Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, May 17
  • Come Lord Jesus (Even So Come)
  • Whom Shall I Fear
  • Good Good Father
  • I Will Rise
  • The New Norm: Always Forward II
    Turn to Acts 1. Last week we talked about the “new norm.” The disciples wanted to go back to the glory days, but Jesus said, “No, we must move forward.” So I challenged us to consider is going back to the norm what is best. Now we want to get back to normal, but have we really taken the time to answer the question what does that mean?
    2 questions to think through this week:
    1) What does it mean to get back to normal? What is your definition?
    (Some things that were the norm not worth going back to)
    2) Does your definition of “back to normal” align with the purposes of God?
    For example, if my definition of getting back to normal is going to church, sitting through a service and then going home - I have to ask myself the question is that what God really wants for my life.
    Of course, none us know what the new norm will be. But we do know this:
    A) The new norm is always forward.
    God is always leading us toward Christ’s return, toward Heaven.
    B) Normal doesn’t really exist - especially in this life!
    There is no normal until we enter Heaven. So, until them, abnormal is the norm. While in the abnormal, which is where we live, we have a job to do, a mission to accomplish.
    I want to continue to look forward to what the new norm, rather the new abnormal might look like and prepare us for what might be coming down the road.
    A few weeks ago I mentioned that a group in New York City protested the presence of Samaritan’s Purse, a fantastic global relief organization. Because Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization with godly values and morals, members of the LGBTQ protested their presence and assistance during this pandemic. Sadly, Samaritan’s Purse said see ya and skedaddled south out of the state - this past week. The NY City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said this,
    “It is time for Samaritan's Purse to leave NYC. This group, led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn’t in good conscience turn away any offer of help. That time has passed.”
    He added, “Their continued presence here is an affront to our values of inclusion, and is painful for all New Yorkers who care deeply about the LGBTQ community.” (https://www.foxnews.com/us/samaritans-purse-field-hospital-central-park-dismantled-coronavirus).
    Why do I bring this up? New York has protested against other faith-based organizations such as Chick-fil-A, they have legalized infanticide, Gov. Cuomo publicly blasphemed God and those of faith, and now they have run Samaritan’s Purse out of town. New York and it’s leadership are in my opinion on thin ice with God - but that’s not my point.
    My point is this, what we see is evil becoming good and good becoming evil - and not just in NY, but across the states. And I’m concerned that this will become the new norm - unless of course there truly is divine intervention and spiritual renewal. Aside from that, I believe a new norm is coming and it’s not just about adjusting to life after the pandemic. It’s about adjusting to a society that is more hostile to Christianity than we’re used to.
    So how do we adjust these possible new norms? So let’s again look at Acts chapter one and see how Jesus prepared his disciples for moving forward into their new norm.
    Remember, this is after the resurrection and before Jesus’ ascension.
    Acts 1:4 ESV
    And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
    What is Jesus doing here? He's saying, “Wait here until you receive power.” In Luke 24, Jesus said, “until you receive power from on high” - supernatural power. He’s like, “You can't face this brave new world without the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Just being a pew warmer is not going to cut it.”
    Acts 1:5 ESV
    for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
    Old way of doing things - new way of doing things. The old way, God’s presence / Spirit dwelt in a temple. New way, He will now dwell in your hearts. Jesus is hinting we need to leave the old norm and embrace the new norm. Always forward.
    Acts 1:6–8 ESV
    So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
    Again, Jesus is talking about moving forward into the new norm. Really, it’s continuing the mission of God in a new way and in a new world.
    Get this - Jesus didn’t tell them what the new norm would be like. They knew what Jerusalem and Judea and parts of Samaria were like, but they had no idea what the world was like.
    He simply gives them a mission to fulfill and the means to fulfill the mission.
    Think of it like this - Jesus gave them a task. He also gave them the supernatural ability to accomplish the task. How they accomplished it was up to them, that’s part of the journey, that’s part of the excitement of being in partnership with God. Again, “Here's the mission. Here's the spirit, whom you will need to help you accomplish the mission. Now go, get out of here, make it so.”
    What is the mission of God? His mission is to redeem a lost and broken world.
    To bring people out of darkness into His Kingdom of light. His mission is to seek and save - to reconcile people into His family. That was the mission before the pandemic. What is God’s mission during this pandemic? And what will it be after?
    God’s mission never changes. His mission is our mission.
    (2 Cor. 5). You can call it making disciples, the Great Commission, evangelism, loving your neighbor as yourself - call it what you want but His mission is our mission. Always has been and always will be. Whether life is normal or abnormal, whether there’s a pandemic or not, the End is next year or in another 100 years, whether the culture is friendly or hostile - doesn’t matter - the mission always remains. So whether or not we get back to normal is never the issue. The issue is how will we continue the mission of God in this new world.
    Regardless of our job, our situation, our location, our education … Regardless of our freedoms or lack of freedoms the mission must continue. And our lives can and should connect to the mission of God.
    So, before we all rush back into the old way of doing things, we should ask ourselves some questions.
    Where is the mission of Christ in my life? Where does my life currently connect with God’s mission?
    And as we move forward into the new norm,
    What should I continue to do? What should I change?
    To take it a step further,
    Who can I partner with (someone in the church or an organization)? Who do I need to hold me accountable?
    Just a little FYI - Shared Hope.
    Remember, regardless of what happens over the next several months or years, no matter what changes take place, no matter how anti-Christian society becomes - the mission does not change.
    Now it's my opinion that this global pandemic has an underlying purpose. I believe this is a test - a little warmup for what’s coming. When you look at all the global players and powers involved, something bigger is to come. And I believe God is using this also to see what we're made of. It's also my opinion that the days of Christians riding the fence are over. Over the next several months and years Christians will increasingly have to make some tough decisions about whose mission we're on, about who we are loyal to. When our neck is on the line, will we stay on mission with God or not? Now this kind of living for most of us is foreign because it’s always been in other countries. But now it's here.
    But there is good news! God does not leave us as orphans. Jesus promised to be with us to the end of the age. And as we'll see next week, He promised to empower us with supernatural abilities to carry out the mission. Jesus said,
    Acts 1:8 ESV
    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
    So, between now and next Sunday - do some serious self-evaluation about being on mission with God.
    If you’re listening to this and you’re wondering, “What is all this about God’s mission.” His mission is about love - He loves you and desires a relationship with you ….
      • Acts 1:4ESV

      • Acts 1:5NLT

      • Acts 1:6–8NLT

      • Acts 1:8NLT

  • Way Maker

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