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Christ's Community Church

Fully You (3) - Abundant Life

Welcome to Christ’s Community Church. This morning we’re in week number three of our message series “Fully You”. We've been reflecting on your new identity in Christ, talking about shaking off the old ways, unlearning the old patterns of living, and those things of this world that keep you from walking as who Christ says you are. You see, our identity is found in Him and his life was characterized by fullness, he was overflowing, full of joy and full of the Holy Spirit. John tells us in his gospel that Jesus was…

“Full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

And so, Jesus led from a place of abundance, a position of fullness as he built others up. He was constantly encouraging people, urging them to take it up another level, to live by a higher standard, to do greater works, to follow through on commitments so that they may finish the race well.

Last week we talked about living life with purpose, living out your purpose in Christ, and we saw how Jesus lived with purpose. We see this in his example and the very fact that he stated it very clearly. He said that he came for sinners, he came to give his life as a ransom for many, and not to be served but to serve. Jesus came so that we may have...

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

His desire was that we would have the full measure of his joy within us, that we would experience a full life, an abundant life, and so today we’re going to look at the example that Jesus left for us.

Now, some of you may be familiar with what they call a reserve tank, most motorcycles and some trucks have these, and it’s just a separate fuel tank. And so, if you’re running low on fuel you just flip a switch so that you can drive a little further on your reserve fuel supply. However, what I’ve noticed is that many people spend most of their time running on reserve. Instead of flipping the switch and filling up at their next opportunity, they continue driving until it becomes critical. And for those that don’t have a reserve tank, many of them drive until there is the potential for an emergency situation. When they do finally put fuel in their tank it’s barely enough to move the gauge past E.

And I’m saying this from experience, because I remember how many people would drop off their cars at the garage with their fuel tank on empty. There have been so many times when I had to take somebody’s vehicle for a test drive and had to pray all the way to the gas station so that I could take a test drive. The problem with running on reserve, running on empty all the time, is that you’re not using your time effectively, your limiting what you can do and how long you can do it. And so, you’re not serving others because you don’t have anything left to give. You’re not building others up because you’re overwhelmed trying to hold yourself together. You’re feeling empty, you’re discouraged and without hope, constantly wanting to quit. But Jesus desire, his will is that you would have a full life, an abundant life, and so therefore we must keep a full tank.

Now, the responsibility to make sure your tank is full is not your friend’s, your spouse’s, or your mother or father’s, but yours, each of us individually. And it’s not something that you do one weekend out of the month or even every few days, but it’s a daily process of making sure spiritually that your tank is full and you’re not running on empty. This is really important because if you don’t do it daily, you’re endangering yourself, your loved ones, and you’re restricting your ability to be “Fully You”. And so, today I want to single out three things you need to do to maintain a full tank spiritually. Number one...

1. FINDING THE RIGHT TIME TO FILL UP

Now, something that’s always amazed me is how so much worship of God centers around food. You know, in the Old Testament, the Israelites were always having a barbecue, there was what the Bible tells us was a pleasing aroma rising to the Lord. And the Hebrew calendar actually revolved around special celebrations or feast days when they would take off work and get cleaned up, so that they could worship together, fellowshipping together and eating. In fact, in the New Testament, we read in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus came doing what? Luke wrote,

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking..." (Luke 7:34).

And so, Jesus came eating and drinking so much that some people accused him of what? They said he was…

“A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’" (Luke 7:34).

Jesus, Immanuel, the one who is "God with us", gather together in the context of community, eating and doing life together with his people, the lost sheep of Israel so much so that the people thought he was the party guy. They thought he was a glutton and a drunkard because he was always there, a friend of tax collectors and sinners, but this was Jesus, the sinless Son of God, and so he wasn’t drunk, he wasn’t overeating, he was simply enjoying life in the context of community. And so, the thing that we need to learn and understand from Jesus’ example is that we need to fill up on the right things.

What’s sad today is that we’ve got so much technology that we’ve blessed ourselves into isolation. You know, there are some of you who come home, the garage door opens, and it’s like you’re driving into the Batcave. You get out of the car and walk into your climate-controlled house, you click on the TV and you’ve got so many choices. Your phone rings, but it’s right in your pocket and you’ve got caller ID, and so it’s like you don’t even have to talk to anybody. You can screen your calls and so you just really don’t have to interact with anybody these days. But here’s what you need to do, you need to make sure that you take advantage of that time alone, you need to spend your time alone filling up on the right things.

Now, when I say "alone", what I’m talking about is being offline, cellphone is off, no TV, no podcasts, no playlists. Just alone, you and God, as David says in the Psalms...

“I have stilled and quieted my soul” (Psalm 131:2)

And so, it’s just you and God. I'm talking about spending time alone each day, undistracted and undisturbed, giving yourself a chance to decompress and recharge. You see, this is something that we should seek, something that we should do every day, because God says we need to what? He says…

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

And I know if you’re married you probably wake up each day with your spouse, rushing to get breakfast, to get ready for work, to get the kids off to school, so that you get to work on time. Then you rush home at night to a family and chores that need your attention, and then you fall asleep so that you can repeat the process the next day. And that’s the way our lives are, it probably won’t ever change, but in the midst of this crazy world we live in we’ve got to be still, spending time with God, so that we may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.

We’ve got to learn to make the most of our time, redeeming the time, and filling every moment we can with the right things. That’s why the Bible tells us in Ephesians chapter 5, “Don’t get drunk, because that will ruin your life, instead be filled with the Holy Spirit” (vs. 18). And then number two, you want to go out of your way to spend time with those who would encourage you. Spending time with the right people.

2. SPENDING TIME WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE

I’d like to encourage you to seek out people who have the spiritual maturity to speak encouragement into your life and to get with them on a regular basis so that you’re not living on emotional empty all the time. You see, if you’re familiar with fasting, you know your body’s response to hunger, but after a few days without food, the hunger pains disappear, and there’s a sense of spiritual euphoria. But then after an extended time the hunger pains return and that’s the sign that the body has transitioned into starvation mode.

In many ways, socially and emotionally our minds operate the same way. And so, when you begin to feel the hunger pains for encouragement, for meaningful dialogue, for something, anything edifying, it’s a sign that you need to refuel, you’re running on empty. In fact, the book of Proverbs is full of advice on spending time with the right people, but one of my favorites is in Proverbs chapter 27, verse 17 says,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17)

But then on the other hand, another warns…

“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26).

God reminds us that we need to be selective about who we spend time with. And so, what I’d like to do is to encourage you to something better, to a committed community of people, where you can fellowship being “Fully You” as you’re celebrating the presence of God together. However, one of the greatest challenges of our culture today is that people more and more are living life in isolation.

I mean even watching a movie together as a family has changed. You know, if you want to sit down with the family in the living room watching a filtered version of the latest blockbuster on the widescreen TV with surround sound, but suddenly your spouse is tired and wants to go in the bedroom to watch, maybe your son wants to watch it on your laptop, and your daughter wants to watch it on the phone. We have so many options with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Pureflix, and XFINITY on-demand but the thing is that it’s not the same because it’s better to experience something together in community.

It’s kind of like going fishing, going to the game, or going shopping together. It’s so much better to be part of something greater than yourself, part of a community where you get together like church. Where you can make a greater impact, making a bigger difference, serving together, changing our community, because we can show the love of Jesus better together. That’s why the Bible tells us in Hebrews chapter 10,

"Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

Now, I understand that everybody’s busy, Dana and I have six children and three grandchildren, so we know what it’s like when you got one kid at a basketball game, one at a friend’s house, one at a soccer game, another one at a birthday party, your best friend needs help after work, and you’ve got a meeting at church at seven. And so, Dana and I are super busy all week long, but guess what we do as a family every weekend? We all come to church and worship God together, we serve him together because it’s a priority. You see, this is what people often miss out on, when you skip church for something else, when you accept cheap substitutes, you’re not only missing out on the presence of God, but you’re missing out on Christian community.

I’ve always said that if you want something better you’ve got to choose something better. And so, coming together to celebrate the presence of God, to worship God, being committed to worshiping him together needs to be our priority. That’s what the apostle Paul expressed in his last letter to his friend Timothy, he said,

“I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy” (2 Timothy 1:4)

We need to spend time with the right people and then the third thing is that we need to make sure we’re investing time doing the right things.

3. INVESTING TIME IN THE RIGHT THINGS

You see, nothing drains the life out of me more than doing things that don’t really matter, working in futility, and yet so many times I find myself adding things to my schedule and my job description that ultimately lead nowhere. We need to make sure that we are investing our time doing the right things, because there are so many things that require many hours and lots of money but give little back in return. It’s just too many hours, it’s a waste of time, and it results in having an empty tank.

But one of the things that I’ve noticed about Jesus is that he always tended to move with a purpose, he did the right things, he lived with eternity in mind, because he knew that everything he did mattered. I love this phrase recorded in Luke’s gospel,

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Even though Jesus knew he would face great suffering and ultimately be killed he was determined to go to Jerusalem. And it’s that kind of resolve that should characterize our lives as well, but if we’re not doing the right things, if it doesn’t matter, if it doesn’t have lasting value, we should cut it out, delete it from our schedule. Stephen Covey said it this way. He said,

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” (Stephen Covey).

And so, when God is directing us, when he gives us a course of action, we must move steadily toward that goal. Because when you spend your life doing things that don’t really matter, even if they make you rich and famous, your life will lack meaning, you’ll run out of gas, and you’ll be miserable. Jesus said it this way in Matthew chapter 6,

“Seek first (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

We need to spend our time seeking first what really matters, because when you’re engaged in doing things of eternal significance, you may find yourself tired and worn out, but very rarely discouraged, because you’re living with purpose, you’re “Fully You”. You don’t have to live life on E, running on reserve, feeling like you’ve got nothing left to give, and living a spiritually depleted life. You can have an abundant life. In fact, one of Jesus most famous statements is,

“I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).

Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full. Now I know that we all find ourselves running on empty sometimes, but there is a way to fill up. And that’s being committed to spending time in silence, alone with your thoughts, alone in the presence of God. Number two, spending time with the right people who will encourage you and fan the flame of your passion for God. And number three, spending your time doing the right things, making sure you schedule your priorities so that you invest your time doing things that really matter.

And so, the key to living an abundant life has a lot to do with pursuing committed relationships in an ongoing consistent Christian community. It’s those people, those core families that are part of the leadership here at Christ’s Community Church. It’s those core people that I serve with, who’ve been with me for over 12 years and who are still serving with me today. We can’t diminish the value of consistent Christian community like we’ve enjoyed with Andy and Dawn, and Dave and Carrie, raising our kids together; doing life together with Travis, Karolyn, and Shelby in an environment where we can support one another. And this is the model that the Scriptures give us, describing the beginnings of the church and the loving nature of Christian community. Acts chapter 2, verse 42 tells us,

“They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).

And so, this is a snapshot of the early church, they were devoted to gathering together, celebrating community with one another, being committed to spiritual disciplines such as studying the word of God and praying. This practice of theirs was something the Bible says that they did every day. Verse 46 says,

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, and praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people…” (Acts 2:46-47).

I’ll tell you, over the years we’ve seen so much of this loving sense of community here as we’ve helped one another, funding adoptions, mission trips, supporting one another through funerals and sickness, providing more meals for one another than we could ever count, taking trips together and doing life together. And the thing that’s really amazing is that out of these core people in leadership, these core families, every one of them loves God, they’re committed to the church, they’re giving to the church, there serving in the church, and all of the kids are serving God.

Now, I want to pause for a moment just to pop this perfect little bubble, this picture that I’ve created of our lives, because we all know that life is not perfect, but no matter what happens, we always come back together. That’s what’s so beautiful about this imperfect community, we’re helping each other become better, building each other up, encouraging one another toward good works, urging one another on spiritually, because we’re all better in community. As imperfect as we are, we are the family of God, and that’s what we do, but I want to assure you that this never happens by accident. This kind of loving caring community is purposeful, it’s a willful choice to love another human being, determining to pour your life into someone else and commit to them. It’s simply living out the words of Jesus in our day-to-day crazy schedules, with meetings, and hauling kids here and there. Jesus said,

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34).

Here’s what I want you to understand, Christ’s Community Church is a place where you can belong, it’s a community where you’re completely welcome, and you can be “Fully You” because of Jesus. You see, he came so that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). When our hope is in him and he’s the center of our goals, plans, and dreams, our lives overflow with the presence of God. This is the abundant life that God desires for us, a life empowered by his Spirit, fueled by time spent with him in solitude, time spent with godly people, and time spent seeking first his kingdom.

Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Ministry Pass, PC Study Bible, Preaching Library, and Sermon Central. Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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