Good morning Hope City! Questions! Everybody’s got them…. What was the last great question you were asked? Well throughout this next series, we are looking to tackle your toughest questions about God, the Bible, Faith, and Parenting.
Honestly, I think that this is going to be an incredibly helpful series for many of you! Don’t miss out on Next Week, I’ve asked my wife Tiffany to join me and talk through some key ideas when it comes to parenting, and how do we make it through parenting. Then I’ve invited my good friend to come and share about God’s heart for… This whole series is going to be one you will not want to miss. I hope you’ll clear your Sunday’s for the next few weeks and join us here at Hope City.
Who had a great Easter Sunday? (pictures) Wasn’t that incredible? I’ve got to be honest though. We announced that we were dropping 12,000 Easter Eggs… But I’ve still got one here… So, I guess it was 11,999…. Who wants it? Alright. That’s a treat for you.
Thank you to everyone who participated… if you were here last week for the first time, we’re so glad that you’re here again. Hope City is a Christians church. I was being interviewed by ABC news last week and they said, How would you describe Hope City Church, I said, well… “We’re Not your mama’s church.” Yeah, we’re a bit non traditional… but we’re a church that holds to the truth of God’s word, we teach from the Bible, that will never change, but we want to teach that, or express that truth in creative, fun ways. How would you describe Hope City Church… I thought, that was a great question!
You guys have been asking some great questions as well! Over the last two weeks we’ve had cards for you guys to submit your questions, or you can submit them online, or by email…. But here’s a few questions that you’ve asked. I figured we’d start off with some easy ones… Alright. Let’s get warmed up!
Here’s our first question… So we’ve polled a group of people, and one of the top questions was DO DOGS GO TO HEAVEN?
SURVEY SAYS! Probably yours, but definitely not mine! (Picture of Cooper)
Nah… I’m kidding. I’m not sure…. This is one of those gray areas. We know that the Bible describes heaven as being a place where creation is restored, there is no sickness, no mourning, no pain or sorrow. We know that it is the fullness of God’s creation. So… will their be dogs in heaven? Maybe. They probably won’t pee all over you though. They’ll have heavenly bladders. 😉
You guys have some great questions!
Here’s another one, Who wrote the Bible?
The word Bible comes from the word biblios, which means “books”. In essence the Bible is a small library of sixty-six books divided into two sections. The O.T. has 39 books and the N.T. has 27.
Now the Bible is not like any other book on earth. It was written over a span of 1400 year by forty authors from many different walks of life writing in different places at different times and in three different languages. Even though these different authors wrote the words of Scripture with their own hands, from their own experiences, and through the lenses of their own cultural context, they were divinely inspired by God’s Holy Spirit to write what was written. And because of that, while the Bible reflects the culture and context of the human authors, the Bible transcends human wisdom. It is the living Word of the living God. This is why every weekend we open God’s word, found in the Bible and learn from it!
Great question! This morning, I wanted to dive in a bit deeper to a question that hits home here at Hope City. We got a question that said, “What does the Bible have to say about caring for orphans, widows, the homeless, and the poor?”
I love this question. We’ve talked about the homeless here in Sarasota and what we are doing about that. Over the course of this next year, we are providing 5000 meals to the homeless men and women here in Sarasota. And not only are we just paying/providing these meals, many of you have signed up to be a part of serving those meals on Thursday nights. We love this!
You heard last week how we are partnering with the TWIG today to receive your BAGS OF HOPE filled with Socks and Underwear…. The TWIG is a non-profit organization that exists to encourage and inspire Foster Kids here in Sarasota County. They provide dignity and value to a group of kids that are often overlooked and find themselves stuck in a system they were never intended to be a part of. These kids are able to go to the TWIG and get new clothes of their choosing. Clothes that make them feel good about themselves, and they get to interact with people who believe in them. We are HUGE fans of the TWIG here at Hope City.
So, what does the Bible say about these things- What is our responsibility for the orphan, the widow, the poor, and the homeless? Or another way of saying it, is why should we be #ForSarasota? Because here’s the truth, there has always been people who are hurting, and down and out, and dispite what you may think, Sarasota is filled with hurting people. The question is what do we do about it?
To get a clearer picture of what the Bible says about caring for the poor and powerless, let’s turn to the book of Micah 6. Page 637 in the Bible’s around you.
Micah is one of the prophets from the Old Testament. A prophet was simply a man or woman who spoke on behalf of the Lord. Micah is writing during a time of unprecedented economic affluence while at the same time they were drifting further and further away from the heart of God and His plan for their lives. Their was a wealthy class of people who grew wealthier at the expense of the poorer class. And Micah the prophet spoke to a society that may have existed 2700 years ago, but in many ways, it reflects the world we live in.
Micah starts off with a question of his own… He says, in light of God’s faithfulness, what are we to do? Look at what He says.
With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Micah 6:6
Micah asks his own question. He says, what is important to God? When you come before God at Temple, or Church… what’s important? He says, is it about the burnt offerings? Animal sacrifices? Is this how I bow before God? Is this how I show God how grateful I am for what He’s done?
Understand that burnt offerings were one of the ways that God said the Jews were to worship the Lord. They were to make sacrifices to the Lord. Sacrifices that would cover their sin, and sacrifices that would honor the Lord. And there was no greater sacrifice than that of a yearling calf. It was regarded as one of the choicest sacrifices you could make. And yet, Micah gives us the hint that maybe this is missing the boat a bit.
Here’s another question for you Micah says,
Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Micah 6:7
Micah asks, is it about the quantity of what we bring before God? What about if we bring thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil. We can all agree that would be a lot of oil!
Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? Micah 6:7
Now Micah pushes it to the extreme. He’s saying… DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION? What does God want from you? He goes to the outer edge of what people would even consider. Child sacrifice was a Canaanite practice, never intended by God and Micah brings this up because it is just that extreme.
Guys have you ever had that moment in your relationship where you’re like I just don’t know why my wife is mad at me? No? I’m the only one? You know that moment where you are racking your brain, like what did I say, what did I do? What didn’t I say, what didn’t I do… You’re stuck… And you’re absolutely willing to do ANYTHING to get beyond this right? What…. What… What do you want from me woman?
Micah is reaching that same level of angst. What do you think God wants from you? Is it a fresh calf? A thousand rams? Rivers of oil? What do you want from me God? How about my first-born son. Do you want that?
Micah’s about to lay it out for us… Verse 8 lays out what God wants.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
What does God require from you? What does God want from you? To act justly. To love mercy. And to walk humbly with your God. It isn’t about religious acts, but relational acts. See the people had it all wrong. There was a thought in their heads that God wanted their service and their sacrifice. What God really wanted was their hearts given over to service. Here’s what Micah was saying, “Relationship Trumps Religion”. They were working off of a system of religion, when God wanted to challenge the way that they related to one another and to God.
Religion is far easier to get involved with, rise through the ranks, perfect, and feel good about. Memorize some church phrases, like “Amen Brother”. Or use the word “Fellowship”—“It’s so good to fellowship with one another”…. In ARC churches, any time Tiffany and I go to an ARC Conference, that’s the Association of Related Churches, the organization that Hope City is a part of, the phrase used there is “Come on somebody!” That’s the churchiest phrase you can use there. If you want to get a crowd pumped, you say, COME ON SOMEBODY! If you want to be more religious, you can carry your own bible in to church… look down your nose at the people around you who use the meager chair bible. You know the one that isn’t leather bound. If you want to get really good at being religious, memorize some routine prayers and repeat the wording everyday so you feel just good enough about yourself. But don’t allow the words to sink in or penetrate your heart. Just stay religious about it. Stay routine about it. Religion is a man made system that easily defines who is in and who is out. God doesn’t want our religious structures, He wants a heart driven by relationship. Come on Somebody! J/K
Anyone can say 5 Hail Mary’s and go to confession and move on their way. That is religion. But it takes a heart that is tuned to another heart to foster a relationship. Relationships are built on heart connections, not to do lists.
From time to time, Tiffany will share a list with me of things that need to get done… You know, the Honey-Do-List. Clean the garage, weed the flower bed, pick up the dog poop in the yard (I told you my dog is not going to heaven!). Here’s the deal, I don’t complete my wife’s honey-do-list to define our marriage. Or, I’m not married because I complete my honey-do-list. I complete my Honey-Do-List because of my love for the one I’m married to.
God wants Your heart to drive your actions…. Our actions should not be defined by a day of the week, or time of the day, but rather by our relationship with Jesus Christ!
In fact, this morning, I believe this so much that I want to make an offer to you. Last week we introduced you to the Twig and our Bags of Hope. We handed out these bags of hope and asked you all to bring them back this week with New Socks, and New Underwear. Here’s what I recognize… we can make anything religious and routine –even socks and underwear! This is not what God wants from you. Listen, God doesn’t need you to care for these kids. God is allowing you to be a part of the care of these kids. Here’s my offer. If you bought these socks and underwear out of religious obligation, I want to buy them back from you. I’ll pay for them with no questions asked. Your hearts motivation is more important than any religious duty.
So, what does the Bible have to say about caring for orphans, widows, the homeless, and the poor? Look back again with me at verse 8,
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
What does God require of you? To act justly. Literally this means to do justice. To Love mercy. To freely, and willingly show kindness to others, and to walk humbly with your God. To live in conscious fellowship with God.
These bags are an expression of Micah 6:8. Do justice. Show Kindness, and Walk Humbly with your God. I know some of you couldn’t wait to fill these bags. We talked last week about how we’re going to partner with the Twig and provide for Foster Kids and you were already on Amazon shopping for underoos…. Why is that? Because you were moved by compassion. You were struck by injustice, and you were willing to use your influence and power to provide for someone else.
This is what God wants from you! This is what God wants for the orphan, the widow, the foster kid, the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised… God wants you to use your influence to impact those you can.
This past week we remembered a man who used his influence for the good of all humanity. Before being gunned down, Dr. Martin Luther King has said, (I’d like to see Dr. King’s face on this slide)
“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
What’s he saying? Do what you can, when you can for whomever you can. God has placed us here in Sarasota county. We all call Sarasota home. We should do whatever it takes to be a blessing to Sarasota. You may not have much, but make much of what you’ve got.
Don’t let your fear of insignificance impact your ability to influence. I have conversations with people here at Hope City all the time about this, particularly those of you who are a bit older and more seasoned. Let me speak to you all for a second. Out of sincere respect, because my momma taught me to respect my elders, and you better believe that if I disrespect you she’ll give me the look. You moms know the look. You’ve got it down pat! She’ll just text me the look.
Don’t let your fear of being too old prohibit you from connecting here at Hope City. We are a young church, yes. But we are not a church for Young People. We are a church that needs all people. All ages, all stages, all skin tones. For those of you who are older, those of us who are younger are putting on an act. We want to look like we’ve got it all together. We don’t! We need your wisdom. We need your time. We need your encouragement.
There is a couple in this church right now who is retired, they come faithfully to midweek prayer every Wednesday night, and they have encouraged my heart. They have influenced what happens here on a Sunday morning by what they have said to me, prayed for me, and encouraged me with on a Wednesday evening. Do not give up on your influence because you fear insignificance. If you have a pulse, you have a purpose!
“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
Keep influencing! Keep doing justice, giving kindness, and remaining in a humble connection with God.
In the New Testament, James writes a reminder of Micah 6:8 in chapter 1:27 says,
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
This is what God accepts! This is what He wants from us. To look after orphans and widows. When we care for those whom are poor or powerless in our sphere of influence we are doing the work that God sees as important. We have captured this here at Hope City in the Hashtag #ForSarasota. Micah 6:8, and James 1:27 remind us that this is what God wants from us. He wants us to be For our neighbors, For our co-workers. For those who serve us in the restaurants. For those who have no parents. For those who are hungry and thirsty. He wants us to be For those who don’t look like us, worship like us, and believe like us.
What does it mean to be #ForSarasota? It means to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.
Sometimes this will come in the form of New Socks and Underwear. Sometimes this will look like serving meals to the Homeless on Thursday nights. Sometimes this will look like drilling a clean water well in Guatemala.
But being #ForSarasota will always be a part of what God wants for our church. We do these things, not because we want to fill a big church, but because we want to see heaven full.
Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the entire law was, and do you know what he said?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
So we know what the Bible have to say about caring for orphans, widows, the homeless, and the poor? Let me ask you a question, what are you going to do about it?
Some of you this morning, this has nudged you to step out of your comfort zone a bit. In 2 weeks I’ll be leading a team down to Guatemala to drill a clean water well for a village! This is out of our comfort zone.
Maybe for some of you today this has peaked your interest and you want to stay in the loop about opportunities to serve with our Reach team. Text the phrase ForSarasota to 970-00. We will make sure that you hear about what Hope City is doing to be #ForSarasota.
But maybe for you this means intentionally building a relationship with your neighbors. Caring for them in their time of need. In my men’s connect group this week, one of the guys was sharing how he helped drive his elderly neighbor to and from the doctor. Is this a big deal, no… Not on the surface. But it revealed his heart for his neighbors to his neighbors.
What needs to change in your heart this morning? What could God be nudging you on today? What would it look like for you to be #ForSarasota? How can you reveal your heart to the world around you?
Together we have brought bags and bags of New Socks and Underwear. Think about it. Every bag represents a child. Every child has a name, and every name has a story. And every story matters to God.
Imagine how many more stories we can influence when we are #ForSarasota together?