Enjoy His Grace – Extend His Glory

John 6: 22-29

 If I where to pick an attitude, or a mind set that describes why we have the problems we do in America today, in the family unit, in marriage, in society, and even in church it would be the subject of selfishness. This preoccupation with self today has spun a whirlwind of problems in all kinds of relationships and organizations  entitlement   I’m owed   I deserve  

Are you a selfish Christian? 

That seems like a terrible thing to ask someone –we don’t want to be selfish – we know it is a bad attribute  yet when I examine my own life, I have to admit that there are times when I fall into that category? 

Are we a selfish congregation?   There are times when we fall into that category.

Story told in the 6th chapter of John. WOW  free lunch.  I read you the first part of that story. Jesus withdrew by himself but it wasn’t long until they found him. By the time they find him, they are hungry again.

Pickup the story – read text. 22-29

They want an encore – more food.  When Jesus shuts down the all you can eat buffet, the people aren’t very happy.  You’re not looking for me, you’re looking for my food.

As we go down through the chapter, Jesus says I am the bread of life – feed on me.  Vs. 66 there is a very telling verse – when they discovered that it wasn’t a hand out, it was a hand up and the real agenda was a lifestyle of following after Jesus – “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

In other words they wanted the grace of God, they just didn’t want to extend his glory.

Jesus doesn’t wring his hands and say o my – what will I do now – some people have left. As they leave, Jesus didn’t say – whoa come back – I”ll lessen the requirements; I’ll give you more food if you’ll stay around. He doesn’t send the disciples after them promising to give them ice cream next time. He seems ok with the fact that some will leave him because of His teaching.

This story has a great deal to say to us both individually and as a congregation.  We come to Christ for what he can do for us.  We live for Christ because what he has done for us not so we can get more free bread but so we can extend his glory to others. A paradigm shift that we must make as Christians if we are to influence our communities.  Some never make that shift. 

We began this series by saying we must be a word and deed church – not neglecting either area. Today we want to internally examine ourselves and our congregation to make sure we are not self centered but Christ centered.

As your pastor, I want to make coming to Jesus as easy as possible, as attractive as possible, as comfortable as possible.  My greatest desire is to see people come to Christ.  I don’t think that is wrong.  But having received his grace, we have an obligation to extend his glory. Jesus wants more than a one day commitment. He is looking for a partnership. He provides all the resources – asks us to share what we have been given. We begin this journey of faith that leads us into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ and becomes the center point of our lives. 

Look at some scripture: 

Consider why God formed us in the first place.  Gen. 1: 27-28   made in the image of God  - separated by gender – what is the first thing God does when we are made?  Blesses us.  that’s not the end –Adam and Eve -here’s what you are suppose to do:  be fruitful – subdue the earth – rule over it   in other words:  extend my glory.  Don’t keep it to yourself.

Gen. 12: 2-3    once again we see God desiring to bless his people – I will bless you.  Whoopee   by the way you will be a blessing – all the peoples will be blessed through you.    How are they going to know my glory if you don’t share it with others.  Abraham was the conduit through which God blessed the world – eventually through his seed came Jesus who fulfilled this prophetic statement because Jesus is the fulfillment of the law.

We do not want to be Christians who simply accept all of the blessings of God and say thanks and do nothing with it except to ask for more blessings. To do so is a narcissist Christian.  To receive blessings while doing nothing is narcissistic. Self centered

We cannot be a congregation who has been greatly blessed by God and say thanks Lord and ignore the spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical need of the people around us. To do so makes us a narcissistic congregation.  I’m not going to let that happen.

 Our goal is not to get more people to come to church so we can have a bigger budget. our goal is to gather together for worship, fellowship, teaching, and training so we can go into the world influencing people for Christ. If in the process more people come, that’s great; if in the process some say: I just came for the bread – I don’t want a commitment – it might mean we have less people.

What is the message of the gospel?  “God loves you and sent his son Jesus to die for your sins”  absolutely unequivacalby true – heart of the gospel.  We all need a Savior.  Forgiveness   to be loved   to know someone cares. 

If we stop there, we become self centered narcissistic Christians.  Christianity becomes about me.  God I want more bread  - give me more blessings. View everything as to how we are blessed or our needs are met.

            Does the music suit my taste?

            Does the program meet my needs?

            Does it cater to my generation?

            Do they give me what I want? 

Evaluate everything about the church in relation to how it affects me – not whether it is God’s design for our congregation.  In effect we are asking God to bless me over and over without saying:  how can I extend your glory? 

Eph. 2:8-9 is a very familiar often quoted verse about the grace of God.  We usually stop there.

Vs. 10  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Enjoy my grace, extend my glory.

We cannot disassociate the privileges of Christianity from the responsibilities of Christianity.

Responsibility, obligation, obedience   we don’t like those words   they imply accountability and in America we often rebel – I’m going to do my own thing – no body is going to tell me . . . .

The privileges of being a Christian are mind boggling.

            Forgiveness of our sins

            Guidance by the Holy Spirit

            Wisdom lessons from God’s word

            Communication with God’s spirit

            Fellowship of God’s people

            Intimacy with God’s son Jesus

On and on we could go.  Is it right for us to receive all of these blessings and then ask for more without ever doing something about extending his glory?

How can we extend his glory?

1.  giving to the Lord.

Bible teaches us we need to give to the Lord.  I believe in the tithe but even if you don’t believe in the tithe, it is inescapable that God loves a cheerful generous giver.

Some of you have received multiple blessings from God in many different ways.  Gladly welcomed his grace.  But when it comes time to honor your obligation to give unto the Lord, you don’t do it.

Some have been coming to this church for a long time, enjoyed the benefits of this building, our worship services, our teaching, our training of your children, our prayers for your well being and have never given back to the Lord for his blessings.

I know we are in hard times, some of you have lost jobs, some have been downsized, tight budgets.   But once your basic needs are met, I am not sure how you can enjoy the luxuries and conveniences of our society without at least giving a portion of that to the Lord so we can extend his glory.

2.  witnessing for the Lord

You have received the grace of God through salvation – the forgiveness of your sins.  Are you ashamed of that – then why don’t you share your story at appropriate times in appropriate ways to those around you. Witnessing for the Lord is far more than giving them the 4 spiritual laws.

We witness by the way we live our lives. Do you actions, the way you treat other people, the words from your mouth, the attitudes of your heart extend God’s glory? 

There is a balance here. We don’t want to be a closet Christian?  I hope no one finds out I’m a Christian.  Neither do we want to be an obnoxious, arrogant, or condescending Christian– I am talking about being a consistent representative of the Lord Jesus Christ because of what he has done for you.

3.  working with the Lord

You can extend his glory by discovering what God is doing and joining him rather than opposing him.  What is God doing in your life that you could share with others. 

Has he given you breath?  Could you be a prayer warrior for those whose health is suspect?

Has he given you a car to drive?  Could you visit a lonely person – maybe even pick someone up and bring them to church.

Has he given you a voice?  Could you share your story with anyone who asks as to why you have this hope within you?

Has he given you a sound mind?  Could you join with others in studying his word so you can grow in the knowledge of God.

Has he given you abundant financial resources?  In addition to the tithe maybe he wants you to help the poor, give assistance to a missionary, fund an orphan? 

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just find out what God is doing and offer to join him.  Just do something with your life.  Don’t let it ebb away? 

Close with meditation. 

Are you a selfish Christian? 

Are we a selfish congregation?

Are you extending His glory? 

            Giving to the Lord

            Witnessing for the Lord

            Working with the Lord