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Mat-Man and His Friends

This week I had a zoom meeting with about a dozen other pastors. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that every few months I get together the other AGC pastors in central Alberta and we share a little bit about what’s going on in our churches, we pray for each other, and we discuss a whole variety of different issues that come up.

And at our meeting this week, the question was asked: What do you think God is saying to the churches through this COVID-19 pandemic? Is God using this time to reshape how we think about church? Is He using this time to re-adjust our priorities and our focus? God doesn’t waste opportunities, so what do you think God wants us to learn through this challenging time?

There were several thoughts that came up, but the one that stuck out to me was this: Could it be that God is reminding us of the value of relationships?

In this time where everyone is separated and isolated from one another – could God be using this time to show us just how critical it is be be connected with one another? 

The fact is, we are built for relationships! And I know I say that often – but it’s true! We are created and designed to live in healthy relationships with each other and with God.

Without those relationships – we wither and die inside. And perhaps some of us are feeling a little bit of that now. Being apart from our families, not having that personal interaction with our friends – being absent from our church family – it’s hard. It doesn’t feel right! There’s almost an emptiness we feel when we go so long being apart from one another.

And that’s because we were created for community – community with each other and community together with God. Separation and isolation were never part of God’s perfect plan for mankind.

I was reminded this week that Hell is defined by separation and isolation from God. It’s the worst possible scenario! 

But in contrast to that, Heaven is being together with God. It’s being in his presence – seeing him face-to-face. That’s what we long for and hope for more than anything else in this world!

And I think that just speaks to this truth that we are created for community – we are created for relationships with each other and with God!

And perhaps God is using this pandemic to remind us of that and to give us a fresh, new understanding of that reality!

So with that in mind this morning, I want to look at the story of “Matman” and his friends! Not “Batman and his friends” but Matman and his friends.

And if you’re not familiar with that story, you can find it in Luke chapter 5 or it’s also recorded in Mark chapter 2. I’m going to read from Mark chapter 2 this morning. It goes like this:

 1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. Mark 2:1-2a

And I’ll pause her for a minute just to give you a little bit of the background here. This is fairly early on in Jesus earthly ministry. He’s been going around to different towns throughout the region of Galilee preaching and teaching, doing miracles, healing people, and over-all, just attracting a lot of attention. Everyone’s hearing about this amazing Jesus fellow. And that’s why, when he comes back to his hometown of Capernaum, everybody wants to come see Jesus. He’s kinda like a celebrity at this point. They want to hear what he has to say and perhaps see him to a miracle or two! 

And because of that, the house where he was staying was packed with visitors – so full in fact, that people were backed up – right out the door! On sermon I read described the house as being “packed tighter than a hippo in skinny jeans!” (Try to visualize that, if you can.) But you can just imagine everyone being squished together – shoulder to shoulder – all trying to get inside the house to get a glimpse of Jesus!

And that’s what’s going on when Matman and his friends arrive. It says in verse 2…

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Discipleship in Community

For the past two weeks we’ve been looking at our mission as followers of Jesus Christ to be and to make disciples. And I know this isn’t the first time most of us have looked at this issue of discipleship. I think most of us understand that one of our main goals as his followers, is to help people trust and follow Jesus. I mean, Jesus’ command to his original followers makes our objective pretty clear. Matthew 28:18 says…

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

So the objective is pretty clear, but what’s not as clear, is exactly how we are supposed to do that. The end goal is pretty obvious – the “how to get there” is not so specific.

And so to find the “how”, we’ve been looking at the Biblical patterns and the models for discipleship. How did Jesus do it? How did the early church do it? How did Paul & Timothy and all those guys do it? How did they do it back in the Old Testament? And how can we do it today?

How do we help people trust and follow Jesus?

Well, we’ve found that discipleship happens in five different contexts. There are five types of relationships that all contribute to the disciple-making process.

We’ve identified these contexts as the public context, the social context, the personal context, the transparent context, and the divine context. And of course, we’re not going to find a verse that lists these five contexts for making disciple – but throughout the Bible we can see that God uses these 5 different contexts to help people trust and follow Him.

And so our goal for these next few weeks is to understand how God works in these contexts so that we can maximize our efforts in our own discipleship and in the discipleship of others.

Last week we looked at the public context. And the public context is defined as 100s of people gathering together around a shared resource – this could be thousands of fans at football game or a hundred people on a flight to Edmonton, or a youtube video seen by millions or what the church is most commonly known for – a bunch of people gathering for the Sunday morning worship service.

And we discovered that the public context really isn’t well suited for building personal relationships, but it is well suited to conveying information and sharing stories with large groups of people. Jesus certainly made use of this context as he preached to the crowds and did miracles and told parables. That was all done in groups of 100s or 1000s and it was certainly significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus.

And so following that pattern, we determined that the Sunday morning service can be a place where people experience inspiration to keep serving Jesus – We are motivated, persuaded, encouraged, influenced, moved, stirred, spurred on, energized, and awakened. We also get a sense of movementum (That’s movement and momentum jammed together) as we see that God is at work all around us. And then, through preaching and teaching, we are reminded that everything revolves around God – this is ultimately His story and we get to be a part of it.

And so certainly the public context can be very significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus. But of course, that can’t be the only context. We would miss out on so much if that was the only place where we were discipled. And as we are going to discover today, we would have a really hard time making new disciples if that was the only context where we contributed to the discipleship of others.

And so on that note, today we are going to look at the social context.

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Story – Telling Others What Christ Has Done For You

Listen to this Sermon!Today we finish up our BLESS series. We began in January talking about how greatly God has blessed us. We have an abundance of physical blessings, financial blessings, relational blessings, and of course, spiritual blessings. And the question that started this whole conversation is Why? Why has God blessed us so much?

The answer we found was that God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to the people around us. It’s like we are simply the delivery people – delivering God’s blessings so that He can meet the needs of our community.

So to help us learn how to be an effective delivery person for those blessings, we’ve been using the acronym BLESS.

The B stands for… “Begin with pray.” And it’s a simple prayer – it goes like this… “Here I am send me. Please set up a divine appointment where my blessings can help meet someone else’s needs.”

The L reminds us to listen. We need to actually make the effort to listen to people to find out their needs – and we need to listen to the Holy Spirit as He prompts and nudges us along.

The E stands for Eat. We discovered that Jesus showed people that he loved and accepted them by eating with them. And we can do the same thing. Everybody eats – so what easier way is there to build relationships with the people around us than to eat with them?

Then last Sunday we talked about the first S – which stands for Serve. And this kind of serving isn’t the “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” kind of serving. This kind of serving is where you serve the people around you no matter who they are – no matter how inconvenient it is – no matter how unpleasant it is – no matter what the cost to you is – but you serve them out of love because that’s exactly what Christ did for you. That’s the kind of serving that truly blesses people.

And hopefully, when we begin to bless people in all these ways that we’ve talked about so far…
When we listen to them, when we eat with them, when we serve them… That will lead to opportunities for our final letter S – and that is we can tell them our story!

And I’m excited to talk to you today about telling our story. This is such a key part in being a blessing to the people around us. If we do all those other things, (the listening, the eating, the serving) but miss this one, our community will see us as ‘some very nice people’. But if we do all those other things AND get this one, I know that God will begin to radically change people’s lives through you and me.

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Serve Like Jesus

We talked last week about how Jesus ate meals with tax collectors and other disreputable sinners – the lowest of the low – because by simply eating with those people, He was letting them know that they were important to him. The fact of the matter is – God loves sinners. Which is good – because all of us are sinners. If you ate with anyone last week, you ate with a disreputable sinner. Even if you ate alone, you ate with a disreputable sinner.

But that’s ok – because God loves, forgives, and accepts sinners.

And we were talking about eating last week, because we’ve been going through the acronym BLESS. This acronym has been teaching us how we can use our blessings so that we can be a blessing to the people around us.

We started with the B – Begin with prayer. It’s a simple prayer: “Here I am. Send me. Allow me to use my blessings to meet someone else’s need today.”

Then the L stood for Listen. If we want to bless the people around us, we have to actually listen to them – learning what their needs truly are – and we need to listen to the Holy Spirit as He prompts and nudges on our divine appointments.

The E, of course stood for eat. Eating with people is a universal way of letting them know that they are important to us and that we want them to be a part of our lives. This is also a great opportunity for us to practice listening to them – getting to know them and discovering their needs.

And now today, we get to our first S. And this S might not be quite as enjoyable as the E, not as simple as the L, nor as easy as the B. However, this S together with the next S could very well be the most powerful tools we have in bringing people to receive the greatest blessing – that is, their own personal relationship with God.

The first S in our BLESS acronym stands for serve. Now this one out of all our five lessons seems to be the most logical. It just makes sense that if we want to be a blessing to the people in our community, then we ought to serve them.

Think about your own life – how many times have you been totally blessed because someone else served you in some way? Maybe your neighbor mowed your lawn or shoveled your side walk while He was out doing his own. Maybe someone brought a casserole over to your house when you had a family member in the hospital. Maybe your buddies came over to help you build your deck or move some furniture. Maybe someone offered to watch your kids while you and your spouse went on a date night.

When we have people serve us in some of these ways, we just think “Man, you guys are awesome! You are such a blessing to me!”

That’s one of the fantastic things about being part of the church – you have this whole group of people who are willing to step up and help out whenever someone has a need. I know that I’ve been blessed on my many occasions – and likely, so have you.

But what about the people aren’t part of the church – do we serve them too? What about the people that no one really likes? The difficult people? What about the grumpy complainers? What about the people who want nothing to do with the church – nothing to do with you? Do we still serve those people?

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Eating to be a Blessing

Listen to this Sermon!Well, I have been very excited for this Sunday. Not because of the SuperBowl later this afternoon – although I am looking forward to that – but because we’re tackling a subject that’s very dear to me. That subject is eating!

We’ve been going through our B.L.E.S.S. acronym over these past few weeks. And in case you’ve missed a week or two, let me give you a quick recap.

We began by talking about how greatly God has blessed us. Everyone of us are truly some of the most blessed people in the world. But God hasn’t just blessed us so that our lives can be comfortable and easy. Rather, God has blessed us, so that we can be a blessing to the people around us. And we do that all to the glory of God.

So using this B.L.E.S.S. acronym, we’ve been learning how we can be a blessing to the people around us.

The B stands for …. Begin with Prayer. It’s the kinda prayer that goes like this: “Here I am. Send me. Please God, give me a divine appointment for me where my blessings can meet someone else’s need.”

And I trust that as you’ve been praying that prayer, God’s been answering it. I hope by now you’ve all had the awesome experience of being God’s delivery person – delivering God’s blessings to the people around you.

The L stands for Listen. And there were a couple of lessons on listening. The first was to listen to the Holy Spirit. We talked a bit about listening to the nudges of the Holy Spirit as He guides us along on our blessing delivery route. The other lesson was to actually listen to people. Don’t just wait your turn to talk – actually listen to people. Hear what they’re really saying. Ask the right questions to find out what their real needs are.

And now today, we get to talk about the E in bless. And the E stands for Eat! And hopefully by now I’ve stirred up your curiosity. What on earth does eating have to do with being a blessing to the people around us?

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The Role of Community in Your Spiritual Journey


This morning I want to begin with a very interesting discussion question. And I trust that you’ll be eager to participate with me. The question I have for you today is this: What is the role of donuts in your spiritual journey? You might not have thought about this before, but that’s what I want you to discuss for a few minutes this morning. What is the role of donuts in your spiritual journey?

Now, to help you in your discussion, you’ll notice that there is a pile of donuts over here on this table. I invite you to come and have a donut – or if you’re a little more healthy minded, there are some clusters of grapes as well. But here is the rule: You must share your donut (or your grapes) with someone else. You can’t eat a whole donut by yourself – you must find someone to share it with. And don’t just cut it in half and leave half on the table – you MUST share that donut with someone else. So please, come and help yourself, and then take a couples minutes to discuss: What is the role of donuts (or grapes) in your spiritual journey?

As strange as that question might seem, there is a Biblical point to be made – and we’re going to get into that in just a few minutes. But first, let me remind you what we’ve been talking about.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been going though this little booklet entitled “Your Spiritual Journey”. We’ve been asking the question: Where are you in your spiritual journey?

  • Some of us are just beginning. We’re still trying to figure out all this “God” stuff. It’s all pretty new to us.
  • Others have been at this for a little while, and we’re at the point where we’ve started to personally get to know the God of Heaven. It’s pretty cool.
  • Still others have been followers of Jesus Christ for years now. And little by little, we’re starting to become more like Christ – but of course, there’s still a long way to go.

But where ever you are in your journey – our goal has been to help you take the next steps forward. We don’t want to see you stalled out in your spiritual journey – we want to see you moving forward.

And that’s what brings us to our message today. And our topic isn’t really about donuts, but about fellowship. About Community. About experiencing life together. Coffee & donuts seem to be the Canadian symbol of community, so I thought that would be an appropriate way to start.

So I guess the real question today is: What is the role of community in your spiritual journey?

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