Why are We Here, Where are We Going, and How Do You Seek God's Plan

Steve Viars January 5, 2008 Hebrews 11:8-19

- This morning we’d like to kick off 2008 by talking about Why are We Here, Where are We Going, and How Do You Fit In?

- Those who have been around our church know that we always begin the New Year this way because it is crucial for everybody on the team to have clear answers to each of those questions...

1. Why are we here?...what is our essential mission?...what are our core values?...why do we exist and what are we trying to produce?...and what authority and source of truth do we use to make those determinations?...all of that is critical...

2. Once that is universally understood by everybody on the house, where are we going?...

- where do we think we are now in the accomplishment of that mission?...and what are the specific steps we hope to take in the coming 12 months to get as far as we can toward the overall goal?...how do we best invest the resources God has given us, where are we going this year?...that is a very different question...

3. How do you fit in?...I hope everybody here will be asking this morning, is there a place for me in all of this?...each person here has been given by God gifts and abilities and talents and opportunities...and some day you will stand before Him and give an account for how you used what He had given...a very fair question to ask would be, is there a place for me here in all of this where I can be a good and faithful steward of what God has entrusted to me?...where do you fit in?...

- now, let’s take a minute and review some things that every person in our church needs to know...our mission statement and core values...

The mission of Faith Baptist Church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples.

- we take that directly from the Word of God where Jesus told His followers... Matthew 28:19-20 - Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

- in other words, God has a mission...of drawing men and women to Himself through the finished work of His Son on the cross...

- He offers forgiveness, and a personal relationship with Him that is real, and vibrant, and life-changing...He offers purpose and joy and meaning to all who will come to Him in repentance and faith...

- and He has given us the marvelous privilege of being ambassadors of that message...

- and along with the assignment comes marvelous promises...like this:

- Matthew 16:18 - ...upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

  - in other words, this is not an assignment that we have to figure out on our own...

- we’re talking about a mission in which we cooperate with the King...this is His church...both in this spot and everywhere that people call on the name of Christ...and He has promised to build it...we can also be sure of this...

- Hebrews 6:10 - For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

- so our mission is one that we believe has been given to us by God Himself...and that is more than enough to fire us up...

- to provide direction to that...our church family has established 5 core values...and they function as the skeleton on which we hang our planning initiatives...

Core Values

1. Growing Stronger – believing that God has a plan for every Christian’s growth, and that He wants godly lives and families built.

- one of the great things about the Lord is that He will meet you wherever you are...but He has no intention of leaving you there...

- remember that key phrase in the Great Commission – teaching them to observe...a person has not truly learned something until they are doing it...

- so the doctrine of progressive sanctification, specifically how a person changes, and in what ways...must always be an emphasis...

- judgment begins at the household of God...

- allowing God to change us is what gives our message to others credibility and power...

2. Reaching Out – believing that a changed life enables us to reach those without Christ in a way that is faithful and creative.

- that is the “making disciples” part of the equation...

- encouraging others to give their life to Christ...to consider trusting Him and savior and Lord...

- and we believe first that is an individual responsibility...so we want to always be equipping our church members to be able to share their faith in a way that is winsome and wise...

- we also believe it is a corporate responsibility...so we always have initiatives each year that focus on outreach...we want to be passionate about that...

- we also believe this is a global responsibility...so reaching out embraces what we are trying to do around the corner but it also speaks to what we are trying to do around the world...

3. Serving Together – believing that God wants us to challenge and equip our members to serve Him, and that He wants every member serving.

- there isn’t a team of elves that come in in the middle of the night and makes this happen...

- God has gifted His people to accomplish His plan...

- that is why we stubbornly avoid the temptation to become a staff run church where paid people are the star performers doing all the work of the ministry...

- that approach is patently unbiblical...

- pastors exist to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry...and without apology we encourage every person who is part of our church family to be involved in some aspect of serving...so that we are all pulling on the plow together...

4. Meeting Needs – believing that our church should address community concerns by doing good works and sharing biblical truths.

- we’ll talk about this more from the book of Hebrews in a moment...but we believe Christ’s church ought to have a positive impact in the community...

- Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

- that’s not something Sam Walton came up with...and many churches are not accomplishing much because they have very little concern, interest, or involvement in the community in which God has placed them...

5. Strengthening Others – believing that God is pleased as we seek to strengthen other pastors, missionaries, and key lay leaders.

- we want to care not just about us, but about other local churches, and church leaders around the sate, around the country, and around the world...and we want to have specific planning initiatives each year that put feel to that concern...

- that answers the question...why are we here?...

- and I hope as you consider such matters, your response is---what a great privilege it is to be part of a mission given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself...to be on His team, working on His purposes is the greatest privilege in the world...

- now, where are we going?...how do we hope to walk this out in 2008?...

- let me invite you to open your Bible to Hebrews chapter 10 this morning...page 174 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...this is a marvelous passage of Scripture...

- and it provides several principles to guide our thinking this morning about this upcoming year...

- read Hebrews 11:8-19...

- there are a lot of observations we could make about Abraham from these verses...

- clearly he was a man of faith...in fact if you are familiar with the Bible you know that this entire chapter is filled with people who lived...by faith...in fact it is sometimes referred to as the faith hall of fame...

- you also get the impression that Abraham is on a journey...God is taking he and his family somewhere and Abraham is following that plan...

- it is also clear that he doesn’t know all the details yet...that phrase in verse 8 “he went out not knowing where he was going” is an interesting description of what it means to live by faith...

- that is why Solomon said -- Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

- the reason we’re studying this passage this morning is because the theme we’ve selected for 2008 is Seeking God’s Plan.

- the obvious reason for that choice is that this year we have the privilege of formulating our next 5 year strategic ministry plan...and we’ll more to say about that in a little bit...

- but even beyond that, we would like that concept to impact and inform many of our ministry endeavors...what is God’s plan for that are of life?...and that area of ministry?

- from these verses, I believe we can find 3 descriptions of the kind of people we want to be in 2008.

I. We Want to Be People Who Faithfully Obey Our Calling – Hebrews 11:8-12.

- the Bible teaches that:

A. God calls people to know and serve Him.

- The man this passage is about, Abraham, was called of God very early in biblical history...

- if you were with us last week, we talked about King David who reigned around 1000 BC...and King Hezekiah, who ruled over the nation of Judah around 728 BC...

- Bible students believe that Abraham lived around 2165 BC...you can read all about the unusual way God called him beginning in Genesis chapter 12...but it is interesting that Hebrews 11 would describe his story with the words 11:8 - when he was called.

- you could also trace this same theme throughout the Word of God...about how God calls people to Himself...

1. to salvation.

 - that is why Paul would address the Romans Christians as people who wereRomans 1:6-7 - among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. to sanctification.

- Ephesians 4:1 - Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

- 1 Thessalonians 4:7 - For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

3. to service.

- 2 Timothy 1:8-9 - Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

B. You (and we) have to decide if we are going to obey the call.

- 11:8 – by faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed.

- God uses people who choose to obey Him...

- that’s true even of becoming a Christian...that’s why Paul spoke of people in Romans 10 who...Romans 10:16 - But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

- if you’re here this morning and you’ve not yet trusted Christ, it would be important for me to communicate to you that the message of salvation is not only a gift to be received, or a message to be embraced, it is also a command to be obeyed...

- it’s also true of the call to sanctification and service...

- and just like Abraham, we want God to find us this year to be faithful to the calling He has given to us...

- something else that stands out about this passage is that...

C. This calling is flooded with promises.

- we saw that emphasis throughout the text...

- v. 9 – a land of promise

- v. 9 – fellow heirs of the same promise

- v. 11 – she considered faithful who had promised

- it is not irrational for us to work hard at accomplishing the mission God has given us when we consider the attendant promises that are involved both for us and for those who might positively respond to the message of Christ...

- we would agree with the apostle Peter who described the Lord as One who had 2 Peter 1:4 - For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

- something else that kept Abraham going was the fact that...

D. This calling has a specific destination.

- Hebrews 11:10 – for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

- if you really believe that the Lord has secured a place for you in heaven solely on the basis of His grace, then whatever He might want you to accomplish for Him today seems like a very reasonable request...

- in fact, isn’t that exactly how Paul referred to it in Romans 12...

- Romans 12:1 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

- one other observation from verses 8-12...

E. Obeying this calling will allow you (and us) to accomplish amazing things.

- Abraham and Sarah were really old when Isaac was born...so that there was no doubt that this journey they were on was being divinely blessed by the God they were following...

- and don’t you love the way Abraham is described in verse 12?...

- Hebrews 11:12 - Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

- see, when Isaac was born, nobody said – Abraham is really a great man...no, they said, Abraham has really found a great God...

- as this dear couple faithfully sought God’s plan, they were used in ways that were nothing short of astounding...because God wants to use His people to glorify Himself...

- now, where does that leave us?...

F. Aspects of our calling today?

1. Called us to grow spiritually.

- 2 Peter 3:18 - but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

- would you please look at the initiatives listed under Growing Stronger with me for a moment?....

- I would urge every person here to plan to take time in the next week to carefully read and prayerfully consider the importance of each of these initiatives...

- I’m not trying to be over-dramatic here---but this really is one of the most important documents we will distribute to our church family this year...

- and a lot of thought has gone into each one of these statements...

- under growing stronger, I would challenge each person here to commit yourself to faithfully attend our worship services this year...

- if you would like to know exactly what we are going to be studying, the preaching schedule for the year is posted on our web site...

- I also want to challenge every adult to join an Adult Bible Fellowship...

- this is by far the single most important step that you could take to build relationships here, and be connected to what is happening in our church family...

- in your bulletin there is also some information about some very important classes coming up on Wednesday nights (develop)

- Men, you’ll also notice that we’re bringing back Men of Faith on the third Saturday of each month at 6:00 am...(develop)

- I also want to challenge you to make a goal to build stronger friendships this year...

- the church is a body, a family...(start by being here tonight)...

- the goal is that at the end of this year, everyone associated with our church is closer in your walk with Christ, and you have taken specific, practical steps of growth to become more pleasing to Him, and you have built more significant, meaningful friendships with others...

2. Called to share Christ with others.

- John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

- Scripture refers to us with words like witnesses, and ambassadors...that is a significant aspect of our calling about which we should be passionate as individuals and as a church...

- please notice the specific initiatives...

a. Project Jerusalem – Marc and Jay Mears will be heading that important ministry up to those who are moving into our neighborhoods...

b. Our third ministry trip to Moldova – thank you for your generosity to the people of that country (also thank Dave Selvey) – what a marvelous privilege it is to serve the dear people of that needy country

c. We hope to establish a similar relationship with people in Brazil – having Sasha as one of our interns makes that a natural connection we want to explore...

d. we also are planning 2 sermon series this year that are specifically geared toward outreach...

- you might look at either of these two categories (growing stronger, reaching out) and say, but PV, I feel overwhelmed because I have so many ways to grow (can God really use me?), or I have so many questions (can I really help anyone else come to know the Lord?)...

- what was it that we learned about Abraham?...he was “as good as dead at that”...

- do you know anybody else like that?...we were dead spiritually...and sometimes when we look at our energy, our resources, or challenges...we might still feel like that...

- when you come to the end of yourself, often that is when God can really use you...

- 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 - For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

- the beautiful thing about this year is that we are not building any buildings, we’re not managing capital campaigns...there are a lot of things that could easily distract us that we do not have to be concerned about this year...that means that we ought to be able to plow a lot of ground in the accomplishment of the bread and butter aspects of our mission...

- I would encourage you right now to pray to the Lord and say...

- Father, with your help I want to grow spiritually this year, and help others grow as well...

- Father, with your help, I want to do a better job of reaching out than ever before...

- now, let’s go back to the book of Hebrews for a minute...a second description we find here that can really guide us is...

II. We Want to Be People Who Rightly Relate to Our World – vv. 13-16.

- one of the reasons that many churches are not accomplishing much for God is because the relationship they have with the world is incorrect...and there are two extremes that have to be avoided...

- on the one hand is the issue of worldliness...too many of God’s people are in love with the world...they have embraced the world’s values, and the world’s way of thinking about life and relationships and destiny and power...

- so church to them is really a formality...it’s a duty...often it’s a drudgery...because their real home is the world...that’s where they’re most comfortable...

- people like that are never going to accomplish much for God...they will not advance the ball...they won’t be fired up about the mission because they don’t see much that’s wrong with the world or much that should concern them...

- so they can sit in a class, or an office, or a neighborhood...with a person who does not know the Lord and never care enough to say a word about it...

- this is the individual who has a friend or a co-worker say---I didn’t know you were a Christian, that thought would have never occurred to me...

- it’s the old saying – if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?...

- this passage is telling us that Abraham and Sarah did not view this world as their home...

A. We are strangers and aliens on this earth.

- and that does not mean that we are going to carry ourselves in some self-righteous fashion...or stand out just to stand out...

- but there will be a difference because of the fundamental difference in the identity of our God and the nature of worldview...(which is distinctively and apologetically Christ-centered)...

- but here’s the ditch on the other side of that equation...some Christians have gone to such an extreme in separating from the values of the world that they have alienated themselves from the people of our world...

- that is a very ungodly, and ineffective extreme in which to live...

- that is where the argument of verses 15-16 come in (develop)...

B. We are thinking a lot about a better country, a heavenly one, and how to encourage others to find a way to get there.

- that’s where the initiatives under Serving Together and Meeting Needs fit in to the discussion...and let me take them in reverse order on purpose...

1. we want to do everything we can to launch VOH successfully... and we understand that that will change the complexion of our church family, and we say, bring it on...

2. I am happy to announce to you that a company, owned by several members of our congregation and where several of our church members work, has just purchased the 90 acres contiguous to our eastern and part of our northern boundaries...that is all of the remaining land between our site and PineView Lane...

- they did that to be sure that that land did not fall into anyone else’s hands...

- they are planning how to develop the southern potion of the property...

- they want to work with us in any way we desire...and are now willing to sell any of the remaining property to the church at their cost...

- Numbers 3-7 are some of the most important initiatives...

- we are in a better place than ever in our history in our ability to do community based outreach ministry...

- but we have a lot to learn...and a lot to develop...

- so we view this year as a time when, now that the facilities are built, we can focus on using them in a mission driven fashion...

- we are already seeing some great things...we intend to work in a much hard, and focused direction to accomplish more in the way of reaping what we’ve sown...

- you might say...but where are we going to get people who will serve in those ways?...

- with heavenly minded people...

- in serving together (#2), we will continue to use our Human Resource coordinators to link willing servants with meaningful serving opportunities...

- however we also want to put additional effort into using our deacon’s care groups, and our ABF team leaders, to help folks find ways to use the gifts God has given them...

- you can expect your deacon, and your ABF team leader to be talking with you about ways you’re serving...not in a badgering fashion, but in a helpful fashion...

- we also want to emphasize the matter of raising up the next generation (cf. #5) – (develop LN set up day)

- we also intend to work harder at developing a spirit of service excellence ministry wide...

- now, in that context, we also have the privilege this year of developing our next 5 year strategic ministry plan...

- this will be our third formal SMP...

- that is not to say that we didn’t plan before that...but as our congregation grew, we saw the need for a more formalized process...

- and many of us would say that humanly speaking, this has been one of the most important things we’ve done...

- the committee is already is place...the next step will be to survey our congregation, or neighbors, community leaders, and anyone else from our town who would like to give us input about ways we can improve our service and ministry to our community...

- Lord willing, at this year’s Stewardship Banquet, we will have at each place setting a printed copy of our new SMP...

- now, you might hear all of this and say...this is going to require some sacrifice...

- that’s where verses 17-19 fit in...

III. We Want to Be People Who Sacrificially Offer God Our Very Best.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video