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Finishing the Race

Recorded on June 20th, 2021

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Are you ready to proclaim the glory that is Jesus?

Transcript of Sermon:

um we are going to be in excuse me um chapter 20 verse 17 through 35. i’m going to read it to you it’s in your bulletin and it’ll also be on the screen behind me and in the screen in front of you for those of you at home let us read today from a lettuce paul sent to ephesus for the elders of the church when they arrived he said to them you know how i lived the whole time i was with you from the day i came into the province of asia i served the lord with great humility and with tears in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my jewish opponents you know that i have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house i’ve clicked declared to both jews and greeks that they must turn to god in repentance and have faith in our lord jesus and now compelled by the spirit i am going to jerusalem not knowing what will happen to me there i only know that in every city the holy spirit warns me that prison and hardship are facing me however i consider my life worth nothing to me my only aim is to finish the race and to complete the task that the lord jesus has given me the task of testifying to the good news of god’s grace now i know that none of you among whom i have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again therefore i declare to you today that i am innocent of any blood of any of you for i have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of god keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the holy spirit has made you overseers by shepherds of the church be shepherds of the church of god which he brought you bought for you by his blood i know that after i leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them so be on guard remember that for three years i never stopped warning you night and day with tears now i commit you to god with the word of his grace which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified i have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing you yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions and everything i did i showed you by this kind of hard work we must help the weak remembering the words of jesus himself it is more blessed to give than to receive this is the word of god for the people of god thanks be to god these are the words of paul to the ephesians after he had spent three years being in community to him with them and last night as i was laying down trying to go to sleep which honestly was really hard last night had to take some benadryl if i’m gonna be honest i was wondering what paul must have been thinking the night before he spoke with the ephesians for the very last time as i was preparing to speak to you all for the very last time i wondered what he was thinking about what was going through his mind because as i laid there i thought about so much i kind of went through a history a review session of all of the things that you and i have gotten to do together i went through a little journey and it was amazing i thought about all of the firsts that i got to do with you all and there have been so many firsts with you all because you remember i came to you guys and we both were a little bit broken and bruised and beaten when i showed up you were a community of people who were a little bit battered and i was a human being who was a little bit battered but together we were all hopeful and you received me with such joy and love it was gorgeous you received this girl who had really only ever done um let’s call it contemporary worship into a very traditional worship service and i started picking our songs and oh what joy and love you guys received me with as i picked those songs and i knew who you were as a people when i would pick songs and it was clear nobody knew the song we were singing and your response to that told me everything i needed to know about you you weren’t grumpy you weren’t like oh my gosh there she goes again picking us stupid to him we’ve never heard before no we all laughed and we bonded together in those moments as you loved me through picking hymns nobody ever sings and obviously everybody knows we don’t sing these hymns nope we just all laugh together and we sang them together for the first time you joined me in singing them together for the first time and i knew i knew who we were going to be together in those moments i had my first chicken stew at this church my first chicken stew i ever ate the first one i ever helped cook the first one i ever did anything with here at this church not only did i go to my first revival at this church i preached my first revival at this church this is a beautiful time i had the unbelievable privilege of leading my first funeral at this church i had participated in many before but never led them on my own and i had never met lt fournier before and he called me and said that his daughter had passed away i met him on the phone talked to him about his daughter and then led that funeral and the way that i got through it was because you guys surrounded me and he walked with me and you didn’t leave me alone on that journey and there were many more along the way and i got to know you and love you because we did life together the good things and the really hard difficult things we lost so many friends on this journey but you know what we made it didn’t we we made it through those hard parts and every time we made it through the side the other side of one of those hard journeys we were even closer together we were more of a community on the other side of one of those ups and downs you know what else i did for the first time with this church i got to baptize i got to baptize some beautiful babies for the first time with this church and i’ll never forget walking those bridges boys up and down this aisle as you all committed committed to loving and caring for those babies and i’m going to hold you to that promise as they come back here after we get back into really opening up this church as covid goes away because it’s going away kind of but we’re going to learn how to live with it and we’re going to have our children’s ministry back up and robust and you’re going to see them in these doors and you’re going to raise them in this church and there’s going to be more children coming back and you’re going to raise them in this church as a community and their sister who was born recently scarlet is going to come and be baptized by reverend mickey and you’re going to do the same thing you’re going to make the same promise so many firsts here at this church the first blessing of the animals right outside i’d never done that before what a joy that was the first um worship service in the dark last week but it was still a first for me right and we did it it was primitive and it was beautiful the first online worship i’d never done online worship and look at what it did for us and i couldn’t have done that you couldn’t have done that the holy spirit told us what we were supposed to be doing and you know how we did it we followed we said yes and you know how we got to saying yes we started with the vision one day i wheeled out that white board you remember the white board you know how many times i brought it out here on a sunday on a sunday because it’s that important and we looked at what our strengths were and our weaknesses and what opportunities there were for us and we prayed and we discerned what god’s mission was for this church and we decided that it was to love god to love people and to shine god’s light for the transformation of our community and then we made a commitment to each other that we would do three things every week and then we promised each other each year with these commitment cards that we would do those things and we haven’t gotten to do that yet this year because of covid but we promised that we would pray for somebody in our life every day who had yet to receive salvation we committed to each other that we would pray every day for this church and we committed to each other that we would pray every day that god would show us a way to be the light in our community and then we took it seriously we partnered with schools in our area to take care of kids in need we partnered with the oconee area resource council to take care of more kids in need we partnered with acts that area um churches together serving the food bank to take care of families in need we took care of elderly citizens who are shut in by giving them love we took care of the homeless by handing out homeless goodie bags we’ve done so much to reach outside of these walls to take care of people who need to know god’s love and it wasn’t our power that did that it was the holy spirit working through us because we said yes and we’ve decided to be a church on a mission and to be intentional and because of that we were even awarded by the district the one matters award and none of that’s me in fact none of that’s even you it’s the holy spirit working in us and what i have to say to you is much like what paul said to the ephesians it’s time for me to go it’s time for me to finish the race that god has set before me and that race is to share the good news wherever it is that god puts me wherever it is that i’m sent i’m supposed to share the good news but that’s the same race that you’re sent on you’re supposed to continue sharing the good news you’re supposed to continue doing this good work that is what your job is and so you need to keep watch over this flock you are meant to be shepherds of the church that god gave you so be on the watch continued the good work finish the race that has been set before us and you don’t have to do it alone you just have to say yes to the things that we’ve already been saying yes to and so today i’m going to remind us of some of those things that we said yes to i was cleaning out my office and this was on my cork board and my son wrote this and put it up there for me a long time ago and it says stuff to do and there it’s it’s listed number one um love god so love god number two believe in god don’t ever forget don’t ever doubt number three worship god in all that you do number four spread the word of god number five treat people as you treat yourself number six sing about god we’re good at that but do it everywhere do it here do it in your car do it at home do it when you’re sad do it when you’re happy sing this one’s my favorite number seven dance to god and holy joy dance to god number eight pray to god in all things number nine go to church whether it’s online or in this space go and be a part of a community because this is how we make a difference together united we connect to each other to make a difference in a world that desperately needs to know that god is real that there’s good things in this world and that’s how we’ve done it we didn’t do it alone we did it together as a group on a mission and number 11 pray with the people in church finish the race my friends i’m gonna go and i’m gonna finish the race i commit to you to doing that and i ask you to commit to me to doing the same finish the race so in your bulletins is our pledge cards we didn’t get to do them this year we’re gonna do them now as we finish our last song actually i’m gonna ask you to play a little what’s the best way to do this i don’t want a lot of people who aren’t so mobile today i want to be able to sing that last song because it’s raucous it’s not a sad one it’s standing on the promises of god it’s our favorite song it had to be our last going-out song so we’re going to do a little bit of a slow just some underlying song i want you to put on this top thing the person that you’re going to be praying for this year that needs salvation on both lines you’re going to tear this apart you are going to put this one that says i am committed to you’re going to bring it up you’re going to lay it in the basket i’m gonna move it up front and then you’re gonna go back to your seat you’re gonna take the other one home and you’re gonna put it somewhere where you can see it so that you remind yourself of what you’re committing to because you’re still the church on a mission you have been entrusted with the mission of this church by god and you’re going to continue to be a church on a mission and then when we’re finished with that we’re going to sing standing on the promises of god because that’s what we do god promises to make us fruitful as we live into who we are as children of god let us do [Music] that [Music] you