October 2021

Why Am I Here? (Called to Belong) pt.3

All Scripture taken from the New Living Translation

We’ve discovered in this series that we are all called to a specific purpose in life by our Creator…And that calling was placed in us long before we were born!! The moment we say YES to Jesus is the moment God starts bringing our calling to life!

Last week we looked at the first of five callings, or purposes that make up our calling entirely…And that is we are all called to be loved! Before we do anything for God, or anything in terms of serving His kingdom and obeying His ways we are to simply let Him love us…There is plenty of Scripture that supports the fact that we are called to be loved!

Today we are going to look at our second purpose that solidifies our calling in life and that is, “We are all called to belong.” We are all called to belong to God’s kingdom, or God’s church…This is something that will last forever!!

However, it is up to us to respond to His voice and welcome Jesus into our lives.

Hebrews 2:10 – “God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.”

Remember, last week we talked about how God created mankind because He wanted a family…If this was not true then you and I would not exist…God wanted a family to love…And when we find a church family to become a part of, we now have a place we call our church home that we belong too!

Romans 1:5-7 – “5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege[a] and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. 6 And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

We are called to belong to Jesus…But what exactly does that mean? If God calls me into His family so He can love me, and His family is the church…But yet part of the deal is that I am called to belong to Jesus…What does that mean for me?

Ephesians 1:22-23 – “22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”

I’m going to throw a little Greek out there for those of you that like to go deep in the Greek and Hebrew…

The word church in the Bible is the Greek word, “Ecclesia.” Which literally means, “They who are called out.”

In modern day English the word church means, “People who are called by God.”

You see, church is something we belong to…Church is a relationship…We worship our Creator here…We gather here once a week so that Jesus can help restore lives… We reconcile ourselves with each other as well as with our Father in heaven!

You see, the church is God’s design for His people who have been called to Him to come together and have fellowship with one another…

God designed His family, the church, as the one way for our needs here on earth to be met.

For starters; When we belong to a good church and become a part of God’s family in that church… We then begin to find our true identity and purpose in life!

Hebrews 2:11 – “So now Jesus and the ones He makes holy have the same Father. This is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them His brothers and sisters.”

Jesus looks at you and me and calls us His brother or sister…I think this is one of the coolest things to have settled in our hearts!!

Jesus is not ashamed of anyone in this room… No matter what we’ve done Jesus is not ashamed to call us His… Do you know why?

Because when we belong to His family, to His church… Our sin no longer defines us.

Our identity can no longer be defined by our past experiences or relationships…Once we’re in God’s family, we’re family… We now belong!

We may have some things to work on in our lives, but we’re family and we have the King of Kings as a brother… And Jesus is not ashamed of His family!!

One of the ways to “seal the deal” of publicly declaring that we belong to God’s family is to get water baptized.

Baptism is a public declaration of our commitment to Jesus and saying, “I’m all in!!”

We are ending this series with water baptisms and we already have several people signed up!!

The disciple Peter preached a message of salvation in the book of Acts and it says (Acts 2:41), “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day – About 3,000 in all.” So, we first believe, then we get baptized, then we become part of a church we now belong to…

The Bible also refers to the church as the body…The body of Christ…

Romans 12:4-5 – “4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”

This is where we get connected with other like-minded believers.

We each have a special role to play within the church…This is how we discover our true identity…This is how we discover our unique value in life…

We belong to each other and are to help each other as a family.

With all the ways we can stay connected to others through our devices, loneliness is the number one epidemic in America.

36% Americans feel lonely…61% of these between the ages of 18 – 25 deal with loneliness and 51% of mothers with young children…

This equals depression and anxiety with a lot of people… The feeling of isolation and being disconnected is not how we were designed to go through life!

We cannot be who God created us to be without a church family…Without a body of believers to belong to…

We will never fulfill our purpose in life on our own…

In other words, my hand can never fulfill its given function if it isn’t connected to my arm… We have to be connected…We need each other!

Ephesians 4:16 – “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

This right here is the description of God’s family, God’s church…The place where we all belong and find our identity…

The place where we care for others and others care for us as we go through life together.

This is why small groups are the heartbeat of a healthy church…None of this passage could happen if relationships are not being formed in a small group.

This passage is about going deep with relationships…In small groups we go deep…On Sundays we go wide.

So, here’s the question; Who’s looking out for you? How about this one; Who are you looking out for?

Again, we need each other to learn from and to look out for…

We are all different and we all have different experiences from life that shape who we are…And these are the very things that God uses to help those around us!

I am convinced that if we are not part of a small group we are not really connected.

This is why part of our calling is to belong…To get connected!

1 Corinthians 12:27 – “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

We’ll end the sermon with this:

Maybe you’ve gone through life trying to fit in and tried to find a place to belong…

Maybe all you’ve ever wanted was to be accepted and feel like you now belong…

We will be your family right here at VCC…You belong here!

1 Corinthians 12: 18, 25 – “18 Our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where He wants it… 25This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.”

Regardless of who you are or what your past looks like you belong here…You are welcome!!

You see, the church is to be the hope of the world…The church is the gospel of restoration!

It’s the Good News of Christ Jesus that restores lives, changes hearts, brings people together, restores marriages, and breathes life where darkness once ruled…

The church is God’s purpose for our lives…It’s where we belong!

Why Am I Here (Called to Become) pt.4

All Scripture taken from the New Living Translation

We are in a series where we are answering the question many of us face at some point or another and
that is, “Why am I here?”

What is my purpose, what is my calling in life?

In order to find our true calling in life…The one that works within the Kingdom of God here on earth we start out by simply allowing God to love on us…

When we get to a place in life where we can dial it back and let God love on us, heal us, teach us, build a relationship with us, we will come to find out that this is the foundational point of all things kingdom related…

What we have discovered so far is that God created mankind so He could have a family to love, and each person in that family would have a place they belong…

Once we establish a place to belong, we can then move to a point that the third building block can be added and that is we are all “Called to Become.”

Our third purpose in life that will help establish our God-given calling is that we are called to become like Jesus!

What does that mean? It means we are to take on the characteristics of Jesus…We are to be filled with love, filled with joy, peace, patience, self-control, mercy…And other like-minded characteristics the Bible talks about…

There are many passages in the Bible that compare becoming like Jesus to running a race…It is the race of life…And this race is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash!

Our goal is to become the person God created us to be!

We’re going to look at some things that will help us fulfill this building block in Christ…And the first place to start is by getting rid of what’s weighing us down!

It’s like this: People who run marathons don’t run with heavy clothing…They have wear light shoes, thin short shorts and a thin shirt…No extra weight to hold them back!

What is keeping you from becoming the person God is calling you to be? To answer this question we need to do some self-evaluation… Self-reflecting…

What are you filling your mind with? Demonic images, darkness, internet sites you have no business being on… What are you listening to and watching that is cluttering up your spirit?

Who are you hanging out with that is not the best influence?

What are the distractions, the time wasters, the dead ends you need to stop pursuing?

Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

There are two things that can weigh us down; One is distractions and then there are the sins…. The ones that so easily entraps us…
Something we must do in becoming who God created us to be is some self-evaluation…

One of the things I did when I finally decided to become sold out for the Gospel of Jesus was clear my mind of all things…At the time the internet wasn’t what it is today so I would consider that a blessing…

But I stopped listening to all the music I was listening to…I wanted to clear my mind with what I was feeding my spirit and I felt that’s what the Holy Spirit was telling me to do…

And I did this because of what these passages say…
Colossians 3:2,5a,10 – “2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth…5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world… 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

Philippians 4:8 – “…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

We all have things we know will easily trip us up in our walk with Jesus…We need to recognize this and do what it takes to keep it from weighing us down… And the way to do that is to control what goes in our minds and spirits.

Let’s look at the second half of Hebrews 12:1 – “… Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

“The race God has set before us,” Each of us has our own race to run…This race is the calling in life God placed upon each one of us before the day we were born!!

Nobody else can run the race set before me… It’s a race that lasts a lifetime… And we must run it with endurance…

To endure means we have to be patient and not get in a hurry… We will jump hurdles, obstacles, and push through pain!

When God creates a mushroom, it takes about 6 hours, and the mushroom can easily be uprooted…but when He creates an oak tree it takes about 50 years for it to be fully established….

And an oak tree is strong, stable, fully rooted in the ground and secure, so when storms and winds come, and they will, the oak tree stands strong through it all.

Soooo, what do you want to be, a mushroom or an oak tree?

The question then becomes; How do we stay focused in this race?

Let’s say we’ve stopped doing things that were weighing us down, and we’re running our race with endurance, pushing through it all… How do we stay focused?

Hebrews 12:2a – “5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”

We will not become like Jesus until we start spending time with Him…

We need to spend time focusing on Him every day, or none of what we’ve talked about so far will fall into place!

Jesus was one with the Father because He knew the importance of spending time with God…

Luke 5:16 – “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”

1.Jesus did this often…2. He had a special place to go.

We should have a special place, a quiet place where we can spend time with Jesus…Talk to Him…Read about Him…Study Him in the Gospels…

So that His character traits become a part of who we are.

Everybody wants the quick fix in life, but it doesn’t work that way…Remember the race set before us is a marathon and it lasts a lifetime…

In order to reflect the love of Jesus we have to be in communion with Him on a regular basis.

When we establish this special time on a regular basis we will mirror the image of Jesus, as we begin see things the way He sees them…

And it is through this special time with Jesus that we become more and more like Him as He initiates and perfects our faith!

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 to, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all His righteousness and everything we need will be taken care of.”

So when we spend quiet time with Jesus that means no more troubles in life right? Ummmmmm, no!

Because Jesus also said in John 16:33 – “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

We are not exempt from hard times…And neither was Jesus…

Hebrews 12:2b,3 –“awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[a] then you won’t become weary and give up.”

Jesus didn’t have it easy when He walked the earth…He was lonely, He was criticized…Betrayed…Worn out and tired…Misunderstood…Spit upon, beaten, cursed at, and nailed to a Cross…

All the while keeping His eye on the mission of the Cross and disregarding the shame that would be upon Him!

He is our example and the Champion who is cheering us on in life and providing for us with His unlimited resources!

So, the next time you ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Or blame God for whatever it is you’re going through…

Ask the question, “What can I learn from this?” And look for Jesus in the midst of your situation.

Often times when I’m going through a difficult time, I think of what Jesus did for me on the

Cross…The hostility He endured in the race set out before Him to run…

And this mindset is what gives me the strength to not get weary and give up!

Bringing this passage to life in our situations is also what builds our character, and helps us become more like Jesus!

There will always be trials and heartaches here on earth we must deal with…

Galatians 6:9 – “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Don’t get tired of doing good…Endure…Run the race strong…Don’t give up…

Because the blessing will come at just the right time…Never give up!!

Hebrews 12:14-15 tells us to, “Work at living in peace with everyone… And to look after each other so none of you fails to receive the grace of God…

Who is pushing you in life? Who is saying to you that you can do this? Who is cheering you on and who are you encouraging in life?

You see, as the church, as God’s family, we are all in this together and we need each other… We must have people in our lives who will help us become the person Jesus created us to be… And small groups are a good starting place for this!

The last thing I will say is this…

Philippians 1:6 – “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

No matter who difficult things get we were created to become like Jesus…

We may run the race with a bit of a limp at times…

We may even be sidelined for a while tending to some wounds…

But always remember, we are called to be loved…Called to belong…Called to become like Jesus…

And God always finishes what He starts…

The Lord’s Home Run

Freddy and the Lord stood by to observe a baseball game. The Lord’s team was playing Satan’s team. The Lord’s team was at bat, the score was tied zero to zero, and it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs. They continued to watch as a batter stepped up to the plate named “Love.” Love swung at the first pitch and hit a single, because “Love never fails.” The next batter was named Faith, who also got a single because Faith works with Love. The next batter up was named Godly Wisdom. Satan wound up and threw the first pitch. Godly Wisdom looked it over and let it pass: ball one. Three more pitches and Godly Wisdom walked because he never swings at what Satan throws. The bases were now loaded. The Lord then turned to Freddy and told him He was now going to bring in His starplayer. Up to the plate stepped Grace. Freddy said, “He sure doesn’t look like much!” Satan’s whole team relaxed when they saw Grace. Thinking he there was no way he could lose, Satan wound up and fired his first pitch. To the shock of everyone, Grace hit the ball harder than anyone had ever seen! However, Satan was not worried; his center fielder let very few get by. He went up for the ball, but it went right through his glove, hit him on the head and sent him crashing on the ground; the roaring crowds went wild as the ball continued over the fence for a home run! The Lord’s team won! The Lord then asked Freddy if he knew why Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom could get on base but couldn’t win the game. Freddy answered that he didn’t know why. The Lord explained, “If your love, faith, and wisdom had won the game, you would think you had done it by yourself. Love, Faith, and Wisdom will get you on base, but only My Grace can get you Home.

“For by Grace are you saved, it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11