The week after Baptism Sunday, Todd reminds us of why we baptize as we hear Dan's story of grace and watch a recap of last weeks events. We're reminded that all of this is from God, and that we should acknowledge that through prayer and celebrate it through communion, a reminder to continually commune with God.
At Home Worship
Christmas Eve 2015
The Greatest Invitation
Making Room, Making Disciples
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Your Trial In Heaven
Fort Worth, Here Is What We Think of You
What the Church Who Believes Is and Does
The USA: United States of Anxiety
From Intimacy to Idols
The Standard: Old Testament, Jesus and Believers
The Path to the Good Life
Nothing Short of Miraculous
Confessions From a Bathroom Stall: Lessons Learned in a Battle With Gluttony
How We Come To God
Dealing with Disappointment
The Story That Never Gets Old the God Who Is Always Behind It and the Way We Are Told to Remember It
The "One Thing"
Baptism Celebration 2015
Believing That Leads to Life
What Should I Do With My Money?
We're glad you're here today. In a morning that's easy to hang at home, but thank you that you persevered to be here. We have business to do today, and it's the business of reminding each other the goodness of our God, remembering together what he has done for us, and then purposefully asking on our knees if God would continue that work.
We had planned for some time to make this a Sunday where you were going to get to spend a little bit more time listening to God in a unique way, in this room corporately, today, than maybe we often do. We're also going to have some opportunities for you to move some places based on where you are in processing how much of your heart you want to give the Lord and how you want to grow and develop your heart right here. We're glad you're here with us this morning.
When you came in we handed you a Watermark News. That Watermark News… We're not going to ask you to read a little bit later. We're going to ask you to actually read to one another today while we're in here, but before we do that, there are some other things we want to do. Let's just start by praying. Can we?
Father, I thank you for my friends I'm here with and other friends we're with in other places, in Plano and in Fort Worth, and the way that, this morning, each of us and any place people are truly seeking your face, any place the true church of Jesus Christ is gathered, where people are lifting up your name, reading your Word, and listening to your Scripture taught in a way we pray would engage our hearts… Meet us where we are, comfort us in our afflictions, strengthen us in our weakness, and prepare us for the battle.
I pray you would do that here this morning. Thank you that you have given us much to celebrate and much to be thankful for, not the least of which, this morning, is our moms, as we pray, appropriately, today and every day. We are reminded of and thankful for the gift of godly women who are present in our lives and who desire to honor you and ultimately fulfill the great purpose of giving birth and shape to eternal humanity made in the image of God.
Father, I pray for our mothers, that they would not grow weary in doing good. I pray for moms in this room who are struggling because they think they're not good moms, that you would remind them how you're always ready to come along and be a God of grace, transformation, and power. Lord, we thank you for moms and the chance we have to love them even now. In Christ's name, amen.
Let me say this really quickly about moms. Mother's Day is a day, frankly, that is some people's least favorite day to go to church, because there's a part of their lives there where they have never had the chance to realize what they've dreamt about for some time, maybe because at this moment they're not married yet. Because they're not married and they're chaste and faithful, they have not yet been given the blessing of biological children. It's a painful thing, and today is a reminder of what they think they have lost by not having experienced that.
I just want to say to my single friends who have been faithful, pure, chaste, and righteous, who have given God all of your heart, the Scriptures are very clear that you, in your caring for, shepherding, and multiplying spiritually, have every bit as much dignity and spiritual motherhood as those who have been given the blessing of motherhood in the home. We honor you and thank you.
Watermark is uniquely blessed because of the number of whom I would call middle-aged women who have been faithful for decades and modeled to our younger women what it looks like to never buy the lie that anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ can satisfy them. To my single women friends out there this morning who are walking in purity I just say, "God bless you." Thank you for being a bride of Christ and faithful in bringing forth spiritual children.
To those of you who are single moms in this room… All I need is my wife to go away on a little girls' trip for three days to realize I don't want to be a single parent. Some of you didn't want to be a single parent, either, but because of either health reasons or the brokenness in this world you have found yourself raising kids on your own.
To you we stand in awe, and we thank you for your effort, your selflessness, and your wearing many different hats, working hard, being a provider, being present for your kids, being connected here with our amazing single-parent-family community, and the way you are attentive to develop your own heart even while you trust God to deal with the brokenness and the hurt that's in it. To my single mom friends, I want to say, "Thank you. God bless you."
To another group of friends who are here who maybe have made a decision that has kept them from being the biological mom God intended when he gave life inside of you… Maybe because of fear or maybe because of what you believe was shame and guilt you made a decision you thought would allow that life inside you to go away and that you wouldn't have to deal with it, but we know better.
We know this day you are reminded God did make you a mother and, in your great pain, fear, and maybe isolation, you made a decision to not ever hold that child, and today is a really painful day for you. We are blessed to have a lot of gals who can relate exactly to that decision, people who have found healing and grace and who care for you and want to let you know God's grace is sufficient for that decision.
We have a ministry here called Someone Cares, and right toward the end of this month there's going to be another group of gals who gather together to begin to process through recovering through the abortion decision. Men, we have a deal for you called Forgotten Fathers, but ladies, I'm talking to you specifically this morning. If you're here this morning and you know you're a mom but maybe you've never told anybody you're a mom, we want to love you and let you know your loving Father is not angry at you and he wants to help you.
What I would love you to do is to take that little perforated section inside your Watermark News… In fact, everybody just open up your Watermark News if you have it. You'll see there's that little perforated section. If you're a guest here today, we hope before you leave you will fill that out and let us know how we can serve you. You can drop it into the slots that are there in the back.
If you're here and that's part of your story, would you just fill that thing out? At the very bottom where it says, "How can we serve you? How can we pray for you?" you might just want to write on there, "Hey, I'd love to know someone cares." We'll know that means you would love a gal who has walked the road you have walked to get in touch with you and to let you know about opportunities we have to bring healing to you.
Then, to our moms in this room who are right now in the middle of the throes of it… My wife and I had five kids in seven years. We have six total. I remember what those days were like, and I remember right now… We had five teenagers in our home at one time, and it can be a difficult, fun, and entertaining season, shall I say?
To all of you ladies, the Scripture says specifically one of the ways God in his perfect sovereignty has chosen to give you dignity and purpose is the privilege of being biological, spiritual, sanctifying mothers. Big tip of the hat to ladies who are fellow heirs in equal dignity and value as men. We're not the same. There are different responsibilities, but let me just tell you, ladies, if you don't do your job, we are in a world of hurt, so God bless you. Thank you.
Let's just thank God for moms really quickly. Can we? Every one of them. I thank God for grace. Again, if you're a mom and never held your baby, I want to tell you we want to love you and serve you well.
God reaches our hearts in a lot of different ways, and for many of us the story is God used a mama to teach us about the faith. You see that especially in some of our African-American communities where that has been the bedrock that has not been shaken while men have abandoned their posts.
There are other ways God reaches the heart, and we just want to continue to celebrate the stories God has here. Dan, come on up here. We're going to let you share a little bit right now, and it's going to give us a chance to talk about one of the ways we want to serve you and strengthen your hearts and the hearts of your kids this summer.
Dan was with us last week, and he got all wet just like a bunch of you did, not because he was walking from his car into a building while it was pouring down rain outside but because he felt like it was time for him to stand before friends and family and declare his relationship with Jesus Christ through the act of baptism. Dan, how did we get to that place?
Dan: Well, let me give you my story.
Todd: All right, lay it on us.
Dan: Special shout out to my wife and my mother, who raised seven children. That story includes both of them, so let's go. I'm not sure why I was chosen out of the 300 people who were baptized last week, but maybe it's because my story is very similar to some of yours. Maybe this is God's way of pushing me to be more vocal about my faith. In either case, I'm here standing before you.
My story begins in Chicago. I was born into a large Catholic family with seven children. My mother was the religious leader of the family, and she made sure we all went through what I call the B plus the three C's, which are baptism, Communion, confirmation, and confession. My father was not really involved, so it was really up to her. She got us to Sunday school every week, she got us to Catechism, and she got us to church. We all went through that process.
In the Catholic Church we followed the Ten Commandments, but we really didn't have this closeness to God you see here. My primary motivation then was to abide by the rules, which were the Ten Commandments, and to build up enough credits to get to heaven. That was what I was basically taught.
When I moved away from Chicago to Dallas to work here, I basically found the nearest Catholic church and continued on my journey. It was all about going to church on Sunday and earning those credits. A few years later I was married to my wife, and at the time we wanted to be married in a Catholic church, so the priest made us promise all our kids would be baptized and brought up Catholic, and, of course, we agreed to that.
The cycle continued, the same cycle my mother had taught me. We went through that with my three kids. They were all baptized. They all went to first confession, first Communion, and confirmation, but at the same time, Watermark happened to be using the auditorium where my kids were going to school at, Lake Highlands High School. My kids, without really telling us, started to attend those services.
Todd: Sneaking to school on Sundays like every wild juvenile delinquent.
Dan: Then they started forming little small groups of people who would come visit our house or somebody else's house. My wife and I were kind of watching this happen, not really knowing what was going on but seeing change in our kids. It all came to a head one day when my oldest daughter called, came home, and announced we were going to have a family meeting. We didn't have many family meetings, and usually when the meetings were being called it was me or my wife calling them, not one of my children, so I knew something was up.
We all sat down in the living room, and my daughter explained the difference between what the Catholic Church was teaching them and what Watermark was teaching them, and she asked for permission to stop attending Catholic church and to go to Watermark. She must have seen the look in my face. I had been attending Catholic church for 40 years at the time, but before I even answered she said, "Dad, do you really think only the Catholics go to heaven?" That was the question that changed my life.
Without answering it… We agreed it was okay for them. Anywhere they wanted to go that was going to follow God was fine with us, so we agreed, but we also were curious to see what this church was doing and what was causing the change in my kids, so my wife and I started attending as well up at Lake Highlands High School.
Fast forward another 10 years. We've been attending for 10 years. The changes in our lives and our kids' lives have been unbelievable. My kids are involved in so many great things. I'm so proud of them. We have been, too. We've joined Community, we've gone through re|engage, and we're just such better Christians than we were back then.
Todd: When did you come to that moment, Dan… You mentioned the B and three C's within Catholicism, so you were baptized as an infant.
Dan: Actually, twice.
Todd: Twice as an infant?
Dan: Yeah, the first two didn't take, apparently.
Todd: All right. Well, it's funny because, as you guys know, we have this tool called Real Truth. Real Quick. One of the questions we answered one week was, "If I was baptized as a child, should I be baptized as an adult?"
My typical response is, "Well, as an infant, if you were aware of your sins, confessed your sins, and acknowledged Jesus Christ was your personal Lord and Savior and the means by which God reconciles you to him, of course not." They go, "I was 3 months old," and I go, "Oh, well it sounds like, then, you were not baptized as a believer, which is what the Bible talks about."
Listen, this is not a message this morning to talk about whether or not it's wrong to christen children. There's nothing in the Scripture that talks about that. It does talk about people dedicating their children. We know you got baptized last weekend. When was that moment that spark of God's desire to have a personal relationship with you… When did that really manifest itself in your life?
Dan: It was a couple of years into Watermark, after starting to daily read the Bible. It just kind of happened. I don't know if there was that one moment. It just kind of eased in.
Todd: You realized it was more about just being certain places and earning credits, to use your words. It was about accepting the provision of Christ and trusting in that.
Dan: And understanding I was already saved and didn't need to earn credits anymore.
Todd: Amazing. Well, listen. This is why I wanted to share this story again this week, because we're going to celebrate what God is doing here. As we talk about what we're moving toward in the summer, this particular week on Friday night we have a thing called Watermark Kids Live, which we do periodically. Watermark Kids Live is a chance for you, with your children and your children's friends if they won't come with their families, to dive into an amazing night.
The information is in your Watermark News. You'll be one of three different teams. If you go to pick up your kids, you'll see over there, you're either red, blue, or green if you're from Dallas, or you're yellow and purple for Plano and Fort Worth. It's going to be on the Plano campus. We are building into our kids, and we are launching, specifically, this thing we did last summer called Significant Summer.
If you can't make it this Friday, you can still participate in Significant Summer, but if you're looking for a great way to spend Friday night with your kids that has spiritual, redemptive value, it's going to be an amazing time. I want to tell you, children change the lives of their families. Did you hear what Dan said? He said, "Listen. What changed my life is I noticed my kids' lives were beginning to be increasingly transformed."
Jenny and Jesse were the means of grace God used to change his heart and form him to be the leader God intended him to be and, more than that, to have the relationship with him he wanted that last week we celebrated through the act of baptism. Why don't you pray for our body? Would you do that? Is that uncomfortable for you? If not, we're going to make you do it anyway.
Why don't you pray for us? Pray for this Friday night and that we as people would continue to listen. We don't take care of kids so you can be in here. We believe kids are worth our very best, because God will often raise up… I mean, that next generation is going to be our leaders, so we are training our leaders, and the best way to train a leader is to teach them who the ultimate leader is so they can follow him. Would you pray for us, Dan?
Lord, thank you for the transformation you have brought to me and my family. Thank you for allowing my kids to lead my wife and I back to the right path. Lord, I pray this testimony will give strength to those in the audience who are on the same path. Lord, help me continue. I will continue to stumble. Help me down that path and teach me more each day, as I pray in your name, amen.
Todd: Welcome to Watermark Baptism 2015! We baptize all year long, but today is a day that we call a lot of folks who have never made a public expression of faith to go ahead and do it. No one is getting married to Jesus today. These are all people who have already personally entered into a relationship with him, but this is the public gathering.
This is where they stand before friends and family and say, "Hey, Jesus is my God. I trust the Lord. He's forgiven me through Christ and his provision on the cross." It's their way of telling the rest of the community of faith, "Watch me. Spur me on. Help me to be faithful to my love relationship and my pledge of honoring Christ every day of my life."
This ring is a way to tell the world I'm committed to a woman. This baptism is the same public profession of love, not for a woman but for a God who died for their sin. The stories we're celebrating are amazing because God loves broken people. He heals them and he makes them strong, and today we're celebrating the goodness of Jesus Christ and our faith in him.
Male: What we did today is we received baptism as a confirmation and a presentation to others that we are followers of Jesus Christ. Personally, after following him for 20 years, I had never been baptized, so what a wonderful day it is.
Female: I'm here getting baptized and celebrating that I accepted Christ into my life and this is a new life for me.
Female: I got baptized today for the second time in my life, much later in life, because I finally understand what it means to accept Jesus Christ into my life and to proclaim that to my friends and family.
Boy: We wanted to declare we put our faith and trust in Christ.
Male: Amen to that.
Male: I got baptized today because I proclaimed to everybody, my family, my fiancée, and everybody at Watermark that I am a believer of Christ. I am forgiven of my sins and I have eternal life only through Jesus Christ. I'm really pumped, man. I'm so pumped.
Female: I'm here today to claim and to declare Jesus is my Savior, I have a new life in him, and my body is not my own, but my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Joshua Benners: I wanted to publicly profess a faith in the Lord that saved my life and saved my marriage. Just like Todd said, the ring on my finger is a covenant with Marissa, and my baptism is a symbol of my covenant with the Lord.
Arlene Holt: We just got baptized after being in a Community Group for four weeks. We're brand new.
Female: Yeah. We wanted to really make sure we started off on the right foot and we were walking in obedience with the Lord. We just wanted to hold each other accountable, and it starts here by a public witness of our faith.
Arlene: And a celebration.
Female: Yeah, it's a celebration.
[End of video]
Todd: Isn't that awesome? Here's the thing. I recently was speaking to a group of individuals who lead other churches, and they were asking questions about you all and what God was doing here in our midst.
One of the things I shared with them is if God took me back 15 or 16 years and said, "Hey, Todd. Now you, the team, your friends, and the members know how to do this thing. You kind of are veterans at building a church, going through all the iterations of growth, and all that different stuff. I want you to do it again…" I'd be willing to do it again, but there is absolutely no way, even with the experiences he's given us, we could ever get us back to the place we are today if God just said, "Okay, boy, now you've got it?" patted us on the rear, and said, "Get after it."
Look. This is the leadership model. This is how you train people, right? You do it for them while they watch, you do it with them, then you watch them do it, and then you say, "Go get 'em, tiger," but Jesus never does that. He never says, "Hey, man, do you guys have it down now? Go get 'em, tiger." Everything we do we have to do with a deep dependence on him, a continual abiding in awareness that God never says, "Okay, you got it now for me? Go get it. Go do it again."
We labor mightily according to his power which works within us, and if we're going to be the church God wants us to be we have to remember everything we're seeing happening, everything that has happened, and everything that will happen that has any merit at all is going to happen because we are his people, he lives in us, and he works mightily through his Spirit which dwells in those who believe.
The way the Spirit of God manifests himself is through my hands, my mouth, and my feet which are controlled by the Truth, the Spirit of Christ who lives within me. God tells us in his Word to devote ourselves to prayer, which means not just the activity but the constant attitude of celebrating who he is through thanksgiving and reminding ourselves who he is not by getting heaven to accomplish our will but by getting heaven's will accomplished in my heart and aligning our purposes with him.
What we're going to do for the remainder of our time together is spend some time doing that as a body. You can't go through what we went through last week and then just charge ahead without stopping, thanking God, and acknowledging this is God's work, God's story, and God's glory.
God, would you continue to work in us in a way that would lead to transformation in others?
What else do you want to do with your life? If you were here last week and nobody said, "Get into the water with me…" One of the reasons I have come to this realization is because you called a family meeting and said, "We have to talk," or you called a friend meeting and said, "I have to tell you about what God is doing in my life and who he is." If that has not been a part of your story, today is your day to say, "God, next year I want people to know you because of me."
That means I have to do what Dan did. I have to tell my story. I have to call friends together over meals and say, "I want to tell you about my God." By God's grace your life should be transformed so when you do they go, "I knew there was something. Thanks for explaining it." Listen. You might be here and you don't want to talk to God because you don't really know him, but you always have longed for and hoped you could talk to somebody about God. We're going to give you that chance in just a moment.
If you're here and you go, "I'd love to trust in God, but no one has ever answered this question for me," in just a second what I'd love for you to do is for you to come up, go right out this little side door right here, and follow your way around. There's a room underneath that catslide right there, and there will be friends in there with whom we can corporately ask questions about the faith. If you want, you can go out that way and take a left.
If you're here at Watermark and you've never made a decision to connect with other people… Dan shared his family runs with others who spur them on on a regular basis. If you're like, "I need to know a little more about this place that says it's the church, the hands and feet of Christ," what we'd love you to do is to either go right up those steps and out that door or go outside up what we call the grand staircase that goes up to the second floor. There's a chapel area up there, and there will be people to greet you and talk to you about how you can connect with us here.
Listen. The majority of us who are here are members. What I want you to do is gather up in small little circles right now for about the next 15 to 20 minutes and pray. Here's specifically what I mean by that: I mean, let God's Word wash over your heart and inform your thinking, that you might be transformed and you might be reminded of what God calls us to do.
At Watermark, we have one C and three B's. You confess Christ as Lord, and then, having believed in Christ, you belong to his body, you're being trained in truth, and you're strong in a life of ministry and worship. We have to pray those truths into our lives. In your Watermark News today is a prayer guide. We always enter God's house with praise and thanksgiving, so if everybody would just open up this Watermark News I'm going to make it really easy for you.
Some people have a hard time praying out loud. What I've done is I've written down Scripture and ideas. You can look up the Scripture, go with some of these prayer requests, read that Scripture, and then read what I wrote, but let me just show you how you in a circle of four or five could walk your way through this.
For instance, if you were the person there, you didn't really feel comfortable praying, and all you wanted to do was just read, you could start with… Just personalize it and say, "I thank you, Lord, for all the great things you have done and continue to do through this church." Then you can vamp a little bit and say, "For instance, last week hundreds of lives stood before thousands of lives, acknowledged their need for you, and identified themselves with Jesus." Then stop.
The next person: "Lord, I praise you for your provision of people and of the passion he has placed in the core of this church that wants me to follow after you more." Then vamp a little bit if you want, but if that's all you read, fine. We're going to enter into his gates with praise and thanksgiving.
This is to help you. Don't feel like you're limited to this, but I want to tell you, one of the things we encourage you to do is to be brief. This is not a chance for you to have a quiet time and pray for 30 minutes while others listen. It's better that you pray seven different times over the course of that 20 minutes than one time for 7 minutes. Take turns.
If you have questions about the faith I want you to go this direction. If you're ready to connect or have questions about Watermark specifically we'd love for you to go upstairs. After about 20 minutes we're going to gather you back in and I'm going to show you what Jesus tells us to do corporately regularly.
We baptize all the time. If you weren't here or able to be baptized last week, we'd love to baptize you if you've never done that. I'll talk about that again in just a moment, but corporately there's something we also do, not just in this room but every time we gather together as his people. I'm going to give you a chance now to thank God for what he's doing and to pray he might do it all the more. Let's gather together and pray. I ask you to do that very quickly in little circles right here, and we'll pull you back together in about 20 minutes. Here we go.
Well, the amazing truth of Scripture is because of Christ we can come boldly into the throne room of God, into the very presence of his holiness, without fear, and we can receive mercy and grace to help us in a time of need. That's all the time. The key to the spiritual life is living in connection with the Spirit, which means that prayerfulness we just participated in together is what ought to abide with us always.
The way you're responding when you're frustrated… When you're riding home from church and you're stuck in traffic, stop and say, "Okay, Lord. I know right now in your sovereignty you're big enough to tell me how to handle this in a way that won't dissolve relationships and won't make it look like I think this world is all there is."
Having Scripture you've memorized that God can bring to mind and give you direction and what to do or when you are in your Community Groups and people ask a question, to be prayerful in your response with biblical counsel… That's what makes us this church. We are devoted to being prayerful in our mindset and to being thankful for all he's doing. We're not running the show here, people. We are participating with the Spirit, and it's sweet. It's a really sweet thing. Please be seated.
There are two things I want to let you guys know about as we now celebrate a reminder God has given us, and I want to do some short teaching around that. As we seek to train you in righteousness there are three opportunities that are coming up you need to know about. These are all in your Watermark News, but it's worth saying on this Sunday.
We've already mentioned the Watermark Kids discipleship opportunity event for families this Friday night, but starting May 20 on Wednesday nights and then on Thursday nights we have something called Equipped Disciple. If you're wondering how to read the Bible and pull meaning out of yourself: "Where do I start if I want to memorize Scripture? How can I get to dipping my toe into this thing called community?" that's a place that's open to everybody, so check that out. It's called Equipped Disciple.
Also, if you've ever been ripping through The Journey and you're trying to figure out an application for some of the historical books in the Old Testament, specifically the kings of Judah and Israel, and how that has a ton to say to us, we have something we do every summer called The Sticky Pages. It's on Thursday night. It's a great place to go with your family and say, "We're going to learn a major chunk of history in our Bible, and we're going to show how it's applicable to our lives as we lead as kings." That's called The Sticky Pages. Check that out in your Bible. Get equipped.
We believe the way we relate to each other in smaller communities has everything to do with how we're going to do as the body. This Thursday night, our Shepherding Community Team is hosting you, anybody who's in community, in an event that's going to help you all specifically in the way you shepherd and direct one another. That's this Thursday. That's a one-time opportunity. Listen, gang. Our heart is to take away the excuse. We have pastors, teachers, and leaders here to train you to do the ministry, not for you to watch, so let us serve you.
What we're about to do is celebrate the way our God serves us. That's why we do everything. The reality is, if you've never been baptized and you freely take Communion like it's the normal course of your spiritual life, you're not paying attention. The reality is, if the only time you ever take Communion is when you walk into an organized, large corporate setting, you're not even communing with Christ in all the ways he wants.
Does that mean it's wrong to take Communion here if you've never been baptized? No. Does that mean it's wrong for us to take Communion here? No, but I want to tell you, we don't want to be people who just go through orders of service without engaging with our God. The Bible talks about Jesus on the night he was betrayed. It says he took the bread, he broke it, and he said to his disciples, "As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me." I hope this isn't the only time you're eating, and I hope you're eating better than oyster crackers.
Every time you gather with other believers and you are reminded God has given you provision, daily bread, it should be a reminder of the daily, abiding relationship you need, that apart from him you can do nothing, Jesus is the perfect provision, and his body is the bread of life. Jesus says, "You need me."
Every time you eat with other believers… When you pray before a meal, I really believe that's what you should do. Take Communion. Remember Jesus. You're to do it in a worthy manner, which means not just to rush through it but to do it in a way that says, "Listen, I say I love Jesus. I say I'm identified with his broken body and shed blood. Is my life manifesting that? The Bible tells me before I do anything as a matter of worship I'm first to reconcile to my brother. Am I reconciled to my spouse? Am I reconciled to my kids? Am I reconciled to other believers?"
He says, "Then stop. Don't even eat. Leave your offering there at the altar. Go, be reconciled to your brother, and there return." The Bible says if you eat and drink this in an unworthy manner you don't bless yourself. There's no means of grace here. It's a picture of the grace you say you know about, but if you've never personally done business with God then what you're saying is, "There is a God, he doesn't like sin, and I've never dealt with my sin, but I'm going to go ahead and do this, acknowledging there's a God who's going to judge people who never deal with their sin."
Don't take this thinking it's going to save you. Take it knowing there's judgment awaiting you. If you've received grace, make sure you're living in it. Repent. Be reconciled to God. If you have never been obedient individually, why hide in the choir? Take this Communion but be convicted if you've never individually been baptized. Baptism and Communion go together hand-in-glove.
Faith in Christ's provision is celebrated here, not given here. Last week, nobody got saved when they were baptized. They did it because they were saved. Nobody is going to be saved because they take Communion. You take Communion because you're saved, and if you're saved he calls you to baptism. Okay?
If you've never been baptized and you're a believer, we'd love to talk to you about that. If you don't get a chance to do it in the next few minutes and you trust Jesus Christ, you're welcome at this table, but if you take it, it's a profession of faith, and if you take it and you are living with irreconcilable differences it betrays your profession that you have been reconciled to God. As much as you're able, you ought to be at peace with all men.
Gang, we know all of us are broken. None of us are perfect, and that's what the song is we're going to sing over you as we receive these elements. We'll wait and we'll take them together, but just be still. Listen to the words. Thank God that, though you're wounded and worn, he's made a provision. We'd love to tell you how we can minister to you.
If you're here as a guest, again, just watch us worship our God and remember him. Pass the elements. We're not better than you, but we'd love to tell you about the God who can deal with that which is broken in you. Receive the elements.
We're worn, broken people yet by grace through faith raised to newness of life. It's an amazing that in these earthen vessels God is doing a new work, and though the outer man is decaying day by day, the inner man is being renewed because we're abiding with him. Listen. The way this world works is the older you get the angrier you get, the more isolated you get, the more crotchety you get, the more you don't care about what other people think…
That's not true of believers. You get kinder, gentler, and closer to the family, and what is dying in most men is becoming more alive because they've known Jesus longer. If that's not your experience you're not abiding with a God who makes all things new. If you're here today and you've never understood grace I hope you get a picture of it.
We're not people who think we're building a résumé. We're people who are trusting in the righteousness of Christ. It's not what we do. It's what Christ has done, and we're about to celebrate that. This is not a means of grace. It's a picture of grace, and because we're idiots we have to remind ourselves of it all the time, three times a day for me with believing friends. If you're here and you're my believing friend, I'm going to share a little cracker with you, and it's a picture of the body of Christ which is broken for you. Take, and eat.
Father, we thank you that you love us so much that you'd send your Son, you would pour out your wrath on him, and you would be righteous and be able to make us righteous all at the same time, being perfectly just and graciously loving all at once, like only a loving God can do. We thank you for Jesus. We pray our lives would reflect that. Amen.
In that same meal Jesus took a cup… It was a specific cup. It was a cup of celebration, anticipation, and hope, and Jesus says, "Listen. My blood is going to institute a new covenant." Whenever a contract was made there would be blood shed that would be symbolic. Frankly, what would happen is they would cut an animal in half, and the men, the people making that agreement, would walk through it in the form of a figure eight.
If you've been in math long enough to get there, you know when we lay an eight on its side it's the sign of infinity in calculus, never-ending. These two men would basically say, "This is a never-ending covenant we're making with each other. May what happened to this animal, this blood that is spilled, happen to us if we break it."
God instituted this covenant. We didn't walk through it with him. We just receive his benefit. He swore for eternity he'd love you. A new covenant was cut. The animal that was slain was the perfect Lamb of God. His name was Jesus, and it brought us near. He says, "I'll remember your sins no longer. I'll put my Spirit in you. I will be your God, and you will be my people." That ought to make you happy. As often as you drink, do it in remembrance of him. The blood of Christ.
It's sweet, isn't it? Just a burst of flavor and hope in your mouth. That's really what happens when you come to Christ. There's a burst of hope, and that burst of hope ought to lead you to go, "Man, how sweet is my God?" We're not here trying to impress him. We're here to remind ourselves and be impressed with how much he loves us.
When your life is impressed with love there's a right response to it, and that response is, "Take my life. Jesus for me; me for him. I won't do it perfectly, but I'll give you everything I have." That's the way we want to close today. Let's stand and make this our testimony of intention.
One of the things I love about what I get to do is it forces me to sit here on a Sunday, and every now and then I can just turn around and listen. I think about what would happen if the people who just sang that song lived that song. We're about 60 percent today, but if 100 percent of us go out and live that song this week, this city will never be the same.
You'll never live a more meaningful day or a more meaningful week if you just yield that Jesus, who you came here to be reminded of this morning, is everything you need. The world doesn't know God is good. The world thinks they have to leave him. The world wants to redefine truth. That won't set us free. That'll lead us to death and darkness.
You know God is good. You just were reminded the fullest expression of his goodness, or maybe you were told that for the very first time. If you've never done personal business with Jesus, would you just come and let us help you appropriate that into your life by faith? If you know it, would you go and worship him by faith all week long? There is a world that is desperate to know it, and you are his messengers. May your worship begin.
Have a great week of it. We'll see you.