- Do you feel like you have a proper perspective on your life? Why or why not?
- What areas of your life do you consider to be most important? Are you covering those areas in prayer daily?
- How are you actively blessing others right now with what God has give you?
Good morning! Welcome to Hope City. My name is Peter and today we are in week 3 of our series JUST DO IT. Have you ever wondered if all you’re doing is talking a big game, or just living a hyped up life? If so than this series is for you. We’ve been taking a look at how to move beyond a life of hype.
Here’s what I know. It’s easy to say things, it’s a lot harder to live them out. The premise for this entire series is that there are things that we need to JUST DO in order to experience the kind of life that we want to HAVE. Maybe you’ve been attending church all your life and you would argue that you’ve had faith, but you want to see it show up with more emphasis, and more effect in your life, than this series is for you. Maybe you’ve been critical of your spouses faith, or you would argue that the faith that you’ve seen in others doesn’t match the faith you would expect to see in a Jesus follower. Well, than this series is for you!
Throughout this series we have been going chapter by chapter through the book of James to discover what He has to say about having a faith that outlasts the hype. A faith that shows up and makes a difference.
In the beginning of this little powerpacked book James says this… Too often we find ourselves going through the motions… we settle into a religious rut and start living life on auto pilot. We start speaking but not acting. And the reality is this, A FRAGMENTED LIFE NEVER LEADS TO A FRUITFULL LIFE. If we’ve got parts of us that say one thing and parts of our life that do another… it doesn’t add up a whole lot. This has never been God’s plan for you or me. From the beginning of time God has
been working to see people move from living fractured and inconsistent lives to one which is made whole and complete.
James 1:22 is a central idea for us
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
There is something about this… there are times when we can hear what we should do, but then we are not sure if we’re going to actually follow through with it. Right?
3 and a half years ago, Tiffany and I were out in California beginning the process of launching Hope City Church, and we met with an organization called the Association of Related Churches, or the ARC. The ARC is an organization that helps people plant churches. They are on a mission to plant 10,000 churches around the globe. And in order to help do that, they resource church planters like Tiffany and I, and help by coaching them and training them. Well, in order to be an official ARC Church plant you had to not only go through their training, but you also had to be interviewed by several other Church Planters. They asked EVERYTHING! They reviewed our marriage, our parenting, they reviewed our finances… I mean all kinds of things they dug into. So we got through all of that, and they said, so tell us about your launch plan.
What’s the strategy for how you are going to launch your church? And so I started sharing with them, and they said okay, great… but what date are you launching? I said, September 11th. 2016. I could tell in an instant that they weren’t happy with this. It was one of these… “Oh… Uh huh. Right.” Then they sent us out of the room so that the couples could all sit there and talk about us.
When we came back in the room, they said, listen, we want you to be an ARC Church plant. We think that you guys are ready. We think that your marriage is strong. We think you’ve got the experience to do this. But we’ve got some hesitations. We think that it’s too soon. We think that you’re going to need some more time. If you choose to wait till January we’ll give you the green light, but if you chose to go ahead with your date, we’re going to have to wish you well but not have a partnership.
I wish I could tell you that it was an easy decision for me in the moment. I wish I could tell you that I said, “YES, no problem” right away, but I didn’t. Instead I said, “Can I think about it.” It was killing me. Everything inside of me wanted to barrel ahead with my own plan, and my own way. But there was something else going on. God had another plan.
It’s easy to overestimate our own abilities. We can start to place our trust in what we think more than what we’re learning and hearing from others. After all, Trust is an Outward Expression of an inward confidence, or faith. Trust is always shown through expression. How do you know that you’re trusted by your parents? When they let you borrow the car. How do you know that you trust your friends? When they give you their garage code and say swing by anytime. How do you know that your boss trusts you? When He gives you responsibility that would look bad on him if you didn’t accomplish it. TRUST IS ALWAYS DISPLAYED THROUGH ACTION.
How many times has someone said TRUST ME… Eat this… you’ll enjoy it. Trust me. What they are looking for is for you to DO something because of what you FEEL.
Misplaced trust, or self-centered trust leads you further away from a faith that is maturing.
When you’ve settled into Self Reliance, or trusting in your own ability the most, if you’re not careful you can watch as you isolate yourself from others. You don’t need them anymore, and you start to go at life alone. You say things like I can do it on my own, I don’t need anyone. Self-reliance, if we’re not careful can remove relationships.
It also gets you to say, LOOK WHAT I’VE DONE! And it Increases Arrogance and Pride. Self-Reliance causes us to put too much stock in our self, and our own abilities and forces us to focus on the wrong things.
Many of us would say, we’ve got faith in God, but our trust is in ourselves. This is the challenge! If we’re going to live lives of wholeness we need to pay attention to more than just the way we treat
others with our actions, or with our words… we need to make sure that we are also growing internally.
James jumps right in James chapter 4, page 827 in the Bible’s around you. He has no issue with diving right in and talking about our self-reliance. Look at verse 13:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.1
James is insanely practical here. He says, you talk a big game about things that you can’t control. Like you talking about how you’re going to take your business over here, and it’s going to produce results and you’ll be there for a year, and then you’ll move on to the next place. He says, TIME OUT! You don’t even know what is going to happen tomorrow!
How many of you had plans this week that were changed before you even got to that same afternoon? YEAH! ME TOO!
We’re getting good at predicting the weather. We know that it’s going to be a certain temperature, and conveniently they even tell me every hour what it’s going to do, and do you know what? It’s pretty accurate. We’ve somehow convinced ourselves that if we can predict the weather we can also predict the future.
2 Weeks ago, the world was shocked by the sudden, and tragic death of Kobe Bryant. Kobe is one of basketball’s GOATs. He is one of the Greatest of All Time. The guy was a monster on the court. He played for the L.A. Lakers for 20 seasons. Can you imagine that? He holds all kinds of records.
He has also scored more points, more free-throws, and made more turnovers than any other guard in history. During his career, Bryant hit 33,643 points, made 8,378 free throws, and completed 4,010 turnovers. All three are records for his position.
Kobe was an Author, a Philantropist, he had a short career as a Rapper, and starred in a few TV Shows. After all of this, he had a net worth of 500 Million dollars. On January 26th, Kobe died in a Helicopter Accident. Terribly tragic. I have had a lot of time to think about this. Because without a doubt, you’ve heard about this. His death has echoed in just about every corridor of our society. There is no shortage of people talking about it, and sharing their feelings about it.
Here is a MULTI MILLIONAIRE, MULTI TALENTED MAN who had everything in life, and in a matter of moments, it was all over. It felt sudden and unexpected. It shook people.
People like Kobe, aren’t supposed to die unexpectedly right? They’ve got the money and the fame, and the power, and the influence to somehow cheat death, and cheat what is ultimately coming for all of us one day. Guys like Kobe are supposed to go on their own terms. Because Guys like KOBE are living the AMERICAN DREAM. They have made something of themselves. A young kid coming up in Lower Moreland High School not too far from my own high school, just a few years ahead of me. He went on to be a LEGEND. And LEGENDS MADE THEMSELVES LEGENDS. This is the pervasive story that is told over and over and over again.
If we’re not careful, we can easily buy it, and we can shift our focus and our plans to our self-reliance. What does James say though?
What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
This means that we’re here for a little bit, and then we’re gone. And if that’s true, then we need to be careful to PT. 1 KEEP YOUR LIFE IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE.
You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Imagine your life like a VAPE cloud. The first time I saw that in someone’s car I literally thought their car was on fire! I was like BRO! YOUR CAR. IT’S ON FIRE! Vape
smoke was everywhere. This is what life feels like, we’re filling up every space. We’re winning at work. We’re happy at home. Our kids aren’t killing us… We’re kind of a big deal. You’re filling up the car—and then the window rolls down and it’s gone! Just like that!
When your future is uncertain, your present becomes more valuable. You live in every moment. You don’t take a second for granted. When life is in proper perspective, it teaches us to trust in God. Obsessing over future plans is often a shortcut to underappreciating the beauty of what God has given you today!
It’s not just about perspective though, James goes on to say,
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. 2
James gives a little correction here: He says INSTEAD… Rather than living like tomorrow is guaranteed, you ought to live like this: with a focus on what God wants, not what you want. James is drawing inspiration from, you guessed it… his half brother Jesus again… Particularly Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.3
James and Jesus are both instructing us and they’re encouraging us to live beyond ourselves. Don’t get so stuck on yourself, and reliant on yourself that you miss out on trusting Jesus! Let me remind you that the best way to do this is to Pt. 2 LIVE PRAYERFULLY NOT PRESUMPTIVELY. If we’re going to grow in maturity, it’s going to require that we shift not only our perspective, but also what gets our
energy and attention. We’re not going to presume that we know what to do, or what’s to come. We’re going to live in a constant state of asking God, “God, what is it that you want me to do today?” “God, what is most important to build YOUR kingdom today, not mine.”
Do you know what, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense either. 3 years ago, Tiffany and I were sitting on Siesta Key Beach and we started talking about Tithing. Don’t get me wrong, we were giving to Hope City. We helped fund the launch of Hope City. But we were getting going, and we were wondering if we were going to be able to pay the bills at home, and put food on the table. The church has and always will be provided for by the generosity of it’s people. And so, we were faced with the decision, do we tithe in an already difficult financial situation? Or is the fact that I’m the pastor and I’m giving my life to this enough? I’m so grateful that in that moment we looked at each other in a unified way and decided that no matter what, how hard it was going to be, we were going to tithe 10% of our income to church. But it doesn’t make sense! Yes… but I’m not going to PRESUME to know how God is going to PROVIDE. I’m going to have FAITH that HE WILL PROVIDE and I’M GOING TO STEP OUT IN TRUST and act on that FAITH. We’re going to LIVE PRAYERFULLY NOT PRESUMPTIVELY.
Maybe you want to tithe, you want to obey God with your finances, but you’re nervous because it just doesn’t make sense. Don’t presume how God will provide. Live Prayerfully, not Presumptively.
But not everyone who follows Jesus is interested in seeking first this kingdom that He is referencing. James is showing his frustration with the early Jerusalem church when he says,
5 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened
yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.4
Here’s what James doesn’t say: “You wicked people. You earned wealth. WICKED!” No, he says you have HOARDED WEALTH, and you have not paid the people who work for you. Not only that, but these people have devoted themselves to an exploitative manipulation of others to fulfill their own desires.
He says, you have condemned and murdered innocent men. The word murdered had a wider range of meaning in Jewish ethics than it has today. To take away a neighbor’s living is to murder him; to deprive an employee of his wages is to shed blood.
Again, James is referencing a famous teaching of Jesus,
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 5
Life isn’t about accumulating an abundance of possessions, it’s about using your possessions to bring others to abundant life! Every single one of us have the ability to influence and impact the lives of others. There is no denying God’s provision in our life. God has provided for you, so that you could join Him in providing for others! Again, seek first who’s kingdom? HIS KINGDOM!
James is saying, Pt. 3 BLESS OTHERS WITH YOUR BLESSING. When we are asking God, through prayer to reveal His will, or His plan for our life to us, we need to be prepared to take from the good things that He’s given us in order to bring good to those He’s placed in our path.
This past fall, Hope City Church received a gift of ¼ of a million dollars specifically for the goal of helping us secure a permanent home here in Sarasota. God has blessed our church in an incredible
way! We’re actively seeking a home for our church right now. When I called to thank the individual who gave such a generous gift, they said something to me that I’ll never forget. He said, “Peter, God has blessed us, and we know that we can never outgive God.” In other words, We’re going to BLESS YOUR CHURCH from the BLESSINGS That God has given us!
You don’t live in Sarasota simply to soak up the sun and sit over at Siesta. God has placed you here on purpose for a purpose. God has brought our church into existence on January 22, 2017, not September 11th, 2016… so that we would be #FORsarasota, not just another Holy Huddle. God may have blessed you, and He’s commissioned you as His witness, cleverly disguised as a neighbor, or a plumber, or a ceo, or a doctor, or a consultant, or a teacher.
James is clear. It’s possible to live a life that is all hype, or all talk. A life that has a lot of words, but no substance. But let’s be clear, FAITH SHOULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE, NOT JUST BE A PREFERENCE. And as we grow in our faith, we should grow in our trust. Trust that acts. Trust that steps out. Trust that follows through. Listen to me, you can trust God too little, but you can never trust God too much.
Faith and Trust go hand in hand. It’s Believing and Behaving. What’s God asking you to do? Does your Trust line up with your Faith?
What if God is saying, I want you to take Tithing seriously. TRUST ME, I’m going to provide.
Or maybe God is saying, Live beyond yourself. Start serving other people! What if today you want to join our dream team and find God’s purpose and meaning in your life.
Can you imagine what it would look like if we all were growing in maturity and completeness in our faith. Imagine what God’s kingdom would look like here on earth.
We would see a church UNITED… a church that said, we’re placing a stake in the ground, that on our watch, we are going to be #FORsarasota. This city will know that WE ARE FOR THEM because GOD IS FOR THEM.
We’d see a generation of kids and students that are walking with Jesus and learning what it means to have Him as their forever friend. They would know that there is a group of people who are #FORtheNextGeneration.
We would see individuals who wouldn’t feel like numbers or statistics because they would know that there is a church community that not only says they are #FORtheONE but lives it out and moves towards the one.
If we’re going to do this, we MUST increase our FAITH, we MUST increase our TRUST and we’ll see God do more than we can ask or imagine according to the power that is at work inside of us. And Christ Jesus will receive the glory in His church from now until the day that we die!