Faith Church

Leaving a Legacy – David Carter | Sermon from 5/8/2016

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Well, as you all know, today is Mother’s Day… uh oh… based on the number of heads that just bounced up with fear in their eyes, some of us didn’t know today is mother’s day.  I put 5 mother’s day cards in the men’s bathroom, so if you need one, go ahead and get up and get one now… we won’t look, don’t worry…

Mother’s Day is a challenging holiday because for each one of us, this day evokes different memories.  Some of our memories are good.  A mother who loved us and cared for us and who we thank God for every day.  Some of our memories aren’t good. Whether it was the loss of our mother, or maybe we had a mother who we’ve cut ties with for one reason or another.

Today we’re not going to talk about how great our moms were, we’re going to talk about the moms who are here and how they can leave a mark on their kids… and the reality is, we’re going to talk about the rest of us… because this message is for each one of us… whether or not you have your own kids doesn’t really matter, because there are tons of kids in our church who, if you’re a member here, you’ve promised to help raise in the faith.  Do you remember doing that?  Every time we baptize one?  So the question is, how can each one of us leave a mark that matters in the world?

Now, most of the time when we think about leaving a mark, or a legacy in the world… we think about money… we want to leave money behind that will make our kid’s lives better than ours.  We want to leave a lot of money to an organization that we believe in, or have our name put on a building at our alma mater… or maybe just a bench if you don’t save up enough… but We want to leave a legacy of money.

It’d also be nice to leave a legacy of ideas or influence.  Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.  Everyone knows what his dream was, he fought for his dream… he died for his dream… and many people have been working hard to see that dream come to fruition and today, we’re living in a time that is much closer to the fulfillment of King’s dream than ever before.

Steve Jobs changed the world… for better or worse, doesn’t matter.  Today, we connect in our pockets.  And no conversation about the state of the mobile market can be had without mention of Jobs and his first iPhone.  I want to leave behind a legacy, don’t you?  A legacy of money or ideas or influence after we die?

See, we’re kind of like this car.  At one point in time, this car was desirable.  People wanted it.  People paid big bucks for it.  It was functional.  It was valuable.  But now it’s rusting away in a glorified box with nothing to show for what it once was.  At some point in time, hopefully long from now, we’ll be like this car…rotting away in a box… not that these things are bad, but we can leave something behind that’s more valuable than money or ideas or influence… we can leave behind a legacy of faith.  And today, we’re going to see three ways we can do this based on wisdom and commandments we find in Scripture.

The first is this: To leave a legacy of faith, share your testimony.

Deuteronomy 4:9-10 says, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

Moses commanded the Jewish people to remember the things their eyes had seen so that they would continue to follow God.  .

We find verse like this all through the Bible that tell us to remember the things that God has done… and tell them to people.

In Luke 8, Jesus heals the man who is possessed by a legion of demons, and sends the demons into a herd of pigs… and he says to the man: “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

Again, Psalm 66:16 – The psalmist writes: “Come and hear, all you who fear God.. let me tell you what he has done for me.”

To leave a legacy of faith, share your testimony.

Why?  Why do we share our testimony?   Here’s why… it’s really quite simple… please join in if you’re familiar with this tune:

We’re off to see the Wizard,

The wonderful Wizard of Oz.

We hear he is a whiz of a Wiz if ever a Wiz there was.

If ever, oh ever a Wiz there was,

The Wizard of Oz is one because, because, because, because, because, because,

Because of the wonderful things he does.

Dorothy, the tin man, the cowardly lion, and the scarecrow went in search of the wizard of oz because people told them about his wonderful deeds.

And in the same way… when we tell people of the goodness and the faithfulness of our God… that we’ve seen in our lives… people will go and seek him, too.

And more specifically, for mothers this morning… our text in Deuteronomy tells us that we should be telling our children what we’ve seen God do.  And when our kids hear about the wonderful things God does… they will pursue him, they will seek him.

Where have you seen God’s presence and power in your life?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me about how her in-laws would always tell her and her husband that they always tithed 10% of their income, and they never lacked.  And because of that testimony, she and her husband have been faithful to God in tithing, too.  Testimonies matter.

My testimony.

My parents shared the things of God with me.  They weren’t perfect, but they taught me about Jesus. They took me to church.  Their role in my life shaped me into who I am today.  .

My parents testimony helped me to know and to desire to know God more.  Testimonies matter.

Some of you may be in a place where you’re like, yeah David… I did all that… and my kids left the faith.  Well, I want to share with you another testimony that I was really encouraged by a few weeks ago and I hope will encourage you too.

Many of you know I’m in a master’s program at Evangelical Seminary… and in class we had to share our testimonies… and many people in my class shared about how they were raised in Christian homes… some had remained in the faith, but more than a few had left the faith for a period of time in their lives… they rebelled… they rejected the faith… but they eventually came back to the Lord.  And the testimonies and the faith of their parents faith is something that mattered in them coming back.

So today, even if you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle with your kids… or if you feel like you’ve already lost the battle, keep praying that they come to know the goodness of God for themselves, by the power of the holy spirit.  Pray that your testimony… and the testimony of others that they encounter, will take hold in their hearts.  And don’t give up.

Our legacy of faith is the faith of those who have heard our testimony and seek God for themselves.  So, my parents legacy of faith is me…

Now, imagine for a second someone is trying to sell you windows from Windows R’ US… and they tell you about how great windows from Windows R US are… great prices, great quality, and they’ll even install them for you for 5 easy payments of $29.95.. and then you find out that the salesman bought his windows from Window Mart, not Windows R Us… and you’re like, your testimony sounded like Windows R Us is the best, but your testimony doesn’t match your life.

In the same way, it would be pretty silly to share our testimony with people and then not be following Jesus ourselves.  These second two components of leaving a legacy of faith are things that we should just be doing as Christians.  They’re just a normal part of living out our faith.

Here’s the second thing we need to do:  to leave a legacy of faith, use your gifts.

If you’ve been around the church for very long or if you’ve ever picked up a Bible or devotional, you’ve likely heard the name Paul.  Super important guy in the Bible who did incredible things.  He’s kind of a superstar in the Bible.  But Paul didn’t do all that he did on his own… he had help along the way… he was assisted by many people.

One of those people is a man by the name of Jason.  We hear about Paul all the time, but we rarely, if ever, hear about Jason.

In Acts 17:5-9, we hear his role in the ministry of Paul. Leading up to this verse, Paul was in Thessalonica sharing Jesus with the Jewish folks in the synagogue… and some of the jews were convinced of what Paul said and put their faith in Christ… and this is where we pick up in verse 5.

“But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.[a] 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.”8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.”

That’s literally all we know about Jason, and yet his legacy of faith is found in the lives of everyone who came to know Christ during Paul’s visit to Thessalonica while he stayed with him. So no matter how insignificant he was in the Bible, he left a legacy of faith that was not insignificant.  Simply by using his gifts.

See, the mission of the church then, and the mission of the church now is to share Jesus with people… and Jason offered what he had to fulfill this mission.  He wasn’t gifted in preaching, but he had a house… and at the time they didn’t have the econolodge.  They had some temporary housing options, but they weren’t affordable, especially for someone who was committing his time to preaching in the synagogue and on the streets.

So Jason offered what he had… a house… and hospitality.

This is exactly what we’re commanded to do by Peter in 1 Peter 4:9-11.

In 1 Peter, Peter is writing to a tired, worn out, and persecuted church.  You ever feel tired and worn out?  He’s writing to encourage them to keep doing what’s right.  And here’s what Peter says:

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Everyone has a gift.  And in order to further the mission of the church… to leave a legacy of faith… we need to look at our gifts… notice it’s the word “gift” here.  Gifts aren’t earned.  Gifts are given. Everything we have is given to us by God.  Money, time, family, skills, talents, our homes, our jobs… our everything.  So we need to look at our gifts, and use them to fulfill the mission of the church… So if you have the gift of hospitality, that’s a gift that needs to be used for God, to fulfill the mission of the church.

Today, letting evangelists stay in our homes isn’t really what’s needed.  We have the econolodge.

But what do we need?  Well, I’ll tell you a few that we already need every week that some in this room are already doing…

We need people who are creative to make all this stuff up on the screen happen every week.

We need people to look at every clip board in the pews to keep track of who is here and who is not.

We need people to make coffee every Sunday morning so that guests and everyone else has the energy needed for the morning.

We need people to play instruments and sing in the choir to help facilitate the worship gathering.

We need people to make cookies so that people feel taken care of and “hosted” by the church.

We need people who stand at the front doors and shake hands.

We need people who run the sound board, record the service, copy the CDs and devliver them to shut ins and post them online for people to hear.

We need people to visit folks in the hospital and shut ins in the nursing homes.

We need people to teach Sunday school.

We need people to go out of their comfort zone when they see someone who looks new and say, Good morning, I’m not sure we’ve met before… I’m David.  Would you like to come to my house for dinner?  Please don’t call the police… I’m just fulfilling the mission of the church with my gifts…

-Most people who join the church were invited by someone.  We need people to invite their neighbors, friends, and coworkers.

It takes about 30-40 different people each month to run nursery at both services and children’s church for all our kids.

We need people to help serve folks in our community during serving our seniors.

We need people to give to help people go on mission trips.

Sometimes, when we take on a big project, that costs a lot of money… we need people who have the gift of wealth to take the money that they’ve been blessed with by God and give it back to him for the mission of the church

When we do this… We leave a legacy of faith.  Whether we’re the one preaching, teaching Sunday School, or vacuuming up between services… our role is not insignificant… if you use your gift for the mission of the church, you’re leaving a legacy of faith.

So, to leave a legacy of faith, we need to share our testimony and we need to use our gifts … and now for the final one.  This one isn’t “doing” something… like sharing your testimony or using your gifts, this one is just living a life connected to God and being willing to do what he calls you to do.

This is our third and final one for today: to leave a legacy of faith, follow God’s promptings

A story will help.  This comes from Acts 8, and it’s the story of Philip. Leading up to our verses, Philip was in the midst of a very successful ministry preaching to people and seeing them come to faith in Jesus Christ.  So he was probably busy and tired… and needed rest… And then he has an encounter with an angel of the Lord in 8:26-31.

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

And then we hear about how Philip has the opportunity to share Christ with the Eunuch, and he gets baptized.

A few things about this story that will help us better understand what all is going on.  First, we know from the story that the man is a Eunuch.  What isn’t said, but what everyone would have known, is that as a eunuch, he could visit the temple, but he could never go inside because of the way he was.  Can you imagine being barred from coming to church because of some physical deformity?  He travelled all that way, likely knowing that he was not allowed to enter the temple, but he went anyway and probably sat on the outside.

Philip didn’t know that this man was travelling on this road, that he was a Eunuch… he didn’t know that he was on his way home from visiting Jerusalem.. And he didn’t know that this man was a convert to Judaism.  And he didn’t know that the Eunuch was at a place in his life where he was ready to hear the hope that could only be found in Jesus Christ at that exact moment.  But God did.

All that Philip knew was that God told him to go.  And he went.

Philip was sensitive to God’s leading in his life, and he left a legacy of faith in the life of the Ethiopian Eunuch.  He was probably busy and tired, leading his successful ministry… but he remained sensitive to what God was calling him to do.

I had an encounter like this, where someone was prompted by God by God to do something that I needed.

In high school at the camp I went to growing up, we had worship services in the evening during the week… and I was singing in a time a worship and I lost my voice.  I tried to sing, but no words would come out.  For me, singing is where I most easily connected with God on an intimate level, and where I was in my faith I thought that if I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t worship.  So this was a big deal to me.  It felt like God didn’t WANT me to worship him.

Then I see it… up on the stage, a guy on the worship team playing a tambourine.  I prayed: Dear God, I need that tambourine so that I can worship.

You can’t make this stuff up… A few moments later, this guy Dan, who I never met before, walked off the stage, hands me the tambourine and goes back up and keeps singing.

Dan felt directed by God to do something bizarre.  He probably wanted to know why God was prompting him to do that, but he still did it.

Dan said yes to what God called him to do, and his willingness to be sensitive to the promptings of God resulted in an awkward teenager from Pennsylvania feeling God’s love and presence in a profound way.

We, too have got to follow God’s promptings, even if it seems odd, and even if it seems insignificant… because when we do, our legacy of faith is left in the lives of those who are impacted by God, through us.

And I think there’s one way to do this: ask God to prompt you, and when he does, do it.  It’s not rocket science.  Ask God to prompt you and when he does, do it.

Maybe you will be prompted to go a certain way home.  Maybe you’ll see a young man who is sitting by themselves on a bench at the mall, and God prompts you to just sit down and say hello.. .and when you do, you hear a story that you never dreamed of hearing and you have an opportunity to share your testimony or use your gift that God has given you.

Maybe you see on social media a friend or stranger who has unexpected medical expenses, and you’re compelled to take some of the burden on yourself.

Whatever it is, say yes… and you’ll be leaving a legacy of faith.

Now, it’s tempting for us to hear these three things: sharing our testimony, using our gifts, and follow God’s promptings… and feel like we aren’t a “good enough Christian” or we don’t have the time to do it… or maybe that we’re not equipped, or that it will not be comfortable…

But these three things aren’t for special Christians, this is just what it looks like to be a Christian.  And when we do these things, we will leave a legacy far greater than money, influence, or ideas.  We’ll leave a legacy of faith.

And when we’re in a box some day, our legacy will live on in the hearts and lives of more people than we could ever imagine.

I encourage you to think about how you came to faith this week.  My guess is, in one way or another we are all here because by the grace of God people shared their testimonies, people used their gifts, and people followed God’s promptings.  And with that being the case, how could we not do whatever we can to share him with others, amen?

Sunday Morning

8:15 am: Traditional Worship Service with Nursery
10:45 am: Contemporary Worship Service with Nursery and Children’s Church

512 Hughes Street Bellefonte, PA 16823

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