Leverage Your Life

The Mission Of The Church Is To Leverage Your Life For The Sake Of The Kingdom.

George Wright
Feb 7, 2121    41m
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Do you know what Jesus has called all of us to do in the Great Commission? This message examines the mission of the church in fulfilling this commission, it calls us to leverage who were are, what we have, where we are, for the sake of the kingdom of God. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

David Taylor: 00:04 "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." I wonder what it must have been like for those 11 disciples, Jesus, their shepherd, their teacher, their leader, their recently resurrected savior, spoke these words in the great commission, giving them this charge to share the gospel, to make disciples of all nations. But they didn't have cars, much less an airplane, no way to get around to the ends of the earth. They didn't have online church, or Facebook, or even a television. They didn't even know the full scope of what all nations meant, but they leveraged who they were and everything they had for the sake of the gospel. We remember this great commission, Jesus's words to those 11 disciples, the overwhelming task before them, a task that remains unfinished, the task before us today. That's why we live sent, we seek to leverage who we are, and what we've been given, for the sake of the gospel wherever we are and wherever God takes us. How is God calling you to leverage your life, in your home, in your office, with your friends, with your family, in this city, in this world?

George Wright: 02:25 Well, I want to thank Pastor David for that challenge, and that question as we start off our Live Sent focus here for the month of February. How is God calling you to leverage your life, to leverage who you are and what you've been given, for the sake of the gospel wherever you are and wherever God takes us? That is our mission as a church, that's what we want to drive all that we do as a church. And we want to live this out every day throughout the year, but we set aside some time at the beginning of the year here in February each year to highlight some of the things that God is doing as we seek to live this mission.

George Wright: 03:06 And so you may have seen for those of you in the room today, you may have seen in the lobby when you came in some of the stations that are set up highlighting some of our ministry partners and our mission partners around the world. And our missions team has done such a beautiful job, making this accessible for us as a church, to be able to see and celebrate what God is doing. And you're going to hear some great stories throughout this month of some of the things that God is doing, that we get to participate in outside the walls of the church here at Shandon. And to those who are joining us online, we want you to know that there's all kinds of information on our website, Shandon.org, under the missions tab you can see a lot of different info and details about some of the things that God is doing as we seek to live the mission.

George Wright: 03:54 But the focus, the focus of this month, the focus of today and the next few weeks is that we would ask specifically, intentionally, as individuals and as families, what can we do? What can I do? What can you do? To leverage my life, to leverage who I am and what God has given me, for the sake of the gospel?

George Wright: 04:22 And so today we're going to begin in Matthew chapter 6 in this beautiful sermon that we have, the most famous, the longest recorded sermon of Jesus in the scripture, it's called the sermon on the Mount. And in Matthew chapter 6, in the midst of this very famous sermon to a crowd of people gathered on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus lays these words before us that challenge us to consider the mission. So I want to invite you if you're willing and able to stand with me, Matthew chapter 6 beginning in verse 31. And we stand at the reading of God's Word that we could all be reminded that the Word of God is the foundation for the people of God. The Word of God is the authority on which we stand. The Word of God lays before us what God says is right and good and true, that which you and I need to hear. So we turn our attention in reverence to the Word of the Lord, inviting God to speak to us now. And it says this, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

George Wright: 06:02 Would you pray with me as we consider the word of the Lord together here this morning? Father, we thank you for this time. And we thank you for the moment we just shared in worship, being reminded that the mission exists so that the nations might worship your name. We are called to live this mission, that those who have yet to hear, those who have yet to believe, might lift up their voice in worship of who you are and what you have done. And so we thank you for inviting us into something that is so much bigger and so much greater than ourselves, reminding us as a church that you are at work around the world and we get to join you. And so I pray, Lord, that this will be very personal for us today and in the days ahead as we ask the question, how can we leverage our lives? Lord, you have blessed us in many ways, you've given us so much. We pray that we, who are your people gathered in your name, would be willing to be open to whatever it is and wherever it is that you want us to live. this mission. Speak to us now, as only you can, in the power of your Spirit. We commit this time to you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing

George Wright: 07:46 As we step into this message here this morning, I just want to share a little gift that our family received last year in the midst of all the chaos that was 2020. We got an email, kind of out of the blue, from Compassion International, the ministry that many of you I know are involved in. We've been involved with Compassion for many years now, sponsoring children in poverty, and seeking to release children from poverty, in Jesus' name. This is a ministry that we love dearly. And in this email, it contained a video from Juliet, one of our Compassion children. In fact, she's the Compassion child we've sponsored the longest, she's roughly the same age as our oldest daughter McKenna, and we've been sponsoring Juliet since she was just a little girl. She lives in Uganda in Africa, and the video was shot on a cell phone by one of the Compassion staff. It's not really great quality by any means, but it shows the joy that Juliet and her family express as they receive a gift that Compassion took to them of some groceries that our giving helped fund. And so this is a video that we got to experience, of seeing them receive this gift of some groceries. And so I just want to share this with you right now.

Juliet: 09:07 (Video Plays)

George Wright: 09:07 Yeah, it is incredibly humbling to have a teenage girl on the other side of the world that we've known in a sense since she was just a young little girl who didn't speak any English when we first started to sponsor her, now to hear her not only speaking fluently, but praying for us, praying for me by name, and asking God to bless me in the circumstances she lives in every day. And here we are, asking God to bless us, it's hard to even know what to do with that. I asked Megan my wife this week, how often we as a family just stop by the grocery store? We've now got three drivers in our house, if you include our oldest daughter, and so we pop into the grocery store quite often. And she said, hey, on any given week it's easily six or seven times that we stopped by the grocery store and pick up some things. And it occurred to me that in all the times that we've been to the grocery store, there's never been a time where we've just broken out in spontaneous worship at God's provision. And in all the times that we just stop in to the grocery store to grab a few things, there's never been a time where we've just hit our knees in the parking lot, overwhelmed with gratitude, praying and thanking God for the provision he provides. And listen, I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad, I'm talking about myself, I'm talking about my household, and realizing there are so many things we take for granted.

George Wright: 14:49 And with that in mind, we come to Matthew 6, and it's hard to even know what to do with these verses. Jesus says here again, verse 31, "Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." At first reading here, sitting in Columbia, South Carolina and wherever you are joining us online, you may think, well, I'm not sure if these verses apply to us. I mean, I know you may be anxious to go eat lunch right now, but you're probably not anxious about whether or not you're going to get lunch. And even if you don't have much, in our city, there are people that don't have much comparatively to many others in our city, even if you don't have much in our context, you still have more than the majority of people around the world. And we still have places that we can turn, and places that we can go, and people that are willing to help us if we need food to make it through the end of the day, there are places we can get it. If we need clothing to make it through the end of the week, there are places we can go to get it. So how in the world does this apply to us?

George Wright: 16:15 Don't be anxious, don't worry about what you'll eat, or drink, or what you will wear. Well, here Jesus is addressing the all-important topic of our perspective. He's really going to the heart of the matter here, specifically as he's going to lay out a calling to the mission, he's saying it starts with the heart, it starts with the perspective of your heart and the way you view the things of this world. For Jesus is drawing a clear contrast here, when he's talking about the Gentiles who seek after these things of the world, he's talking about those who do not have a relationship with God. And he's saying those who are the people of God, those who do live by faith, those who do trust their life to God, those who do follow Jesus and what he has given us, should you view the world and specifically view the things of this world very differently from those who do not have a relationship with God.

George Wright: 17:32 So the question is, is that true of us? Do we view the things of this world very differently from those who have no relationship with God at all, and how they view the things of this world? For certainly it would make sense that those who have no relationship with God, and no hope of things beyond this life, would place their hope in the things of this world. That makes sense, if you have no relationship with God, the natural leaning of your heart then would to trust in the things that you can acquire, things that you can hold for yourself, things that you can earn, or achieve, and keep, for yourself in this life. But as we all know, and as we certainly have been reminded over and over again, over the last year, the things of this world are tremendously fickle, the things of this world are terribly fleeting, and can change in an instant, uncertainty abounds. And when our hope is placed in the things of this world that so quickly can change, or so quickly could be taken away, then worry and fear, being anxious about these things, becomes the norm in our lives.

George Wright: 19:05 Do you view the things of this world, the things you possess, the things you have, and do you worry that maybe you don't have enough? Or maybe you'll lose them? Or do you fear that things could happen in such a way that you just need to hold on to as much as possible? Look at what Jesus says in verse 30 of Matthew 6, "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" This is such a challenging passage, in fact, I would venture to guess that some of you are going to be very frustrated with me at this message. And I'll just tell you, you're actually being frustrated with Jesus, because these are his words. And these are hard words to hear, and Jesus is actually saying here, if you are consumed with gaining and keeping the things of this world, you are among those who are called the ones of little faith. Nobody wants that to be said of their life, but Jesus is saying if you're consumed with gaining and keeping the things of this world, and if you're worried and fearful about losing the things of this world, or needing more of the things of this world, you're actually revealing that your faith is in the things of this world. Your faith is not in the one who provides the things of this world. Here Jesus is addressing a very common barrier that prevents many people from actually living the mission, it is the barrier of worry and fear as it relates to the things of this world. If I live the mission, I might have to sacrifice. If I live the mission, what if I lose something? Many people never engage as it relates to seeking the kingdom, and leveraging their life, because they don't want to out of fear or worry that they might lose something of this world.

George Wright: 21:35 At the same time, there's another barrier that's very common among many people as it relates to the things of this world, a barrier that prevents people from living the mission, other than worry or fear, you're probably going to find yourself in one of these two camps. Look over at Luke chapter 12, we're going to come back to Matthew 6 in just a moment, but look over at Luke chapter 12. Luke actually gives us an account of this same statement Jesus has made in Matthew 6 in Luke chapter 12, but we also see in Luke 12 that Luke shares with us a personal encounter that Jesus has with an individual. A man comes up to Jesus, who is frustrated that his brother will not give him what he believes is his fair share of the family inheritance, he is beginning to fight with his brother, he's even beginning to divide with his brother over the things of this world that he believes are owed to him. I can tell you as a pastor, some of the saddest things I encounter are when someone does pass away and there are resources left behind to family, and fights begin to happen in that family over money because someone has passed away. It is ugly. It's ugly, it happens far too often, that families literally are willing to divide over dollars and cents.

George Wright: 23:08 That's what's happening here in Luke 12, and so this man comes to Jesus, and Jesus then sees that this is something that needs to be addressed in the lives of many. And so he makes this statement to this man, who's asking him to speak to his brother and say, give me what I'm owed. Luke chapter 12 verse 15, "He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” One's life does not of the abundance of his possessions. Here Jesus is addressing this very common, all too common, barrier that prevents people from truly living the mission of God, it's the issue of pride. Pride is what leads to covetousness, and as I look at what you have and I believe I deserve that, I'm owed that, why don't I have that, it's about me. Pride is the mentality that says, I deserve these things, I'm owed these things, or I've earned these things, and so look at all these things that I can keep for myself.

George Wright: 24:31 CS Lewis very famously wrote about pride in his classic book, Mere Christianity. And he says this about pride, it's very revealing. He says, "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next person. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not, they're proud of being richer, or clever, or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good looking, there would be nothing to be proud about." We start to compare, we start to look around, we start to feel maybe good about what we have, or we start to feel like we're owed more, we deserve better, and pride creeps into our heart, as we become consumed with gaining and keeping the things of this world.

George Wright: 25:27 And so Jesus recognizes this as such a significant issue in the lives of many, that he then tells a short story, and I just want to read this story to you in its entirety. Luke chapter 12 beginning in verse 16, it says, "He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” I want to grab a hold of that statement for just a moment, only you and the Lord know this, but I just want to ask you, are you laying up more treasure for yourself than you are rich toward God?

George Wright: 26:44 This is really, really tough stuff, this is a troubling parable. It's a sobering parable, especially for those of us here in this part of the world that have so much more than many others around the world, this is incredibly haunting. And Jesus here is addressing again, those who place their hope in the things of this world, and are prideful about the things they have acquired. But Jesus then says, and he says it very clearly, so I want to say to you, please, don't miss this. Only a fool, according to Jesus, places their hope in the things of this world that they cannot take with them beyond this life. This according to Jesus,` I know it's hard to hear this, but Jesus says that the fool is the one who places their hope in the things of this world that could never save them.

George Wright: 27:48 When I was in seminary, I worked at a church in Dallas, Texas, Fellowship Church is the name of the church, Pastor Ed Young Jr. is the pastor there. And when I was working there, I heard pastor Ed make this statement a couple of times, and it's one of those statements that you don't forget. He said, I've done many funeral services as a pastor, and I have never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse. That just not something you're going to see, right, that would be so foolish to have a U-Haul following a hearse with all the things of this world packed inside of the individual who's now gone. We know that's a crazy thought. Even if you could take it with you, it's as if Jesus is saying, if you can take it with you, when you stand before God, please hear this, God will not be impressed. God's not going to say, oh man, what a portfolio, that's incredible, you deserve the streets of gold. I mean, yes, come on in, look at all that you have. No, the Bible says he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, he's not impressed with the things that we acquire. No, the only thing that's going to matter when we stand before God when this life is over, is what have we done with the things that God has entrusted to us as it relates to his kingdom? How have we leveraged our life? How have you leveraged who we are and what we have been given for the sake of the gospel? How have we lived in such a way that our life has been seeking first the kingdom?

George Wright: 29:45 This all was very personal to me about not quite two years ago now, in summer of 2019, my grandfather, my granddaddy, George Brian Wright Senior, who I'm named after, one of my heroes, he passed away. He lived an incredible life, he was a success by any standard of the word success. He was a great businessman, he was a great father, an incredible grandfather, but most importantly, he was a tremendous man of faith. He loved the Lord, he shared the gospel with many people. But the last year or so of his life, he was struck with the horrible disease of Alzheimer's, and I know many of you have experienced that in your family with a loved one, it's so hard to watch, so painful to see. My granddaddy, he declined very rapidly, and in the final few months of his life he actually lived in a care facility, an Alzheimer's care facility. And here's what struck me, here this man who accomplished so much, did so many great things with his life, but at the end of his life everything that he owned in the world was contained in one little room in this care facility. He had a bed, he had a small chest of drawers, a closet with a few articles of clothing hanging up, and a bathroom, and that was it. It was not that he had lost it all, it had already been divided among family, and it had already been sold or given away. But at the end of his life, all he had, the material possessions, was contained in that tiny little room.

George Wright: 31:39 And as the family would come by to visit him, and pray with him, and thank him, and as the family came by to remember, and to celebrate his life in those final weeks and days, none of the discussion was around, hey, thank you so much for what you left for us materially. No, all of the discussion was gratitude and thanksgiving at the legacy of faith that he was leaving behind for his family, what God had done through his life, that would continue on, what he was about to celebrate in its fullest form as he stood before the Lord, and what we get to celebrate even now as we live in the wake of his legacy. And so I just wonder for us, like, what will that moment be like, those final days? What will they be like? What will you be leaving behind? For when you seek first the kingdom of God, as Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, when you seek first the kingdom of God, please hear this, you will never regret it. You see, there are a lot of people that come to the end of their life with many regrets, but one regret you will never hear about at the end of someone's life is for them to say, you know what, I regret living so much of my life seeking the kingdom of God. that's not a regret anyone would have. Because Jesus is showing us here that there's a better way all together. To seek first His kingdom, is an invitation to live for what truly matters, and to live for what will truly last beyond this life. To leverage who we are, and what we've been given, for the sake of the kingdom so that God can use our lives for the sake of eternity.

George Wright: 33:44 We end with verse 34 today, Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." We know this verse is true, whether we even think about it or not, we know we cannot control what happens in the future, we're not even guaranteed tomorrow. We recognize that, but what Jesus is reminding us here is of the all-important truth, that we can worship and serve the one who is in control. We can worship, and serve, and seek, the things that are promised to last beyond tomorrow, if we will leverage our lives for the sake of his kingdom. No matter who you are, you can leverage your life for the sake the gospel. No matter what you have, you can leverage your life for the sake of the gospel. How do we do that?

George Wright: 34:44 Well, we're going to talk about some ways that we can do that in the days ahead. But here's one that I want to put before you, because the Bible talks about this over and over and over again, Jesus talks about this over and over and over again. One of the most tangible ways that we can leverage our lives for the sake of his kingdom is through giving. And I know anytime the preacher talks about giving, there are people that don't like it, there are people that are uncomfortable, you may think there's an ulterior motive. I want you to know, the Bible talks over and over and over about giving, because giving is a heart issue. And you will never leverage your life for the sake of the gospel, you will never seek first the kingdom, without giving, it just won't happen. I'm not saying it's the only way, I'm just saying it will be a part of what we do if we truly seek first the kingdom of God.

George Wright: 35:50 So if you're not currently giving, I'll say to you right now very clearly, it's time to start giving. Start giving, start somewhere. And if you're giving, but you're not tithing, tithing is 10% of our income given to kingdom causes, given to the Lord. If you're not tithing, I want to make sure we understand this, that that 10% tithe, that's the biblical foundation for obedient giving. And so you may have been giving for a while, but you're not tithing, I would encourage you to step out on faith and watch what God will do through the resources he has entrusted to you, he'll do far more than you could ever do if you keep it for yourself. Giving is a heart issue every time, and giving puts our heart in line with the mission.

George Wright: 36:50 We will also have a very specific way that you can give this month, we've done this for the last couple of years, we do a Live Sent Offering in February. And I love this, because the Live Sent Offering goes specifically to fuel the mission outside the walls of the church here at Shandon. The Live Sent Offering goes to help fuel the mission of our church planting partners in Pittsburgh, and in Denver, and around the state of South Carolina. Our Live Sent Offering goes to fuel the ministry of our local ministry partners here in Columbia. The Live Sent Offering goes to fuel the mission effort of our partners around the world. This is something that is so incredible to be a part of, because we're seeing how God uses our resources beyond the walls of the church. And we give to our mission focus throughout the year, but in February, we want to just pour fuel on the fire through this special offering.

George Wright: 37:52 So last year we took in about $80,000 or so in our Live Sent Offering, it was a tremendous victory, it was a great celebration of giving. And this year we're laying out the goal of a $100,000 for our Live Sent Offering, just for the month of February. We're asking you to begin to pray about what you can give over and above your regular giving, over and above your tithes and offerings, to this very important special offering that goes specifically to the mission outside the walls of the church. What can you do to leverage who you are and what you've been given for the sake of the gospel? Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you and you will never regret it. Let's ask the Lord to show us how we can leverage our lives, and let's ask the Lord to realign our hearts with his mission, that more and more can see and hear the good news of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

George Wright: 39:07 Let's pray together as we close our time here today. Father, we are so grateful for your love, so grateful for this beautiful mission that has invited us to see and receive the good news of what Christ has done. Those who are followers of Jesus here today, are followers of Jesus because of the mission, what an incredible thought. And now you've invited us, your people, your church, to be involved in your mission to take the good news of the gospel to those who have yet to hear, and those who have yet to believe, Lord, we want to be a part of what you are doing. We want our lives to be lived for that which truly matters, we want our lives to be lived for that which truly lasts. So I pray, Lord, that you'd show us very clearly, how can we, how can our family, leverage who we are, and leverage what you've entrusted to us, for the sake of this mission? How can we seek first the kingdom? Lord, maybe today we need to reconsider the way we give, we need to reconsider the way we spend our time, we need to reconsider the places we go, and the way we allocate resources. Lord, whatever it may be, could you give us the faith to trust you as you invite us into this beautiful calling. Lord, I pray that you would use our lives, that you would truly use our lives, as we seek to leverage our lives for the sake of the kingdom.

George Wright: 40:43 And Lord, for those who are among us today who've never experienced life in Christ, through the joy of salvation that comes to us through the gift of Jesus giving his life at the cross for the forgiveness of sins, I pray that today would be the day they would cross that line of faith and say, Jesus, I'm ready to trust you, I'm ready to follow you. I pray, that they would see that the mission the mission that you've given your church, is actually pursuing them even now, that they would know, and trust, and receive, the good news of salvation in Christ. Oh Lord, we thank you for who you are, and what you are doing, use us for your glory. It' in Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.



Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206
803.782.1300