> What Time Is It?
January 10, 2016
“What Time Is It?”
1 Corinthians 16:5-9
Throughout a lifetime of reading, there are 2 unforgettable BEGINNINGS to books that I can clearly & easily recall:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .” (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens).
What an appropriate DESCRIPTION of the life of PAUL the apostle! It seems that Paul was CONSTANTLY in CRISIS mode.
“CRISIS” – in Chinese, combination of two characters representing DANGER & OPPORTUNITY.
Text – The Message: “A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here. (There is also mushrooming opposition.)”
This text represents the STORY of Paul’s LIFE. The saying, “out of the frying pan, into the fire” was surely created with this man in mind.
But it is crucial to remember that Paul constantly CAPITALIZED on the current CRISIS before him, thus OPTIMIZING the OPPORTUNITY that God had given him.
The book of Acts:
- Philippi (16)
- Athens (17)
- Jerusalem (22)
- Phil. 1:12-18 – Paul TRANSFORMED every PERSONAL CRISIS into a GOSPEL OPPORTUNITY!
He was not PARALYZED by his daunting circumstances; instead, he was GALVINIZED into greater service to our Lord.
WHAT TIME is it at BABC?
As with Paul, it is a time of DANGER & a time of OPPORTUNITY.
Will we be DAMAGED by the DANGER, or will we OPTIMIZE our OPPORTUNITY in 2016?
Our GREATEST danger, generally speaking, is that we may not be good STEWARDS of the awesome OPPORTUNITY that God has placed before us this year. 2016 could well prove to be the most PIVOTAL year in our church’s history.
There are diverse DIMENSIONS to the DANGERS that we face.
For the most part, I sense an air of OPTIMISM; of eager EXPECTATION; of joyful ANTICIPATION of what God is about to do at BABC.
But Satan is seeking to OVERWHELM that OPTIMISM with the DARK danger of FEAR.
WHERE does such fear BEGIN? During our unique time of TRANSITION, it may BEGIN with:
- CURIOSITY – “I wonder what our future will look like?” But such understandable & healthy curiosity can be MANIPULATED by the enemy, morphing into:
- CONCERN – “What if I don’t AGREE with these changes,” or “I’m not COMFORTABLE with the way these changes are being made.” Such concerns can lead to:
- ANXIETY, which is concern on steroids. Such anxiety can produce UNREST, leaving people feeling INSECURE & UNCERTAIN.
THAT can produce FEAR, & fear UNCHECKED spawns ANGER (which is fear lashing out).
- ANGER often produces damaging WORDS & ACTIONS.
Angry words & actions can create DISSENSION, which can cause:
- DIVISION, which can result in the FRACTURING of FELLOWSHIP.
Altogether, Satan can successfully transform potential GLORY years for the church into GORY years of CONFLICT that may leave PERMANENT DAMAGE & CRIPPLE the church’s NEXT GENERATION.
To some of us, then, God may be asking a penetrating question:
“WHAT are you so AFRAID of?”
If some of us are living in FEAR, we can be SURE that that did not come from GOD, because “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:7)
Understandably, as with ANY church, there are competing CONCEPTS of what BA should BE like & LOOK like in the years to come.
Some of those potential CONCERNS can be captured by some key QUESTIONS:
- WHO will your NEXT PASTOR be?
By the way, PRAY for your NEXT pastor, & pray for the pastor that you’re currently STUCK with.
“Satan hates the church and knows that he can destroy the church by destroying its leaders. For that reason, spiritual leaders tend to face his strongest and most pointed attacks.”
- Will the NEW pastor help fulfill my personal AGENDA for the church?
- Will I have greater LEVERAGE with the next pastor than I have with the current one?
- Will I be able to exert a greater INFLUENCE on him, & on the church in general?
- Will we CARE enough about the NEXT generation to be willing to embrace uncomfortable CHANGE?
For example, would we be willing to eventually add CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP to our Sundays? (Look around you: this is what “comfortable” looks like.)
- Will we understand the crucial concept of COMMUNITY for the church?
- Will each of us accept the personal RESPONSIBILITY that is ours to CREATE & CONTINUE that community?
The DANGERS that we face CAN be DEFEATED, & the OPPORTUNITIES before us can become awesome REALITY, IF we ADHERE to what we genuinely VALUE as a church.
Over the course of the past 1.5 years, your VISION PATHWAY TEAM has been able to ARTICULATE what we strongly believe are Belle Aire’s CORE VALUES, & each value is SUPPORTED by SCRIPTURE.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 PRAYER – “pray without ceasing.”
- 2 Timothy 3:16 TRUTH – “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
- Deuteronomy 6:7 FAMILIES – “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 GROWTH – “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
- John 4:23 WORSHIP – “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”
- Acts 1:8 MISSIONS – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- Galatians 3:28 DIVERSITY – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Keeping our FIRST TWO VALUES in mind, here is my PERSPECTIVE, in these beginning days of 2016:
SPIRITUAL WARFARE is REAL: Ephesians 6:10-13.
As we ENGAGE in this ongoing war, we must remember that we are on the SAME SIDE in this battle!
Whenever believers FORGET this critical distinction, they begin SHOOTING AT one another, sometimes resulting in some SERIOUS WOUNDS.
Take PASTORS, for example: “Pastors face constant scrutiny. Week by week they bare themselves before their congregation and week by week they face critique and rebuke. Often the most withering attacks come from those they love the most.”
There is the NEED & the OPPORTUNITY for REVIVAL.
To WIN the BATTLE, & to EXPERIENCE REVIVAL:
- We must STAND UPON the TRUTH. In order to STAND upon the truth:
- We must be SATURATED in God’s Word.
- We must SUBMIT to its AUTHORITY – i.e., our lives are not to be merely AFFECTED by the Bible, but DIRECTED by the Bible (what’s your Bible-reading PLAN for 2016?).
- We must get SERIOUS about PRAYER.
As 2016 begins, you & I will have many ongoing OPPORTUNITIES to OPTIMIZE our PRAYER lives.
Will we ACT ON those opportunities?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
It is a time of DANGER, & it is a time of OPPORTUNITY.
Will the DANGER DESTROY us, or
Will the OPPORTUNITY FREE us?
WHAT TIME is it?
What time is it at BABC?
What time is it in YOUR life?