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Because of You - Week 2

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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, I'm thrilled to have all of you back this week for the second week of the series, Because of You. And this week, we are going to do something that's very special to me. I'm actually going to team teach with 235 different pastors. I'm going to start and share a little bit from God's Word, and then you're going to get to hear from your pastor, what's going on at your LifeChurch location, or your Network Church, and we're going to celebrate what God is doing because of you. Now, if you missed last week, or maybe you're just new with us, I'd really encourage you to go to LifeChurch.tv and look at the first week of Because of You, because this will really help you understand who we are, what God is doing, and where we're going as a church. This series is based on First Thessalonians 3:9, when Paul said to a group of people, he said: How we thank God for you! And then, I love this phrase, Paul said: Because of you... Everybody say, because of you. One more time: Because of you we have great joy as we enter God's presence. I want you to think about this for a moment and realize that the world can be different because of you. Now the reality is, the world isn't always better because of us, is it? The world can actually be worse because of you. In fact, there was a time in my life where some of the people around me ended up worse off because of me. But if you surrender your life to the Lordship of Christ, if you let His Spirit empower and lead you, the world can be much better for the glory of God because of you. In fact, I love that God is using many of you to make such a difference. In fact, let me just give you a quick sampling of examples. At LifeChurch Indian Lake, Tennessee; because of Alan and Vicki Begner, they're leading teams of people into Nashville every week. There are hundreds of homeless people being fed, being clothed, and hearing the Gospel. And I thank God that that's because of you all in Nashville. Also, because of Brittany Bertolli, there are women and children being freed of the sex trade industry in the middle of Tennessee. I thank God that because of Steven and Kathy Blanten, that 70 people discovered their Chazown and are living out the fullness of their potential for Christ. At LifeChurch Stillwater, Oklahoma, because of John and Tammy Dawn-Gibson, there are kids that woke up this morning with a foster family that loves them. I thank God for that. Because of James Urnst, a boy with special needs comes to LifeChurch knowing every single week that he has a friend ready to receive and love him. In LifeChurch Owasso, because of Kasey and Angela Marrs, there are marriages that are being completely transformed and restored. And that's how God works through us. In LifeChurch Albany, because of Daryl King, five people came to know Christ in this last month. Because of Josh and Angela, they're at LifeChurch Albany, these new believers have a strong LifeGroup to grow spiritually and to engage in the Body of Christ. At LifeChurch Midwest City, because of Brian Uhler serving in Konnect and serving in Toon Town, there are hundreds of children falling in love with Christ. There will be generations that will be transformed because of Brian. Amber Smart, because of you serving at ChurchOnline, Jacob did not commit suicide and he's given his life to Christ. And now the one you ministered to is ministering to others, and that is because of your faithfulness to the cause of Christ. Because of you God can make the world a better place, because of you. I want to read to you a few Scriptures and then your pastor will break this down in detail for you. The Apostle Paul was writing to the Corinthians. They were a group, they had more wealth than many other people in the world as do we. And he said this in Second Corinthians 9:11, he said: You will be made rich... How? Would you say this phrase aloud, he said: You will be made rich in every way... I love that, I believe God is making you rich in every way. Not just financially; but relationally, with health, with good friends, with great opportunities, you'll be made rich in every way. Why? Not so you could blow everything on yourself, but so that you could be what? ...so that you can be generous on every occasion... Do you realize God is blessing you so that you can be generous on every occasion: ...and through us your generosity will result in... What? It will result in: ...thanksgiving to God. I want you to realize this, that as you're faithful to the call that God has on your life, there will be people around the world that will thank God because of your generosity. They'll thank God because of the way you serve. Imagine someone kneeling or folding their hands at mealtime and thanking God because of what you did. Verse 12 says: This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but it's also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Verse 13, say this phrase aloud: Because of the service... Because of what you do, how you serve, how you give, how you pray: Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will... Do what? Men will: ...praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else. I believe with all my heart that when we as the church overcome the consumer version of Christianity, that we see ourselves as spiritual contributors and we realize we're not looking for a church that meets our needs, but when we realize that we are the church and we exist for the world. When we get to that place, the world is going to see the love of Jesus through you, His Church, and the world will be different because of you. Does anybody in this place love your church, anybody at all? Me too! We're going to unpack this text a little bit. If you're new with us, my name is Chris and I'm the campus pastor here at the Oklahoma City Campus. I married Cindy 19 years ago, married way over my head. I have three amazing boys, am a proud Texas Longhorn! No noise, don't make any noise! Thanks! I have, through this church, been completely changed. My life is not the same. My marriage has been saved, my heart has been restored over the last decade here because of you; because of God's power through His church. Today, I want to just tell a couple of stories, because there's something really uniquely inspiring about the story of someone who is not the same, or somebody that was used by God to impact the life of another, that compels us, that draws us out to be more than we are today, to become who God made us to be. If you're taking notes, I want you to write this first thought down: Because of your service... Write that down: Because of your service God is changing lives. Second Corinthians 9:13, Paul writes: Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will... Do what? They will: ...praise God. There are people saying a prayer at night thanking God, and many of you are the subject of that thanks. And the reason for this whole series is because most of you don't even know what you are a part of and what God is using you to do. Now, make no mistake; serving, while it may in our culture be not viewed with much regard, serving is the highest pinnacle of the Christian faith. It is, Jesus said Himself: I did not come to be served but to.... What? ...but to serve. And if we call ourselves followers of Christ, then our lives have to model not just what He said, but what He did and how He lived. He turned to His disciples at the last supper, who were arguing about who was the greatest and who was going to be sitting at the right hand of Christ in Heaven. And to them He said, 'If you want to be the greatest, the greatest among you will be the one who knows how to take up a towel..'; how to use their time, their talents, their resources, their passions and lay it on the alter of you. My life, my time, my heart, I'm going to spend it on your behalf. Service, it is the highest pinnacle of the Christian faith. And if you say you're a Christian and you do not serve, I say to you that it is impossible, you cannot be a follower of Christ and not live as Christ lived. It is a part of the deal. There are so many stories, so many of you that God has used in such a profound way. This kid over here on the camera, Robby. Robby has been running camera, what were you? Ten years old, twelve years old? Something like that when you started running camera. He wasn't actually very talented back then, he would get distracted a lot! But, this kid has been sitting behind a camera for the better part of a decade. He may view this as insignificant, but it's so important for a couple of reasons. One, every week you're allowed to see the close up of my better side right here, because of him! But two, on the other side of these cameras, people are hearing the Gospel of Jesus in over 180 countries, 180 countries! Do you think lives are changed because somebody is sitting behind a camera? Absolutely! Because of your service, God is changing lives. There's a guy in LifeKids today, he serves all Sunday long, his name is Jerry Sanders. I'm pretty confident he doesn't own a single shirt that isn't an OU shirt! I'm dead-set confident that he doesn't, because I've never seen it! But Jerry has this unique ability as he checks new families in to LifeKids, he can spot the new couple. Not only can he spot the new couple, he can spot the new couple that just had a knock-down drag-out fight on the way to church. And he's already told me which one of you fought today, so I already know, I've got that list! But anyway, with a smile and a handshake, he has this unique ability to take hard hearts and make them soft again. Because of guys like Jerry, God is changing lives. There's a guy named Brad, who two years ago made the decision that he was going to minister as a small group leader of junior high boys. Let's all stop right now and pray for Brad! So, he started with these boys when they were in sixth grade and he's had them for the last couple of years. My oldest son, Noah, is in Brad's SWITCH group. Brad texted me a month ago and said, Chris, God is doing something in your boy's life. He's in the front row at SWITCH with his hands in the air worshiping God, he's volunteering to facilitate conversation in his SWITCH group. And not as a pastor, but as a Dad, guess what I do? I praise God in Heaven for people like Brad. Because you need me to show Christ to your kids just like I need you to show Christ to yours. You know, it's part of the beauty of the local church when we give ourselves as a family to one another and something incredibly beautiful happens and lives are changed forever because you gave, because you served. The second way, write this down, that God changes lives is because of your giving. Would you write that down? Because of your giving, God is changing lives. Paul goes on to say: You will be made rich in every way... That is a bold statement to make, why? So that you will be well armed with credit to go to Walmart on Black Friday to buy the X-Box for $50.00 less as you pepper spray the people around you! It doesn't say any of that, does it? No! It says: ...that you will be made... That's crazy isn't it? How sick is a culture that think it rational to harm somebody else to save fifty bucks! I'll tell you how it happens. The Bible says that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. And when that is all you value, when an X-Box is what you value, your heart will follow your treasure. What's your treasure? Whatever is in your checkbook. Where do you invest? Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Paul says that he's going to make us rich in every way so that on... How often? ...every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. I have to personally thank you, because you, I don't know if you know this, but you are the most generous people I know. The Oklahoma City Campus, you have financially funded 15, every single one of the LifeChurch campuses you have paid for. What does that mean? When you invest in a company, you have a stake in that company. Are you with me? You've got an interest in that company. And when there's a return, you get to share in that return. Well, spiritually it's the same way. When you give here, well you actually planted Albany, New York campus and you planted Nashville, Tennessee, you planted West Palm Beach Florida, you planted Fort Worth Texas, and when people's lives are changed there, guess who gets to be a part of that? We do! Is that exciting to anybody in this room? That's incredible! Because you give, God is changing lives. It's the little five-year-old boy, Tate, that I met in that section three weeks ago, who had a hundred dollars for his birthday. He begged his mom to come thirty minutes early so he can give ten dollar tithe because he wanted to write out the offering envelope by himself. Because of a five-year-old, lives are being changed forever. It's a powerful thing to me, it's humbling. The single mom a month ago that pulls me aside in the lobby and says, I gave my life to Christ today and I'm struggling to make it, but I really believe God is calling me to put Him first in my finances, and I committed to tithe today. It's an incredibly humbling thing, but I know in God's economy you cannot out give God. And because of you, lives are being changed forever. Thirty-two million YouVersion downloads were paid for by you. And let me tell you about one of those 32 million, his name is Matt. Matt downloaded YouVersion on his phone several years ago. His mom attends this campus. Matt is a missionary in East Asia, and it's a very hostile place to Christianity. In fact, if you carry a Bible around, it has to be wrapped in brown paper, because you can get in a lot of trouble by having a Bible or teaching people about Christianity there. But guess what everyone has in Beijing? A cell phone. And by having a cell phone, they have the Word of God in Mandarin, in their language, in a great translation. He writes his mom, it says, Mom, this has become my primary tool for evangelizing the students in Beijing. Have you ever been to China? Maybe not, but because of you, lives are being changed there and we get to be a part of that. About a month ago, Cindy and I, my wife and I, were at a church leadership conference in Atlanta. We were sitting out on the front lawn during a lunch recess eating our Chick-fil-A, because we all know Christians have to eat Chick-fil-A, don't we? I think the chickens are actually saved before they were killed, I just do. But we're sitting there, and this couple comes up to us and says, You have to tell your people thank you! And we don't know these people from Adam! And we're like, Tell who thank you? Who are you? And the guy introduces himself and introduces his wife, his name is Patrick Moore. He is a Network Church pastor in Franklin, North Carolina, and he receives this teaching every single week. His church is about 500 strong. And he says, You have to tell your people thank you, because we're seeing over 500 people come to church, but better than that, this year alone 100 people have surrendered their lives to Jesus! And no exaggeration he says, Our entire town is different because LifeChurch makes their resources available. Our whole town is different, you've got to tell your people thank you! And we get to be a part of that! We get to be a part of that, because of your serving, God is changing lives. Because of your giving, God is changing lives. Like last week, today we're going to receive what were calling a passionate offering, and it's above your tithe. If you're not tithing, don't give an offering, just start with the tithe. The first tenth of your income is the Lords and we passionately give it as worship. But what does that mean, passionate offering? It just literally means that we want you to give where you are passionate. If it's new buildings and new campuses, give to Spaces and Places, that's where Cindy and I are going to give today. If it's Compassion; the poor, orphans, man give to Compassion. Maybe it's financing more translations on our YouVersion Bible App, then give to Digital Missions. But today, I'm going to encourage you to give from your heart and give with compassion later on as we receive our offering. The final thing, write this down, is that because of your passion for people, because of your passion for people, God is changing lives. Verse 13: Men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ. We have this little saying if your new with us. It goes kind of like this, we will do anything short of sin to lead people to Christ. Sometimes we tease that line every once in a while, but we will do anything short of sin to reach somebody for the Gospel of Christ. Why do we do that? Why are we so passionate about it? Because you do not lock eyes with a single person on a single day that doesn't matter to the Creator of the universe. Do you believe that? There's not a single person that you walk by on the street, or you office next to at the office, that doesn't matter to God. And we will go to any length to reach them for Jesus Christ. We're passionate about it. Why? The Bible says that your life is a vapor, it's a mist. It's here today and it is gone tomorrow. It's a vapor, it's just like that, it's just like a whisper. What are you doing with your mist that is your life? If it is so brief, then there is no greater purpose than the cause of Christ and the ministry of communicating the Gospel of Jesus with a lost and hurting world, with the time that we have. That's why David, a buddy of mine, every single time he goes to a drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant; every time, he lives here in Edmond by the way, and I'll tell you what car he drives later! But, he pays for every single person that is behind him, every single time, and leaves a little invite card to come to LifeChurch. Why? Because he's passionate about people. He just wants, maybe one time, someone will get that card and they'll come here and they'll hear the message of Jesus and their lives will be changed. Wouldn't that be worth it? Wouldn't it? There's a couple that attends on Saturday night and God's blessed them financially. But they don't just give big, but they serve in LifeKids every week, they have become foster parents, and they just finished building two houses that they will never live in. You know what they're for? God's given them a burden for single moms who don't have a place to live and don't have money for rent, and they built two homes so that these women could get back on their feet and have a place. Who does that? People that have been changed by Jesus do that. Because Jesus was passionate about people and if we are going to be like Him, we will be passionate about people. I've had a front row seat to this family and I'll just close with this story. Melissa and Jason, they came here about a year ago. At the darkest part of their life, their business went under, their house got foreclosed on, they were in bankruptcy, they lost everything. Melissa was babysitting to make a couple of dollars so that she could go and get milk and bread and lunch meat from the store, just to kind of keep some food in the refrigerator. And after babysitting for a friend one Sunday afternoon, her friend said, Where you going? She said, I'm going to the grocery store. And her friend just felt compelled by God to say, No you're not, you are going to my church with me. And that day, they walked into this room and Melissa heard about a cross and about a Savior who paid a debt that Melissa could not afford. And that day, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, that young woman lifted her hand and she surrendered her life to Christ. A month later, she got baptized in a pool and her children were surrounding that pool watching their mom who was not the same person that she once was. And that day, her kids said, Mom, we want to give our lives to Jesus! And they prayed to receive Christ on the same day! And that family, I'm telling you, will never be the same, because one person had the courage to say, Would you just come? And then, there were people like you who were standing at doors and making coffees and holding babies that made it actually possible. Lives are being changed forever, because of your serving, because of your giving, and because of your irrational passion for people. We are a part of one of the greatest moves of God, I believe, on planet earth. I want to challenge you to give your life to the cause of Christ. To give big, not just financially, but your time, your prayer, your heart. We are a vapor folks, a vapor, a mist, we are here today and gone tomorrow. Make it count for something significant. I love our church, I praise God for what He's doing here and I praise God for our leader, Craig, I'd like to throw it back to him. Well, I'm so thankful for your pastor and for the way God is working through your church. And we thank him for all of the ways that he's making a difference, and how your community is different because of you. It makes me really emotional to think about all that took place to get me to where I am today spiritually. In fact, I'll never know the whole story, but I do know that years and years ago, there was someone in some part of the world that financially gave to an organization known as the Gideons. The Gideons, they're a group that give the Bible away for free to help get God's Word to people that don't have it otherwise. And so, someone gave. Then there were all of the people who actually worked on the Bible; the printing it, the packaging it, the shipping it, someone received it, someone distributed it to the city where I lived. And then there was a guy, an older gentleman, who got up, volunteered his time, dressed up in a suit, and came to the college that I was attending and stood in between buildings and waited for someone like me to come along. And on that day, he said, Hey young man, would you like a free Bible? Well, being the cheapo that I am, I'll take anything that is free! So, I took the free Bible and little did I know, that because of all of those people, I would start reading that little New Testament. And in Ephesians, Chapter Two, I would read some words that would change my life forever: For it is by the grace of God that you're saved, not by yourself, it's not by your works, it's only by grace through faith that you can be forgiven of your sins. And the day I read Ephesians 2:8-9, something in me changed, it was never the same. And I knelt all alone, after reading that verse, out in the middle of the softball field and said, Jesus, I need you to take my life. And I knelt down one person, and I stood up another person. And the amazing thing is, there are all of these people out there that they don't even necessarily know that. And I would say, because of them I'm different. I thank God for whoever it was that gave that helped make me different. And the reality is, as we've looked at the last two weeks at the vision of our church, I would love to be able to say that all of the thousands of people who have come to know Christ, all of the teenagers that are being mentoring, all of the people that are receiving clothing and food, all of the people that are being educated in other countries, all of the Network Churches that are being started, all of the Bibles that are being given away, all of the free resources; I would love to be able to say that that's because of all of you. But to have integrity, I can't say that. What I have to say is, that's because of some of you. Because of some of you God is doing a work all over the world. Because the reality is, and I don't want to be harsh, but some of you are simply consuming what the church has to offer and you're not doing anything yet. And I just want to say, how tragic is it that all that God has given you, all of the different ways He's made you rich, blessed you financially, blessed you with talent, blessed you with relationships, blessed you with opportunities; and yet, for the most part, for some people, you can't say, because of you anything good at all. Because of you, what I want to be able to say, it's because of all of you. And I know God wants to say because of you. I believe with all of my heart that God wants you to stand before Him one day and He wants to look at you and say, Because of you more people know Christ. Because of you, you fed the hungry. Because of you, you clothed the naked. Because of you, you visited the sick. And then, to look at you and say, Well done, you did great! Well done, my good and faithful servant! But the tragedy is, for some of us, we really won't make that much of a difference in this world. And here's the kicker, the choice is yours, the choice is yours. I want to put in front of you the most compelling vision of what the church can be like and what the church can do. And I'll tell you what, it can be greater and it can be stronger, or it can be weaker and it can do less, depending on what you do. If you're not doing something, if you're not serving somewhere, if you're not giving, what I want you to know, there's something that God wants to be done that's not being done. God wants to use you. And at the end of your life, one day you'll stand before God and He'll either say, Because of you the world was different, because of you, you brought me glory. Or, He might say something else, Because of you, there's not much that's different. I pray with all of my heart that when you stand before God, He'll say, Because of you, you brought me glory. I pray there are people all over the world that will thank God because of you, because of your generosity, because of your serving, because you invited me, because you reached out to me, I'm different. God wants to use you to make a difference all over this world. And the world can be different because of God's work in and through you. Let's all pray. God, I ask that in your presence and by your power, you would stir within us. And God, that our church would become strong, the bride of Christ, reaching people all over the world. As you're praying today, I know that a lot of you, if you're really honest, you'd have to say, You know, this place isn't a whole lot different because of me. I'm really not doing much, I kind of come and I go to church. Listen, God doesn't want you to go to church, God wants you to be the church. You've got gifts, it's time to use your gifts. You've got abilities, it's time to put them to work. You've got talents, it's time to use it for the glory of God. You've got resources, it's time to give for the glory of God. It's time to rise up and be the Church. I'm just going to lovingly call you out. The church, I believe with all of my heart, empowered by Christ, is the hope of the world and it's time for you to get off the bench, get into the game and make a difference for the glory of God. At all of our churches, there are many of you, you've got a great heart, you want to make a difference. You want the world to be different; but yet, maybe you've been too busy or you just haven't gotten a round to it. Well guess what? Today is the day that things can be different. In a few moments, your campus pastor will give you different opportunities of how you can get involved. I'm calling you out. You're not doing much? You really want to make a difference. You want to be used for the glory of God. You want the world to be different because of you. All of our churches, those of you who would say, You know what? That's me, I really do, I want to be more involved, I want to use my gifts. I want to be more generous with my time and with my talents and with my treasures. I want God to be glorified. I want needs to be met because of God's work through me. Would you lift up your hands right now, just all over the place, just lift them up and say, Yes, that's me! God, I do, I thank you for people at churches all around the world that are stepping up to be Your Church. God, I pray that they would find a place in your church to use their gifts to make a difference in this world. God, as Your church, I pray that we would use our gifts even outside, all over the world, showing the love of Jesus to a world that needs to know Him. God, I pray that we would be contributors not consumers, that we would give generously. God, that we would believe in your work through the church, as the church, and we would rise up God and make a difference in this world. And God, I thank you in advance for all of the lives that are going to be different, for all of the lives that are going to be changed because of the people who heard your message, heard your calling, and said yes to you today. God, I thank you at how all the ways you will use your people to glorify your name and make a difference in this world. As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, without looking around, I told you that a Bible changed my life and let me tell you why. I grew up going to church, but I didn't understand the message of Jesus. I thought being right with God was all about being good and not being bad and trying hard and not messing up and being better than other people. But I didn't realize that I couldn't be right with God by my own efforts. In fact, that's why Ephesians 2:8-9 gripped me, because it said that only by the grace of God could I be made right with God. And I'm telling you right now, there are a lot of people who have been praying for you. This moment is for you, because you are ready to make a spiritual change and that's why you're here. Some of you, you're life is empty, God wants to fill it. Others of you, you are depressed and low. God wants to be the lifter of your head. Some of you, you are lonely and Jesus wants to be the relationship that you have been longing for. All of us, we're dead in our sins and Jesus wants to be the One who saves us and makes us new. For God so loved you, it was because of you, He sent His Son Jesus to die and to rise again. It's because of you that God sent His Son. It isn't about religion, it isn't about church membership, it's about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And it was because of God's love for you. At all of our churches, there are those of you who realize, You know what? This is about me, it's about me turning from my sin and turning toward Christ. I don't want to be empty, I want to know Him. I don't want to know about Him, I want to know Him. I want to serve Him, I want my life to count. I need forgiveness, I need His power, I need His grace. Jesus, I surrender my life to you. Would you save me and make me new? If that's your prayer today, at all of our churches, would you lift your hands high right now, just lift them high all over the place and say, Yes!

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Duration: 36 minutes and 47 seconds
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jan 3, 2012

Because of You - Week 2 - Craig Groeschel - LifeChurch.tv

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