Father's Day (1 Timothy 5:1-16)

Subject What type of relationships should we develop at church?
Object Relationships that are just like family.
Big Idea Your church is your family.
Purpose (Attitude) To commit to supporting others within the church in practical ways

Have you ever noticed how we treat moms and dads differently? On Mother's Day, we praise our mothers. On Father's Day, the preacher usually tells fathers what they need to do better.

Even kids treat their dads differently. A father admired his 6-year-old daughter while she was dancing around the kitchen. Finally, he stopped her with a hug. "You know," he said, looking her in the eyes, "you're cute - just like your father." Amy was silent for a moment. "You mean my heavenly father or you?"

Instead of picking on dads today, I want to back up and ask, "What does it mean when we call the church a family?" Is that just a figure of speech, or does it have practical consequences?

To answer this question, I'd like to look at a passage of Scripture that's always been intriguing to me. It's written to a church leader, and the author (the Apostle Paul) devotes a lot of time to talking about widows.

Care for the practical needs within the church (3-16)

Paul focused on a vulnerable group (widows - not direct heirs of their husband's wills)
The church had developed a systematic way to help legitimate widows in need (3,9)

This list had qualifications and restrictions

Qualifications: Faithfulness and service (5, 9-10)

Restrictions: Those with family (4), those young enough to have other options (11-15) - why? impossible to meet every need; have to draw realistic lines

We (the church) are to appropriately care for practical needs (not just widows) within the church.

Why? Why is Paul dealing with this instead of justification by faith or the death of Jesus?

Your church is your family (1-2)

We are connected to them. We are obligated to them (respect, practical support). Caring for their needs is part of our service to God.

Do we buy this? Not really. It is a far deeper commitment than we are used to making. It goes against our culture.

What if it costs me too much? It won't (restrictions). Even if it does, others will be there for you.

When I buy something, it is rare that I keep it for myself. I end up sharing it with the family.
Church is a center of healing for those who need food, pastoral care, legal counsel, low-cost housing.

So we are family: we are stuck with one other; and we are obligated to one another.
When you see a need, get involved. When you have a need, let others know. See your stuff as belonging to the family.

Prayer

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

Thank you for the privilege of being family with one another. Thank you for the ways that the church has met my family's practical needs at very difficult parts of our family life.
Open our eyes to those around us and their needs. Help us not to be ashamed to ask for help, from me or from anyone within the body. For the glory of Christ, Amen.

Lost and Found (Luke 15)

Subject Why does Jesus celebrate with the wrong people?
Object Because when you find something that was lost, you rejoice
Big Idea When you find something that's lost, it's time for a party.
Purpose To thank God for finding us, and to join in the party

If you're going to follow Jesus:

1. You're going to have questions

Background: Jesus invites us to follow him. Where? Among the tax collectors and sinners. Tax collectors were seen as spies for Rome, traitors, and extortioners. Sinners: at best, people who didn't come to the Temple to worship; at worst, pickpockets, prostitutes, pimps.

2. You'll understand why he loves lost people

If you've ever lost anything important, you know what it's like: when you find it, you rejoice.

3. You'll understand that it's not about us; it's about God (the running Father)

4. You'll join in with the party

It Takes a Church (Philippians 1:27-30)

Subject How can we tell when we're living a life worthy of the Gospel?
Object When we are united, fearless, and contending for people's trust in the Gospel
Big Idea We can tell we're living as heaven's citizens when we are united, fearless, and missional.
Purpose To commit to living a missional lifestyle

1. We are called to live as heaven's citizens in Canada (27)

TNIV - "As citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ" - The Philippians lived in a free Roman city (1 of only 5 cities in Macedonia) and understood the privileges of citizenship - right to be governed by direct law, freedom from direct taxation

They would have felt pressure to conform to the expectations of the Roman citizenship, and would have been seen as bad citizens

Paul elevates our status: We have all the privileges of citizenship in heaven; We are resident aliens in this earth

Paul challenges us to live our lives as if we are heaven's citizens living in Canada

2. We can know whether or not we are living this way (27-30)

Test One: United (27b)

We need a common disposition and purpose

Especially when under attack, we need each other. We cannot do this alone.

IMAGE: Local church as a team of athletes, each one doing their job, working consistently, co-operatively, confidently

Two unity busters: Lack of focus on the goal, thinking we can win by ourselves

To do this, we need more than gathering on Sunday mornings. We are to be: in relationship and on mission

Test Two: Fearless (28-30)

The reason we need to be fearless: we will suffer

People will oppose us (28)

Suffering is a privilege of citizenship (29)

We are not alone (30) - When we suffer for Christ's sake, we are in solidarity with others who suffer around the world

Courage buster: co-operation with the opposing team

Test Three: Missional (27b)

Message "contending for people's trust in the Message, the good news"

These three marks are evidence of our salvation (28)

We can tell we're living as heaven's citizens when we are united, fearless, and missional.

It takes a church! My picture of a church: coming together to support each other in living this way.

If mission is the game, the game is not played in church. Church is the half-time, preparing us to go out and live missionally the rest of the time.

Missional Confession

We believe that this church is a community of God's people, here for a purpose. We have been blessed to be a blessing.

As the Father has sent Jesus into the world, Jesus sends us into the world. The Holy Spirit empowers us to carry out Jesus' mission.

Jesus calls us to be different from the world, yet in relationship with people in our world. He asks us to make lifestyle adjustments – to love people, serve others, and to eliminate distractions from mission.

We commit to do this together, with courage and unity. May God grant us courage!