Awaken the Hope of the World

2016 Messages

At this "Raise the Mark" service we prayed and took communion as a church body. JP encouraged us to consider the importance of staying "plugged in" to God through abiding and being the "engine" behind the awakening of the Church through prayer.

Jonathan PokludaApr 24, 2016Matthew 5:14-15; John 15:05; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26; Matthew 5:14-15

Larry York: The first thing that really blessed me when I came… One of the men from the parking team had me roll my window down. He looked at me, and he said, "I've been praying for you." That's a good way to start a conference off, and I am so grateful and thankful for Watermark and their compassion and their care for pastors and for the people who have come.

Don Laing: Each time, as I go to a session or go to a seminar, I'm taking notes and trying to find out not just about what they're doing but how they're communicating what they're doing.

Dennis Budihardja: On the second day, we learned a lot about Merge, Foundation Groups, and re|engage, and we want to make sure that we can bring Merge, Foundation Groups, and re|engage and try to equip our congregation so they themselves can be more motivated, then re-equip ourselves, and then be more fruitful.

Don: On one hand, it's watching and seeing how you guys are developing your pathway and seeing how we can emulate that, not necessarily becoming Watermark over there, but more, "How can we build into our members and not get distracted by the busyness of life and programs but help them focus in on building up people and creating a culture of caring for individuals who will begin to care for those around them?"

Dennis: I just want to thank you for having us. Thank you for praying.

Brent Andrews: Hey, Watermark. Thank you so much for lending us your staff, your people, your volunteers. It has been amazing.

Elijah Musoke: Thank you for having me here. I appreciate you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this conference.

Todd Wagner: Hello, Watermark family and friends. I just am seconds away from finishing our Church Leaders Conference, which we put on because of your renown. You have become a city on a hill, a people whose glory and goodness cannot be hidden. Others have heard of and seen your good works and have given glory to your God in heaven.

They have traveled from eight different countries, 30 different states, a number of different continents just to be here to be reminded and refreshed, to refocus on what it means to really serve and love God and serve people who don't know him yet. We have a chance now to pray for these churches. The request that they have given us… We told them today that we're going to continue to invest in them, that God would make himself famous through them.

We pray that what God has done through us would be multiplied and increased in these other churches and other places while we try to prevail and excel still right where we are. Watermark, we have an incredible privilege to love and encourage and disciple one another, to reach our lost friends in this city, and to pray for the church of Jesus Christ. As I told them this week, there is no such thing as a Watermark way. There are people of God at Watermark who prayerfully walk in the way of Jesus Christ.

I am grateful to get to do it with you. You need to know how the Father used your love for him this week. Thank you for your generosity, for your prayers, for your modeling to the rest of the church what a group of people can be. I pray we're more of it than ever before. Thank you. God bless you. Let's go to war right now together in this city and ride out to war on our knees, praying for these churches. God bless you.

[End of video]

All right, all right. Come on. Let's celebrate what God did. It was incredible. Leading up to the conference, our tech and AV team just did a phenomenal job. They're continuing to run hard even to today, honestly. I gave the other services the opportunity to applaud their work, as they worked into the wee hours of the night. Let's thank our tech and AV team.

One of the things they did was make this amazing light wall behind me out of water bottles. Those are water bottles. They collected 7,000 eight-ounce water bottles, and with some sticks and wires and who knows what, they made that wall behind me. We had talked about this as a feature to the conference. They said, "Come see it and check it out."

I'm walking in, and I get in, and I'm looking at it, and my mind is blown. It's so much bigger and more amazing than anything I could have anticipated. I'm just staring at it from back there, and I'm just like, "Wow!" As I walk down this aisle, instead of saying, "Thank you," or, "Great job," or, "Way to go," what I do is… It was a leadership fail. I walk down this aisle. I walk up the steps. I walk to the back of the wall. I point to the one bulb that is kind of flickering. I go, "Hey, something is wrong here." What is wrong with me? I don't know.

I do that, and they've truly been working until 2:30 in the morning to make that thing happen, and I'm like, "Hey, something is wrong with this bulb." They're like, "Thanks, JP." In my defense, I couldn't really help it. As this wire is crimped, or something is happening to the power of this bulb, it's basically flickering. It's dimmer than all the rest. It's basically just crying out, screaming out for attention.

As I thought about that, moving into the conference… I come from the corporate world. When I came into the church and began to serve in the church and became a member of the church long before I even went on staff at the church, I began to hear this term burnout that I never had heard until becoming a part of the church from Christians. They're like, "Watch out for ministry burnout."

I hear this now a lot. Over the past 11 years, I've heard, "Well, you ask Community Groups this and that, and my schedule is full, and your guys ask so much of us. We're just facing burnout." I have this theory. I just want you to test it. I'm going to put it in front of you. You can see if it's true. Burnout, growing weary, if you will, doesn't ever come from doing too much for God. Burnout comes from doing too much for yourself.

It comes from doing too much of the wrong things or doing the right things by the wrong power. It is God who reached into the miry muck and the pit and saved us and set us on our cornerstone, a solid foundation. He saved it. He did it in spite of us. We did nothing. He saved us. Then we think that it is by our power that we'll be sanctified, that it's by our strength that we're going to become more like Christ.

We become weary because the same God that saved us… We now kind of exclude him from the things we involve ourselves in. We don't go to him. We're not plugged in. We're not abiding. Before you know it, you're running this race, and sooner or later, you burn out. Jesus said this about us. He said in Matthew 5, the most famous sermon of all time, "You are the light of the world, a city on a hill which cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."

What they're saying is… In the first century, lights were extremely expensive. Most households would have one light. Where they would place that light was incredibly important. They would have to place it in a place where the whole house could see. Likewise, God is this masterful builder, and he intentionally places people on purpose.

He placed you in your neighborhood. He placed your children at their schools. He placed you at your work so you can shine, but it's not you shining. It's God. It's Christ's Spirit shining through you. It's you yielding, you surrendering, you continuing to show the world God inside of you. In fact, Jesus says this in John 15. He says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Do you remember how Matthew 5 ends? He says, "…so that the world would see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Not glorify you, but that the world would see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. As Jesus says in John 15, "The way they're going to see your good deeds is you remaining in me as I remain in you, the same power that saved you." It's a surrendering, a yielding, not a doing, not a trying, not a striving, not a bootstrap, not a picking yourself up, but a trust in God.

So often, I see people who are going through the world, trying to do everything they can by their own strength, not realizing that we get to plug into the most powerful force this world has ever seen, God's Spirit at work through his church. We come to this place where God's Spirit is at work. As we plug into it, God's power shines through us. It may feel like we're out in this world all alone, like there is no one to help us, like there is no one else there to share our burdens with us, but we're not alone.

Look around you. Even tonight, even at the 5:00 p.m. service here at Watermark, you're surrounded by hundreds of people, by thousands gathered on this property and at other properties around the world. People are everywhere shining lights. Everywhere around you, folks are coming to know Christ and shining for Christ. They're here. They're in your kids' schools. They're in your neighborhoods. They're all around you.

If you just look, they're at the grocery store. They're everywhere you go. Lights don't shine to be seen. Lights shine so that others may see. Lights don't shine… They're not drawing attention to themselves. "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me over here!" It's not for your glory. It's for God's glory. Light shines so that the world sees Jesus, so that we would show the world around us who Christ is.

This is your purpose. This is why your heart beats in your chest, why you have breath in your lungs, why you are alive. This is the purpose you live for, to show the world Jesus. You do that by plugging into the greatest force this world has ever known. We cannot forsake the things we did at the start, the basics of the faith.

What we're going to do tonight… I said earlier that I think the Church Leaders Conference was the most impactful thing we've ever done or the most significant thing we've ever done. I want you to know that's not true. What we're about to do is the most significant thing we've ever done. We as a body corporately are going to go to God in prayer.

For the next few minutes together… This is our Raise the Mark service. I don't know if you've been to a Raise the Mark service before. I can remember going early on and never wanting to go and always being glad I went on the backside. It was this lesson I couldn't learn. It was this service that we would go to, and we would pray, and it would be kind awkward because we would circle in groups and pray.

Monica would be like, "Let's go to Raise the Mark." I would be like, "I don't want to go to Raise the Mark." Then I would be like, "Oh, I'm so glad I went to Raise the Mark." Then the next one would come. "I don't want to go to Raise the Mark." Then I would be like, "Oh, I'm so glad I went to Raise the Mark."

Here's what I ask of you. I ask that you would stay in this room, especially if you're a member of Watermark, and that you would circle up with those around you and pray. We've given you a prayer guide to help you with that. It's this thing right here. That's not the only opportunity you have. If you're a guest with us this evening, if today is your first time here or if you've just been to Watermark a few times, I have another incredible opportunity for you.

In just a moment when I dismiss you to pray, if you would go outside and up the stairs into the Chapel, we have our First Steps class. That is a safe place for you to ask any questions about this place. Ask about doctrine. Ask about beliefs. Ask about history. Ask any questions you want to know. They'll be in there, and they'll be talking with you. That's a great opportunity for you to go to if you're here for the first time or haven't been hanging out with us long.

If you're here and are an atheist or have questions of the faith or there are things you've really been wrestling with, things like a six-day creation, the death and resurrection, things like dinosaurs in the Bible, things like, "What does this verse mean? How do we reconcile the ideas of predestination and evangelism?" We have our Great Questions class in the South Community Room this evening.

In a moment, when I dismiss you, you can go into that Great Questions class. That's a safe place for you to ask any question of the faith that you've been wrestling with. If you're here and with someone who is not a professing Christian, I would encourage you to take them and go with them into that room and ask some of those questions you've been wrestling with.

In a moment, the rest of us are going to begin to work through this guide. We're going to take it in three sections. We're going to start with this praise and thanksgiving section. If you would circle up with those around you, we'll begin to pray through this praise and thanksgiving section. It's just four bullets. You can read those, if you would. You can go around the circle and read those. You can even take turns expounding upon them in prayer.

The one option I didn't give you… I didn't say, "There is a fourth option. You can go to your car and leave because prayer is not important." I don't say that to shame you. I'm asking you to not do that, please. Please don't leave. Even more specifically, if you have kids in our kids' ministry, it would be disruptive to that classroom to take them.

We're not holding your kids hostage, but we would ask you that you do not disrupt their class until they're finished with the lesson they're learning in there. I'm grateful for you guys. We'll go through this together. We'll be back up in a moment. We have our First Steps class, our Great Questions class, or staying in here in prayer. I'll be back in just a moment working through this first section.

Father, we do thank you just for all of your incredible work around us. Lord, help us to always lead with humility, not an attitude that we have it all figured out but that we would share the things we have learned along the way, the mistakes we've made.

Thank you for just the gift that it is to be a part of a church that teaches truths, a church that impresses upon us the value of community, the value of the Scriptures, the work of your Spirit, and all the things we're learning together. We're grateful for that and pray that you would continue to use us. In Christ's name, amen.

Just as a reminder, we're going to go section by section. We just covered this first section, these first four bullets. We're moving on to this forgiveness and repentance section. One of the most powerful things that happened in this room over the past couple of days was we all received Communion corporately as pastors from all over the world. It was this beautiful, holy moment, if you will.

Before we take Communion together (we will in just a moment), I ask that you would search your heart, that you would repent, that you would turn from any ways or sinful habits in your life, but also that we would repent on behalf of the church, as members of the church, as we look around our country, as we look at the direction we're headed.

Repentance really is different than confession or asking for forgiveness. Repentance is a turning from. It is a refusing to continue in. It is turning from and turning to Christ. I ask that we would do that. Just as you would, pray through these next few bullets together under the forgiveness and repentance headline, and then I'll be back with you in just a moment.

Father, we do confess that we have erred toward truth and grace. All day, I have said this, God, and I think it's so true today. We have either led with spiteful truth and hurt people with the careless slinging of Scripture, or we have led with grace and called it tolerance and watered down your eternal truths, your character, and who you are.

Father, I pray that we would, like Jesus did perfectly, model truth and grace, that you would give us favor…please, God…with those we stand in front of, those who we are with in the grocery store, in our communities, our neighbors next door, those you have placed around us on purpose, the parents of our school kids' friends. I pray, Lord, that you would give us favor with them and that we would faithfully share, full of truth and full of grace, and that you would grow this unstoppable force called the church. In Christ's name, amen.

I'm reading to you from 1 Corinthians 11. The apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth about one of the oldest traditions of the church, known as Communion, when we receive the elements. In a moment, the band is going to play a song. During the song, Communion is self-serve tonight. You can come and receive the elements, the bread and the wine, if you will.

There are tables all around. If you look around, you may look behind you. There might be one closer to you. You can get that at any time during the song on your own, but would you hold it? We will take that together corporately in just a moment. Before you do, I would like you to consider some things.

The other day, we taught out of Matthew 5. We just said, "Hey, if someone has something against you, run and be reconciled to that person. If you're bringing your gift to the altar, and you realize that you've hurt someone, you should leave your gift there and run and be reconciled to them." The most worshipful thing some of us could do right now is go out in the lobby and text a friend, a family member, a coworker and say, "I need to talk," or to call them.

Just say, "I know we are not right. I know I have hurt you. I know I've done something wrong. I know this relationship is off." Maybe it's you and God. Maybe you know that last night or some time this week, you have run from God in the choices you have made. It is time now to get right with him before you would receive Communion. It says in chapter 11, verse 27,

"So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves."

Just take a few moments before you jump up and search your own heart. Pray the prayer of David. "Search me, God. You know when I sit and when I stand. You know anxious ways in me. Would you reveal those to me those areas of my life where I'm not trusting you?" You can come and take the elements back to your seat at any time during this song. We will worship now.

Could you imagine being at dinner with some of your closest friends, knowing that in just hours, a few of them would betray you, that you were going to be abandoned, publicly humiliated, tortured, painfully tortured, and nailed to pieces of wood? The worst part would be the payment, enduring God's wrath for the sins of humanity, the Father who you loved, who you've been one with for eternity past.

The sins of humanity would come between you to the point of death. He says that whenever you do this, this is to serve as a reminder to the gospel. The audacity of us as followers of Christ to call that act, the worst act that humanity has ever known, Good Friday, because it was a payment for us. The Bible says, "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.'"

One thing we practice that I've adopted from this place is just searching our hearts even at the dinner table before we eat together, before we dine, knowing this was a Passover feast, that he was eating a meal with his friends. "Is there anything we have between each other?" Brothers and sisters, is there anything you have between each other?

"In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." I love when I drink this, it does kind of awaken. It makes my mouth kind of clench up, and it awakens my taste buds. That is where we're moving to this evening, really a prayer that God would reawaken the church.

This is our hope. This is all we have. Let me tell you something. I don't know where you are, but the world my kids grow up in will be dramatically different than the world you and I grew up in unless the church responds to the acts of hatred, the heinous crimes around us, the terrible things that are going on in the midst of our country, in the midst of our schools, in the midst of our communities, unless we show them love and truth and react boldly.

We pray that the Lord would reawaken his church in our nation. That is what we're going to do. I'll just end with this short little story that I read this morning about a lady named Pearl Goode. Pearl Goode heard that a young man, an evangelist named Billy Graham was coming to her city. The Lord burdened her heart for this man, Billy Graham. She began to tirelessly pray for him. She bought her tickets to the Crusade. She went in, and she prayed the entire time.

She prayed specifically during his preaching and during the altar call, and she saw God move. She felt the Lord calling her to follow this man and pray around these gatherings, so she did so. She would get hotel rooms wherever the Billy Graham Crusade would travel to. She would sit there and pray. She would sign up to volunteer with them.

They began to see her name city to city to city that they would go to, this same woman volunteering. Someone sought her out and asked her the story and found out she had been praying for them. Then the Billy Graham Crusades funded her to travel with them because they had found what was the engine of this ministry, so much so that Ruth Graham, at Pearl's death, said, "Here lies the mortal remains of the secret of Bill's ministry." That's what his wife said about Pearl Goode.

This is why we pray, friends. We have to return to the things we did at first. Christ saved us in spite of us. Christ sanctifies us. It's his work. This is our efforts to abide in him, to acknowledge him through prayer, to go to him on behalf of the church, as a member of the church. We would ask now that God would reawaken the church. Would you please gather one more time for just a few more minute in those groups? You guys are doing great. Just pray through those last bullets on that page. Then we will wrap up.

Father, we do pray that you would awaken the hope of the world, which is Jesus Christ at work through his body, the church. We just thank you for the opportunity it is to pray for these things, to pray through these bullets, and for the ways you work. We do love you. We do thank you just for the opportunity just to pray corporately and confess. We don't do it enough. It shouldn't be awkward for us. It's something the apostles did in the beginning, as we will soon see in Acts 2. It was the genesis of your church, so may it mark us as a body. In Jesus' name, amen.

I don't know if you guys have ever thought about why the resurrection matters so much. Christ died on the cross for our sins, so our sins are paid for on the cross, his righteousness imputed to us because of the payment that his righteousness accredited to our account in spite of us, something we don't deserve. It could be over, but then there is this resurrection part that goes with the gospel that is so important.

For so long, I thought it was just to show God's power over the grave. I thought that was why it was so important. God was so powerful over the grave that he can resurrect us. I was reading and studying that, and I realized somewhere along the line that it is actually so Christ's Spirit can continue to work through us, that Christ has a role he plays, that he goes to the Father on behalf of us as a mediator.

Not just that in the gospel, but he continues to work in and through us. It is his Spirit. We are sanctified in the same way we came to God. He continues that work through us, his Spirit at work through us, sanctifying us, that we finish this race the same way we started it, that our Redeemer lives. That is the crazy reality that we exist in.

In a moment, you're going to see a celebration as we wrap up and sing corporately and worship together. You're going to see some of my friends who have been in the hospital, some of my friends who have had a chronic illness since birth or some point of their life that it came in, some friends who have been blown up in war. Some of my friends have lost babies, lost infants in their arms due to chromosomal disorders.

I have friends whose marriages have been train-wrecked, and God healed them. A friend of mine was addicted to heroin to the point of near death, and God reached in and saved him and made this incredible missionary and pastor out of him. The reality we live in is that our Redeemer lives. Let's stand together, and let's worship together now.

Praise God. I could watch that a hundred more times. Life is hard, man, but it's a lot harder when you're trying to get through it by your own strength. You have God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, at your back. If we can help you, if you're in the middle of something, and you need the body to rally around you, would you please let us know in that Watermark News?

We would love to pray for you and partner with you and share your burdens in this season or celebrate victories, if that's what the season calls for. We would love to do that with you. Please, let us know. I love how Todd wrapped up the conference in the same way he does every single week up here. He says, "We don't just worship in this room. This is really just a reminder to remind us what we do out those doors." You guys have a great week of worship.