goals in this world, but spiritually speaking, I think it’s even more important to think about and evaluate where you are spiritually and set a course for where the Lord would desire for you to go.
Direction determines your destination. And when it comes to your spiritual life, there is far more importance to your spiritual life than really your physical life. And I know sometimes you can’t really separate the two because they impact each other. And I think that’s important component of your spiritual life. Like sometimes when you’re living in this world, we try to attribute everything spiritually, but sometimes you may feel physically depressed because physically you’re beating your body into the ground, and it’s just good to exercise and to eat healthy and it can affect your life spiritual.
So it’s difficult to always separate those two, but the Bible does encourage us, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The way you set your course spiritually doesn’t just have an impact in this world temporarily, but for all of eternity. And it’s important to think about… So when I consider us this morning the beginning of this New Year and all that the Lord has for us, I have, I think one prayer that I’m going to carry for all of us in 2022. And I know as uniquely we’ll have different stories that are a part of our lives this year, some great, some difficult, and there’ll be more specific prayers to come for us as a church this year as we individually think about our stories and me as a pastor and caring for our community.
But there’s one goal, one target I have for all of us this year, and it’s the first part of your blank if you grab the notes this morning. It’s this, that we are resolved to know Jesus more deeply and live for him. To know Jesus more deeply and live for him. And I know I said I have one resolution for us this year. One resolve, one determination to move forward, to know Jesus more deeply and to live for him sounds like two, right? It’s like I’m tricking you by adding the word and throwing another phrase in there.
To know Jesus more deeply and live for him. And so for those who think I might be tricking you trying to slide into, and it’s not just one, let me elaborate a little bit more on that. Now I want to do it by for a moment just looking at a passage Paul wrote in the book of Philippians in chapter one. What’s interesting about the book of Philippians if you’ve ever read it, the letter Paul wrote, and he’s writing it from jail, having gone through some adversity in his life and living for Jesus. And he gives this phrase, he says for, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul thinking about, of all the pursuits he could have in life and all the resolutions, he’s kind of solidifying his life really about one thought, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. What Paul is saying is my life is all about Jesus. You cut me open and I bleed Jesus. And if you cut me open to the point that I lose my life, it’s my gain because in that I’m going to be with Jesus. So whatever my life is about in this world or the world to come, it’s all about Jesus. And so Paul is saying really what I said in the idea of a resolution, to know Jesus more deeply and to live for him, because in Christianity what we like to encourage us to think about is Christianity different, the religion Christianity is about relationship, to know God, and to walk with him.
It’s not primarily about what you do, though what you do is important. It’s a primarily about who you are and finding who you are in Christ. And when you find who you are in Christ, it’ll determine what you do with your life. Who you are becoming dictates how you live. And so when you know Jesus more deeply, the result of that is you emulate Jesus and the way that you conduct yourself in this world. And so though it sounds two pursuits, it’s really just one thing. The idea that Paul is saying here, for me to live as Christ, and to die is gain.
It goes a little bit further in Philippians and says this in chapter three verse 10, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering being made conformable unto death.” This phrase that Paul is saying, “For me to live as Christ,” really in chapter three verse 10, he’s expanding upon how far he’s willing to go to make his life about living for Jesus. And what you see in chapter three, verse 10 is there is no obstacle that can be put before Paul that he is not willing to pay or willing to go through in order that his life may be all about Christ. It’s whether he’s dead or alive, whatever it is, he wants to know the power of the resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, experientially.
The road that God calls him to walk down, he wants to know Jesus in every capacity, no matter the cost or consequence for Christ in his life even to the point he’s willing to lay down his life for the sake of Christ, his pursuit. His pursuit is Jesus alone. You want to think about our lives in making Jesus known and living for him. America being a land of freedom, I think sometimes for us is an important place to understand that just because we may be given freedom in America, doesn’t always make it wise to live out that freedom in Jesus.
What I mean is we tend to be a culture that doesn’t have as much accountability as maybe some other places and how we might conduct ourselves or the things we might say. And so following after Jesus might have as much to do with what we say or choose not to say, or do or choose not to do and whatever the case it’s to know Jesus fully. And he goes on in verse 13, “Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet, but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul’s continuing to say, it’s just this one pursuit, this one pursuit. And he is not looking at the difference between 2021 and 2022 being the changing of a year as to what makes him pursue Jesus, but he’s saying really it’s every day I am forgetting what lies behind, and I just keep moving forward towards this goal, which is in Christ, Jesus. It’s all about that relationship in Christ. It’s about knowing Christ and giving my life for Christ.
Now, I love the emphasis here that he’s driven back in this one pursuit to that the ultimate end in Jesus himself to know Jesus and to live for Jesus, because to get near God is to get in Christ. That’s how he ends in verse 14, which reminds us of this relationships are fluid, right? And every relationship in your life, it’s fluid. You’re either getting closer together in intimacy in your relationships, or you’re drifting further apart, and what you dedicate to it in a lot of ways is what you get out of it.
And guys, the same is true in our relationship with Jesus. Your relationship with Christ right now in this moment is honestly as close as you want it to be. You get what you put into it. In fact, maybe we could go a little bit overboard in graciousness and saying, honestly, with Jesus, you really get more than what you put into it. But our relationship with Christ truthfully is as close as we want it to be. But in the other side of that, let me give you a promise in James.
And one of the reasons I love the thought to today is to know Jesus more deeply and to live for him. In James, it gives us this promise that come close to God and he will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double minded. It’s a beautiful promise that when we seek after God, the reason we’re not close to the Lord isn’t Jesus’s fault. But if we come to that place where we recognize that I’ve been taken for granted my walk with Christ, and this matters more than anything, because it’s about who I am, and who I am will determine what I do. And if I want to be a healthier me, then I need to get connected to the one who made me.
And if I’m not close to him, it’s not because he’s the one reluctant to draw near to me because Jesus became flesh for you. But it’s on me. James 4:8 is the end of this verse as someone who’s owning that, right? “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, purify your hearts, you double mind,” is to recognize my soul is torn between living for my glory and living for his glory, living for the things of this world and living for the King of kings, but there needs to be a cognitive decision of my will, recognizing that I am as close to Jesus as I want to be, but the best place I can be is near to him.
And so our prayer for the church this morning to know Jesus more deeply and to live for him. And with that kind of pursuit, I want to encourage you this morning with some motivation as to how to see this as a priority in our lives and to grow in its significance so that I can recognize in 2022 the importance and not just this year, but really the rest of my life, the importance of pursuing Jesus with all that I am, just as Paul says in Philippians, “So that I may know him, the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his suffering and being made conformable unto his death.”
What can motivate my heart to continue down that path? Well, next blank in your notes, if you grab the notes this morning, it’s to remember who you are without Jesus, remember who you are without Jesus. In fact, this was a fairly common theme that Paul followed in his letters when he would motivate and remind the church of their calling and living for Christ in this world. It was to come to this place to remind them of they are apart from Christ. Sometimes we take it for granted the glorious things that God has done for us. And Paul, I’m going to show you a couple passages and a few of his epistles where he did this.
He says, in chapter two, verse 12, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ. Remember who you were apart from Jesus, excluded from the people of Israel and strangers to the covenant of the promise having no hope and without God in the world, but now in Christ, Jesus, you who previously were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ for he himself is our peace who made both groups into one and broke down the barriers of the dividing wall.”
You see, in this passage, Paul’s wanting to encourage our soul to never lose sight of what we have and the grace of God being demonstrated to us. Remember who you were apart from Jesus. He does the same thing in Titus 3:1, he says, “For we too were once foolish and disobedient and deceived, and enslaved to various lust and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy and hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us, not on the basis of deeds, which we did in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ, our Savior.”
Here’s what Paul’s doing. This is powerful passage. In fact, Ephesians 2 is a powerful section of Scripture that deals with our salvation, just previous to verse 12, where I read in chapter two it’s, “For by grace are you saved through faith, not of yourselves, it’s the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” And Titus 3, you see the same thing, verse five. “He saved us not on the basis of deeds, which we did in righteousness.” And what Paul is arguing in both of these passages is, “Look, there is less lost world. This world may live contrary to you, but please don’t think you’re better than the world.” If you lose sight of what Jesus has done for you, then you’re going to become ineffective in how you minister to others, because you’re going to become arrogant in who you are. And the reason is, is because you’ve forgotten where you’ve come from.
You didn’t do anything for God’s grace to be made known in your life, but he did it, verse five. He did it for you. It’s his love towards you that brought you to where you are. It’s only by his grace that you are who you are. And so don’t see yourself as above others, but see yourself as fortunate in where you are because of what he’s done. Remember who you are without Jesus, because here’s what happens, it lends your heart to become more compassionate for the needs of people in this world, because you recognize that just like you need Jesus, they need Jesus too.
Remember who you are apart from Christ. When you read in the beginning, we started this week or yesterday reading through the Old Testament. And if you’re doing the Old Testament, you could do the New Testament if you prefer that or both. But if you’re reading through the Old Testament, we started in the book of Genesis this week. And I read yesterday reflecting on a thought that it’s common for me in the first couple chapters is the beauty of how God has designed Adam and Eve or designed mankind to be his representatives in this world.
God when he made us, he made us different than any other creature in this world. He made us in his image and being made in his image where this representative of God in the world in a way that we care for the world, he told mankind to be fruitful and multiply. Really in that design, we all become God’s priest and how we demonstrate him. But what you find in the first three chapters is that mankind rejects that position because they forgot, or they abandoned the identity of who they truly were.
Remember who you are without Jesus. And you have this reflection question below this point, what was your story apart from Christ? Or maybe what is your story apart from Christ? You think about it. And I don’t want to use this as a brag fest of just how despicable or how simple you may have been previous to Jesus, but I know who I am apart from Christ. Paul refers to himself as the chief of sinners in Scripture, the chief of sinners, which has always blown me away, the Apostle Paul, out of all people, it means the greatest Christian to ever live other than Jesus, right? That’s where we get the name Christian, but the Apostle Paul, the greatest Christian to ever live, and he refers to himself as the chief of sinners.
Why would Paul out of all people refer to himself as the chief of sinners? And I really only gathered one conclusion as to why Paul would say that. I think it’s because he knew his heart better than he knew anyone else’s. He knew who he was apart from Jesus and who he is only by the grace of God. And I think that heart and understanding his own life and his need for redemption is what led Paul to be so compassionate to go throughout this world and preach that same message for which he found his life rescued. I know who I am apart from Jesus. I know who I was apart from Jesus.
And I tell you there’s no reason today without the grace of God that I should be standing up here. God radically transformed my life, and it’s what compels me to continue to live for him. So not only do you remember who you are apart from Jesus, number two, remember who you are because of Jesus. Remember who you are because of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 6:11, he says this. He says, “Such were some of you.” If you read the verses previous to this, he talks about all the sins that the church in Corinth were involved in, sexual sins and sins of lying and sins of cheating and sins of stealing. And they found all their identity really in themselves. They woke up every day and they decided, what’s going to make me most happy because I’m God of this world and I want to live for my pleasure.
And so then he says to them, and that’s who you were. Such where some of you, but then something happened. You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, which means sanctified is set apart, justified is declared righteous in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. And in verse 20, he goes on and says this, “For you have been bought for a price, therefore glorify God in your body.” It’s in this verse they recognize we are not made to determine our identity because our life does not belong to us, we didn’t make it.
Our life was made for him. And if our life is made for him, then we shouldn’t find our purpose within us, but in him. And so therefore, since he pursued me, therefore, since he gave his life for me and he died for me, he paid the price for me and therefore, he owns me. It’s in his hands I should trust my self. Jesus has cared for me at a level that is better than I could even care for myself, and therefore, I belong to him. I’ve been bought with a price and I will glorify God with my body. Remember who you are because of Jesus.
We used to be creatures of our past. Owned by sin, our lives dictated by simply pleasure. Whatever in the moment we felt could make us happy because we saw ourselves as king of our lives until we meet the true King. And this King gives us a new identity, a new purpose in life. In fact, in 2 Corinthians, Paul goes on and he says this, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone and the new is here.” This is like one of the most famous New Year’s versus I think people read is this idea of this new identity, this metamorphosis that happens in your life because of Jesus. You’re a new creation.
The best illustration to use for that verse is the beautiful butterfly. You go in as a dirty little caterpillar and you come out just a beautiful butterfly and then verse 18, “All of this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf be reconciled to God. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” So he’s saying, not only are you new creation, this metamorphosis, but you’ve got a new purpose in life that you get to go into this world and proclaim a message that doesn’t just reconcile you to God, but it’s an opportunity to see everyone reconcile to their creator and their Savior in him.
And you have this position now to represent God in this world to reconciliation. He uses this beautiful term to talk about it. He says, “You are an ambassador for Christ.” Even in countries today, we still have that representation of ambassadors and an ambassador for the United States he goes to another country. He represents our country, but more than just our country, he represents the interests of your president. And that’s what Jesus is saying about you. Your reflection of Jesus in this world, his ambassador, which is a position of a lot of responsibility, but also a beaufull privilege that you would even be given that opportunity.
It’s about recognizing who you were apart from Christ. It’s about recognizing who you are because of Christ. How has Jesus changed your life? What does Jesus mean for you? How is Christ changing your life? I like to think of it like this, I look at a passage this way, this metamorphosis that God has not only done his work in me, but he’s continuing to do this work in me. Let me encourage you this way, Christians, never get tired of preaching the gospel to yourself, which is kind of a strange thing, right? You consider what the gospel is. It’s about seeing the unsaved become saved, right?
It’s the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It’s where Jesus tells us in verse 21, “God made him who knew no sin, Jesus, to be sin for us. He came to this world. He gave his life. He paid it all so that we could find freedom in him.” The gospel and Christianity is not about me, it’s about him. It’s the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus because he overcame the grave. I have the promise and the hope that I can overcome the grave in Christ by turning to him, and the only way to heaven is through Jesus and his cross.
And Jesus came and he did that for us. That is the gospel, right? 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us that, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. That is the gospel. And we often think about the gospel. We think this is a message for the loss, but the reality is that message I think is just as important for you. Maybe in some cases more important for you because the gospel is how you find yourself renewed every day. Let me give you an example. Something bad I think happened to a kid there. Give you an example. That’s probably my child. Preaching the gospel to yourself.
What if this morning I’ll use me as an illustration? What if this morning I presented myself in two ways. What if I told you I came here this morning and I couldn’t wait to get up on stage. After all, I’m amazing. And you guys, you really need to hear from me because I am incredible and you guys really need me, right? I can come with that kind of demeanor, I just can’t wait to get on stage and stand in a light, and for you guys to see how awesome I am. And here I am in all my awesomeness. One way I could approach it or let’s say this and this one’s more me.
What if I’m more reluctant? What if I say, I don’t want to get up on stage because what do I have to offer? I mean, who am I? I’m more of a loser. I don’t ever really ever get up and call myself that, but I have all this hesitancy to not want to do this, to not point to Christ, to not deliver any message to help glorify God. And take both of those positions for a moment, just contrast the two. And I would say to you or ask this question, don’t answer out loud, because there is a right answer. Which one sounds more Godly, the one that really wants you just to be impressed with who they are, or the one that doesn’t want to get up at all, which sounds godlier?
Let me give you the answer, it’s neither. It’s neither. And I’ll tell you why. I know one of them sounds much more humble, but to be honest, it’s a false humility still covered in pride. And here’s how, because the emphasis with this individual is on them. I’m great. Look how great I am. You’re so fortunate that I could stand here in my greatness. And the emphasis with this individual, I can’t do it. No, you don’t know how bad I am. Still on them. It’s a false humility. Do you know what gives the person or should give that person the ability to stand up to say anything about Jesus? It’s nothing to do with them. It’s Jesus.
Both illustrations, the individual has to focus way too much on theirselves, and not enough on the greatness of Jesus. Do you know how that individual then reorients their life to think about Jesus? It’s the gospel. It’s the gospel. I would look at both people and I say, “You know what you need? You need the gospel.” This person over here, you think way too much about who are not enough about the greatness of God and what he’s done, what you need is humility. And the person over here, the same thing, you thinking way too much about yourself. You may be trapped and looking at yourself and how irrelevant you may feel and how sorrowful about you and sulk, but you’re still not thinking enough about the power of the gospel, and the way it transforms life and the way it transform your life. That’s all you have to do is just to stand up and talk about Jesus.
The solution is always the gospel. And you’re not waking up tomorrow to serve Jesus because Jesus thinks you’re great. You’re waking up tomorrow to serve Jesus because Jesus is great, and you have the opportunity as his ambassador to do something about it. It’s a beautiful privilege and a gift that you’ve been given. Who you are apart from Jesus is an important motivator. Remember, but who you are because of Jesus, it’s an important motivator. Remember, and the way you find your identity in that as a believer is continuing to preach the gospel to yourself because that’s what ultimately sets you and sets you true, and the identity that you have in Christ.
And number three, refuse to let go of him that’s your next blank. Refuse to let go of him. More than your body needs food your soul needs Jesus. In Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and sin, which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of our faith.” He’s like saying like a bulldog on a bone right here. Look to Jesus, fix your eyes on Jesus. Whatever you think might trip you up in 2022, whatever sin may entangle you, whatever obstacle lay in front of you, even if you might think it’s small.
It’s I think John Owen who said be killing sin or sin will be killing you. Get rid of it, get rid of it. And with such a great cloud of witnesses, what the author of Hebrews is saying here. He’s saying there have been believers who have lived this life before you, and they have gone on into eternity. And now we have those clouds of witnesses. Those martyrs, those individuals who have walked that faith. We have seen their examples, since we have that example surrounding us, and before us, let us now on our stage and our opportunity to live for Jesus, let us run that race that’s before us looking to Jesus because he is that prize in that single pursuit. And we keep our eyes on him.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is this spirit.” It’s this singularity of mine and pursuit. God made you for relationship with him, covenant relationship with him. As in similar to marriage covenant. I think if two people were getting married and they were to give their vows, let’s say, I was overseeing that today as a pastor doing a marriage ceremony and they got up to do their vows. And one of them said, “Honey, all that I am is for you. I’m here to dedicate my life for better for worse till death to his part.” Then you give the typical traditional vow statement, and then their spouse looks back at them and says, “Honey, 85% of who I am.” That doesn’t set well, does it?
And you know immediately without even being a professional counselor that that’s probably not healthy for that relationship. How could you ever expect to experience the intimacy for which covenant relationship is established lest you give all of your life for. It seems true with Jesus. You were designed for that end and toward that purpose. How could you ever expect to experience the health of that relationship lest your life be dedicated towards it?
The early church, when you see the impact that they had, powerful impact. And I find when you look at the early church in Scripture, there is a word that when I read it, my heart clings to, because I think it communicates the significance or the power of how they were able to impact the world and make a significant impact in the world. And it’s through this word, devoted. In Acts 2, the early church, they were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship and the breaking of bread, and to prayer. They’re saying, “Look, we want to live for Jesus, not just as an individual, but as a group.”
And how are they successful at doing it? They’re devoted to God’s Word. That’s what we have today. That’s what the apostles wrote for us. And to spending time together and to encourage each other on and breaking of bread, which is a form of communion we’re going to celebrate in just a minute. And to prayer, they’re seeking God’s face in prayer. 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul writes to Timothy and to the church of Ephesus, “Until I come give your devotion or your attention to the public reading of Scripture and to expectation to teaching.”
Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love giving preference to one another in honor. And guys, when I think about a successful 2022, I realize in all of this that it’s important not just to see this identity as an individual completely dedicated to Jesus or growing closer to Christ this year than ever before. It’s important for a community to embrace that in order to be effective in Christ. And just by way of encouraging you as a church, one of the things that we have in our ministry, if you’re not aware of it, whenever you sign up to do anything in our church, we hand out this sheet for ministry. It’s a ministry commitment form. It’s a church covenant form.
It says, “Ministry commitment; why we exist and why we commit.” But it’s a reminder. It’s a place to really say that I want to belong to this community and be a part of what God’s doing. And we love to have a moment or people pause, and just read this to recognize that your life in Jesus is important and your life in Jesus and community is important. And we need you. We need you. I realize sometimes ministry can look formal, but sometimes it also looks informal and formal. I mean, try leading a church during COVID. Getting together, people are reluctant to do, but you still have ministry to conduct and people to minister too, right? And when people are reluctant to serve, because they don’t want to get near each other, it makes it very hard to then serve the people that show up. And so there’s some formal and informal ways to do that. But it’s important to realize that it’s your devotion that carries the powerful impact for God’s community to be effective in what they do together.
And in fact, a portion of this paragraph that we have people read through in sign that says this, “Devoted followers of Christ trust in Jesus for salvation and follow him as Lord and commit to a local church to live out our purpose as this community. As a church community, we seek to build up one another in the faith, we help one another as we walk in truth and love, we strive for unity with one another for the benefit of all people to the glory of God, we meet people where they are and love them as Jesus would love them. We use our gifts to serve others. And most importantly, we lay our lives down for Christ as ambassadors. We truly believe his grace can transform lives, and therefore, we boldly walk into darkness as his light. We understand that God’s grace invites our brokenness into his healing presence. Therefore, we surrender our lives to him by abandoning sin and pursuing godly living through the power of Christ. We are not called to be spectators, but participators. We want to gather as his community and be transformed by his spirit to make it can impact in the lives of others. We each have a part in God’s greater plan and purpose, and we want to thrive together in Jesus.” And there’s a place to sign here at the bottom.
As a church, sometimes we get asked, “Do you guys have church membership here at Alpine Bible?” And we say, “No, we don’t have church membership.” As we started our church, we’ve not said we’re never going to have, but when we started the church, we just didn’t have it. One of the reasons we didn’t have it is because we have found in our community that the word membership is used to kind of bully and abusively sometimes some people, but we understand that there is an important part of your life to have accountability and encouragement, to see a place where you can plant your flag in the ground and say, I belong. And to walk with one another towards that pursuit, and when you fall to have a brother and sister encourage you and pick you up.
And so we created a church covenant, which is our opportunity to sign something to say, “Look, I’m in this with you, and we want to do this together.” And so if you’re interested in seeing this or interested in signing it, it’s on the information counter when you leave and you can grab one, sign it and turn it back in there. But I do want to encourage you when you think about how can I be effective in what God’s called me to in 2022? Well, I would say this, your devotion, your devotion plays a big part of that, and the effectiveness of our community together, how committed you are to want to see Jesus and see Jesus made known the lives of people around you. It’s why as a church we provide opportunities to serve.
You know Jesus as Paul said, in the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his suffering being conformed even to the point of his death. Paul’s saying not, I don’t just say, I know Jesus experientially. I want to walk a path like Christ walked. I want to serve. I want to know what it means to sacrifice, to love someone else and to give of myself or the benefit of others. And that’s what ministry is about. And so there’s places to serve, and then there’s groups to belong to like our connection groups. And we have connection groups because in our area, people talk about a lot in this area. We get a lot of transplants that move here. People talk about being lonely. Well, connection groups is a place to create a family within our bigger family, and to see spiritual formation in your life and to live on mission. Those are the three purposes we create a connection groups, to connect and create a family, to have spiritual formation in your life and to pursue on mission.
And so we have different groups to be involved in, different men’s groups, women’s groups, family groups, and whatever age demographic you might be in, there as a group to belong to in order to grow. But we just want to encourage you in your walk with Jesus. So here’s a couple questions at the end of this point. What one thing will I change in order to draw near to Jesus? You think of 2022, what one thing in your life do you feel the Lord might calling you to change in order to draw near to Jesus?
If you’re reluctant to follow after him, let me just give you this final word of encouragement. There was a man by the name of Henry Valey. I’m going to give you two illustrations. There’s a man by the name of Henry Valey. He’s a minister in England and D.L. Moody visited him in England in 1872 when he was still in his 30s. And if you don’t know who D.L. Moody is, he went on to lead Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He was a very powerful Christian influence in the late 1800s in America, but he met Henry Valey in England, 1872. And after he heard him share or speak, he then had a personal time of just talking with Henry and the man looked at D.L Moody and said this. He gave this comment. He said, “The world has yet to see a single man live their lives sold out for Christ.” We get to say woman too.
Let’s say a single person, a single person live their lives sold out for Christ. He really said man, but it still fits. And D.L Moody said, “The Lord used those words as medicine to his soul,” because he realized Henry Valey didn’t say an impressive man, he didn’t say a smart man, he didn’t say a rich man. All he said was a man. And D.L Moody said, “In that moment I decided that I was going to do everything I could to be that man, to give my life fully over to Jesus.” And guys, the reason you can do that is not because of you, but because of him. 2 Peter 1:3, “For his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence.”
What he’s saying is you have everything that you need in Jesus. Everything that God could grant to you to do, what God calls you to do Jesus has already given to you. All he needs is a willing soul. D.L. Moody heard that and went for it. One of my favorite places to visit in life is this town called St. Augustine, Florida. I don’t know if anyone’s ever been to St. Augustine, but there’s a lot of places in the southeast that they claim is the oldest town to ever exist. St. Augustine is one of those that beats Jamestown by like 100 years.
Somewhere in the 1400s, I think the town was established. There’s a lot of cool features to go see in this area that was built so long ago. But one of my favorite places is sort of like an off the beaten path area. It’s where this bell is pictured. This bell represents where the emancipation proclamation was read in St. Augustine, Florida. And I’m sure the emancipation proclamation was probably read in a lot of towns in America. But when I went there for the first time, I think I was 19 years old and I visited this, this place was an amazing spot for me, and let me tell you why. I realized in that moment as I was standing there, that I am in the deep south.
And I thought to myself, if there was one job I would not want on this particular day, it would be to read the emancipation and proclamation in the deep south. Not because I was against what the emancipation proclamation stood for. I’m completely for that. But you got to think you are an enemy territory reading a document in the middle of the civil war. And the emancipation proclamation was written 1863, went into effect January 1st, 1863. The civil war was from 1861 to 1865, so they’re right in the middle of the height of the civil war. And someone’s job was to stand in a southern town and read the emancipation proclamation.
Now I never read that that person get to keep his life when he got completed with reading that. But I thought, “Man, that bold, that is impressive, and what an incredible spot to stand.” And when Abraham Lincoln first signed the emancipation proclamation, the story goes like this, they wrote the law and he picked up his pen and he moved it to the line to sign his name. And he paused and he put down his pen and someone asked him, “Why did you put down your pen?” And Abraham Lincoln looked back to the person who said this. He said, “If my name is going to go down in history, it’s going to be in this moment. And if my hand trembles when I write my name, they’ll look at me and say, ‘He hesitated.'” And Abraham Lincoln in that moment picked up at the pen and boldly wrote his name at the bottom of the emancipation proclamation.
And as I look at that story, I see a lot of parallels between that and the gospel. You think about what the emancipation proclamation was in the midst of darkness, here was one who stood bravely knowing it was going to cost the lives of thousands. And he knew how important it was, and he did not want to hesitate, but boldly write his name. When you think about the gospel in the midst of enemy territory, this great light who is Jesus has pursued you. And he did not hesitate. He willingly surrendered himself for you. He pursued you in darkness that you could find freedom in his light. And when I think about our response back, what kind of person do I want to be? Do I want to pick up the pen and let my hand tremble or do I want to follow after Jesus?
This message has been brought to you by Alpine Bible church in Lehigh, Utah. If you’d like more information, please visit us online at alpinebible.com.