Between the Words ... Pastor Jim’s Perspectives on the Weekend Behind and the Week Yet to Come (January 20, 2020)

By Jim Garrett

January 20, 2020

More of the Vision that Lies before Us

Habbakkuk 2:2
Then the Lord replied:
Write down the revelation
    and make it plain on tablets
    so that a herald may run with it.’”

Proverbs 29:18
“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”

Hebrews 4: 12-13
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Mark 16:15-16
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Sermon Blurb: As we continue to explore God’s 20/20 vision for OCF, we are reminded of the importance of the preaching and teaching of God’s Word AND, we are reminded of the emphasis to be given to the spreading of and empowerment by the Gospel through evangelism. The best way to honor God’s Word and to do the work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, obey, and proclaim the Biblical precedent.

Join us this Sunday at Ontario Christian Fellowship as we explore the direction God has given us at OCF with our series of messages, “2020 Vision”, and as we discover the vision He has given us to following Jesus. Services are at 9:00 and 10:30 AM at 636 Lex-Springmill in Ontario, OH.

Life Principle: The best way to honor God’s Word and to do His called work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, obey, and proclaim the Biblical precedent.

Introduction: Recap of where we have been so far and where we are going:

      • Where does our vision come from?
        • Although tradition is great, we MUST base our direction on the will and purpose of God
        • Our direction from God comes through seeking Him with His Word, prayer, and a journal.
        • We must write down the vision.
        • We must run with the vision.
      • Reiteration of the vision as laid out on January 5- Here are the specifics of what God is speaking to us as His purpose among us at OCF:
        • The Bible and specifically, the Gospel, is to be at the Center of our preaching and teaching
          • Grace is also a significant and important part of the center of our teaching and preaching
          • WE understand that God Himself is the Author of the Bible as He gave it through human men and women – all coordinating and producing a completed work that we know as the 66 books of the Old and New Testament, the Bible.
          • We believe the Bible is authoritative and accurate and worthy to be trusted.
          • The Bible is not to be added to; it is complete in its 66 books.
        • We are to build the Community God has placed us in and surrounded us with 
          • We are to be a house of unity
            • All gossip must cease and never again raise its head in our midst
            • We must be careful to speak only good words about one another. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
          • We are to be a loving fellowship enacting Living Worship
          • We are currently in the midst of a surrounding community that thinks we are the church that is the polling station when it is time to vote. We want to extend/enhance that perception
        • We are to take a deeper refocus and enactment of Evangelism
          • We are to broaden/enlarge our constituency with the Great Commission through Compassionate Outreach
          • We are to bolster and enhance OCF’s Missions efforts – both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and among the uttermost parts of the world. 
          • We are to intentionally focus on becoming more of a sending church—sending out teachers, pastors, and missionaries
          • Much of this sending will incorporate other aspects of our vision.
            • As a sending church, we must also continually be a praying church over those whom we send forth.
            • As a sending church, we must also be a discipleship/training center (somewhat) for those who we send forth.
        • We are to focus on being a house of Discipleship
          • We are to plan and prepare for a growing, challenging faith 
          • We are to recognize the impact of Spiritual Warfare- Not fighting the personalities in and among us but knowing that our conflicts come through the spiritual realms and then, fighting against those principalities and powers while protecting those blessed brothers and sisters among us.
          • We MUST learn to Celebrate our wins
            • Increase in Baptism
            • Double baptism offerings to twice per year (at this time) with an eye toward quarterly baptisms. We have a pond, a chapel pool, and a portable watering trough for use in sanctuary
            • Increase and enhancement of Communions
              • Move to make the distribution of elements quicker and more orderly in second service/ Review of distribution in the first service
              • Encourage partaking together in smaller community situations in additional to regular church communion
          • We are to be a house of Prayer through an Increased emphasis on and practice of prayer throughout the entire church.
          • We are to make efforts toward becoming a house of genuine Worship
            • Music
            • Gifts, arts, and talents
            • Deeds

This week, we will focus on a couple other elements of the vision God is placing before us.

Life Principle: The best way to honor God’s Word and to do His called work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, obey, and proclaim the Biblical precedent.

          1. The Bible and specifically, the Gospel message, the Good News, is to be at the Center of all our preaching and teaching

Illustration: “The Protection of the Bible”

Martin Luther made this statement: “Mighty potentates have raged against this book, and sought to destroy and uproot it – Alexander the Great and princes of Egypt and Babylon, the monarchs of Persia, of Greece and of Rome, the Emperors Julius and Augustus – But have prevailed nothing. They are gone while the book remains, and it will remain forever and ever, perfect and entire as it was declared at first. Who has thus helped it – who has protected it against such mighty forces? No one, surely, but God Himself, who is master of all things.”

          1. While we do not want to become guilty of bibliolatry – which is worship of the Book, idolatrous homage to a book, or the deifying of a book – all of which are forms of idolatry – we do recognize that the Bible is the Living Word of God.

Hebrews 4: 12-13- “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

            1. It is the very Word of God Himself.
            2. God produced His Word and preserved it through men and women.

2 Peter 1:19-21- “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

              1. His Word is completely reliable.
              2. It is designed to give us His light.
              3. It is not to gather private interpretation but is to be understood in community. (There’s that word that is part of our vision—community.)
              4. Prophetic word here equals visionary word or revelatory word.
              5. And God confirms that His Word originates in and from Him.
              6. And God confirms that His Word is preserved and carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Life Principle: The best way to honor God’s Word and to do His called work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, obey, and proclaim the Biblical precedent.

          1. God has purposed His Word. His Word has a purpose.

2 Timothy 3: 15-17- “… and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

              1. God purposed His Word to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. (There is a clear understanding of another part of the vision – evangelism – making us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.)
              2. His Word is useful for teaching.
              3. His Word is useful for rebuking.
              4. His Word is useful for correcting.
              5. His Word is useful for training in righteousness. (Remember, those whom God calls, He equips.)
              6. And the ultimate purpose of God’s Word is so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
              7. Keep in mind that Grace, which is WHAT the Bible is full of from OT to NT, is also a significant and important part of the center of our teaching and preaching. We are a church whose desire is Biblical grace and reconciliation.
          1. So, we will review our pulpit messages and be sure they are true to the Word of God.
          2. We will review periodically our curricula and be sure that they are true to the Word of God.
          3. We will assure that all who present the Word of God at OCF will stay current in their relationship with the Lord.
          4. We will assure that each person who speaks forth or writes out the Word of God are themselves being bathed in the Word of God and its teachings. Many call this continual education.

Life Principle: The best way to honor God’s Word and to do His called work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, obey, and proclaim the Biblical precedent.

          1. We are to take a deeper refocus and enactment of Evangelism

Mark 16:15-16- “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

          1. We do plan to the continuation of two separate and distinct services on Sundays.
            1. This brings an awareness of the need for update/enhancement of chapel lobby area.
            2. We will give increased attention to care and growth for all current ministries in the church
            3. Although this thought bleeds into other areas of vision, it does address the need for increased discipleship ministries, including additional adult Sunday School and enhanced small groups.
              1. Men’s Ministries has been in the infancy stage through such superficial means as open gym nights from time to time.
                1. Men’s Ministries will take on a more focused and targeted approach to gifting our men with many enhancements.
                2. There will be defined breakfasts and suppers
                3. There will be opportunities for devotional gatherings of men only
                4. There will be planned outreach events guided by the men
              2. Women’s Ministries will continue in their growth and have regularly planned events.
                1. These will include various gatherings around tea and coffees, sandwiches, etc.
                2. There will be an inclusion of a couple advances during the year.
                3. This will also include some quarterly gatherings such as the Ladies Christmas banquet and others.
          2. Enhanced Children’s Ministries
            1. We are looking at an Enhancement of Children’s Sunday School
            2. We are also looking to enhance our “every-six-weeks” Children’s Church ministry to include dynamic teaching, crafts, puppets, skits, and other involvement of the children themselves.
              1. To focus on the children actually doing some of the praying for one another during these six-week events.
              2. To see the children learning to become ministers in training.
              3. We will assure that these who minister to the children in Children’s Church will be equipped with that they have need of – including on-going training.

Life Principle: Remember, the best way to honor God’s Word and to do His called work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, obey, and proclaim the Biblical precedent.

          1. We see the need for and are addressing times to grow together as married couples, as parents, as single people, as grandparents, as those who are grieving, as widows/widowers, and others.
            1. The plan is to plan and implement classes, and small groups to address these needs.
            2. There will also be retreats/advances to address these needs and to minister to one another in these situations.
          2. We are working to broaden/enlarge both the Kingdom of God AND our local constituency with the Great Commission through Compassionate Outreach.

Illustration: EVANGELISM

I recently heard a story about a young man who applied for a job as an usher at a local movie theater. As a part of his interview process, the manager asked him, "What would you do in case a fire breaks out?"

The young guy answered, "Don’t worry about me. I can get out fine."

That’s exactly how many of us today would respond to a lost and dying world around us. If you asked them "What would you do if Jesus came back tomorrow?", they would probably respond, "Oh, don’t worry about me. I’d be fine."

But what is all too easy to forget is that you’re an usher! It isn’t enough just to get yourself out. You are responsible for helping others know the way as well.

              1. We had been planning on an evangelism class/seminar to make all who are willing -- better equipped for and more excited about -- evangelism and winning our friends to Christ.
              2. We are also looking at evangelism engagement where we actually take proactive opportunities to tell others about Jesus.
          1. We are bolstering and enhancing OCF’s Missions efforts – both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and among the uttermost parts of the world. 
            1. Plans are to continue to engage in Upward Basketball as a community evangelistic outreach.
            2. We will continue to engage in People Helping People, Matthew 25 Outreach, and Salvation Army.
            3. We will also continue in our engagement with Richland Pregnancy Services and the Shelter for abused women.
            4. We look for greater participation with current community elements
              1. Love Inc.
              2. Mansfield Pastor’s Network
            5. But we will also look in our community for other areas of ministry that we sense God is leading us – possibly even starting such ministries if none are currently in existence.
              1. Engagement to minister to addicts.
              2. Edification within the local churches through prayer and praise events like the March for Prayer.
          2. We are to intentionally focus on becoming more of a sending church—sending out teachers, pastors, and missionaries.
            1. We will continue and enhance altar calls for the purpose of identifying those among us who sense God’s calling
            2. We will establish and conduct training for missionaries, teachers, and pastors.
          3. We will Celebrate our wins

Life Principle: The best way to honor God’s Word and to do His called work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, obey, and proclaim the Biblical precedent.

              1. We will Increase and celebrate our Baptisms

Illustration: EVANGELISM?

Several years ago, a 4-year study funded by the Lily Endowment designed to identify and analyze highly effective examples of evangelism by congregations in 7 mainline denominations reached two primary findings: (1) Of the 30,000 churches that qualified for the Mainline Evangelism Project, only 1/2 of 1% (.0005%) are baptizing a significant number of adults (conversion baptisms). This translates to 150 churches of a qualifying survey pool of more than 30,000. The average age of churches qualifying in the study as evangelistic was 89 years.

                    1. Immediately, we will double our baptism opportunity offerings to twice per year (at this time) with an eye toward quarterly baptisms. We have a pond, a chapel pool, and a portable watering trough for use in sanctuary
                    2. We will increase the frequency and enhance the Communion opportunities
                    3. Move to make the distribution of elements quicker and more orderly in second service and, we will review of distribution of communion elements in the first service
                    4. Encourage partaking together in smaller community situations in additional to regular church communion
                1. Enhanced community/Fellowship through meals and activities together
                  1. Calendars have already been drawn up and are currently being proof-read to be sure we have no overlapping dates.
                  2. Unity among us is a critical point in presenting the Gospel to the local community. How can we expect them to follow what is apparently NOT working for and in us?

Conclusion:

As we look at this vision over these weeks -- and how this vision affects us, we want to be sure that we ALL understand that it is not simply pie-in-the-sky words; these are real efforts and opportunities that God is placing before us to accomplish His will and purpose in us, OCF, this community, and the world.

And as we have continued to explore God’s 2020 vision for OCF, we have been reminded of the importance of the preaching and teaching of God’s Word AND, we have been reminded of the emphasis to be given to the spreading of and empowerment by the Gospel through evangelism. Now, we leave this place shortly knowing the best way to honor God’s Word and to do the work of evangelism is to understand, preserve, and proclaim His Biblical precedent.

Life Action Steps:

            • Preach the unadulterated Word of God.
            • Do the work of an evangelist
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