Living Bolder as We Grow Older

Acts: Jerusalem

In light of adding a Saturday service, Todd challenges us to go back to the basic and be bold in telling others about Jesus. What's more he gives us the opportunity to share our faith during the service. As Watermark grows we need to seek to be biblical not bigger, courageously sharing our faith with others.

Todd WagnerAug 21, 2016Psalms 23; Luke 11:27-28; Acts 4:29

We're about to wrap up Acts, chapter 4. The book of Acts is an interesting story. It's the story of how God is continuing to work in our day and age not through his revelation by law or through the prophets, not even through his Son who is the exact representation of his nature. God is now working through his spiritual body, which is the church.

There's a little marker in the book of Acts that shows up about six different times, and it says, "And the Word of God kept increasing in power, and the church grew in influence." That keeps showing you that God is, in fact, going to pull off what he hoped to pull off when he wooed people to him through the message and provision of his Son.

Here we are 2,000 years later. God has not chosen to move to the next primary way of dealing with humanity. He's still using his church in this day and age, and our hope is that as we continue to gather together and equip each other, that the Word of God would continue to increase and the church would grow in influence, not just in size.

I don't know if you guys realize, but what an effect we did yesterday as we planted another campus. Every time we plant another campus, and we just felt like the right stewardship of the facility God has given us through the sacrificial giving of folks who have participated in the vision of what we have going on here… We just felt like we needed to go ahead and use Saturday. We knew people wanted that as an option even more than some folks Sunday night.

We obviously put some folks in Plano. A group in Fort Worth rose up and said, "We want to help you disciple and equip to reach the church in Fort Worth." So we did that. There are other folks who are beginning to do some other things you might hear about, but we went ahead and planted another campus, if you will, here on the Dallas Campus. We met last night, but we're not just trying to have more folks come to a room, sit, and call that church.

The church is not a place you come to. The church is siting next to you right here in seats, individuals who have been, if you listened to what we said last week, praying boldly that God would do something great. Acts 4 is a great section of Scripture. It's the beginning of spiritual warfare against the church. That warfare manifests itself in persecution. The church wasn't surprised that persecution was coming.

Jesus, at the very end of his life, told them, "Hey, I'm just going to tell you, in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world." So when trouble came, the disciples were not like, "What is this? I thought God was going to be for us. Who could be against us?" Well, there were going to be some people against them, and when they said, "We're going to do you physical harm," they knew these guys meant business, because they had seen them execute on that threat to their Master. So they took it very seriously.

We're talking about how the church responded. Do you remember Acts, chapter 4, verses 29-30? You should know this, because there were thousands of you who committed to take that little card we handed you last week, put it on your dash or by your speedometer or wherever it might be, that you would get in your car and read those verses and be a person who would be compelled by their example to be as bold as they were. We've been praying boldly all week.

I don't know if you realize this, but if all of the folks who took cards last week got in and out of their car three times a day and, every time they did, looked at that little card and said, "Lord, enable your servants to speak your Word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to save every person in Dallas, and use us…" If everybody who took one of these cards last week prayed three times a day, over the next 30 days, over a million prayers just from this community would go up before our Father, saying, "We're serious about being your people in this city."

So we're not just praying boldly. We're people who are trying to act boldly, because we pray to remind ourselves what we're doing to get our minds aligned with what God wants. So what did the church do? When they experienced persecution, they didn't say, "O God, change this circumstance. Get something else going on."

Acts 4:29, as this card says: "Now, Lord, consider their threats…" It doesn't say, "And take them out so we don't have wicked people jacking with us." They said, "Lord, look at what's happening. They're threatening us that they're going to beat us, so that might make us want to not be who you want us to be." Their prayer was, "So enable your servants to speak the Word with great boldness in light of the trouble you told us would come."

The fact that people would say, "What do you guys care about somebody who lived 2,000 years ago? What relevance does he have with your life? Aren't you scientific? Don't you want to catch up with the spirit of the age? Don't you know that people who hold to a morality like this are not being embraced by our culture anymore?" Lord, in light of that and the intimidations that might be coming… Who knows what they'll turn out in our culture? Like we said last week, it is not probably physical just yet, but certainly emotional and social.

We said, "Lord, don't stop it. Help us to speak forward your Word with grace and winsomeness, with great boldness, and may you show your power through healings and signs and wonders through your servant Jesus Christ. Use us. Let us be his hands and feet." That's what we've been praying. What I love is that two weeks ago, when I spoke on that little section of Scripture before that in Acts 4:12, it starts with that little verse that says, "There is salvation in no one else."

I talked about what makes a man fit for judgment, fit for ministry, and a fit response to criticism. I quoted Acts 4:12, which says, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Just to show you that you don't have to go to some obscure place to find folks who need to hear the gospel, I talked about how I walked up to a bunch of folks and just said, "Hey, let me ask you a question." I'd find people who were just kind of standing there and have an opportunity to converse with them.

I said, "Hey, I want to ask you a quick question. You can just give me a yes or no answer if you want, but I'm just curious. If you needed to tell me who the historical person named Jesus was and what significance he has to do with my life and yours, could you do that?" I was just curious what would happen in Dallas, Texas, if I asked that question.

Ninety percent of the folks I talked to gave me, "Uh, no, I really couldn't. I don't really want to talk about that." Right here. One mom with a little child said, "Tell him, sweetie. Tell him who Jesus is and what role he has in our lives." Everybody else was, "No." Some of them wanted to have a conversation about it. Others just went, "I gave you my answer. No." And I moved on.

Well, after that message, what I love is that one of you left here and went to get gas at Preston and LBJ, and as you were filling up your car with gas, you were sitting there thinking about what we talked about that day and how God wants us to be his hands and feet here and to speak with boldness about the fact that this historical figure named Jesus has great relevance to our lives and our forever. You saw five guys get out of the car, and they were kind of talking about how they were going to put gas in it and afford what was going on there, and one guy started pumping.

So he just walked over and said, "Hey man, let me ask you a question. We're both here getting gas. I was just down the road, and somebody asked me this question. I thought it was a great question. Do you mind if I ask the five of you guys?" They all kind of looked at each other and went, "No, we're just waiting for the car to fill up and talking about how we're going to split it." He said, "Well, listen. Do you guys know who the historical Jesus is and what relevance he has to your life and mine?"

They kind of went, "Oh man." They kind of hemmed and hawed around. They go, "No." One guy goes, "Look, man. We don't know anything right now. We're all cramming for tests. We're about to finish a technical training in a trade school we're all in, and we were together talking. We have to go back. We have a couple more weeks, and then we're going to graduate." The guy goes, "Really? You guys have been studying. You're about to graduate. What are you studying?"

It turns out they were getting ready as men… They had put a pretty significant amount of money into this trade school where they were learning a service so they could come to your and my home and keep it cooled and make sure everything was operating like it was. He goes, "That's amazing. Let me ask you a question. If my friends and I took you guys to lunch just to celebrate your hard work and to affirm you and what you're doing, throw a graduation party, would you come and let us buy you lunch?"

They went, "This is weird. We're just pumping gas with each other, and you want to invite us to lunch." But sure enough they go, "Sure." He goes, "Great. A week from today let's meet here. I'm going to go hang out with those people I was with today. You can come with me if you want, but then we're going to go have lunch and we'd invite you to come with us." So they went. Three of the five showed up. Two said they couldn't get there.

They said, "If you told us earlier we would have Ubered you over," but they met with the three. They bought them lunch. They celebrated their work and what they were doing, and they told them about the historical Jesus. The guy goes, "And we still want to throw you guys a graduation party when you finish in two weeks." One of the guys said, "Well, if you really want to do something great, why don't you throw a graduation party for all 200 of us?" He goes, "Done."

So, one of you, wanting to be the church and not just hear about what the church used to be, went to the president of that trade school, sat with him, and said, "Hey, my friends and I want to throw a graduation party for all of your students. We want to buy them all a gift, and we want to talk to them about what will set them up for success in life and make them successful, not just in this life but the life to come."

So pray boldly with me. That president is trying to figure out if he's going to give them that access this Saturday to talk to all 200. By the way, he said, "I don't want to do it just this weekend. I want to do it every six weeks with every graduating class you have. I want to celebrate and affirm every one of them for being hardworking, diligent men who want to be contributors to our society, and I want to speak into them." Somebody who wants to contribute something really meaningful to them.

How about that? That's what we do. That's how when you pray boldly and you sit here and listen and you go, "Man, I want to be about that. I want to go to work. I don't want to just invite people to come to church. I want to be the church." Whenever we start a new campus, we tell people all the time, "Hey, listen. Our deal is we don't want to come and do church for you that you want to go to. We want to help you be the church that God wants you to be for your friends and your community." That's who we are. It's what we do. I hope that excites some of you.

Here's what's awesome. I am ready (I've been for weeks) to teach Acts 4:32-37, and I can't wait. I say it here all the time. If you're a member of Watermark, you'll never be homeless. You'll never be hungry, without shelter, without clothing. As long as we have provision, you'll have provision. We're going to talk about how we care for each other in a way that is the right response to the criticism that we believe in something crazy.

We're going to show you that what we are is crazy to love each other the way God loves us with everything we have. We're going to walk through the mechanics of that next week. That's an application of Acts 4:32-37. But I told the elders and other leaders of this church, "Hey, look. As we grow again, I want to take a moment on one of the most crowded Sundays of the year and make sure we're not just growing more attenders. I want to make sure we're still the church."

Have you been praying boldly for God to give you an opportunity to ask somebody the question? "Hey, man, do you know who the historical Jesus is and what relevance he has to your life and mine?" If you wonder where those people are who need that conversation, well, they're all around you. Guess what? They're really close to you right now. When you walked in today, we handed you a Watermark News story. The Watermark News story always has a great shot that our arts team takes of somebody, and it shares their story of grace.

Guess what? There's no picture this week. Have you noticed that? If you open it up, the story this week… It looks like there are some lines to fill in there, because the story is you. I went to Acts 26 and pulled out that little section of Scripture that talks about Paul's journey before he knew Christ, how he came to know who Christ is, and how his life was changed after. That's how you share your story of grace.

Do me a favor. If you're here and you're a member, and by a member I mean you've been to the membership class. You're somebody who has shared your story of grace with somebody else. You're now in community with at least three other believers. You're practicing the "one anothers" of Scripture, shepherding and encouraging and exhorting each other on all the time. You've discovered and developed and are deploying your gifts for God's glory somewhere, and you filled out your 4B form this year when you evaluated your own walk with Christ.

If that's your story, just raise your hand. Keep them up for a second. Look around you. These are the folks who have done that. Just take note of those members. Did you all put your eyes on somebody like that? Now look. Let me tell you what's true of the hands you just saw go up. By their own testimony, these people who just put their hands up… Over 85 percent of them have said, "I intentionally spend time reading and meditating on God's Word out of desire to better know him and follow him throughout my day."

Over 85 percent of the people who just put their hands up do that at least three to four days a week, many of them five, and many of them six and seven times. That's who you just saw do that. Not only that, but of those folks, 97 percent of them say they share what they are learning from God's Word with the members they do life with on a regular basis. That means they're studying God's Word and are ready to tell you what they're learning from God or being reminded of about God.

Not only that, but a full 96 percent say at least occasionally and 64 percent say often or consistently they're able to answer objections and questions you might have about the Christian faith. They're right there. Those guys who raised their hands said, "I think I can do that. I can walk them through. I at least know where to go to get answers." Even better, 98 percent of them can clearly articulate their story of grace. They can share the significance of the cross of Christ and how you can have a relationship with God through Jesus. Ninety-eight percent of them can do that.

Now watch. I'll tell you why I'm doing this. I'm going to give them a chance to do it right now. Before we go bigger, I just want to make sure we are who we want to be. We've been praying boldly for a week. Right, church? So what I'm going to give you now is an extended time. The reason I went a little longer before is because I wanted you to build a relationship to go back to.

Some of you guys up there are like, "Hey, I met somebody. It was their first time too." If you want to understand a little bit, there's one place in Scripture where folks specifically asked Jesus, "Will you teach me something?" You can go to, and you might just want to read with each other a little section of Luke and ask each other the questions that are there to be discussed.

But I know some of these folks are going to want to come up there and meet with you and go, "Look, you came to Watermark today because you wanted to meet God and know more about him." Well, guess what? You get to have a conversation with somebody in a very normal way, where they're just going to share with you their story of grace and who Jesus is and what he has done for them.

They might just say, "Hey, do you know who the historical Jesus is and the significance he plays in a person's life? Let me let you meet somebody whose life he has played a role in." You don't have to go find somebody pumping gas. They're right here. Some of you guys are like, "Okay, sweetie. When he says go, we're leaving." Obviously, you're free to do that, but I'm telling you. We're going to do this for 15 minutes, and then I'm going to come back up and give you some really solid application on something I think is going to encourage you, if you're not already greatly encouraged.

If you leave, I might ask you to consider please not going to get your kids, because your kids aren't breaking like that. They're your kids. You can go get them right now if you'd like, obviously, but it will disrupt a little bit of what they're in the middle of. So be free, but just be aware of that. What I would encourage you right now is you're going to get a chance to engage. You've been praying boldly, looking for an opportunity. Let's go, church. So stand up. You have 20 minutes. Share your story. Here we go.

Hey, let me explain to you a couple of things. This is really important. I hate that I'm cutting off folks in the middle of what I believe are some of the most significant conversations you could possibly have. Let me start by saying this. Please don't tell the 11:00 or 5:00 people what we're doing. What you can say with integrity… If they go, "Hey, how was it today?" you can say, "Man, it was the best message anybody has ever shared at Watermark," and you can brag on yourself.

Gang, the reason I felt compelled to do this is because this is who we are. We're not folks who just fill up rooms. We're people whose hearts have been filled with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, and we need to be ready. We've been praying all week. I've been praying for you passionately that you'd be bold with one another today and just say, "Let me tell you my story of grace. It's not just that I've been around Jesus. This is when he became my Lord and shepherd. Psalm 23: 'The Lord is my shepherd.' Not a shepherd. He's mine. This is when he became mine, when I didn't know just a story about him, but I had a relationship begin with him."

We want you to know that our desire is not to get you to come hang out with us on this campus. This is a campus that I'm so grateful that folks have given generously to over the years so we could build a room like this so we could gather with our friends, lift up who God is through song and creative media, and then open up God's Word and show you how relevant it is and then call you to respond to it. It's what we do. And then scatter to be the church.

There's a reason I wore this tee shirt today. You guys may know what this is. We have a clinic that we put in one of the most under-resourced parts of Dallas. It's about three miles from here, and it's called the Watermark QuestCare Clinic. It's a partnership with members of Watermark who run a business that provides the medical leadership and emergency rooms all around Texas, Oklahoma, and other parts of the country.

In order to help minimize folks who use emergency rooms as their place of primary care and folks can't afford it and hospitals are slowed down from helping people who have a real emergency crisis, we opened up a primary care clinic. We saw thousands of patients the first year. It grew even more the next year. We're on track to grow by another 1,000 or 2,000 people. Almost 8,000 folks will come and receive dignified, excellent medical care in a community where they don't usually get it. The stories are amazing that come out of there.

I want to tell you why I wore this shirt, because a lot of folks go, "Todd, we're up to 8,000 folks this year who are going to come and see docs," and now we're starting a dental program over there for folks. It has just been tremendous, but what I said is, "Hey, before we grow over there, I want to make sure we're doing what we said we wanted to do," because we're going to take the felt real needs of people and meet them, but we're doing it for a very specific purpose.

Our goal is not to get to 80,000 people coming through QuestCare. Our goal is that everybody who comes through, in addition to hearing about how trained medical staff want to bring physical healing to them, that we have been trained to help them know the Divine Physician who wants to bring spiritual healing to their lives.

Every single one of those people who come through have had a personal conversation with somebody like you. Over 90 volunteers work there to meet them and walk with them through the process and share with them their story of grace and the kindness of God and how it's making its way through healing at the QuestCare Clinic.

You see, we don't want to get bigger and run more patients through. We want to care for the physical needs of people, but we do that so we can tell them God loves them. He cares about their physical body. He created it. The physical body has received a curse, so sin and death and other kinds of diseases affect it, so there's a healing balm and we want to do everything we can, but it's going to eventually die. You guys do realize good health is only the slowest possible route to the grave. That's all it is. We're all dying. Every one of us is terminal.

So let's help each other on that journey. Here's the thing. Jesus wants to right now jump in with you and make this troublesome world filled with a little bit more peace because you walk with God and you know he's good and you are not going to add more trouble to your world that's filled with trouble. So before we grow over there, we always say, "Do we have the volunteers to really love everybody who comes in with the most important way we can love them?" and if not we slow it down.

Same thing here. We grew again, and there are a lot of people who do what I do who would go, "Man, Todd, you've got something going on over there, and you should be really encouraged." I hope you're on the Journey with me. I hope you're going to read tomorrow. There's a great passage in Luke 11 we're going to be at tomorrow, where Jesus was talking powerfully and using illustrations that were really enlightening to folks.

This woman was just listening to what Jesus said, and in the middle of it a woman stood up in a crowd like this and just said this. It's kind of an odd way to encourage people. It's going to be especially awkward for us, but this is what happens. This is in the Bible. This is Luke 11:27. A woman stood up and went, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!"

It'd be kind of awkward if somebody right now would go, "Hey, Todd, Watermark is growing. There are another several thousand folks who have come here. Blessed is the womb that bore you, Pastor, and the breasts at which you nursed," we'd all go, "Wow, that's not really a culturally sensitive way to say 'Good job.'" But think about that. That's what they said to Jesus. Without looking, what do you think Jesus said? What she just said was, "Hey, man, you're a gift to us. The woman who brought you into this world…"

They're talking about Mary, which if you haven't noticed, some people make a big deal about Mary, and we should too. Just because somebody wrongly venerates her and deifies her and thinks we have to go through her to get to Jesus, which is error, doesn't mean we shouldn't learn from all of the amazing things that are true about Mary, because Mary has a lot to offer us. But do you know what Jesus said when somebody said, "Man, your mom rocks"? He said, "On the contrary. Do you want to know who's blessed? The one who hears my Word and does it."

"Hey, Pastor, Watermark is growing. That's awesome! Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed." On the contrary, blessed is the pastor, blessed is the follower of Jesus, not who goes to an amazing place where there are amazing people and amazing facilities to steward and more people come every week. No. On the contrary, blessed is the church who hears his Word and does it.

I wanted to make sure we understood that before we grew again, because if we're just hearers who aren't doing, we're deluding ourselves. I'm so proud of you. I've been praying that you've been bold all week. I've been praying you'd be bold today. I'm praying for the groups here at 11:00 and 5:00. We'll do it again.

If you want to hang around, sit up there, and be ready to go and love people, hang around and love people with us. Here's the deal. We're going to let you go in a minute, and you're going to go love the world. There are a lot of folks who will never come in here who God is going to bring you to, and he wants to bring them into a relationship with him.

We're going to close with two songs. Here's the thing. God doesn't love us because we're big. I've always said this. I don't care how big Watermark gets as long as we're biblical, but if we're not biblical, let's not get bigger, because we're just creating more problems. But if we're God's people, I pray it would just take over the earth. If you've been here today and you wonder what God's… This is God's heart. It's about to be sung to you. "Come, you sinners, weak and weary." Come to him. Walk with us as we walk with him.

You need to know something. God is not going to forgive us because we walk well with him. He's going to forgive us because we acknowledge we need forgiveness, and his perfect Son's provision for us has overwhelmed us and we're trusting in him, not what we're doing in response to him. I want you to know, church, God loves you. He wants to bless you. Do you want to be blessed? Get to know him. Hear him and apply it. We're just going to close by declaring that to one another. Are you ready? Let's preach, church. Here we go. Let's sing.

Listen. I don't know what you think makes God love us. It's not because we're starting more services. It's not because we were faithful with the 20 minutes we got right here. It's not because we prayed boldly this week. It's not because we took advantage of opportunities by gas pumps. It's not because we're in Equipped Disciple or Men's Summit. It's not because we're doing the Journey. It's because of God's crazy, ridiculous grace and love. He just seeks us.

If you still think there's something you can do to make God love you more, you just haven't been listening. He loves us. He just says, "You want to be blessed? Then listen to me, because I'm not telling you what to do so I can love you. I'm telling you what to do because I love you." Do you see the difference?

We're just trying to learn to walk with him, and he's just saying, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on that law he meditates day and night." It's better than Mary's way, and it's what we want to be: his church, not earning anything but responding to everything.

So let's pray boldly, church. We have three more weeks. We have 750,000 more prayers to offer up. Three more weeks of getting after it so we get after it all the time. We just go, and we want to have a great week of worship. Thank you for the way you love each other. I knew you're the church. I know you are. Let's go be it for a world that doesn't know how the goodness of our God is there for them. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.