MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship. Sunday October 10, 2021
      • Bible Trivia
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      • Bible Trivia
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  • This Is The Day
  • Come, Though Found of Every Blessing
  • Be Exalted, O God
  • More Love, More Power
      • Mark 10:35–45ESV

  • For the past 4 weeks, we’ve been continuing in our Vital Congregations study, and looking at the 7 Marks of a Vital Congregation.
    We’ve discussed the 7 Marks that are before you:
    Lifelong Discipleship Formation
    Intentional Authentic Evangelism
    Outward Incarnational Focus
    Empower Servant Leadership
    Spirit Inspired Worship
    Caring Relationships,
    and today, we get to Ecclesial Health - which is a fancy way of saying, Church Health.
    Ecclesial Health
    When it comes to our worshipper survey, our results were good here, but they like all of our results also show we have room for improvement. That’s a challenge not just for our leadership for all of us, and it’s a reminder of the fact that none of us have “arrived” yet. We will always be seeking ways to improve.
    Here are some of the results:
    “The body does not consist of one member but of many. God has so arranged the body that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12)
    This score speaks to our Clarity in mission, core values to ministry, passion and joy in being the church.
    80% of you said our church is functioning well.
    When it comes to our Mission and Future:
    86% of you said This church stays healthy and strong. 90% said, “This church fulfills its Mission.”
    81% said this church is resistant to change. That’s something we should explore. In some people’s minds that may be a good thing, while in others it could be a bad thing. Are we holding to the Scriptures and thus resistant in that way? OR, Are we resistant to responding to the changes going on in our world? That’s something for us to think about. Looking at our next answer it would seem we’re thinking the former,
    98% said the church has a healthy sense of mission or purpose, and 84% of those put that in the true or very true categories.
    How hopeful are you about the future of our church? 72% when asked said it was true or very true that they were hopeful of the future of our church. Another 19% said that was somewhat true. Only 8% said it wasn’t true.
    When it comes to our churches Leadership:
    98% trust our church’s leadership to make good decisions
    In handling conflict, 35% said our congregation handles it well, 32% said that’s somewhat true, and 32% didn’t know.
    Regarding difficult conversations - When asked if our church avoids them, 45% said we don’t, but 54% said we do. Definitely an area we need to work on.
    Finally when it comes to budget and financial information: 92% said that leadership shares budget and financial information with members.

    Ecclesial Health

    So, there you have it. That’s our survey as far as our Vital Marks.
    I’ve been reminded by many in our denomination that these Marks are really good, especially considering that they were taken at the height of a pandemic when we were not able to meet together face to face. We were still in our cars or listening online.
    I want to thank you for indulging me in sharing our survey results these past four weeks. I wanted to do it another way, but due to our COVID restrictions this seemed the best way to get the information out to you. If any of you would like to see our entire survey, I’m happy to make that available to you.
    But hearing survey results is not why we gather on any given Sunday morning. Surveys provide us a snapshot of a groups ideas in a specific time in history, and even many of your opinions may have changed since June when you were asked to respond to the survey.
    We gather on Sunday mornings to gather as God’s people, to worship God; to encourage one another; to learn from God’s Word; and to celebrate what God is doing among us, in our community, and in our world.
    Drew has done a great job of reading our Scripture for us throughout our study, so I’d like to invite him up again to read for us our text for this morning. We will be reading the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 15, verses 1-9.
    Drew?
    Matthew 15:1–9 ESV
    Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
    This is the Word of the Lord,
    Thanks Be to God.
    Thank you Drew.

    Ecclesial Health

    Picture the scene. You have the Pharisees and the scribes - the leaders of the religious community coming from Jerusalem to Jesus, and they challenge Him,
    Matthew 15:2 (ESV)
    “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?”
    The Pharisees are accusing Jesus of breaking the tradition of the elders - those in charge of the socio-religious concerns of the day. In other words the tradition of the “religious leaders”.
    Jesus’ answer is not only powerful thinking of how it impacted them, but how it might impact us. Jesus says,
    Matthew 15:3 ESV
    He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
    When it comes to Christianity, when it comes to our faith as we profess it, it has always and will always be about our relationship with God.
    When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment by a lawyer (a teacher of the law) his response was,
    Matthew 22:37–39 ESV
    And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    If you think of the cross, you have two beams. One is vertical, and the other is horizontal. Think of the vertical one as representing our relationship with God, that is primary. In fact as you see most crosses it is the longer of the two beams. The second is horizontal and can represent our relationship to one another. You cannot have the cross without both beams.
    Christianity is not about following a bunch of rules, it is first and foremost about our relationship with God. And God has reached out to us through Christ. God welcomes us through Christ with open, outstretched arms.
    The Pharisees come to Jesus from the religious center of the day, and they ask, why do your disciples break the tradition fo the elders? Jesus calls them into account on how they, the religious leaders of the day, the teachers of the Law - which was supposed to be recorded in Scripture - they violated God’s commandment. In this instance he uses the commandment “honor your father and your mother”. He goes on to say to them,
    Matthew 15:6 (ESV)
    So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
    It really does come down to what we believe. How you read the first 4 words of the Bible will determine how you live your faith.

    “In the beginning, God...”

    Those four words put a perspective on our world, remind us WHO is really in control, and to whom we owe our gratitude, our humility, and our worship.
    In our world today, we need to constantly be reminded of where our allegiance is to lie. And not to create God in our image, but to seek to live lives as we were created in God’s image.
    In our world today, with all of its challenges and conflicts, I often hear people even in religious and Christian circles, twisting God’s Word to bash those with whom they disagree. That’s not biblical. God’s Word is not a club to wielded lightly.
    As we read last week
    Hebrews 4:12 ESV
    For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
    And as we know from Paul’s letter to Timothy
    2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV
    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
    And finally from James, we read:
    James 4:11–12 ESV
    Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
    As I think of our church, our congregation, with all of our strengths and weaknesses; our victories and our failures; our hopes and our fears, I’m confident in one thing and that is Our Lord Jesus Christ is able to do far more than we can ask or even imagine.
    As I think of the way that so many in our culture are willing to try and turn the Scriptures we hold as truth on us I’m reminded of Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7. In that 7th chapter, Matthew writes:
    Matthew 7:1–2 ESV
    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
    He goes on to say, Mt 7:3-5 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
    What was true in Jesus’ day is so often true in our own. People are more willing to look at the faults of others than to look in the mirror and work on themselves. The truth is the only person we can ever be effective in changing is ourselves.
    I’ve shared with you before the theme of seeking to be a “better whittler”. The idea being for each one of us to be working on whittling that log down that is in our own eye so that we might see clearly to help others.
    As I close this morning, speaking of Ecclesial Health, I want to share again from Scripture, because I believe God’s Word to be central to who we are as the church. From the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 10, verses 24-25 we read:
    Hebrews 10:24–25 ESV
    And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
    Some translations read “how to spur one another on towards love and good works.” Spurs don’t feel good. We know that occasionally we all need correcting. And we know when its done in relationship, with love, and with that ongoing community it truly does build us up.
    Jesus quotes Isaiah when he said to those Pharisess,
    Matthew 15:8–9 ESV
    “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
    My hope is that we would be as a church:

    “A people who honors Jesus with our lips and our whole hearts as well; worshipping Him in truth, following and teaching the commandments of God.”

    And all of this, to the glory of God.
    AMEN.
      • Matthew 15.1-3ESV

      • Matthew 15.4-6ESV

      • Matthew 15.7-9ESV

      • Matthew 15:3ESV

      • Matthew 22:37–39ESV

      • Hebrews 4:12ESV

      • 2 Timothy 3:16–17ESV

      • James 4:11–12ESV

      • Matthew 7:1–2ESV

      • Hebrews 10:24–25ESV

      • Matthew 15:8–9ESV

  • Make Me A Servant
  • Seek Ye First

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