Monday, July 7, 2014

Workshop of Wonders: Imagining with God

Workshop of Wonders: How NOT to Build with God

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Preached by David Kautt
Community Christian Church, Durant, Oklahoma                            
Sunday Morning, July 6, 2014

Matthew 16:13 -18, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”  So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

God is the Consummate Builder.  Like me, when I was in high school, some of you fellows may have tried your hand in building a desk, an end table or a lampstand.  And, some of you ladies may be skilled in building in other sorts of ways; using fabric and thread or needles and yarn; or even using clay.  Still others of you may have entered into the huge project of building or rebuilding your own home - that one will change your life, won’t it?

Most of us like to build, in one way or another, and some of us are actually pretty good at it.  But, whatever ability we have in building - we must remember – comes from God.  And, even the best of builders, whoever they may be, well, none of them can compare to God.  He is the Consummate Builder, the Best of the best! 

Maybe you’ve never looked at it this way before, but as Creator, God displays His ability to build. 

When I set out to build the one and only piece of furniture I’ve ever fashioned, I did what every other furniture builder does.  I went to the lumber yard to get the supplies I needed.  I utilized what someone else offered to supply to build my desk… But, did you know that God, when He began to build the heavens and the earth, the galaxies and stars, the birds and fishes, the trees and flowers, the beasts and the bumble bees, He began with NOTHING!  Hebrews 11:3 puts it like this: “the worlds were framed by the word of God… the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible!” 

God, the Consummate Creator, the Best Builder of all, simply spoke, and it was done! 

God also manifests His amazing building abilities in how He has gone about building covenant-connections with people - specific people He selected for His purposes, people like Abraham and Moses and David, and groups of people like the Nation of Israel and the tribe of Judah.  Yes, as Relator, Re-lator, God is the Consummate Covenant-Builder! 

Most important of all, as the text we read a moment ago indicates, God, in His Son Jesus Christ, is all about building His Church!  He is intent on carrying out a New Creation building plan, and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, through nails – not that He drove, but that were driven through Him, through His hands and feet – God’s Son, Jesus Christ is bringing that plan to a reality! 

God is the Consummate Builder!  Whether it be as Creator, Relator or Savior, He is the Better Builder, who offers a Better Blueprint (His Word) and who always builds using the best – the ONLY true – foundation: His Son, Jesus Christ. 

God is the Consummate Builder, we’ve said that already, two or three times, haven’t we?  But, here’s the amazing part, the ‘It’ll blow you away’ part: God, the Consummate Builder, He wants you and you and me to ‘go into business’ with Him!  His invitation to us, in other words, is for us to come, and build with Him

Now, you’d think, wouldn’t you, that this would be the easy part for us, right?   I mean, after all, He’s the CONSUMMATE Builder! He doesn’t have to go to Lowe’s for nails and 2-bys.  Yes, He’s the Consummate Builder – Better Blueprint, Better Foundation, Better plan – and all of that… 

But, you know me, don’t you?  And, yes, I know you . . . We’re both like that carpenter Jesus described in Matthew Chapter 7. Do you remember the one I’m talking about?

Jesus’ profile of this carpenter – as He read His ‘ad’ in the Jerusalem County Shopper – went something like this:  “He hears these words of mine”.  Jesus says, “This carpenter listens to Me. He hears My instructions on building, but then he goes and does what he wants to do. Instead of using a rock-solid foundation, set and formed, following My instructions, he does his own thing. He starts every one of the homes he builds the very same way – with a sand pile for a foundation.”

Yes – you know me. And, I know you. And whose blue print do we tend to want to follow?

And, you know what Jesus, the Consummate Builder calls that, don’t you?  Foolish!  Foolishly trying to build – without God!

Brothers and sisters, oh, how we need to drive home this one, simple principle as a take-away from Jesus’ words there in Matthew 7.  It relates to building. Believe me, it does.  Here it is:  we learn - we listen to the Consummate Builder – in order to DO what he says!  We read His blue print, this Book, in order to follow it!

Yes, we can build WITH God, or we can build WITHOUT Him!

Take for example, the farmer Jesus told about in Luke chapter 12. This is that parable about the farmer, whose crops went “Eureka!”  One hundred fold-plus…every plant.  In fact his harvest that year was so abundant that he was faced with a dilemma.  “Do I let some of it, maybe even a lot of it, go to waste, because I don’t have a place to store it? Or… do I tear down my smaller barns, and build bigger ones?”

Wouldn’t you like to have that dilemma for once?  But, listen….

According to Jesus, the Master Builder, this was not just an agricultural-strategy moment, a John Deere moment.  No!  This was a test – a spiritual crossroads moment, a Homer Depot moment for this farmer! Was he going to build with God – for God, or, was he going to build just for himself?  You know, Sit back. Relax. Eat. Drink and be merry.  After all, you’ve got more than enough stored away.  You won’t have to work again for years!”

What was God’s one-word assessment of this man’s decision to build – only for himself – and neglect to be rich toward God?

Luke 12:20:  “Fool!  You fool!  Tonight your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have stored up?”

Building WITH God.  What‘s the financial principle that pertains to building WITH God, that Jesus drives home through this parable?  You know it, don’t you?
God prospers us, not for the sake of BIGGER BARN BUILDING, but for the sake of kingdom of God advancing!

Building – without God.  Carpenters sometimes do it.  I can listen to Jesus. After all, I really do like what He has to say!  I can hear His words. But, when it comes to doing them. Well, don’t count on it.  I’ve got my own blue print to follow!

Then there’s the prosperous, those who do well financially – like the farmer in Jesus’ parable. They can be tempted to build without God also, can’t they? Can’t we?

“God, I’ve made it big this time!  Like Peter and his fishing buddies.  This time…what a haul!  I mean the boats are overflowing with fish!  And, You say You want me to leave all of this, and follow You so I can learn to fish for men?!”

Yes, the prosperous can have those spiritual-crossroads moments, when the choice is between building our empires, and building God’ Kingdom!  Which will we choose?

Building with God – or, yes, building WITHOUT Him.  Which will it be?

Did you know that the Church, yes, even this church is or can be torn in these two different directions?  Let me show you what I mean.  The book of Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3 – the 7 churches of Asia Minor.  Yes, they were real, historical congregations, in actual ancient Greco-Roman cities during the life and ministry of the apostle John. And, yet these churches in many ways portray what churches of today are – or can be

For example, there’s the church of Ephesus, addressed in Revelation 2:1-7.  Like with virtually all the rest of the seven churches, Jesus commends this congregation for some good things He observes in it. Hard working, tough on sin and false teachers, persevering. But, there’s one big problem: Verse 4 “you have left your first love.”  “You shall love the LORD your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength….”

Undoubtedly, these folks knew that command of Jesus.  But, for whatever reason, they had left it, neglected it.  Left, and forsaken Him!

What kind of church is a church that’s being built that doesn’t have Jesus at the center – as its first love?  Is it one that has the preacher’s name in lights.  Or, one that revolves around a favorite elder or teacher or youth worker? Nothing wrong with honoring those people, especially if they are worthy of honor.  But, listen.  Who’s our FIRST love, really?  Who really IS worthy of honor and adoration?
Are we building with God? Or building a “personality cult”?

How about the churches locate in ancient Pergamos and Thyatira.  Revelation 2:12-17 and 2:18-29.  Once again, Jesus commended them for the good He saw in them. But then He confronted the wrong, and called them to repent.  They were allowing teachers and teachings that permitted and promoted idolatry and sexual immorality into their midst: the doctrine of Balaam, the doctrine of the Nicholaitans, then a prophetess referred to as Jezebel.  What kind of church were the congregations likely to be or become, if they continued to tolerate such things?  Would they be building with God, or without Him?

Do you know the answer?

God – the Consummate Builder. Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone.  What kind of church do they want to build? A pleasure-seeking church?  One whose teaching and teachers are leading people to stray into immorality and idolatry?  The answer is “No!”  God intends to build a pure Church, a spotless Bride, and He intends to use His truth, His Word to do it!

Once again, are we building WITH God?  Or, building a church like the ones at Pergamos or Thyatira?

Move across to Revelation, Chapter 3.  And to what Jesus says about the church in Sardis.  Revelation 3, verses 1-6.  This church, oh my!  Along with the church at Laodicea, this church Jesus has absolutely no word of commendation for it! None!  Why not?  I mean – after all – they had a name – a REPUTATION – for being very much ALIVE.  That was the word around town about them, you know what I mean?  But listen – does anybody here know what it means to just sort of GO – THROUGH – THE – MOTIONS?  Does anybody here understand what it means to PLAY CHURCH? 

Revelation 3, one and two:  “These things says He who has the 7 Spirits of God and the 7 stars:  ‘I know your works, that you have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead!  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.’”

Listen, my friends – how can a church build with God if it’s on LIFE SUPPORT and the VITAL SIGNS are fading fast?  PLAYING CHURCH – JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS – is NOT – is NOT – what it means to build with God.

Neither is being LUKEWARM – neither hot nor cold.  Remember the church at Laodicea?  Talk about Building WITHOUT God – this church – this MINDSET – on the part of someone who CLAIMS to be a Christian – may be the worst of all.  Revelation 3, verse 17:  It’s the PERFECTLY SELF-SATISFIED Church.
Listen to how this church talks about itself:  “I am rich – I have become wealthy – I DON’T NEED ANYTHING!”

I guess at that church the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour” had been removed from the hymnal!  Building WITHOUT God – is that the kind of church we are?  Are those the kind of Christians I am – or am becoming?

Building WITH God:  Perhaps – as I wrap up this message – I ought to give you the title of it.  Here it is:  Building WITH God – How NOT to Do It!

You want to build WITHOUT God?  Listen – just listen – but never DO what Jesus says!

You want to build WITHOUT God?  Be rich toward yourself – bigger barns and all – but be skimpy with God.

You want to build WITHOUT God?  Those 5 churches of ancient Asia Minor.  Look at them – closely.  Look at Jesus’ words to them – words, by the way, that were meant for EACH, INDIVIDUAL MEMBER – not merely to the group as a mass!  Look at what Jesus says to them – then, ask yourself, “What kind of church MEMBER am I?”  And, remember – Jesus KNOWS what kind of church member each one of us is – He does!

Listen, my Loved Ones – Jesus intends to Build HIS Church – and believe me – nothing – NO ONE – can prevent Him from doing so.  He WILL build HIS Church – HE WILL!

How about if we help Him?  Let’s help Him, shall we?