WELL HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Welcome to 2018! I know I’m 7 days late to the party, but I’m sure half of you are still writing 2017… so consider this a quality public service announcement. Welcome to Hope City, I’m Pastor Peter and I want to welcome you to our new series “40”
Do you remember when you were a kid and you heard that someone turned 40? What did you think? Yeah, that’s right. They’re almost dead! This is what 40 looked like as a kid. (Elderly with Walker) 40 felt like this age that was over the hill… Funny thing is that as I approach 40, it gets younger and younger every year! Those of you in this room though, who have seen 40 and are maybe a few decades beyond 40 hear it and think 40 looks like this… (toddler walking)
There is something about being 40!
The number 40 is an important mile marker on any journey.
40 years. 40 days. 40 nights. All throughout the Bible, the number 40 has great significance in preparing people for a movement of God.
It’s true. Whenever God wanted to POWERFULLY USE A MAN or WOMAN—touch them personally & transform their life, he often used 40 Days to do it.
Think about it:
• Noah was changed by 40 days of rain
• Moses was changed by 40 days on a mountain
• Jesus was empowered by 40 days in the wilderness
• Christ even spent 40 days teaching the disciples after His resurrection
I wonder: What will God teach you over the next 40 days?
This series is an invitation to participate in Hope City’s 40 Day Bible Challenge to start the New Year. Over the next 40 Days, we have an AMBITIOUS GOAL as a church. In 40 days, our entire church is going to read through all Four Gospels! These are the first four books of the new testament that tell the story of Jesus’ time here on earth. They are significant. See, in Jesus’ day, a disciple was with their rabbi 24/7. They watched how their rabbi treated the poor, handled money, ate their food, what they did when they were sad, angry or happy. Every activity was an opportunity to learn how to be like the rabbi. Likewise, I believe if you want to be like Jesus, you need to spend time with Jesus …
Jesus says in John 13:15,
“I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” — John 13:15
It seems to me that if we want to be more like Jesus, we need to spend more time learning about Jesus.
Now, honest moment.
Q: How many of you have never read thru the entire Bible? Whole NT?
Not surprising. Do you know that 700 people give up reading the Bible every day. That’s the statistics. In our post-literate culture, engagement with the Bible is at an all-time low.
And there’s a number of reasons for that:
People have busy schedules & lack the time
The Bible can be hard to understand (or confusing in parts)
It can be intimidating. Look at the size of this thing! This Bible is thicker than a phonebook.
And some people think that: The Bible is this big, dusty book from a bygone era that’s hard to figure out. And so they don’t read it themselves. Or just listen to a sermon, or verse here or there.
But the number one reason is… ISOLATION! We do it alone. (Like working out—you are TWICE as LIKELY to stick with a workout routine if you go to the gym with a partner).
Well, for the next 40 days, you are going to have a hundred or so partners here at Hope City.
And if you’re willing to invest the time here in the New Year, I believe these next 40 days have the potential to change your life. I truly believe that. Right now, you don’t know what God has in store for you in 2018. You may have some plans—but God has His own. And I wonder:
How will He change your life? How will he strengthen your walk, bless & prepare you for His purpose if you devote the next 40 days to personally reading His Word?
That’s our goal: For the next 40/2018 days… to feed on God’s Word & clear room for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully in our church! Amen?
Let me show you what the Bible has to say about the power of “40” in Scripture.
You can take the Bible on your seat. Or follow along in the Message Notes in your program.
If you look at the lives of the men & women God used powerfully, you’ll notice the number 40 pops up throughout Scripture.
Especially the OT. In you open to the first book of the Bible, in Genesis, it begins with…
Noah was a righteous man, but the world around him was wicked & depraved. Like the violence & tragedy in Connecticut reminded us, Noah’s Culture is Sick. Violent men killed one another, mothers sacrificed their children to pagan gods. Child sacrifice. Sick. And God said, “I’m going to wipe it all out and start over.” But Noah—I’m gonna spare you. Use your family to start over. So I want you to build what…? AN ARK!
Remember this story from Sunday School? Noah builds an ark, obeys God… pairs of each animal board the boat
And God said:
Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for FORTY days and FORTY nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. Gen. 7:4
And people laughed at Noah… 40 days & night of rain? Pffft… what is this, Seattle?
But then it happened:
On that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth FORTY days and FORTY nights. Gen. 7:11-12
Everything wiped out. Destroyed.
Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. Gen. 7:23
This is the Bible’s first mention of 40 days & 40 nights.
And the purpose of this 40 days? PURIFICATION!
It was like a Cleanse. God used 40 days of rain to CLEANSE the EARTH—to purify it of its wickedness & sin.
Evil & Depravity were so rampant, God decided to purify it for the purposes of giving it a fresh start.
Q: Do you want a fresh start in the new year? A new beginning? There is no better way to kick off a New Year than with a Spiritual Cleanse.
That’s what this is. For 40 days, we’re going to wash ourselves in the Word of God. Ask him to clean out all the garbage, so he can use us for his purposes!
If you’re taking notes, that’s the first purpose of 40: PURIFICATION!
But if you flip over to the next book, it’s also about REVELATION!
Take the story of…
In Exodus, second book of the Bible. Moses was the great leader of the nation of Israel. And God called Moses into ministry at the age of 40 (see, there’s still some hope for you).
And in Exodus, God calls Moses to meet him on top of Mount Sinai in the desert—bc he has something important to REVEAL to him. Exodus 24 says:
Moses … stayed on the mountain FORTY days and FORTY nights. Ex. 24:18
There’s that number again. If you saw the movie, God gave Moses something VERY IMPORTANT during those 40 days: Charlton Heston receives the… Ten Commandments!
Yes, God reveals the MORAL LAW on which Judeo-Xian society is based!
He writes them on stone tablets so Moses won’t forget. (But 40 days was a long time—and the Israelites got tired of waiting, so they start partying at the foot of the mountain.
Built a Golden Calf & start some Beyonce!
And Moses comes down from the mountain—was so upset, he SMASHED the Ten Commandments!
So God makes him hike up a second time. Wanna guess how long?
Moses was there with the LORD FORTY days and FORTY nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. Ex. 34:28
Moses had a Divine Revelation from God after spending 40 days in His Presence! It was about Revelation!
Wow, imagine that: If God spoke His Word directly to You over the next 40 days!
(Peter, write this down! In 2018, here are 10 Things I Want You to Do with Your Life… or Family… or Career.) Imagine receiving a DIRECT REVELATION from God—from His mouth to yours this year? How cool would that be? It made Moses’ face glow!
Let me ask: Are you hungry for a Word from God? Are you in need of Fresh Revelation this year?
Learn from Moses. God can use the next 40 days to PURIFY your heart… and REVEAL HIS PURPOSES for your life. If you’re willing to seek Him.
3) PROMISED LAND
The OT goes: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus… Numbers! In the 4th book of the Bible, God tells Moses to lead the people to the Promised Land! A “land flowing with milk & honey”… woo-hoo! We’re going to Bermuda!
No, it’s not a cakewalk. The land’s infested with giants. So Moses sends spies into Canaan—to case out the Promised Land. Numbers 13 says:
At the end of FORTY days they returned from exploring the land. Num. 13:25
40 is also used by God for… EXPLORATION!
When God has you on threshold of something new. Standing on the doorstep of a new chapter in your life. Maybe he’s going to lead you into a new job or career in 2018.
You’re considering a move. Or you’re getting married. Or having a baby!
You’re about to turn the page on a new chapter in your life.
And God says, “I want you to set aside 40 days to explore this.” Don’t act rashly—I have things I want to tell you about the future I’ve promised you.
The Hebrew spies explore & they return and…
They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large…” Num. 13:27-28
IOW: At first, they give a good report! This is a move of God… He’s blessed us!
But then they start to waver… but there are giants in the land.
The Nephilim live there. Goliath lives there. Lebron lives there.
They begin to doubt God and give a bad report. Their faith starts to waver. They begin to doubt God has something new for them.
As a result, the Lord has to correct their faithless, broken thinking. Time for a little… CORRECTION.
4) ISRAEL in the DESERT
Purpose #4 of FORTY is Correction. In Num. 32:13
The LORD’S anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the desert FORTY years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone. Num. 32:13
FORTY years in the desert. As punishment for their unbelief.
That’s pretty harsh. But that’s how long it took—for a generation of haters to pass—until a new one could journey forward.
And that’s revealing too. Scripture says God disciplines those he loves. Like a loving father, he corrects us at times. Not to torture us… but to fix our broken thinking & teach us to be fully dependent. Even when life gets hard. Or scary. To trust & follow Him.
Is there an area of your life in need of correction? Do you doubt in certain areas? If we’re too proud to trust God’s hand, he’ll humble us. That’s what he did with Israel:
For FORTY years—one year for each of the FORTY days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you. Num. 14:34
Now stop here. These are the first 4 books of the Bible (Gen, Ex, Lev, Numbers).
And each one reveals a different PURPOSE for the number 40.
God used 40 days/40nights/40years in significant ways to prepare the heart of His people:
• Purification – to purify them
• Revelation – to reveal his Divine Direction
• Exploration – to let them explore the new thing he had for them
• Correction – and to correct them when they went off course
Q: Do you see a pattern emerging?
It’s hard to miss. The number 40 has huge significance in preparing people for God to move powerfully & lead them to the next level spiritually.
And that’s exactly what we’re asking God to do in us as His church over the next 40 days with our… 40 day Bible Challenge. We want to see God help us take our next steps toward Him this year.
// 40 Day Bible Challenge Instructions
Let me tell you how this is going to work:
• We got each of you a Bible that looks like this. (JOKE – just kidding)
• In your program we’ve put a Bookmark for you to use during this reading. We want you to open a bible, click open, fire up your kindle, whatever you use, that doesn’t matter…
• The Bookmark has the reading plan laid out for you.
• We have made this SUPER EASY for entire families to get involved. Every AGE & STAGE:
Each day you’ll read around 2 chapters a day in your Bible. If you need a bible, take the one on the chair. It’s for you… Our church is made up of people who are incredibly generous and they’ve purchased them for you! Those are yours.
Each reading takes about 10-15 minutes. Can you give up one Netflix show every day? (Think about it as a little fast)
Day 1 of the reading begins on Monday, January 8th
We’ve even got Bible’s for Kids to join in as well. The Jesus story book Bible… Beautifully illustrated, and written for kids to understand the story of God. These are available at our Next Steps booth after service for you if you need a Bible to work through with your kids.
Guys, I am so excited by this. What is God going to do over the next 40 days in our church if we devote ourselves to His Word & each other?
Maybe for the first time in your life, God will: REVEAL His purposes for your life… as you EXPLORE His Word… which offers CORRECTION & PURIFIES our lives and families!
We had an incredible 2017: Some of the game-changing things that happened we didn’t even have on the calendar in January:
If you had told me:
• We’d launch our church and 3 months later see nearly 600 people at Easter I would have laughed at you.
• We weren’t “planning” to be hit by Hurricane Irma—but God gave us the privilege of partnering with people around our city to help provide hope and help in Jesus name.
• We knew that serving our community was going to be part of our DNA, but to think that this past year we’ve been able to transform a Yard into a Home for one deserving family, completely clean-up and re-landscape our school through our SERVE DAYS, and then we hosted the Christmas Movie Marathon for Tatum Ridge… it is incredible! God is so GOOD!
And we’ve seen God’s blessing in amazing ways:
• You know how many people attended Xmas Eve? Over 400 people heard the Gospel of Grace on Xmas Eve. (that’s double our normal attendance)
• God blessed our Legacy Offering THROUGH YOU! 20k towards our 2018 initiatives. Incredible!
• This past year we’ve had 10 different connect groups and we get excited by this because we believe that circles are better than rows. Discipleship happens best in relationship. Tiffany and I first met Joe and Julianne in connect groups, and we have loved getting to know them, an awesome family. And next week we will be having our Connect Group Sunday. You’ll be able to get connected to a group next Sunday. Joe and Julianne have been involved in a connect group in the past that has changed their lives. They love connect groups. So much so that we’ve asked them to step in and be our Connect Group Coordinators here at Hope City.
• But today I want to ask you, would you be willing to lead a group. This is as simple as Opening your home, and hosting a group of people. We’ll train you and help you… We’ve got a team that is ready to serve you as you serve others. After service, I want you to head out to the lobby to meet Joe & Julianne Rill. Let them know that you’re interested in leading a connect group. Even if you led one last semester, go ahead and let them know that you are planning on leading one again this semester.
God is growing us up. He’s growing us wide. And we want Him to grow us deep.
That’s what I want for you this year as your pastor.
And I believe God’s going to honor this next 40 days & use it in ways we can’t predict in 2018.
• Final Example
To make this personal, let me close by giving you a Final Example of the Power of 40 in the Bible and how it could personally change your life this Spring.
If you pick up God’s story in Judges, we learn that Israel fell into bondage again:
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for FORTY years. Judg. 13:1
The Philistines were notorious for their cruelty. And they had a champion warrior named Goliath.
Who intimidated the people of God. Each morning, Goliath would come out, holler his taunts—“The God of the Bible is powerless. If God’s powerful, come out & take me on!”
He issued that challenge every day for… can you guess?
1Sam. 17:16 For FORTY days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
IOW: there was a CONFRONTATION.
A demonic power challenged God’s people… and a YOUNG BOY stepped up to take him on.
A shepherd boy named DAVID.
(The rest is history… David took 5 smooth stones… one for each book of the Torah… Goliath collapsed face down in front of him… worship.)
And David stepped into his destiny. Becoming God’s pick as King over Israel.
Over the next 40 days, I believe God is going to prepare some of you for a BATTLE you can’t even see yet.
Q: Is there an issue in your family you’re scared to confront? A situation at work? (you’re intimidated by others). Fear of man has a grip on you?
Maybe you have a chronic condition that seeks to mock or taunt you daily?
On the bottom of your notes this week you’ll see that we’ve got a perforated card for you. If you want to see God do some amazing things in your life this year as you follow Him, If you are committing to read through the 4 gospels with us, I want you to do me a favor… Go ahead and fill this card out, and check the box, I’m taking the #40DayChallenge. And then we put a space there for you to write down one thing that we can pray for you about. What is one thing that you need prayer for this year? My commitment to you is that I will commit to praying for each one of these things this year.
I got an email this week from someone here at church
I felt called to go see my friend Linda who is in her 3rd round of stage 4 non Hodgkins lymphoma and was given 2-12 months to live without some miracle medical intervention. So I booked the ticket.
I feel as if I am going to be standing in the gap spiritually -boldly going to the throne so that I may be used as a tool to do greater things. I have just read “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
So I’m going to believe, ask and be a part of a miracle. I think 2018 is going to the be a year of miracles if we just simply ask and believe. So I’m trying it!
First off, I was moved by her note. Bc I know it represents so many of you struggling with Worry. Anxiety. And Physical Illness. And it’s good to get medical help—but I believe behind the physical is a spiritual root as well. As followers of Jesus, it’s easy to have a heart attack or, an assault by the Enemy of our soul—the devil. We know this: it’s not God’s Will for you to suffer—afflicted day by day by voices that taunt, mock, create fear & anxiety.
And just like the story of David—I believe God is going to use the POWER OF HIS WORD over the NEXT 40 DAYS to demolish strongholds in this congregation!
Amen? We want to see strongholds of fear, anxiety, addictions… BROKEN in Jesus’ name!
40 Days is a Declaration of War in Jesus’ Name! And the power of His Word!
And I will be praying for BREAKTHROUGH for those of you who are afflicted by the Enemy’s taunts! In fact, let me pray for you right now:
I believe we’re gonna see breakthrough as we confront our Enemy in God’s strength, not ours. As He fortifies or strengthens each of us for the journey ahead.
In fact, this year we are going to be starting Mid-Week Prayer. We will meet for one hour at Hope City Headquarters to pray… We’ll pray for our city, pray for our church, and pray for one another. This will be one hour. An opportunity for us to gather and pray, asking God to do some incredible things in 2018. You don’t have to pray out loud, you don’t have to do anything weird, we are going to meet for one hour to bring our prayer requests before God. We will be starting that this Wednesday night at 7pm-8pm at Hope City Headquarters. 5930 Palmer Road. Right by Detweilers.
I believe God’s going to use these NEXT 40 DAYS to strengthen some of you for what’s to come this year. He’s going to toughen your soul, transform your mind, and pour into you the Courage & Endurance you’ll need for the challenges that lay ahead.
“Man does not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Your life depends on this. Do you believe that? Your family depends on this!
God has something to teach you this year. But you’re gonna have to read it for yourself.
He wants to lead you into a life of Greater Freedom, Grace, and POWER for living … it’s your birthright in Jesus Christ!
But you have to eat your Daily Bread if you’re going to grow strong in your faith.
So consider this the start of a new diet for new year. We’re cutting out the empty calories… and letting the Word cleanse, renew, instruct, and strengthen us for 40 days.
Only God knows what’s going to change in your life by His power. Amen?