Get Back To Your Roots

Last week we began a series on Sunday mornings entitled, “Five Things James Would Tell the Wesleyan Church.” We discovered last week the importance of living a life in submission to God; a life of confession and repentance; and a life that is humbled in God’s presence. This is the most important thing to learn as Christ’s church.

Several years ago the band “For Him” had a song entitled “The Basics of Life.” The premise was that we need to return back as a people of God and as a country to our foundations. The song even was used, as I recall, as part of one of the presidential election campaigns. As we take look at the letter of James this morning, I believe the second thing he would tell the Wesleyan Church is to return to our roots. I can hear the amen’s already. At this very moment I have some of you agreeing with me. Let me offer you a word of caution. This sermon is not a call for a return back to the “good old days.” I want you to listen carefully with an open heart and open mind. As we have found out already James is straight and to the point. Let’s take a look now at James 1:19-27.

19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion 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.

Let’s focus for a moment our attention on verse 27. “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.” This is the key to this passage.

A moment ago I said that James is calling us to return to our roots; to return to the basics. Let me use this as an example. When I say they don’t turn out good music anymore, my reference point will be music that was written in the 70’s and 80’s. That’s when I was a teen and young adult. We tend to identify good times with those years. When you say they don’t write good music anymore, you may be referring to a completely different generation. Here’s my point – Sometimes we want to look back 20 or 30 or 40 or even 50 years to a point when church was the way we thought it should be. We say church sure isn’t like it used to be. One of the things that I’ve discovered as I’ve looked at church history and especially worship is that the church has always been changing. When I said we need to get back to our roots, some may have said, if it could only be what it was like in the 70’s, or perhaps back in the 60’s before the merger, or perhaps back in the camp-meeting days of the early 20th century. But I want us to go further back. Back past the Moody-Sankey revivals; back past Phoebe Palmer, past Orange Scott, Luther Lee, and Seth Rees and the beginnings of the Wesleyan Church. We are called the Wesleyan Church because of the teachings of John Wesley. We can even go way back past Wesley to the early church fathers, back to the book of Acts. What was important to the church? Taking care of the widows and orphans and keeping themselves from being polluted by the world.

My home church in Allentown, PA was started as a children’s home. Many of our Wesleyan churches were started on the “wrong side of the tracks.” My mom’s home church in Baltimore, MD was a storefront church. My mom is a product of bus ministry. The early Wesleyans found ministry needs and filled them and in the process brought people to Jesus and kept themselves from being polluted by the world. Another organization that comes to mind is The Salvation Army. They continue to this day to take care of the less fortunate. This is what we were called to do as a church, according to James.

But we started in verse 19, what about the rest of this passage, let’s go back. One of my favorite ways to paraphrase verse 19 is this; “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and even slower still to become angry.” I remember teaching one Sunday morning on this once and I got excited when I asked our Sunday School students what I preached on and he quoted it the way I just quoted it to you. Do you notice James says, we need to be quick to listen first. What are we so apt to do? We listen but we only partially listen because we are getting ready to respond. James says, “Be slow to speak.” Take time to listen and don’t just listen so you can form a response. Take time to truly listen. He goes on to say and be slow to get angry because, anger can never make things right in God’s sight. How many times do we get angry because we haven’t heard the whole story because we were forming a response to just part of what we had heard? Sometimes we are even quick to dismiss God’s message for us. In verse 21 he says, So get rid of all filth and evil in your lives and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts. See why we need to be quick to listen. We may even miss God’s message – a message that can save our souls. I don’t want to dismiss the first part of this verse. Get rid of all filth and evil in your lives. (This is a message that we as Wesleyans should embrace.) We should live our lives blameless. “Pure and lasting religion that the Father accepts means…refuse to let the world corrupt us.” There are many ways in which this can happen, and sometimes it can sneak into our lives, other times we just let it in. We need to live lives that are pure and blameless. It helps in our witness.

But there’s more than just listening to the word. There’s more than just coming to church on Sunday morning and listening to me preach God’s word. There is a doing aspect to it. 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. In this particular instance, I like the way the King James says it. “But BE doers of the word, and not hearers only.” A life of faith in Christ is a life of action. Verse 23 goes on to say, “23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” How many of you get up in the morning looking perfect? Now I want you to be truthful. Most of us when we get up in the morning make our way to the bathroom and take a look at ourselves in the mirror. For some of us, it’s not a pretty site. Some of us would like to do what James says and forget what we look like at that moment. Most of us once we look in the mirror will do something about it. The same thing happens in our spiritual life. If we listen to God’s word and don’t do anything about it, it does nothing to improve our spiritual standing or appearance. If you listen and don’t do anything about it, you simply forget what you heard and are no better off for listening. Each Sunday when you gather here, you should leave here better off than you came. I’m not talking about feelings and emotion. You’re spiritual life, if I’m doing my job and our teachers are doing their job, should be better than when you arrived. James tells us that we need to keep looking into God’s law (his Word), because when we do it will set us free and he gives us a promise if we do what it says, if we take the message to heart on Sunday morning, God will bless you for it.

I want to take a quick side step here. We should always measure our lives by God’s law. Yes, we have The Wesleyan Discipline, but that only reflects God’s perfect law. Sometimes we as Christians like to put a hedge around God’s law, much like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ time. They were slaves to their own law that protected God’s law. God’s law will set you free.

Right before James give us those words about pure and lasting religion, he gives us another warning and it’s connected to the opening passage. “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself and your religion is worthless.” Ouch!!!! James is getting a bit personal here. I like how he contrasts worthless religion with pure and lasting religion. The psalmist said, “Be still and know that I am God.” It is important to listen and do what God tells us to do. How can we listen if we are always busy? How can we listen if we are always flapping our gums?

James then goes on to say, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we MUST care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and REFUSE to let the world corrupt us.” James calls us to get back to our roots by taking care of the less fortunate. James calls us to get back to our roots by not letting the world corrupt us. This isn’t much different from last week. Friendship with the world is being an enemy with God. This is a great challenge for us this week. How can we listen to God’s word this week? What is he challenging us to do? What things can we do as a church and a body of believers to take care of the widows and orphans, not only those in our church, but those right here in our community of Preston? One practical way that you can help take care of orphans is by contributing to the Hephzibah “Back-to-School” project. You’ll see in your bulletin, school supplies. These are needed for the Hephzibah Children’s Home in Macon, GA. I encourage you to contribute. I encourage you to think along with me practical ways we can reach our community for Christ. I’ve only been here four weeks. I need your help. That’s the first part of the challenge. The second is what is in your life this morning that is keeping you from walking with Christ. What is keeping you from being Christ-like? Is the world corrupting you? Is your religion worthless or is pure and lasting in the sight of God the Father?

Submit, Repent, and Be Humble

As many of you know, I was recently ordained as a minister in the Wesleyan Church. This was a result of a long journey and some of you have heard the story. There are several ways you can be ordained in the Wesleyan Church. The first is (especially if you’re a traditional student) is to go to one of our Wesleyan colleges and take your courses for ministry there. You also have the option of attending seminary. For those God calls later in life or perhaps you received Christ after the college years there are two options. One is taking the courses via correspondence. (some people like this path) The other option is to take the courses via live instruction classes. (SWU and Houghton both offer these and several districts offer these classes as well including Shenandoah.) Another option in the live instruction path is FLAME (Fellowship of Leaders Acquiring Ministerial Education.) Your pastor took most of his classes that I didn’t already have through Indiana Wesleyan through FLAME. There is the class taking element of FLAME, but it is so much more. There is wonderful Christian fellowship and networking. Each morning we meet for worship and a devotional. There’s the Wednesday night communion service in which a local pastor, FLAME professor or even a former FLAME student prays for the student and his wife if she is there. The classes are excellent. We have some of the best Wesleyan teachers in the denomination; Bud Bence, Phil Bence, Dr. Bob Black, Steve DeNeff, Pat Bennett, Jim Dunn, and others. These classes have shaped who your pastor is. The reason I mention all of this is this series was born in a FLAME class this past spring. I took a class on the Epistle of James and as usually happens a sermon series was born. James is a book about the church. It’s relevant to today’s church.

We are going to look at James 4:1-10 this morning. First let me give you a little background. According to our research, James was the half-brother of Jesus. He was also the District Superintendent (if you want to use our terms) of the church in Jerusalem. Martin Luther called this book a “right strawly epistle” (because of its emphasis on good deeds.) At first glance it would appear that way and some would wonder how it got into the Bible. But if we look at it closer we find that James’ teaching in this epistle really follow and echo the teachings of Jesus. James would have heard Jesus’ teaching. The Jerusalem church was made up of at the time primarily Jewish followers. The letter distinctive characteristics are: (1) its unmistakably Jewish nature: (2) its emphasis on vital Christianity, characterized by good deeds and a faith that works (genuine faith must and will be accompanied by a consistent life-style); (3) its simple organization; (4) its familiarity with Jesus’ teachings preserved in the Sermon on the Mount; (5) its similarity to OT wisdom writings such as Proverbs (sometimes James is called the NT Proverbs); (6) its excellent Greek.

This series is a little unusual in that we will not begin at the beginning of the book and work our way through, but we will jump from place to place. This series was birth by a question that Mike Walters (a professor at Houghton) asked of us and then we worked on in small groups. “If we take a look at James, find five things James would say to the Wesleyan Church in the 21st century.” Our group was made up of three pastors. One was the youth pastor of a large church in the Chesapeake District; another was the pastor of a small church in a small city in Northern Indiana and myself. What was the first thing James would say to the Wesleyan Church? Submit to God, Repent, and be humble. Let’s take a look at James 4:1-10

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”[b]

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

I don’t know if you know it yet, but the church can be an interesting place at times. It seems the very place where there should be unity is a place that (at times) is full of disunity. James asks the question, “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” He is asking this church, “What is going on?” It seems that the Jerusalem church had some issues. Let me say this up front. I’ve only been here three weeks. I don’t know you very well yet. But I know as I’ve observed that this is a trend in the church. There is disunity. Sometimes it is needed. There are issues that need to be disagreed with. If we don’t, liberalism will infiltrate the church. We’ve seen that in mainline denominations. It is not peace at any cost. There are things worth fighting for. If we look at what James was saying here, these were not arguments and quarrels about doctrinal things. These were quarrels about preferences. What was the source? James speaks about this throughout the letter: double mindedness. The first five verses here deal with this. In James 1:6-8, he speaks to this issue. James say’s our bodies are a battleground. Our desires battle against God’s desires. We want something and don’t get it. We covet what others have (Pastor’s can and are guilty of this) He says you don’t have because you don’t ask and even if you do ask, you ask with the wrong motives and when you get what you ask for you spend it in the wrong places and the wrong things.

James highlights this double-mindedness again with verse four. You can’t be a friend of the world and a friend of God. Jesus said that you can’t serve God and money. You can’t serve God and the world.

So what is the solution to our problem of double-mindedness? Let’s go to verse 7. “Submit to God.” It’s the 21st century. In America, submission is a sign of weakness. We don’t like to hear about this. Most of you have probably heard the saying that God is a crutch. They say, “Submit to God, you’ve got to be kidding. Why would I want to give up what I have to do what God tells me to do?”

The second part of submit to God is to resist the devil. I don’t know if your aware, but we, everyday, are in a spiritual battle. The devil never rests. He is a formidable enemy. He doesn’t like Christians who behave the way their suppose to. James continues, “Draw near to God and he will come near to you.” Do you want to know one of the best solutions to the sin problem? Love God. Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength.” If we got this one down, everything would come together. You want to resist the devil? Draw near to God.

Let’s continue “Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” I know at this point, I’m going to step on some feet. Again in the 21st century church and in America these are not popular ideals. This is talking about confession and repentance. Those who are coming on Sunday evening are going to see some parallels from time to time. Confession and repentance is good for us. The Christian life is a life of repentance, regardless of what the “health and wealth” preachers say. Walking in close fellowship with God means walking the way of brokenness before Him. John says, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” When we pray the Lord’s prayer we confess this life of humble repentance.

One of the things that I have participated the past two years is in New York was a community Lenten service. These services were held each Wednesday night throughout the season of Lent. Do you know what the season of Lent represents? Let me read from Dr. Mike Walters, “Unfortunately, the life of repentance and brokenness before God is not a popular approach to religion in modern culture, and therefore we can understand the shallowness of much of North American Christianity. The season of Lent (the six Sundays prior to Easter that elevate the need for repentance) is the most dislike season of in the Christian year. We would much rather celebrate than come before God broken by our sinfulness and cry out to Him for the grace that He only bestows upon the humble. But the curse of double-minded religion never can be replaced by the blessedness of true religion until the place of authentic repentance is found. This is the promise with which James ends: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

My passion for you and for our church is that we have true religion. We need to live a life of brokenness before God. We need to constantly submit to God and draw near to him. We need to live a life of repentance and humble ourselves before God. James speaks of true religion. We are going to take a look at that more next week. But let me issue you a challenge this morning. Are you living a double-minded life? Do you love the world more than you love God? This morning’s invitation is for everyone. I invite you to submit to God this morning and live a life humble before him.

Thoughts from District Conference

I’m about to share with our local church some thoughts from this past week’s district conference. As I sat there, a strong theme developed. I don’t know if it was intentional or not; but the theme of evangelism became strong and clear. What is the purpose of the church? The purpose is to build the kingdom. One of the ways we build the kingdom is to evangelize the lost. Do we really believe people are lost and going to hell and eternal separation from God? Even if hell is only a place of separation from God, it will be an awful place. Look at this world that God created and still has his hand in. Sometimes we think of this as hell, but God is still present. If that is the case, can you imagine what hell will be like? It is our job to build the kingdom and evangelize the lost. As Dr. Don Bray spoke during the mission rally on Sunday afternoon, we understood his heart for missions and the incredible job that Global Partners is doing around the world. In the last ten years we have nearly doubled our presence in countries around the world. This is a major praise. Several missions countries are now their own self supporting districts. The gospel is being spread throughout the world. Evangelism is happening. The theme was clear as Dr. “Bud” Bence spoke in the evening Power rally and then is Dr. Wilson’s State of the Church address, through Dr. Gunsalus’ annual report and in Dr. Bence’s Monday evening message.
One of the big pushes for this year in the Shenandoah District is evangelism. This is the year of the big “E.” What will be our part in it? Let me share from Dr. Wilson’s state of the church address.

In John’s book of Revelation we are given a look at seven churches of Asia. John repeats “Let him who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

  • Ephesus – Repent
  • Laodicea – Warm your heart with Christ’s love
  • Pergamos – continue to stand against power politics and pagan ideologies
  • Thyatira – hold fast to what you have
  • Sardis – Beware of nominal (you have a name only) Christianity
  • Philadelphia – Evangelize

William Temple (an Archbishop of Canterbury in the Anglican Church) said, “The church exists primarily for those who come nowhere near it.”

The Wesleyan Church is making resources available to pastors and churches called the Wesleyan Strategy for Spiritual Transformation:

  • Visionary Leadership
  • Pastors Plus Conference – Orlando – Jan 2007
  • New Pastors Orientation – Indianapolis
  • DS Institutes
  • Worldwide Church Health and Multiplication
  • Transformational Ministries
  • Resources in order to fulfill this command to evangelize the lost. Out task is enormous and as you will hear in a few weeks, “The church must be the church.”

I was sharing with the Wednesday evening group that 2006 has been designated as the Year of the Bible. Every person who attends a Wesleyan Church is being encouraged to read through the Bible in 2006. This initiative will be encouraged by giving every teen who attends the LOGOS5 conference around the country during Christmas break will receive a One-Year Bible. We were also introduced to the new Department of Spiritual Formation. This department has combined Sunday School and Discipleship, Children’s Ministries and Youth Department into a cohesive whole. This department is putting in place a catechism starting in preschool so that we can teach throughout the elementary years what the Wesleyan Church believes. These will be great resources that will be available to us.

That brings me to Sunday night’s rally and Bud Bence. He spoke from the Gospel of John.

“The Word became flesh and walked among us.”

17So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
27She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. 31Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

32Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

37And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

38Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

40Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

What does this have to do with evangelism? Imagine you are the disciples. You have come with Jesus (you think) to help mourn with your friends. They are standing under the tree, when Jesus says, “move away the stone.” “What?” “Move away the stone.” Let me share a secret. “Half of evangelism is figuring out the stone that is keeping a person in a state of spiritual death.” What are the stones in your friends and families lives that are keeping them in a state of spiritual death? This is a great question.

Secondly, remember the statement that follows? He’s been in there four days and he must stink. The second point is that when we start removing the stones that are keeping people in a spiritually dead state it might get messy. We need to not be afraid of the messes that come from removing spiritual stones. The third point is we need to be careful and discrete about removing the grave clothes. (The point of small accountability groups.)

So if we do all that, what is the secret to effective evangelism? That secret is found in Colossians 3:15-17. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

If we look at these three verses, the common word that appears in all the verses is Jesus Christ. It all starts with the hub. Jesus is the center. I want you to begin picturing a wheel (a three spoke wagon wheel.) In the center is Jesus Christ. Let me give you three phrases

§ Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Referee)
§ Let the word of Christ dwell (Doctrine – Music)
§ The name of Christ. (The name you wear)

For me to live is Christ – and the believers were called CHRISTians.


Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus

Held together by thanksgiving to God – It’s all about grace.

Jesus’ Prayer for the Church

Introduction: Do you wish you had someone to watch over you? Someone who really cared about your problems and your future? Do you show this kind of care and love for others? This week we see God’s unselfish compassion for us as we look at Jesus’ last hours on earth. We are going to look at His prayer for His disciples and the church. Put yourself in the place of one of the disciples at the Last Supper (Jesus last meal before being crucified). Compare your dreams of the future versus what we now know happened?

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843), pioneer missionary to America, testified, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!”

If Jesus were on the earth today, what would his prayer for his people be? What would be his prayer for his church? Would he pray for a great church? Would he pray for a growing church? Would he pray for a healthy church? What is his church suppose to look like? I believe that Jesus’ prayer for the church is much greater than ours. He wants us to evangelize and save the lost, but unless revival and renewal precede evangelism, the credibility gap between what the church preaches and what the church practices will be too wide to be bridged. Jesus knew that and he knows that now. Let’s take a look at Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:

1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours, you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as 1 am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

What is Jesus’ prayer for the church?

1. He prayed they would sense the glory of God.
(v. 1) After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. (Jesus prays that God would glorify himself, so that Jesus could bring the glory back to God.)
(v.4) I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (Jesus brings glory to God by doing everything he was told to do by God.)
(v. 5) And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (Bring me into your glory.)
(v.10) All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. (We are his glory)
(v. 22) I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (I have given them the glory.)
(v. 24) Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (..so they can see my glory. )

Jesus prayed that we, the church, would sense the glory given to Him by the Father. Jesus wants to glorify us (and He prayed that we are his glory) so that we may glorify Him, that in turn He may glorify the Father God. When we glorify (this is our chief end in life) the Father, we lift Him up so that others may know him.

Two men were conversing about a friend who had just passed on. “His oldest son was the source of great joy to him,” one of them said. “He brought great distinction upon the family name.”

“And what of the other two?”

“Oh they were well enough, That is, they never did anything to disgrace their father, still, they never glorified his name. If it depended on them, the name would perish with them.”

The same can be said of many Christians. They have never doneanything to disgrace the name of the name they wear, but they have certainly not added to its influence and power. Jesus said, (my paraphrase) “That the Father is glorified, when you bear fruit.”

2. Follow the Word of God

A. The Word of God saves us

1.) Let’s take a look at verse 3 –Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Know = an intimate personal relationship with God.

2.) For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

You can rest more peacefully today because God has beenfound. The American Family Publishers located him in SumterCounty, FL. Via the Bushnell Assembly of God, an announcement arrived stating that God was a finalist for the $11 million sweepstakes. The letter noted, “God, we’ve been searching for you.” Located between two round adhesive seals was a request for God to “come forward.” The notice went on to declare, “What an incredible fortune there would be for God! Could you imagine the looks you would get from your neighbors? But don’t just sit there, God.” I don’t know about you but I’m glad that God’s location is not based on some direct mail house’s database. God can be “found” simply through a intimate personal relationship with Him.

B. The Word of God separates us.
1.) (v. 14) I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than 1 am of the world. – All we have to do is look at Daniel in Babylon. Daniel preserved in the face of persecution. What does real persecution of the church look like? I don’t think it looks the way we think it looks (especially in America.)

2.) (v. 15) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. – Jesus is not praying that the believers are taking out of the world, because we need to continue to be salt and light, but he is praying that we will be kept from the evil one.

C. The Word of God strengthens us.
1.) (v. 16) They are not of the world, even as lam not of it. – We are not part of the world any more than Jesus is.2.) (v. 15) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. – This is Jesus’ prayer of protection.

D. The Word of God sanctifies us!
1.) (v.17) Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

2.) (v. 19) For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

3.) (v. 26) I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. – In the New Living Translation it reads, “It is God’s love for us and our love for God that compels us to live holylives.”

3. Unite in the Love of God
He calls us to be one -united as the Father and Son are one – (v.11) I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one.
Why does he do this?
A. (v. 21) that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. He prays this so that the world will believe in the Son’s divine mission.

B. (v. 26) I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that] myself may be in them. — He prays this so the world will know that God’s love for believers in deep, intimate, as lasting as is His love for His Son.

After the battle of Gettysburg, one of the most disastrous in theAmerican Civil War, a man went into a hospital bearing with him aid and comfort which Massachusetts had sent, and he went around from cot to cot inquiring, “Any Massachusetts soldiers here?” Not a word. Nobody answered. But by-and-by a voice cried, “No! only United States soldiers here.” So in the great campaign it is our glory and distinction, not that we are members of this or the other denomination; we are Christ Soldiers, carrying on his holy war against all evil.

4. Move in the Mission of God

He calls us to His mission, but what is our mission as the church?

Here is Jesus’ prayer – “As you (God) have sent me into the world, I am sending you (the disciples) into the world.”

Jesus is our model – He came and He was sent by God to seek and to save a lost and dying world. As He has come, He is now sending us out to save a lost and dying world.

We are to let people “know” God – remember that knowing God is a personal and intimate relationship with Him.

Josh McDowell tells the story of an acquaintance who is an executive hirer, or as the industry says, a “head-hunter.” This man spends an enormous amount of time interviewing executives. Although many words are exchanged in these interviews, his top priority is to get a clear and concise response to his most strategic question, “What’s your purpose in life?” He’s amazed at how often this one simple inquiry throws top-notched executives for a loop. One day while he was in theinterview process he got a razor sharp answer to his loaded question. After going through his usual routine of loosening up the prospect through several minutes of disarming conversation, he asked, “What’s your purpose in life, Bob?” Without blinking an eye, this schooled businessman replied, “To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.” Regardless of profession, that’s a mission statement every believer should embrace.

Our love for God and His love for us compel us to do His work.
5. Experience the joy of God.

(v. 13) I am coming to you now, but/say these things while lam still in the world so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. Jesus wants His joy to become our joy -What was his joy? Let’s take a look at John 15:10-11 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” His joy is constant fellowship with the Father.Let’s also take a look at Romans 14:17 -17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are called to live a holy life, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work in us that allows us to live a holy life. With the Holy Spirit’s work going on in us we can experience goodness, peace and joy.

We should be excited and joyful about our mission and when the world sees ordinary people excited about and serving an extraordinary God, they will sense that something is going on here. We will sense His glory, we will follow his commands, we are united in love, we are fulfilling his mission, and experiencing his joy.

Closing: Jesus did not pray for a static organization to perpetuate his memory, but for a living, dynamic force to achieve his purposes. Let’s go out and do that today.