Not counting days when I have been gone for mission trips, vacations, or illnesses, today is the 522nd Sunday that we have been with this church. Now, if you do the math, we have 52 weeks in a year, so 522/52 is just over 10. But we have not yet been here for 10 years. That’s because each year has 1 day extra and leap year has two extra days (and 2012 and 2017 both had an extra Sunday). But before our first official Sunday, we came three times, including once in view of a call (in April 2011). So we have not quite been here 10 years, but we are close (Mother’s Day).
That may have been a bit confusing and is certainly not how I would start most sermons, but with this being Hub Sunday it is a chance to think about the recent past, where we are now, and what the future might be. So, that is my intent today. Of course, it will be biblical, and it may be uncomfortable a bit, but whatever good or bad that came from the last ten years, the next ten years must be better. If they are not, this church may not be here in fifteen to twenty years – because many of you will not be. But if Fairfax Baptist Church is not here at that point, it will not be God’s fault, it will be ours – for what we have done lately and what we will do in the future.
But before we talk about the future, let us revisit the near-term past. A couple of years ago, I took us down memory lane from the beginning of the church up to the time we arrived. But now, let’s briefly consider the last ten years.
(During the service, we showed several pictures of our time in Fairfax.)
I can recall some good times. I can still see many faces that are no longer with us. No doubt, you can “see” many more. But we must set aside the past, both good and bad, consider what we can learn from it and move into the present where we must unlearn whatever may be holding us back from a better future. I am reminded of Jesus’ words that He will build His Church. As I have said many times before, Jesus does not promise to sustain any one church, but if He is building something, it should be improving. If we are not improving, what must we unlearn…what must we do differently.
Let me share the two words that need to be our focus as we move forward. Then, I will share three things we must do to make those words a reality. You have heard all of these before, but not in one sitting.
Our ultimate aim must be to love others and give them a reason for hope. That’s it. Two words – love and hope. In fact, I would like to submit that idea as our new vision statement. Fairfax Baptist Church aims to be a church that loves Jesus and brings His love and His hope to a lost and dying world.
If that is too much to remember, simply remember LOVE and HOPE.
So, if that is our aim – if that is our vision, then what do we need to do to get there? Well, our mission can remain unchanged. We are to Exalt the Savior. We are to Equip the Saint. And we are to Evangelize the Sinner. All of us are to do each one of those. And as we do, others will know that we love Jesus, that we love them, and that Jesus is the Hope for the world.
So, our mission has not changed, but how do we do accomplish it? Well, again, I am not saying anything new, I am just packaging several ideas that I have been preaching over the past year into one message. The idea of LOVE comes from Hub Sunday last July. The idea of HOPE was the theme of the message last September. The idea that we need more people involved was the purpose of the message in November and in December, I suggested that all of that means we need to restructure our leadership. And all of that was capped off in February with the idea that we are to be and do M.O.R.E.
All of those ideas have meshed together. Frankly, I did not plan it that way, but God certainly did. I have felt His lead in preparing those messages for a month or more in advance (and I already know what June’s message will be). I usually plan well ahead for the series we are doing, but the Hub Sundays are more about reflections in the moment. But as I have looked back on the last nine months (and June’s message is about love as well), I see how God has inextricably woven these ideas together in my mind, on paper, and now preserved on video.
The daily videos this week will be a replays of each of those sermons.
Monday – Love – from July
07/26/2020 Sermon Replay of “A Vision for Tomorrow” (https://youtu.be/0bJtxWt9wtA)
07/27/2020 Monday Daily Video Replay of “Interpretation” (https://youtu.be/pSjkdRrXMDQ)
07/28/2020 Tuesday Daily Video Replay of “Interpretation (cont.)” (https://youtu.be/wWO7lm78xsc)
07/29/2020 Wednesday Daily Video Replay of “Lesson/Sermon Prep” (https://youtu.be/axwruVTauQ0)
Tuesday – Hope – from September
09/27/2020 Sermon Video Replay of “More than an Optimist” (https://youtu.be/_FowNkmUrV4)
09/28/2020 Monday Daily Video Replay of “The Hope of a Woman, Pt 1” (https://youtu.be/tUWI0gWvq0U)
09/29/2020 Tuesday Daily Video Replay of “The Hope of a Woman, Pt 2” (https://youtu.be/ROuIwbP1dlI)
09/30/2020 Wednesday Daily Video Replay of “The Hope of a Woman, Pt 3” (https://youtu.be/BzahG__zTmw)
Wednesday – Involving Others – from November
(11/29/2020 Sermon Video Replay of “Leveling the Field” https://youtu.be/nMCwqCTn8uA)
(11/30/2020 Monday Daily Video Replay of “The Culture of the Church” https://youtu.be/cNxygFQKy2o)
(12/01/2020 Tuesday Daily Video Replay of “The Culture Apple, Pt 1” https://youtu.be/rRW-ueI4TFw)
(12/02/2020 Wednesday Daily Video Replay of “The Culture Apple, Pt 2” https://youtu.be/rvt_3t_3Bdo)
(12/03/2020 Thursday Daily Video Replay of “The Culture Apple, Pt 3” https://youtu.be/s5ptHv8zJg4)
Thursday – Changing Leadership – from December
(12/27/2020 Sermon Video Replay of “Redefining Leadership” https://youtu.be/eEWSeoFVmO0)
(12/28/2020 Monday Daily Video Replay of “Elders: Understanding the Terms” https://youtu.be/pDfGES_p084)
(12/29/2020 Tuesday Daily Video Replay of “Elders: Elder Qualifications” https://youtu.be/Pd68zirgFZs)
(12/30/2020 Wednesday Daily Video Replay of “Elders: The Function of Elders” https://youtu.be/nHj3PGR84pY)
(12/31/2020 Thursday Daily Video Replay of “Elders: A Burning Question” https://youtu.be/MbP8LQQd-7Q)
Friday – M.O.R.E. – from February
(02/28/2021 Sermon Video Replay of “M.O.R.E. for Jesus” https://youtu.be/Vtkvex-ffUk)
(03/01/2021 Monday Daily Video Replay of “Motivated” https://youtu.be/TpbwoqgTNNc)
(03/02/2021 Tuesday Daily Video Replay of “Observant” https://youtu.be/XkD98MLSCw8)
(03/03/2021 Wednesday Daily Video Replay of “Responsive” https://youtu.be/BwKmaVdVM9A)
(03/04/2021 Thursday Daily Video Replay of “Engaged” https://youtu.be/nOhyTm8Pl_8)
But those ideas are a part of our yesterdays. They may be recent in comparison to something that happened 5, 15, 50, or even 137 years ago when this church first met in July of 1884. But all of that is in the past. Of course, the past is long. For some people it is longer than others, but we all have many yesterdays. The past reaches backward beyond our own yesterdays; it extends back thousands of years (at least). On the other hand, the future is unknown. It may be equally as long as the past, or it may be short. We don’t know. But we hope that tomorrow is as good as we remember yesterday.
Today, however, is fleeting. It never remains the same. Sure another day called today comes along again, but like every previous today, it leaves as well. And yet, we cannot change any of our yesterdays, and we are not promised anything about tomorrow, so we should determine to make the best of today.
That is an underlying theme of the passage for today. In Luke 9.51, we have one of my favorite sentences in the Bible. And it is not just a sentence that catches me, it is a word.
Earlier in Luke 9, Peter makes the confession that Jesus is the Christ. Days later Jesus is transfigured on the mountain in front of Peter, James, and John, not to mention Moses, Elijah, and God the Father. He then heals a demon-possessed boy and then we have verse 51, which says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (ESV). He set His face. The NASB says, He was “determined.” The KJV says, He “steadfastly set out.” But I like the NIV here – “Jesus resolutely set our for Jerusalem.” He was resolved to go to Jerusalem, even though – and actually because – it meant He was going to die. Don’t overlook the first part of that verse – the time had come for Him to be taken up – first on a cross, and then to re-enter eternity.
Why was Jesus resolved? Because of love and to provide hope!
If what was true of Jesus then, it is certainly true of Jesus now (even though that does not mean that He needs to resolve Himself to that destination or that destiny again). And if it is true of Jesus, then it should be true of those who call themselves after His name – that is, Christians. If we are to follow Him, then we are to learn to love and learn to share hope like He did. Because He still does – in the power of His Name.
So, Jesus set aside the past to move forward to what was to come. He was living in the moment, but everything about the moment was to lead Him to His appointment in Jerusalem. It would not be an easy journey, and it would not be a pleasurable destination. And that is why He had to be resolute.
What is your resolve? What is my resolve?
When I talk about doing and being M.O.R.E. for instance, is your first thought that being Motivated, and Observant, and Responsive, and Engaged is for others? We should do MORE because of what Jesus did for us. Jesus did not only die for others, He died for you too! The Bible God wrote says that Jesus died, and that WHOEVER believes can have everlasting life. WHOEVER means EVERYONE, and everyone includes YOU.
So, what is your resolve?
Well, this story does not end in verse 51. Jesus is resolved. And He invites others to join Him in the process. But they don’t. Because they are too worried about the present, and the past, and the future.
In verses 52-53, Jesus is heading towards a Samaritan village and He sent a few messengers to make arrangements. But the people would not welcome Him because His focus was elsewhere. Jesus had a destiny, and His mind must have been occupied, but the people missed out on the opportunity for Him to be with them, as short as the time might be, because He was occupied with a greater purpose than whatever it was that they were wanting from Him.
A few verses later (vv. 57-62), we have three different people who encounter Jesus. Two say they will follow; another Jesus asks to follow Him. We do not know if any of them actually did. But Jesus’ response to them covers the today, yesterday, and tomorrow in that order.
To the first one who said He would follow Jesus, Jesus speaks of the reality of today – the present – when He effectively says, “Good, but realize that this is not easy – I don’t even have a place to rest comfortably.”
Jesus invites the next person to follow, but he was stuck in the past wanting to take care of personal business before committing to following. I will grant you that burying a family member is important, but Jesus response shows He is offering life – He was offering true hope. I wonder what this man chose.
The last one said, “I will follow you, but I want to say goodbye to my family first.” He wanted to, but again, a part of him is in the past. The response Jesus makes is about being ready to plow the field but then changing your mind. Plowing is about what is possible in the future. But to plow properly you have to look forward. The person has an idea of what His future could be, but we can only surmise that this person was not resolute.
Again, this brief periscope does not provide any conclusive evidence about whether any, or all, of the three responded favorably to Jesus. As I read them, my heart believes that they did not. Because if it was me, I am not sure that I would have.
You have heard me say many times over the past 16 months that we must be intentional. Each of these three men had good intentions, but whether they chose to follow or not was going to take an intentional decision to leave a couple of ideas behind. And those two ideas are a plague to Christianity today, particularly in the Western world, and particularly in America.
You have heard me state these ideas before, but I repeat them for us now in this context. The ideas are comfort and convenience. The fact is that most all of us want comfort and convenience more than we want Jesus. That was the issue in this story too.
The first man was challenged by Jesus to consider whether having the comfort of somewhere to sleep was important.
The second man wanted to bury his father and then catch up with Jesus when the time was more convenient.
The third man simply wanted to say goodbye, but again, Jesus was on the move. His face was resolutely set towards Jerusalem. He wasn’t going to wait. This man had to choose between the internal peace (comfort) of saying goodbye and the convenience of being near enough to them to do so, or being intentional in doing what he wants to do.
Jesus shared love. Jesus brought hope. But Jesus had to give up His comforts and conveniences to do that for others. If we want to be His disciples, we need to give up our comforts and conveniences for the benefit of others as well. I am truly convinced that comfort and convenience are likely the two biggest idols we have in our world today – and again, that is particularly true in the West, and especially in America.
So, we, the people of Fairfax Baptist Church need to be intentional to choose Jesus over our own personal comforts and over our own need for convenience. Because faith requires obedience; it does not allow for complacency.
We need to do M.O.R.E. We need to be M.O.R.E. We need to organize our ministry to be as effective as possible. We need to restructure leadership where that is needed. We need to get more people engaged because that is what God demands. And we do it so that others may know the hope of Jesus and the love of God.
In other words, we all need to be disciples who make disciples just like Jesus commanded His first followers.
That is our charge. Not from me…but from Jesus Himself.
And it begins with me. I must demand differently from myself. I know what God is asking of me and I must do it, whatever the cost, and there will be cost. But I cannot keep going as I am. And I cannot continue to serve this church as I have. God is demanding more of me and wants more from us. I may have talked a good message before, but the time is now. We must respond. I must respond. And I hope you will join me. It must begin with me, but it cannot end with me.
Proverbs 29.18 says, “Where there is not prophetic vision, the people are discouraged.”
Well, I am not a prophet, so I do not know what the next ten years will be. But whatever you and I think of the last ten years, God wants our next ten to be more purposeful, more impactful, more glorifying to Him.
Again, that begins with me, but it will take each one of us doing our small parts to make a difference together than none of us could possibly make on our own.
WHAT’S NEXT?: Engage in the discussion with us as we continue to ask, “What If…?” during our Sunday evening study tonight.