This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday January 5th, 2020.
Now that 2019 is behind us and 2020 is just beginning people all around the world like to step back and look at or reflect on their lives and the previous year to see how they did and how they can better themselves. On January 1st millions of people evaluate their year (look at successes and failures) and then resolve to do things differently for the next year. Some of the top New Year’s resolutions may be
As the campus Pastor of this church one of the main jobs I have, aside from preaching, is to work with leadership and the congregation to clearly communicate and implement the primary objective of our church. This simply means I need to ensure we know what we are supposed to do, why we need to do it and how we will do it. In doing this I need to ensure that we have developed an atmosphere or platform where we are encouraged and empowered to take actions to fulfill them.
So, it is fitting that today start a new series titled “Neighborhoods and Nations”. For the next five weeks we are going to talk about the calling God has placed on us individually and as a church and how we can effectively be a neighborhood church for the nations. Today we will begin by talking about and fleshing out our primary objective, in other words answering the question why we exist (personally and congregationally).
Read Matthew 9:35 – 38 (highlight 37 & 38)
Before we begin, I believe this passage is a great reminder to all of us the call and the challenge God has placed on us.
Vs. 35 – 38: Jesus’s ministry consisted of going out, preaching the Good News, and healing the sick. He had a ministry of mercy and compassion. He saw the crowds of people and he had compassion on them. He saw the state of their nation and the people as they were like sheep without a shepherd. They were abused, rejected and lost… they had no spiritual leadership or guidance.
This is when Jesus says to the disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” Jesus was telling his disciples that there was a lot of work to do and pray that God will send out willing and qualified people to go out and do the work of the kingdom (bring the sheep back to the Shepherd, Jesus).
The Abundant Harvest in Bradenton – Facts
Here are a few hard truths about the area in which we are located.
Every Saturday our church hosts DOWNTOWN Ministries who provides food, clothing and other necessities to the less fortunate and homeless in our community. This can be up to 200 people a weekend.
There are 25,000 people living in a 1-mile radius from West B. Southside.
There are over 100,000 people that live within 10 minutes of Southside and 42% of them are minorities.
We are uncertain how many are churched as a opposed to unchurched, but the fact remains there are plenty of people in the surrounding area of our church that do no know Jesus Christ and have no church to call home.
There were close to 200 accidental drug deaths in Manatee County in 2019.
There were over 600 non-fatal overdoses in Manatee County in 2019.
Just with these statistics I think it is obvious that we are living in an abundant harvest field. The truth remains that we are small, and we are few, but we must pray that the Lord of the harvest sends out workers for the harvest.
Read Matthew 28:16 - 20
So, what is our response? It is extremely important for us as Christian individuals and as a church body to know our objective. We do have a reason for existence. Aside from God; having a purpose or objective in life should be what gets us up and keeps us going day after day. Hopefully you/we aren’t just eeking our way through life without a plan or a purpose (like so many do) because you/we have no clue what our purposes are. The Bible has much to say about our objective. If we look at the passage, we see…
We have looked at two key passages and how they apply to us individually and congregationally. Thus, our primary objective for West Bradenton Southside and for us individually can summed up like this… Our primary purpose is to glorify God in all we do. This excites me because Our objective aligns perfectly with first question of The Westminster Shorter Catechism. The Westminster shorter catechism is the condensed version of the Westminster Confession of Faith which was drawn up in 1648 by the Westminster Assembly that was made up primarily of the Church of England as a document that provides advice on worship, doctrine and church government. The Second London Baptist Confession is adapted from this confession. The shorter catechism is a confession of faith that was written in a question answer format and reads like this, Q1: “What is the chief end of man?” Or what is our purpose? Answer “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” This is a beautiful statement and clearly defines our core objective perfectly. The authors of this confession site 1 Cor. 10:31… “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” The church (and we for that matter) were created for more than mere existence, we were created to worship God and to praise his name. That is why we gather week after week. We are not a social club. We are not a governing entity. We are a group of believers who gather to worship and glorify God. Not only are we to start with worshiping God, but we are also to called to continue our worship through enjoying him. I think we sometimes forget this part. Isaiah 43:5 – 7: We were created by God for him. We bring pleasure to God. So, our response should be to take pleasure in him.
Glory to God and God’s Glory
What is Glory? When we talk about bringing glory to God it means that we speak of his splendor, we proclaim his praise, we live our lives in admiration to Him as we do all for him and through Him.
Since we define glory as the above, I believe the next question to answer is “What does the glory of God mean or look like? God’s glory is His manifest presence. It is the revelation of God’s nature, being, and presence to humanity.
His glory is magnificent and far beyond our comprehension
We see this in Exodus 33:18 – 20. Moses desired one thing… To see the glory of God. The result was Moses saw the back side of God’s glory, because nobody can see God in his full glory and live.
Isaiah 6:1 – 6 we see the hem of God filling the temple. When the prophet Isaiah sees the partial glory of the LORD, his response is fitting. “Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Armies.”
God’s Glory and Our Primary Objective
So, what does this mean? We have looked at our primary objective… To glorify God in all things. We have looked at what glory means and what God’s glory looks like. As we have looked at these, I am fully convinced that it leads us to a question we must continually ask ourselves, “Does what we do glorify God, or does it glorify us? If it is for our glory, then it is not worth investing.” “You will find only emptiness when you pursue your own glory. You will find complete assurance in the pursuit of God’s glory.”
I have established that West Bradenton Southside is a neighborhood church for the Nations and this means we are intentional in all we do. Our worship, our activities, events, and even our church logo has intentionality behind it.
Our logo… what it means.
Arrow up – Represents God’s glory and also represents the church We are a church who glorifies God.
Circles – (Acts 1:8) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Each circle represents Judea (local), Samaria (the lost) and the nations (world)
Circles represent movement – We are to go in the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus Christ locally, to the lost and to the world.
It is safe to say that the church is not a destination for crowds. The church is a vehicle to send people into neighborhoods and to the nations. We do not exist to put on great performances to entertain or attract people to us. We do not invite others to the church to be an experience or for people to be spectators. We invite and we exist so we may glorify God in all we do. When we know why we exist this helps us to determine what we say yes to and what we say no to It gives us a simple template to follow… Is what we are currently putting our energy, time, and resources into glorifying God or glorifying us?”
How do we bring glory to God?
Be Intentional in the Gospel – outreach, evangelization, inviting
Be prayerful – What do we invest in? What is God calling us to do? Praying for one another. Praying for the lost.
Be ready to move - When God moves, we need to be ready to move when he does
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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