In this sermon Tim recaps an amazing year at Manly Life and calls us to remember what we have been taught and put it into action, do we look any different as a church or as individuals since the beginning of the year – have we grown in our faith? Let’s end the year well and join with what God is doing!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday November 27, 2022.
05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series – Manly Life Church Podcast
- 05/02/23 – John 12:20-33 Following Jesus & Intro – by Tim Giovanelli – The Farewell Discourse Series
- 29/01/23 – The Glory of Christ – Greg Beech
- 22/01/23 – Luke 15:1-8 God's Heart for the Lost – by Lani Daniel
- 15/01/23 – 1 John 4:11 Friendship In Church by Tim Giovanelli
- 08/01/23 – Philipians 3:17-4:4 Stand Firm in 2023 – by Peter Brooks
Welcome and introductions…
- Well while the year comes into land… it feels a bit like things are taking off for Christmas at Manly Life… waterworks…
- Gingerbread, Christmas kids production on 18th, Christmas Eve and day
- It’s been a big year and a good year. Seen people come to faith, baptisms, weekend away for our 10th anniversary, some farewells but also lots of new people… weddings… babies…
- It’s community… it is doing life together.
- And doing life together also means the hard stuff… in the midst of community and friendship, we experience grief and struggles and pain…
- Some of you will know we took Oli and Katie’s wedding on his family property in Eugowra a few weeks ago… floods…
- What I’ve learned is that we are called to faithfulness, no matter what is going on, because we follow a good and faithful saviour.
Cass Mathew’s suggested in 2019 that I do a sermon summarizing all that we had learnt that year…
- Which I did in 2019…
- That year we did the Book of Proverbs about wisdom and then the Book of Revelation… then in 2020 the world turned a bit Book of Revelation…
- Haha… but the following two years I can basically summarize as Covid sucks and online church is not the future…
- So back to this year… and despite some limitations and a bit of mask wearing at the start of the year… has been somewhat back to normal.
Q: What have we done this year? Can anyone remember our series or talks?
- In fairness, sometimes by Tuesday I have forgotten what I preached on the last Sunday…
- And its actually one of the reasons we are so keen for everyone to be in a Life Group, because the Sunday passage is studied and discussed… and that helps it go in a bit deeper…
- Well we did two major series this year… one called What Did Jesus Teach? on the Sermon on the Mount and one on the Holy Spirit as God’s empowering presence.
- So how do you summarize that?
- Maybe something like… what life in the Kingdom of heaven looks like… and then how to be empowered to live that life in the kingdom.
But the Sermon on the Mount as this amazing three chapters of Jesus teaching in Matthews gospel of what life looks like as children of God as citizens of the kingdom of heaven!
- Of course my favourite sermon in that series was when I just read the Sermon on the Mount, all 15 minutes of it, in full… that certainly cut down my preparation time.
- But we get this radical, upside down life that followers of Jesus are called to live
- And at the end of the sermon he says those who put my words into practice are like wise people who build their house on the rock.
- The idea being that there will be storms in life, so build your life wisely so that it wont come crashing down.
- And so much gold in the sermon on the mount…
- The blessed life described in the beatitudes, the call to love our enemies and forgive those who sin against us… to be people who seek first the kingdom of God…
And then the Holy Spirit series where we looked at different ways, God’s presence comes to empower the Christ in us life of you and me, and the church
- I thought that was just such a good series for our church…
- Because not only did we learn about the Holy Spirit, but we got so many opportunities to receive and be filled with the Spirit
- And to give things a go… praying for someone… using our gifts…
- Being filled with the love of God… asking for the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us!
- Moment at a worship night… prophetic words, praying for healing, God touching people’s lives… happy Pastor…
You know one of the big things that us Baptists have always gone on about is the priesthood of all believers…
- The idea being, that in the church everyone has a role to play… not just some super anointed guy in a white suit.
- So as we get filled with the presence of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, we can minister to one another, and to the world around us!
So there you go… the Sermon on the Mount, the Holy Spirit…
- If its your first time at Manly Life today, then you’ve basically caught up on all we have done this year…
- Be good and be filled with God…
Today is also a baptism service!
Right after the service finishes we are going to head into the courtyard and baptise Cornelis…
- For Victoria and I, and us as a church community, there can be no greater joy than seeing people put their trust in Jesus and decide to follow him as their Lord and saviour.
- And this year we also baptised Trish and Hope – so good!
- But one of the joys in leading a church is having people like Cornelis in our community. He and Maren have been such a blessing to us and their Life Group.
- And to see this Dutch water engineer be so on fire for Jesus has just been wonderful.
Baptism is this amazing Christian proclamation about who you are following and new life you have in Christ.
- Jesus was of course baptized…
- And in the early church when someone heard the good news of the gospel and responded, they were then baptised.
- And what it symbolizes in going under the water is a participation in the death of Jesus
- And then rising out of the water, participating in Jesus resurrection and the promise of new life.
- Dying to your sins, and rising to new life in Christ. So cool. It says I belong to Jesus.
So for Cornelis today, he has put his trust in Jesus as Lord!
- I love that word Lord… not one we use that term much these days… We don’t go around greeting people My Lord and my Lady…
- But as we learnt a bit last week – In the ancient world Caesar was Lord. That was the Roman emperor who ruled a huge swath of the known world.
- It meant he was sovereign and in control. Indeed he was seen as a God on earth. You find coins saying Caesar is Lord.
- So it means you are under his jurisdiction… his rules for living, his kingdom.
- If you wanted to live in Rome as a citizen of the Empire… you followed Caesar’s decree’s.
- So in our Sermon on the Mount series we saw what it looks like to live for a different King!
And that has always been the confession we make to become Christians…
It is the confession of Thomas after he meets Jesus, risen from the dead. He goes “My Lord and my God…”
- It is in the book of Acts – most basic confession signifying someone is a Christian.
- Peter in the cracking first sermon that leads to 3,000 people believing and getting baptized says “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved!”
- He says, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
- So what I will ask these Cornelis before being baptized is do you confess Jesus as your Lord and saviour?
- Is he your king and do you want to live in his kingdom?
And this is a big call!
- Not like changing from coke to pepsi, or changing from being a goth to a hipster, or changing from riding short boards to long boards…
- You are making a call about who is your king! Whom you will serve.
- Who is the main hope, the main shaper, the main authority in your life.
In doing so much NT and Jesus this year, hopefully you’ve seen that it is a demanding message.
- Of course our tendency is to set the bar so low for following Jesus so as to make it palatable
- Sometimes I think we get confused and think our mission is to make Jesus popular.
- You know… its ok to be cool and Christian because Jesus is cool…
- I mean if Justin Bieber is a Christian… then…
- And of course we are saved by grace, not what we achieve or our own moral uprightness…
- But sometimes in our desire to make faith accessible we set the bar pretty low for what trusting and following Jesus looks like.
And the result of course is that Christians become basically indistinguishable from the rest of the world…
- In other words, who is Lord would be hard to tell…
- A good question is: have you begun to shape the world around you, or is the world around you still shaping you?
- Alive fish swim against the tide, dead ones float down stream with everything else…
- The technical terms for this is syncretism… its where you basically adopt and blend in with your Christianity, opposing views and values…
- So your faith should make a difference… it should set you apart!
In the spirit of setting the bar nice and low, here are some things Jesus never said…
John 8 to the woman caught in adultery; “Neither do I condemn you, now go lead a very sinful life…”
- Then there was the time Jesus didn’t teach us to pray in the Sermon on the Mount; “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name… now give me what I want… gimme, gimme, gimme…”
- Or my favourite; “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice (when it suits them), is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Well, what we have learned from Jesus this year is how to live well in the kingdom of God, as God’s children…
- I guess these are my charges to Trish and Hope and Cornelis this year, but also for all of us today.
- Come to this Jesus as your Lord and then live well and empowered in his kingdom.
- You will be turned right side up, you will have your heart reoriented towards good, you will learn a solid foundation that will help you endure the storms of life!
So the establishing of the kingdom of God was Jesus main focus! Do a word search – it is amazing how often it comes up!
- Jesus said I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom
- He said; The kingdom is here
- The kingdom is within you
- Go and proclaim the kingdom
- Heal the sick and tell them the kingdom of God has come near
- Pray Our Father in heaven, your kingdom come, your will be done.
- The kingdom has come upon you
- Seek his Kingdom and these things will be given to you
- What’s the kingdom of God like? Its like a mustard seed, its like yeast
- Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast of the kingdom
- The good news of the kingdom is being preached
- Know that the kingdom of God is near
- I confer on you a kingdom
- Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom
- Get it yet? And this is all just from Luke’s gospel…
Someone at my swim group was asking me something about some obscure doctrine the other day.
- I must admit I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said “I don’t know?”
- But I can tell you about the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus came to establish. It is simply a reality where God is king and things are restored.
- See you got to minor on the minors and major on the majors.
- And guys if you want to know what the main game is – it is… the kingdom!
Mark 1:14 NIV
“Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come”, he said, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.”
Dallas Willard paraphrases that verse
“Jesus then came into Galilee announcing the good news from God. ‘All the preliminaries have been taken care of’ he said, ‘and the rule of God is now accessible to everyone. Review your plans for living and base your life on this remarkable new opportunity.”
So what is this remarkable opportunity?
Growing up, one of my favourite film series was Back to the future – you know Michael J Fox…
- But one of the protagonists Biff Tannen steals the time machine, goes to the future and when he comes back…
- He gives his younger self a book containing 50 years of sports statistics
- The young Biff uses this to amass an enormous gambling fortune and transform idyllic Hill Valley into a living hell.
- Biff brings back something from the future and that changes everything…
So in initiating the Kingdom of God, Jesus does this (but instead of using it to bring back a bad future… Jesus brings God’s good future into our world today)…
- The kingdom was this future hope Israel had where God would heal the sick, end suffering, bring forgiveness and grace. Basically it is heaven.
- In sending Jesus into the world, God is sending his son to release the future now!
- That is why our main prayer is let your kingdom come!
- Our prayer is to be; God, release this future restoration in the here and now!
- Let this kingdom where your rule is perfect, come here in our broken world today!
So that is the remarkable new opportunity – to live under God’s future rule, right here and now!
Jesus spills the future out onto people… the restoration at the end, breaks into the now.
- So we watch it tip out on people. As the kingdom is announced and demonstrated…
- On the woman caught in adultery…she receives grace and truth
- To the lame: Get up and walk!
- To the blind: Open your eyes and see!
- To the lost and broken: Your sins are forgiven!
- And the ethics of the kingdom: Love your neighbor as yourself!
- Forgive those who sin against you!
But to get in on what God is doing (this remarkable new opportunity) we are told we must repent and believe…
So repent: see it has all been good news, but what about now? You may ask – does that mean I have to repent, what do you mean I have to change things?
- I read a good definition of sin: It’s the difference between how our lives are, and what they should be.
- I think as we reflect on our lives… we know there is a gap!
- I remember when I came to follow Jesus this conviction that my life was not as it should be.
- I wasn’t treating people the right way, I was living for myself, I was easily swayed!
- My life was out of sync with God’s intention for it.
- Like a fish on a bicycle. Not what it was created for or to do.
And the clearest sign that we have repented is our lives are lining up with the kingdom…
- That the gap between how are lives should be, and how they are, is closing.
- Not just about saying sorry…
- Sorry is easy, turning your life in a new direction is the challenge…
Many year ago in my other life as a corporate titan in London I used to do a lot of travel for work in Europe
- Getting lost in Switzerland… crossing the boarder into France…
- Saying sorry or feeling bad about going in the wrong direction isn’t going to help…
- Need to turn around and drive in the right direction with the right map to follow…
- To follow Jesus is to turn around, and embrace the direction and God’s will for our lives.
When his Gospel gets hold of us we cannot help but change… the more we learn, the more God is at work in our lives, the more we will want to re-orient our lives towards Jesus.
- I wonder if you need to do that today? To believe and turn around.
- Heading in the wrong direction, out of sync
- Jesus wants to pour the future into your present.
- To bring the love of God into our lives…
- To bring healing and restoration into your life.
- Turn your life over to Jesus, and let him be Lord.
Finally, we spend the rest of our lives working out what our citizenship in heaven means…
- So we’ve come to believe he is Lord, we have turned from our sin… and then we become children of God who take on the family likeness…
- Ephesians 2… says… “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers (no longer on the outside of all of this), but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”
- And that citizenship is the best passport you will ever have. It is becoming a citizen of heaven, that is citizens in a new kingdom with a new King.
- Paul will encourage you simply in Philippians as citizen of heaven: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel.
So to all of us, to Cornelis, when the Gospel gets a hold of your life remarkable things begin to happen.
- It doesn’t mean all of life becomes easy
- I mean in the sermon on the mount Jesus said you’re blessed when you are persecuted for his sake and for living righteously…
- It doesn’t mean we see the fullness of the kingdom – that will happen when we pass away into glory
- But it does mean God is now alive in you… Changing your character, forgiving your sins, and giving you a purpose
- Pouring this future hope into your lives now.
- And that friends, is the year in review! Bring on Christmas…