Sunday, September 22, 2013

What's in it for Me?

What do people really get for all their hard work?  In 2013 that is a line of thought we’d expect to hear.  What do people really get for all their hard work? What do I get out of it?  What do you get out of it?  But it isn’t necessarily a question we’d expect to find in the bible, but there it is in Ecclesiastes 3:9 What do people really get for all their hard work?
What’s in it for me? Solomon has just finished listing the activities of a lifetime, birth and death, weeping and laughing, keeping and giving away, loving and hating.  And when it is all through, when everything has been said and done what’s the purpose.  It wasn’t just to provide the Byrds with a hit song. 

What do people really get for all their hard work? What is the purpose of it all? What do you gain? What is the purpose of life?  Is it worth it all?  Questions that are asked by thousands and thousands of people every day.  And if you haven’t asked those questions lately you either have at some point in your life or you will at some point in your life.  Why do I do what I do?  Is what I’m doing meaningful?

Our jobs, our faith, our church activities, what do we really get from all our hard work?  As I prepare my messages sometimes I wonder if they have any impact if they change lives or if they just go in one ear and out the other.  Kind of like the new preacher who the first three weeks he was in his new church he preached the same message every week.  It was entitled “Gird up Your Loins” and it dealt with service and character.  After his third week he was approached by the board and they asked him if he had any other sermons to which he replied “Sure I have all kinds, but you haven’t done anything about the first one yet.”

Now I don’t know where you are in your professional life, but  let’s talk about the work that we do at Cornerstone.

So Bayley and team do you ever wonder if all the work that goes into preparing the Sunday morning experience is appreciated?  And all the volunteers that help out in Nursery, junior church, children’s church and ignite, do you ever wonder if people appreciate the effort and commitment that is involved in Children’s ministry?  Last Sunday there were 81 children in all the children’s programs.  Stop for a minute and imagine how different the service would have been for you if they had of been in here with the adults instead of in programs designed for them?  On your way out hug a children’s church worker. 

Mike, do you ever wonder, if when people look at the great financial reports you do, if they realize the amount of work that goes into being treasurer?  Or for that matter if they even look at the great financial reports you do.

Each of us feels that we should be contributing to society and the church but there are times when we ask ourselves “Does what I do make a difference?”

What do people really get for all their hard work?    I’m here to say that it makes a difference when you work for the kingdom of God. Of course people being people they don’t like to compliment you, in case your head becomes too big.  But Bayley go ahead and have the team sing off key and mess up the tempo and see what happens, people will remind you of how good you were on another Sunday.  And Mike you go ahead and make a few errors in people’s income tax receipts and that’ll get you noticed.

You never notice the person doing the sound unless it’s too loud or not loud enough. When it’s just right who cares?

Although this isn’t the thrust of the message just let me say that you need to let people know that they are appreciated in church.  And you need to let your wives, husbands and children know that you appreciate all they do as well.

So back to the question: What do people really get for all their hard work?  Money, praise, glory, satisfaction.  Sure, sometimes but not all the time. So this morning we need to look at the three elements of this question and then answer the personal question of; where do you fit into the picture?

The question is asked in the book of Ecclesiastes, which of course is the 21st book in the bible.  Traditionally we have been told that Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes but we don’t know that for sure, the author only identifies himself as “The Teacher”, “The Preacher” or “The Leader of the Assembly.” 

Ecclesiastes was written as the author struggled with the meaning of life, if you’ve ever wondered “why?” this is the book for you. It reveals how to find spiritual significance in our world.

As we move ahead with our vision and dreams for our church, it might be a good time to evaluate how we want to proceed with those dreams and visions.  As I’m sure most if not all of you are aware there is never a shortage of work in the church, only a shortage of committed believers to do the work.  Every one of you who is a part of Cornerstone can and should take a productive part in doing God’s work in our community. 

Every one of you can and should have a role in God’s plan for Cornerstone. There is work that goes on every week at Cornerstone and if anything, the workload is going to get heavier as we continue to grow.  Every once in a while I joke with the staff and say, this was a lot easier when there were just fifty of us.  But that isn’t why we are here, to provide a fun little club for fifty people.  We are here to reach people and impact lives, and in order to do that we need your help.  Denn can’t do it by himself and the staff can’t do it by themselves. 

And so the question remains: What do people really get for all their hard work?

The First thing we need to look at is a) The Worker  Who is the worker?  Good question, you understand there is only one person who will have a spiritual impact on Cornerstone.  And that is you. There is only one person who will have an impact on the growth of Cornerstone.  And that is you.  There is only one person that we need to commit themselves to the vision of seeing Cornerstone be the church God wants Cornerstone to be.  And that is you.  If you see that, then you are committed.  If you see that then, you are a part of the dream.  And if you make sure that you are willing to sacrifice then we will have a banner year. God has great things in store for Cornerstone  and for his Kingdom.  And the missing ingredient might be you.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about what the fellow in front of you is going to do or what the gal behind you is going to do or what the Leadership Team or the staff are going to do.  All you have to worry about is what you are going to do.

God told Noah, “You will build an ark.”  God told Abraham “You will leave your home and go to a land I have promised you”.  God told Moses, “You will deliver my people out of slavery.” He told David “You will be king.”  He told Jonah “You will go to Nineveh.”

What is he asking you to do?  Someone once said “I never pray for a good garden unless I have a hoe in my hand.” It’s not enough to pray that God will bless your church unless you are willing to do something.  It’s not enough to look around and wonder why there are no visitors unless you are willing to invite some out.  It’s no good to wonder why that specific bible study or support group isn’t offered unless you are willing to lead or host it.   After thirty years in ministry I have discovered that some people in church just sit back and pay the bills and some just sit back.

Well in 2013 at Cornerstone we can’t afford either.  There are bills that need to be paid, I can assure you of that, but more than that there is work to be done and plenty of it. 

Each of you will have an integral part to play in the development of Cornerstone in the upcoming year. And there is no way I can force you or guilt you into taking part, it will always be your choice.

So now we know who the worker is I guess you are all wondering now what the work is.  b) The Work Now I’m sure that some of you are thinking, “But Denn I can’t do anything in the church.  I’m too old or too young or too busy.   I don’t have any talents the church can use and I can’t afford to give.  Every person here has something to offer.  God will not ask you to do something you can’t do, he may ask you to do something you won’t do, but he will never ask you to do something you can’t do. 

If there is absolutely no place you can serve at Cornerstone then perhaps you can give, if you can’t work or give then we need your prayers.  If you can’t say anything positive about the church then don’t say anything negative.  There are 3 questions that each person who attends Cornerstone is going to have to ask if they are going to be a part of Cornerstone and not just someone who drops in once in a while.  1) What will God have me do to help fulfil the vision of Cornerstone?  2) What will God have me give to fulfill the vision of Cornerstone?  And the third question ties in with questions 1 and 2 and that is 3) Will I be obedient to what God is asking me to do and give or not?

It was Robert Frost who said “Everyone is willing.  Some are willing to work and the rest are willing to let them.”  In the church, everyone is willing.  Some are willing to sacrifice and the rest are willing to let them.”  If our dream is going to be successful, it will only succeed through the sacrifice of God’s people.

The battle cry when we were raising the capital to start this building was, “Not equal giving but equal sacrifice” and that is still what it takes, and that doesn’t just apply to money it applies to giving of yourself as well, giving of your time and your talents and giving of your preferences. 

There are people who choose to come to the early service, not because that’s their first choice but in order to make room for guests in the second service.  There are folks who come who aren’t fans of the type of music we use on Sunday Morning but they believe in the vision we have for our community, there are those who might wish that Denn was a little more formal but they believe in the vision we have for our community.   And so they are willing to surrender their preferences for the vision. 

But whether it has to do with money, time or preferences a sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice until it cost you something.

And when we ask people to serve at Cornerstone we know that we are asking you to sacrifice something. In order to find the time to do something for God you may need to take that time from some other area of your life.  Whether it be time that you would have used for chores, or work or simply time that would have been spent doing nothing we are asking that you sacrifice it.  Because nobody can make time they can only find time.  But in order for Cornerstone to be all that Cornerstone can be there will be work that must be done and the more work that’s done by you the more it’s going to be your church.

Listen to what the teacher says in Ecclesiastes 3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work.
And in Ecclesiastes 2:10 . . . I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labours.
So we’ve discovered who the worker is and what the work is, but what is c) The Reward?   The most important reward will be Changed People.  The reason we have been placed in Hammonds Plains is not so there would be a Wesleyan Church here. It wasn’t so we’d all have some place to go on Sundays and it isn’t to provide a comfort club for the saints.  Jesus told his disciples in John 4:35-36 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!
The reason we have been placed here is to see people in Bedford and Hammonds Plains and the surrounding area come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Without Denn Guptill the people of our community will survive.  If there wasn’t a Cornerstone I’m sure that our community would somehow limp along. But without Jesus Christ people are destined for hell. 

Now we are not the only ones presenting the gospel in our community, but we have a responsibility to proclaim the salvation of Jesus Christ as if we were the only gospel preaching church for a thousand miles. 

We have been given the means to see hearts changed in men and women in our communities but we have to do our part and that is work.  But what a reward that will be, knowing that because of us someone has gained eternal life.

Changed people will lead to a Changed Community.  I am convinced that we can and will have an impact on our community.  And, as more and more people come to know the Lord and a greater percentage of our population become Christians that it will have a dramatic effect on our communities.  As the morals of a people rise so will the moral standards of the community, the tide raises all the boats.   

So when everything is said and done what is the final reward? When you finish your last Junior Church lesson, when the last sermon is preached, the last song is sung, the last youth group is led, the last bulletin is printed and handed out.  What if at that point you haven’t seen a single person come to know Jesus? What if you haven’t changed your street let alone your world?

Well if you have sacrificed as God has asked you, if you have given as God as asked you and you have worked as God has asked you then you will receive the greatest reward which you can be given.  For as you stand before your master and as He sees your obedience then he will say as the master did to his servant in Matthew 25:21 “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter much what Denn Guptill thinks of your performance. It really doesn’t matter how much or how little you’ve done in relation to anyone else.  It doesn’t matter how your work measures up on this side of eternity.  But what does matter is what you’ve done with what Christ has given you.

Your works won’t save you; the scriptures are very clear about that.  Last week we looked at Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
But they are also clear that once you are saved that your works present the evidence of your salvation.   That’s why Jesus’ brother James wrote in  James 2:18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
Time and time again the scripture come back to the concept of the tree being identified by its fruit, what kind of fruit are you bearing?  We say it over and over again that it’s one thing to talk about how committed you are to God but where is the evidence? The two most important books in most people lives are their cheque book and their date book, by looking through those books you will discover where your commitment is.

On the back of the form that was handed out this morning is a whole list of ministry opportunities that exist at Cornerstone.  And some are specific, you really need to be able to sing if you are going to be on the vocal team, and if you want to be in the band it would be helpful if you can play an instrument.  Don’t like teens?  Maybe assisting Pastor Ben in the youth ministry isn’t for you.  But I would suspect that there are areas that you are able to serve. 

And it benefits the church by having people who serve, it benefits others who don’t have to serve every week and it will benefit you when you get to meet people you’ve never met before and you become a part of the mission.   

So, what do people really get for all their hard work? 

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