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Because of You - Week 1

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We will be a unifying force in the Church, capital 'C'. We believe that hands down, that the local church is the hope of the world, and we know we can accomplish infinitely more together than apart. It's because of you, you're sacrifice and faithfulness, that we're seeing a life change on a regular basis in our community in Canada. Because of you, the Gospel has been able to reach out to so many people who have not had the opportunity of hearing it before. Because of Youversion, more people are reading, engaging and studying the Bible in Costa Rica Because of you, people are getting saved in Stockholm Because of you, I'm leading my family. Because of you, my children love Christ and are not afraid to share their faith. Because of you, my teenage daughters are engaging in God's Word in a way they never have before. Because of you...I'm different! Because of you, lives are being changed all over the world. Well, welcome today to all of our churches. Today we're starting the first of a two-week series that honestly, is the series that I've been most excited about all year long. It's called, Because of You. What we're going to do in these two weeks is, my hope is to highlight the mission and the vision of our church and our Network Churches, and to let God's Spirit drive this vision deep within our hearts. Now, let's start with the Mission Statement. If you're new you may not know this, but those of you who do, what are we about as a church? Would you just say it aloud? Our mission is: To lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. All of our churches, now that you've heard it let's say it again together. We're passionate about it, this is why we exist. Our mission is to what? To lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. We are incredibly passionate, not about being cultural Christians, not about just believing in God, but living as if He doesn't exist, but being 100% completely sold out to God's Son Jesus, and living in such a way that it would bring glory to Him. What I want to do today to lay a foundation for this series, is I want to talk to you out of First Thessalonians. If you have your Bible, we'll be in First Thessalonians, Chapter Three. Let me give you the context of this before I share with you three words that really grabbed my heart. The context: The Apostle Paul really wanted to go and minister to the people in Thessalonica and the reason is, this was a great city. It was a harbor city with a very famous harbor where trade would go both to the East and to the West. And this, in Paul's mind, was one of the most strategic spots to reach for the Gospel. He knew if we could reach the people here, then we could take the Gospel all over the world, out of the trade, moved out of their harbor. So he traveled there and according to Acts, Chapter 17, he actually preached on three different Sabbaths. So, we know he had about three weeks preaching the Gospel to these people. And he wondered, 'Would God bless it? What would happen?' And sure enough, God blessed it in such a supernatural way. So many people were coming to Christ that the Jews were totally enraged. In fact, they tried to capture Paul and they had to actually smuggle Paul out of town just to protect him for his life. And so, on the other side of this mission trip, there was this sense of awe of what God had done. But at the same time, Paul and others were wondering, 'Did it take, did they just have an emotional moment with God or were these people truly transformed by Christ, were they different?' And so, he was kind of on the edge of his seat, pins and needles, wondering what happened. And so, he sent his son in the faith, Timothy, on a follow-up visit. And Timothy went to look first hand to see what was really happening spiritually in the lives of these people. Well, the good news is, Timothy came back with amazing news and said, 'God is working there, it's unbelievable!' Paul was blown away with this sense of spiritual joy. And so, he jotted back this letter, a very emotional letter, and I want to read to you part of it and we'll zoom in on our three key words. Verse Seven of First Thessalonians Three, Paul said this to the group that he ministered to, he said: So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have... What? Everybody say it aloud, because you have: ...remained strong in your faith. Isn't it amazing how, when we're hurting and someone else remains strong in their faith in Christ, how their faith can actually minister to us. And he says that, he said, 'We've been so blessed as you've remained strong.' He said in verse eight, 'What does it give us?' He said: ...It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. Verse nine, he said: ...How we thank God for you! Could you imagine people around the world thanking God for you, for your ministry, for your faithfulness? And that's what he says, 'How we thank God of you,' and then here's the three words that gripped my heart, he said what? Everybody say it aloud, he said: ...Because of you... One more time, everybody say it: Because of you we have great joy as we enter God's presence. Because of you we have great joy. I want you to think, what would it be like if people around the world could say of you, 'Because of you we have great joy, because of you we're different, because of you our families have been changed, because of you God has met our needs. Because of you spiritually we have been transformed. Because of you, Paul said, ...we have great joy as we enter into God's presence. What I want to do in the next two weeks is I want to show you how specifically God is working through you as a church, because beyond a shadow of a doubt, God is unquestionably transforming lives all over the world, and it is because of you. Because when you walk in obedience to God you're not surprised by the miracles of God! You know, I've always dreamed of a church that could literally change the world, because I truly believe the local church is the hope of the world. In fact, as I reflect back over all that God has done in the last year through our church, I've got to be honest and tell you, it totally blows my mind all that God has done. Because of the faithfulness of our people, well over 6,800 LifeChurch attenders have served in local micro-missions. And what's so awesome is that at our 15 different LifeChurches, and our well over 200 Network Churches, each location is involved partnering with local ministries to make a difference in their communities. I thank God for all of the ways that He is using our people to impact the world. Hundreds of children have been fostered or adopted. We've fed thousands of families in need. Hundreds of refugees have received training in English and job guidance. We've provided countless school supplies to underpriveleged children. Thousands of household items have been given to impoverished families. We've mentored hundreds of children in schools. We've given thousands of Christmas gifts for foster children. We've supported single moms during crisis pregnancies. We've supported hundreds of families of deployed soldiers. Not only are we involved directly in our local communities, but our church is reaching out around the world to make a difference. Because of the generosity of our people, we were able to send hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Tsunami, Tornado and flood victims all of the way from Joplin, Missouri, to Japan, from Birmingham, Alabama, to Australia, and even beyond. We're also incredibly passionate about our four child-survival programs. Because of our people, we've literally helped save thousands of children's lives and altered the destinies of entire families in India, the Philippines, Ecuador, and Uganda. In fact, I thank God for the way He's using our people both locally and all over the world. We're helping educate and train Christian leaders in India. We helped start 72 new churches in the United States. Helped build a school for 400 children in Kathlapoor, India. We provide meals and training for the poorest of the poor in New York City. You know, I'm always blown away of what can happen when we don't go to church, but instead, we are the Church all over the world. In fact, speaking of the church, we have a huge passion to serve the broader Church, the global Church; because literally, there are hundreds of thousands of churches that simply can't afford so many of the resources that we have and take completely for granted. And so, one of the things we love to do is we love to give away as much as we can to these churches. So we take our sermons, our transcripts, our videos, our curriculum, all of the teaching we can, and we make all of this stuff available for completely no charge at all to these churches. And it still blows my mind, but there are 91,000 churches from 24 countries that use these free resources. We've been so honored to give away 2.9 million resources downloaded totally for free. That averages out to 2,700 resources a day that churches are using all over the world. I am so thankful for that! Another thing that I love is that we get to partner with other churches that we call Network Churches. A Network Church is a totally separate church that uses our teaching every single weekend for no charge. It's crazy, but when you add up the attendance of all of these other Network Churches, they exceed 20,000 people every single week, and it just shows we can do so much more together partnering as a church than we can apart. At our church, we always say, We'll do anything short of sin to reach people that don't know Christ. One of those things is that we actually launched the world's very first Church Online just a few years ago, and in a matter of just a few short years, we're now ministering to well over 100,000 unique visitors from about 180 countries all over the world. And the thing that's most special to me is that many of the people we're reaching would not be able to hear about the Gospel where they live if we weren't taking it to them through ChurchOnline. You know, another way that we're getting God's truth out is through our Bible App. I thank God that well over 32 million people have downloaded our free Bible to their mobile devices! In fact, on average, one person somewhere in the world downloads a Bible every second of every day. Even with all of these significant investments, that's just the beginning. In the past year, God enabled us to build five different buildings to expand our LifeChurch locations and to start new campuses. In fact, this year we built a kid's wing for LifeChurch, Edmond. We launched a brand new campus in Midwest City, Oklahoma, that's ministering to over 2,500 people every single week! We're almost finished with a new building to move our LifeChurch Wellington, Florida campus from a school, into a permanent facility. We're doing the same thing in LifeChurch Owasso, Oklahoma, and we'll launch that new building soon. And in early 2012, we'll start a brand new campus in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The most amazing thing to me though, because of the generosity of our people, we we're able to do all of that, every single building, completely for cash! It blows me away how God uses our people. And even right now as we speak, we're negotiating on some new properties to do more LifeChurches in the upcoming year. Now, a lot of people would wonder, why in the world do we do all of this? And the reason is, because God is moving in an unprecedented way. In fact, just the people that worship with us on the weekends, our weekend attendance has grown by about 9,000 people this year over last year. And it's almost impossible to comprehend, but this year alone, through our LifeChurch physical campuses, we've seen over 16,000 people surrender their lives to Christ, and another 13,000 from ChurchOnline. That's the reason I love my church. I love my church because we're leading people to become fully-devoted followers of Christ. And truthfully, all of this is because of you, because of the way you pray, because of the way you give, because of how you serve, God is changing the entire world because of you. Well, I think somebody better clap and celebrate the amazing work that God is doing! And I want you to know man, he's doing it through you! I mean, that boggles my mind just to think about what God is doing all over the world. I get choked up just realizing it! Here's what I want you to understand, because of you, I mean, we can't comprehend those numbers and those are just numbers; but what I want you to understand is behind every number is a story, behind every number is a life, is a person that's been changed. I mean, I want you to think about this, 16,000 people born into the family of God because of your prayers, because of your giving, because of your invite! Sixteen thousand people! Man, that's the size of the town I went to high school in! I mean, that's insane! I want you to feel what that is, would you just count with me? Let's just count to 16,000, we'll count fast, but just count with me! Everybody, let's start at one! Come on with me, go one, two, three, four; come on, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twenty, thirty, come on! Forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, one-hundred, two-hundred, three hundred; come on four hundred, we'll be here all day! Six-hundred, seven-hundred, eight hundred, nine-hundred, one thousand, two-thousand, three-thousand, four-thousand, five-thousand, six-thousand, seven-thousand, eight-thousand, nine-thousand; you tired yet? Keep going! Twelve-thousand, thirteen-thousand, fourteen-thousand, sixteen thousand people surrendered their lives to Christ! And what you've got to know is there is a story behind every one! One of them is a dad who was not a godly dad. Now he's a godly dad, he's leading his family toward Christ and there will be generations that are different! One is a single mom who had no hope, who didn't know if she could continue to go on. Now she has hope and a family. One of them is a teenage boy addicted on porn and is suicidal. He gives his life to Christ and now he's free and leading others in a Bible study in his school. One is a young girl who was molested and couldn't trust men and didn't know how to forgive. And by the grace of God she forgave her abuser and is now giving and freely receiving love. One is a pastor who was tired and didn't feel like he could go on and discovered free resources, and now has a church standing with him and a people praying with him and his church is thriving again. I'm telling you there are thousands who wouldn't have eaten today, but they will eat today because of you. And when they eat today, they will know it's because of your love for God and your love for them that their life is different. And when they pray to God, they will be praying and thanking God for you. It's because of what you do, I want you to understand and worship God for His faithfulness. It blows me away, what God is doing because of you! And what I want to do in the rest of our time together, is I want to just drive some of our values deep within your heart because what we value determines what we do. And I want to share with you just four of the statements that we say behind the scenes all of the time in our staff family and I want God to plant these deep within your heart. One of our favorite statements to say, if you're taking notes, and even more fun to live out is this: We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don't know Christ. We love to say: To reach people no one is reaching, we'll have to do things no one is doing. We are unapologetically aggressively evangelistic, and we will do anything short of sin. There are a ton of people that the traditional-minded church is not reaching; and so, we will do some things that are nontraditional. Can you say ChurchOnline? The very first one in the history of the world. To imagine, we just started it five years ago and now, every single week, from over 180 countries, we're ministering to well over 100,000 people every single week! People who would not hear the Gospel in parts of the world otherwise. And I'll tell you, just kind of, anything just short of sin, one of the things we do to reach people there is we buy Google Ad words to help connect them with Church Online. Now, when we started, we bought Google Ad words like, Church Online. So if anybody's searching for Church Online, they would find us. But guess what we discovered? Nobody's searching for Church Online! You know what people are searching for we found out? There are a lot of people searching for naked ladies! Oh, that's right, I don't want to surprise you, but now, if you're searching for naked ladies, I hope you don't, but if you know someone who does, they might just find an ad that says, Searching for naked ladies? Why not try Church Online? And you would be shocked to know how many people searching for naked ladies end up finding something even better through Church Online! Because I'm telling you, many of you, you were searching for something when you walked into this place. You were searching for something and you didn't know what it was and you had a God-shaped void that nothing in this world could fill and suddenly the love of God through Jesus filled that void and you are different. And there are people all over the world searching and they don't know they're searching for God, and we'll do anything short of sin. Hey, I've got to make an announcement, this is the first time we're going public with this and this is so huge! We came up with Church Online, and there are about one bazillion churches around the world who would love to do this, but can't afford to do it and don't know how. And because of our relationship with other churches, we had about a dozen churches contribute financially to this project, and we had hundreds of you give to digital missions through this project, so that we, serving the capital 'C' Church, have built a platform on Church Online, that next year we will be giving away for free to any church in the world, they can put their church service on Church Online, and this will go down in history as one of the most aggressive evangelistic tools! And let me tell you, because of you, we're able to give it away all for free to any church in the entire world! I want you to know that you're making a difference! You are making a huge difference and it's because of you. Now, you may say, Why in the world would we give it away? Here's another value if you're taking notes, we love to say that: We will lead the way with irrational generosity, because we truly believe it's more blessed to give than to receive. I want you to know we are crazy-passionate about generosity. Giving is not something we do, generous is who we are. People say all of the time, Well, why don't you charge your Network Churches for using your....why don't you charge people for using the resources that are free? Why don't you sell your Bible App for a dollar when it goes out? I want you to read my lips: Our resources are not for sale! Just as Jesus gave His life so we could know God eternally, we will give anything and everything that we possibly can away to serve the larger Church. Giving is who we are, we are generous in every way. And I'll tell you this right now, I used to not be a generous person, but God has transformed my heart and beyond a shadow of a doubt, we know you cannot out give God. When I tell you that we were able to build five buildings for cash, that is insanely unheard of, and there is no doubt in my mind that that is a direct result of God blessing your generosity to serve the larger Church, that is the hand of blessings of God on our church, because we're doing everything we can to serve the larger Church. And I just have to say, you guys are massively generous, thank you! Thank you, thank you, because of your giving, because of your tithing. In fact, I want to give you even a bigger chance to be blessed, this week and next week at our LifeChurches, we're giving you a chance to give what we call a passion offering. For those of you that are not yet tithing, you start with a tithe, offerings are not for you. Network Churches, you all tithe to your Network Church, those of you who feel called to give an offering to something you're passionate about, we've got three areas for passion offerings. 1. Is Spaces and Places. Many of you, you're in a building paid for by other campuses and you want to see the mission expanded to more LifeChurch locations; you can give a passion offering to Spaces and Places. Digital Missions: This fuels ChurchOnline, free resources, the Bible App. You may love the Bible App and you want to give a passionate offering there. Compassion: Feeding people, clothing people, serving those, providing relief around the world. If God has blessed you and you want to be a blessing, this week or next week, I encourage you to give a passion offering to say, God, as you have blessed us, we want to bless others. Because we will lead the way with irrational generosity. Next value if you're taking notes, you need to understand, and hear me clearly: We are faith-filled, big-thinking, bet-the-farm risk takers. We will never insult God with small thinking and safe living. In fact, even right now as I'm speaking, we are negotiating on four pieces of property to start four more LifeChurch locations as soon as we can. You may say, Well, isn't there already enough? Aren't we already a big church already? I don't tolerate that kind of talk ever! We are not a big church, I'm telling you, we're a start-up organization and the world will call us a mega-church, we are not a mega-church, we're a micro-church with a mega-vision. We are going to continue reaching out. I don't want anybody to ever say, We're too big. As long as there's one person that does not know Christ, we are never, ever, ever too big. And you need to know, with everything in me, with everything in me, we are going to continue to dream big, we are going to reach out aggressively, we are going to share the Gospel all over the world. We will never insult God with small thinking or safe living. In fact, we're celebrating Network Churches, there are hundreds of you now. I believe there will be a day where there will be tens of thousands of Network Churches. There are 100,000 at ChurchOnline, I believe there will be a day where there will be millions of people at ChurchOnline. There are millions of Bible apps given out. What if God would bless us one day to give out a billion Bible apps? I'm just crazy enough to believe that it is possible. When we're seeing tens of thousands of people surrender their lives to Christ, I have the faith that there will be millions of people, because of you, turning from their sins and turning toward Christ and being transformed, because we are big-thinking, bet-the-farm risk takers. It's impossible to please God without faith and we will lead passionately full of faith as we move forth. Final value if you're taking notes. I want you to know: We are spiritual contributors not spiritual consumers. The church does not exist for us, but we are the Church and we exist for the world. I believe with all of my heart that the local church is the hope of the world. That when we do our job, the government won't be necessary to meet needs, because we're already meeting the needs of the people who are in need. And we won't do it in the name of a country, but we'll do it in the name of a kingdom, we'll do it in the name of the kingdom of God. And I'm telling you, there are a lot of people who are tired of hearing people talk about Jesus. What they want to do is they want to see Jesus, they want to know Jesus, and when we become the Church, they will not be able to deny the love of God through His people, showing Jesus to the world. And I'm telling you, when you see Jesus as He is, you can not reject His goodness, His love, His grace, His offer of new life, His forgiveness, His power to transform a life. You say, Craig, why are you so excited about this? I'm telling you, there's no mission on earth greater than this. This isn't just a part-time gig, this isn't just a hobby, this isn't just something we're interested in, this is a divine calling. You show me something more important than this, I'll leave tomorrow and go give my life to it. There is nothing more important than God's love in His Church, through His Church, for His glory, by His Son Jesus Christ. You are the Church, you are the hope of the world. It is because of you God is transforming lives. I want you to know God is using you, God is stirring up gifts in you, God is moving in you. It's because of you God is doing a supernatural work all over the world. Because of you, I went from having no hope of survival to being alive today as if nothing had ever happened. Coming from not having a place to stay, to overnight people helping, because of you we have hope. In 2004, I found myself where my life was a complete wreck. I had spent my entire life pursuing things that didn't matter, that left me empty. Because of you, Christ entered into my family's life, into my life, and everything is different. After living through the sexual abuse and watching physical abuse, it left me emotionally devastated. But because of your prayers and because of your support, I am now healed. My lowest point was being drunk in the middle of the afternoon and passing out while taking care of my daughter. It's because of you that I am free of my addictions. In 2008, our teaching pastor left and we were in a lot of debt. And on Easter Sunday of 2009, I stood before a congregation and announced that we were joining the Network, and also that we were a debt-free church. So, because of you, we went from a season of striving into a season of thriving. In July 2008, I went through every mother's nightmare. I lost a baby at 20 weeks, and the only way I made it through is because of you. At all of our different churches, would you join me in prayer? God, we thank you that it's because of you, because of your love, because of your Son Jesus, that we have the opportunity to have new life. And God we thank you that because of your love and your grace and your calling, you've allowed us to play a small role in bringing you glory, bringing people into your kingdom. God, we thank you of your work, because of your love for us. All of our churches, as you're taking a moment praying, nobody looking around, I want to just talk to those who would call this church your home. It's your Network Church, it's your LifeChurch campus, those of you who would say, Yes, this is my place. You look at your life and say, Man, I'm really excited to be a part of this kind of place, but I really want the world to be even more different because of me. I would love to have people thanking God because of my faithfulness in serving God, because of my generosity, because I got outside of myself and made a difference. At all of our different churches, there are a lot of you who would say, You know I know maybe God's done maybe a little bit through me, but I would really give anything for God to do even more. I want this world to be different because of me. God, do even more through me for your glory. If you would pray that prayer, let me just tell you that it is a daring one, you better get ready because God's going to do something through you. But you really want more of God's work through you, would you lift up your hands right now? All of our different churches, just lift them up high. I thank God for hands up all over the place. And God I do, I pray that your Spirit at this moment would pierce our hearts. And God, that we would not be satisfied for living for ourselves, or living for the lower things of this world; but God, we would step into your divine calling for our lives in your Church, as your Church, as the hope of this world. God, I pray that your people would be stirred to radical generosity God with their time, with their heart, with their words of encouragement, with their resources. God, I pray that you would stir up the gifts within your Church, that we would serve in the Church and we would serve in this world. And God, I pray that your Church would be so strong with your people that the non-believing world would look on and say, I may not understand what they do, or believe what they believe, but I cannot deny their love and their passion. God, I pray that you would stir up inside your people, do more through them, do more in them, do more in their families. God, I pray that this world would be different because your children love and serve and honor you. As you keep praying today at all of our churches, there are a lot of you, who you're searching for something right now. You just came to church, it's just another day, but inside you know there's a longing, there's a desire for something more. There's a stirring, there's a hunger. Let me just tell you plainly, there is no thing, no experience, no person, nothing in this world that will fill that void. Why? Because you have a Christ-shaped void and God brought you here on this day because He wants to fill that void in your life. What is it that creates the void? Well, the reality is, we're all sinners and our sin separates us from God. And because of you God sent His Son Jesus, who was without sin to die on a cross for our sins, God raised Him from the dead. Because of Jesus we can be forgiven, because of Jesus we can have new life, because of Jesus we can be transformed. All of our churches, there are those of you God brought here for this moment. You know it, today is the day of your salvation. You're not walking with God, you're ready to walk with Him. You can never earn your way to Him, you receive His gift of salvation by grace through Jesus. Today is the day you're going to call on Him. Today is the day He will forgive your sins. Today is the day, He will meet your deepest need. All of our churches, those of you who would say, That's me, I'm ready. Jesus save me, Jesus forgive me, Jesus fill that void. Jesus, I give my life to you. Would you lift your hands high right now? All of our different churches, just lift them high right now! Praise God for you, at all of our churches. You all at ChurchOnline, you click right below me. As we've got hundreds and hundreds of people coming to know the reality of Christ, would you all pray with those around you? Just pray, Heavenly Father, forgive me for all of my sins. Jesus, make me new. Fill the void in my life in a way only you can do. Thank you for dying for me so I could live for you. Make me different, use me for your glory. Thank you for new life, now you have mine. In Jesus' name I pray! All of our LifeChurches, would you guys celebrate, worship, honor God. Welcome those today born into the family of God.

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Duration: 36 minutes and 42 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jan 3, 2012

Because of You - Week 1 - Craig Groeschel -

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