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What We Need Most!
"That ye be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst
of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life;
that I may rejoice in the day of Christ."
Some years ago, when our country was showing signs of economic instability, in the heart of our nation
was a pocket of prosperity.
Wichita, Kansas, was literally booming.
Its unemployment rate was 3 percent.
It had a $14 million city hall under construction,
and the board of education had just approved a $30 million building program.
So, in the midst of a nation plagued with economic problems, there was a pocket of prosperity.
As we stand at the exit of an old year and at the entrance of the new year, what does our world need most?
- We need pockets of spiritual prosperity!
- We need dynamic believers scattered all over our cities and our nation.
- We need dedicated Christians living innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people
who are crooked and stubborn. (Philippians 2:15b,TLB)
What does a body of believers need -- to be this kind of church?
- That is the church!
- That is the way it was meant to be!
- This is what the world needs most!
We need a consuming passion to know Jesus Christ!
A well-known Christian motivator says there are two questions which he asks as he comes to a group to begin his work:
"What do you want?" and "Where are your men?"
- What do we want as a church?
- What are our goals?
- What will we do to reach people?
- What opportunities do we have?
What did Paul want?
- Do we want exciting youth programs?
- Do we want entertaining, special programs?
Here is the way he put it: "That I may know him."
He wished to truly know Christ at any price.
- This was not some casual desire.
- This was not something that he could take or leave.
- This was his consuming passion.
This is still where the action is!
There is no real spiritual life apart from a vital relationship with Jesus Christ.
Most of the membership in our churches can be divided into two categories:
- Those who keep the rules and honor their commitments.
- And those who are more alive and vibrant with their lives clearly centered in Christ.
He is the most precious gift they have ever received.
- They seek Him, the Living Word, in the written word.
- They talk about Him -- this comes natural to them.
- They share Him!
- They want the world to know about Jesus.
It is not surprising that these people are spiritually alive.
A pocket of spiritual prosperity will be found where there are Christians with a consuming passion to know Jesus.
- John explains it when he writes: "In Him was life" (John 1:4).
- Jesus helps us understand this.
Jesus says, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
We need an overflowing love for others!
We hear a lot about love, but some of what we hear is not too impressive.
- Paul was inwardly excited and outwardly motivated.
- Paul reached out to others with great compassion because Christ filled his heart with love for others.
Paul demonstrates the kind of love that should be found in every Christian.
Love got Paul in prison.
- It is love in action.
- It is love reaching out to others even at a great sacrifice.
Love caused Paul to be stoned, which resulted in a bleeding back.
However, it was this love that resulted in people everywhere he went knowing about the Saviour.
Loving this way should come naturally for those who trust Christ.
It begins with trusting Him, but it is enhanced by other spiritual exercises.
We must get near people before we can love them.
A teenager was reprimanding her parents for spending so much time watching soap operas.
She told them that she could not see how they could stand them.
Her mother's response was, "But you don't know these people like we do."
It is necessary to know people and to be aware of their needs, before love for them occupies our hearts.
We must be aware of where they are without Christ, before we will love them like we must.
Praying for them will develop love for them.
That's what Paul did for the Philippian Christians.
"My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others." (Philippians 1:9a,TLB)
Evidently, Paul's prayer was answered, for the church at Philippi seemed to be one of the most effective groups of believers.
We must be willing to pay a price!
Someone has said, "There is no bargain day in the kingdom of God."
Jesus made this fact very clear.
A church which is alive has a contagious faith.
- He told of a man who sold all he had in order to buy the treasure which he found hidden in a field.
- He told a rich young ruler that the way to eternal life was to sell all that he had.
- He reminded another who would follow Him, that if he went with Jesus, he would be following Someone
who had no place to lay His head.
That church is a light that sends its light into a dark world, because there are Christians who are willing to pay a price.
Paul paid the price.
Paul said, "Now I have given up everything else." (Philippians 3:10a,TLB)
Are we willing to pay the price?
The answer to that question will reveal what we want to be as a church.
This will depend on how important we believe our mission to be in the year before us.
It hinges on how urgent our mission is.
If we are a church, who will settle for nothing less than being a pocket of spiritual prosperity, we will pay the price!
We must have the confidence that God will provide the resources!
David Livingstone returned to his alma mater, Glasgow University, after 18 years in Africa, to receive an honorary degree.
In keeping with a traditional practice, a group of hecklers had planned to interrupt the ceremony.
However, when Livingstone appeared at the rostrum, gaunt, wrinkled by 27 fevers, darkened by the sun,
with one arm hanging limp due to a lion's bite -- he presented such a sympathetic figure that awed and quieted the assembly.
During his speech, he said, "I am going back.
Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the toil, hardship, and loneliness of my exiled life?
It was the promise, ' Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.'" (Matthew 28:20b).
In answer to Paul's petition for relief from affliction, he received this tremendous assurance:
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
That is also a sustaining word!
In this coming new year let us be a pocket of spiritual prosperity.
Let us be the church our world needs in the coming new year.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org