Guest speaker Jon Talbert reminds us that God can help us step into roles we were never expecting or feel unqualified for.
All right. So you really wanted to be here. That’s good. I’ve never run a marathon, and that seems really horrible. Doesn’t that seem horrible? If I were running a marathon, I would probably finish the first half mile. Then I’m going to go to church and just come in. I’d be in church with my number saying, “Yeah, I quit.” It is really cool to be with you guys here. The last time I was here, there was scaffolding around the building. Pastor Terry said that you were painting. When I pull up, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is the most epic paint job.” Your church is really cool. I get to visit a bunch of churches around the Bay Area. Your church is really cool. It’s just aesthetically pleasing.
What’s really awesome is that you have unbelievable worship, leadership, and transformational teaching. It’s working in people’s lives in reaching and mission. It’s exciting. I’m honored to be here and connect with you. For those of you that are online, it’s awesome to see you too. You get to sit in front of your computer, in your pajamas, you didn’t brush your teeth, your hair is all stuck to the side, and we can all see you. We’re actually watching you right now through your computer. We’re glad you’re joining us online and thank you for being part of our service. We’re glad you’re online and joining us, so thank you.
I wanted to share a little story as a pastor. Pastor Terry gets to do these things too. I do as well. We can do weddings. It’s one of the most fun things where you’re standing. You actually have better seats than the parents because you’re standing right there with the couple making the most important decisions of their life. We get to do these weddings. I was doing a wedding in San Jose and after the wedding, I was at the church and finishing up some last-minute work. Everyone was going off to the reception in another city nearby, in Sunnyvale. Eventually, I hop in my car. I’ll go over and greet folks from the church and hang out. I did that. On my way to that place, there was an accident. You’ve been where you’ve pulled up and it’s a ton of traffic. This is one of those things where the accident had just happened in front of me. It was significant. Four cars were involved. There were injuries. No fatalities, but there were significant injuries.
I’ve trained myself when something happens to “not deer in the headlights,” but to actually respond. I feel if there’s something I can contribute, I’d like to. I pulled over to the side of the road. I’m in my nice suit because it’s my only nice suit. I put my coat in the back. I took my tie, I tucked it inside my shirt. So you can imagine what I looked like. I have my phone. I’m running out there with my glasses. They see me and say, “Good, come here.” I’m running with another guy. The conversation is, “Oh, yeah. Hey, Doctor, come on over here,” and I say, “Why do you keep calling me a doctor?” We’re going to the next one. We run back to this other injured person and he says, “Doctor, come over.” I said, “You keep calling me Doctor. Why?” He says, “Well, you look like one.” Just so you know, I actually have a doctorate in Theology, not super helpful on the side of the road. When I was getting my doctorate, my kids would say, “My dad’s becoming a doctor. Not the good kind that helps people, the other kind, the kind that talks too much.” Their friends would say, “Oh yeah, I get it. No, that makes sense.”
I’m running to the next injured person and they say, “Doctor come over here.” I said, “Stop calling me that. I’m not the good kind.” I’m helping these people, and this one lady, she’s hurt the most. She’s calling and asking, and they’re saying, “Oh, the doctor’s going to come to see you. I came over to the lady. She says to me, “Oh, Doctor, I’m so glad you’re here. I don’t know what I would’ve done or if I’d have made it if a doctor weren’t here.” I said, “Oh my gosh, I can’t tell her I’m not a doctor now. What am I going to say,” and I don’t want her to die. I looked at her and I said, “Ma’am, I’m not a doctor,” and she said, “Well, you look like one.” I’ve been told that yes. She said, “Well, what are you?” I said, “Well, I’m a pastor,” and something changed at that moment in her heart. I could tell there was a countenance change. There was something that assured her and she said, “Would you pray for me?” I said, “That’s about all I can do, yes. I’ll go pray for you.” It was an interesting moment because I was finishing up and driving off to the reception, and the paramedics were getting there, “Thank you, Doctor.” I’m not the good kind. I drove off and I thought that was one of the weirdest experiences. It was unusual that God would have assigned that time and place in an unusual and unlikely circumstance for the individual to somehow be a blessing. To somehow bring hope, a moment of prayer, and encouragement at that time for an unlikely and unusual person. I think God does this all the time.
I’m finding over and over again as a Christ-follower, pastor, chaplain, and leader in the Bay Area that I recognize and come to the conclusion that when you fully embrace the idea of what it means to be a disciple, follower, and imitator of Jesus that He takes unlikely and unusual people like you and I and He does extraordinary and heroic work to accomplish His purposes and to build His kingdom. Let me just say that again. He takes unusual and unlikely people like you and me, and He does extraordinary heroic work to accomplish His purposes and build His kingdom throughout the Bible. That’s what He did over and over again. The most disqualified, unlikely people. If God were picking people for a special assignment, you and I wouldn’t pick these people. You’d think He’d pick the strong, smart, experienced or winners, but no. He picks the weak. He picks the simple. He picks the inexperienced. He picks what some might call the losers. God picks the regular, the uncommon, and the unlikely. He picks you and He picks me. He picks us. Why?
This has been a fascinating thing as I’ve journeyed through the Bible. In fact, I would submit to you that as your life gets disrupted, and things happen in your day, week, or season of life, that you think, “Man, this seems really awkward.” Something’s broken, something didn’t go as planned, something didn’t work out as it was supposed to, and it’s for a reason. There’s a much greater part for me to play in the design of God as I fully engage in His work and what He’s designed for me to do. I believe the scripture teaches that. All things, created or manmade, conspire with me to work in harmony to a common end for God’s purposes. All things. It’s very weird. I can’t plan it. I can’t think it through. I can’t order my day as if something crazy is going to happen. I have to be in tune with what God’s going to do, and then things happen.
This whole thing about the Oakland A’s, I realized there are not very many Oakland A fans here. I didn’t plan on that. I never asked for a chaplaincy. What I asked for was God. I’d like to build connections, relationships, and influence in Oakland so I can help shape some of what’s happening over there. Then baseball calls and says, “Would you be the guy?” I say, “What?” Now, I’m interacting. I meet with the visiting team, the umpires, and the players every Sunday. They want to pray together. It’s crazy. I didn’t plan that. I didn’t plan my journey. Even to the Bay Area, I didn’t even really think of the Bay Area, but God navigated the conversations, things, and circumstances in my own life that had me living right here for the past 22 years. That’s how God works. God takes unlikely and unusual people.
‘m reading through the Bible. I read through the Bible every year and there was a story in the Old Testament. I love Old Testament stories because they’re kind of crazy actually. A little kooky, and you’re reading them and thinking, “Wait, what?” Do you know what I mean? God put it in there for a reason. I’ve got to try to figure something out in here because I didn’t write it, but it’s in here. I’m reading through Judges and I come across a story where God brings these two regular guys like you and me, unlikely and unusual. They bring what they have, who they are, how God designed them to be, and God empowers them to fulfill His purposes and to build His kingdom. In your handout, you have Judges 3. I’ll give you a backdrop to Judges and then we’ll go into the passage. Let me pray for us first because I want to pray before we go into the scriptures.
Father, will You use Your word as You’ve done throughout generations? Will You do it again today with the folks that are here at this hour and the folks that are with us online, that You will illuminate our eyes to see something, that we’ll be convicted, encouraged, challenged, we’ll be realigned, reconnected, that we’ll be empowered through Your word interacting in our lives? I pray that happens with us today in Christ’s name. Amen.
Judges 3. I’ll give you a historical narrative of Judges. Judges is in the Bible. It’s nestled in this little pocket in the Bible after Moses and the first five books. God gives the law. They wander in the desert. That whole thing goes on. AWhen it’s a transfer of leadership at the very end of the first five books, Deuteronomy, there’s a transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Joshua, in the Book of Joshua which is the next book, is called to bring the children of Israel into the promised land. To cross the Jordan into the promised land and conquer this area that God has designed for them. Joshua goes in and conquers most of it but not all of it. He does what God’s called them to do, but he leaves some pieces out. What happens is that the children of Israel begin to intermarry. Their religious system gets messed up and they begin to really lose their true north.
In the end of Joshua going into the Book of Judges, the children of Israel have completely lost their way numerous times throughout that book and this historical narrative. God raises up unlikely and unusual people like you and me, regular people. What he called Judges, men, and women, to restore Israel back through their gifts, talents, and resources, to what God had wanted them to be and to free Israel. That’s where we are in Judges. Israelites fall away from God and God raises up a judge.
Judges 3:12 says, “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and because they did this evil, the Lord gave Eglon, king of Moab, power over Israel.” We’ll jump to verse 15. It says, “Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord and He gave them a deliverer, Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera, the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with a tribute to Eglon, king of Moab. Now, Ehud had made a double-edged sword, about a cubit long, which is strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. He presented the tribute to Eglon, king of Moab.” A tribute is like protection money. It’s like a tax. “Hey, we’re still here but here’s this, so don’t hurt us,” kind of thing. He presents this tribute to Eglon, king of Moab, and it says, “Who was a very fat man.” I don’t write the scriptures, I just read them.
Verse 18, “After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal, he himself went back to Eglon and said, ‘Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.’ And the king said to his attendance, ‘Leave us,’ and they all left. Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of the palace and said, ‘I have a message from God for you.’ As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh, and plunged it into the king’s belly.” Again, Old Testament, crazy stuff.
Verse 22, “Even the handle sank in after the blade, and then his bowels discharged.” Yikes. “Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.” Verse 23, “Then Ehud went out to the porch. He shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them. After he had gone, the servants to the king came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, ‘Well, the king must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.'” It’s in the Bible. It’s potty talk. It says, “They waited to the point of embarrassment,” which is super funny to me. They’re like, “You knock. I’m not going to knock.” “They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when they did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There, they saw their lord, the king, had fallen dead on the floor.
While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them. ‘Follow me,’ he ordered, ‘for the Lord has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.’ So they followed him down and took possessions of the fords of Jordan that led to Moab. They allowed no one to cross over. At that time, they struck down about 10,000 Moabites, all vigorous and strong, and not one escaped. That day, Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for 80 years.” Is that a crazy story? Is that like, “Hey, kids, I’m going to read a little Bible story before you go to bed.” They’re all laying in bed like this, “What just happened? What’s in the Bible?” It’s in there, right? But there’s something in this story. It’s a crazy story. Any lefties in the room? Where are you, lefties? Where are the proud folks? All right, you’re a proud bunch. I love you, lefties. Baseball, it’s a valued position to have a lefty, a solid lefty. So what’s interesting, Ehud sneaks in, pulls his sword from his right thigh, plunges it in the king’s belly, loses his sword, and he escapes. Crazy. So that’s Ehud.
The second is Shamgar. The story of Shamgar is one verse. Judges 3:31. I’ve memorized it. “After Ehud, came Shamgar, son of Anath, who struck down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” That’s all we know. That’s his story. Here’s a guy that saves Israel in one verse, and he’s mentioned in the scriptures. Why? Because if God has given scripture for us to inspire, encourage, correct, help, convict, and bring us to something to bear. Why are these two men listed in the scriptures? I started to sit with this book because what I wanted to begin to do is to say, “As we take this series called Step to activate how we believe and what God’s called us to do.” It’s really easy to sit back and gain information, but God never called us to gain information. He called us to steward this calling, this mission, which requires a step moving forward, and I look at these individuals.
A few notes, I want you to write a couple of things down because I’ve got three points that I really want to make solid with you. The first is that God empowers you through His framing and forming. God empowers you through His framing and forming. The framing of how He made you, and the forming, the experiences that have shaped you. The framing and forming of your life. You may look at your life and say, “Oh, Jon, you must have a privileged life or whatever else.” No, that’s not the case. I’ve been through brokenness. I’ve been through heartache. I’ve been through some really painful experiences in my childhood and in my adult life that have framed and formed me into the person that I am today. As I minister and reach people, I connect to people. I draw from the strength and the pain of that as does anybody else. To take that framing and forming and bury it is something that, “Yeah, that’s just my past life.” A good past life is super important to who you are today.
Ehud’s a left-handed man. In this story, a left-handed man is considered evil, dirty, or you’re disabled. If you can only use your left hand, you’re an outcast. You’re forced to change something that you can’t. So being left-handed was this weird disadvantage. We read the story and think, “Yeah, left-hand,” well, that’s not how it was then. In fact, in the Old Testament or in depictions of medieval art, every time they showed the devil raising a sword or leading the people, he’s leading with his left hand. It’s considered a horrible thing to be left-handed. So are you lefties?
In life, we have similar beliefs, not necessarily left-handed, but somehow we’re made with a disadvantage or we’ve gone through an experience that has created what we call a block because of how we are. We live spiritually passive because we believe that our past keeps us from being used by God. That could not be further from the truth. God takes unlikely, unusual, broken people, people that think they don’t have anything to offer, and does insanely great things through them for His glory. It’s a crazy story.
When you think about Ehud, the scriptures mention twice that he is a left-handed man. He’s left-handed and he strapped the sword on his right thigh. That’s a key piece in this whole story. Because if you’re right-handed, in warfare technology, most warriors would be right-handed. You strap your sword on your left thigh. You would draw from the opposite side; you don’t draw from the same side. That leaves you vulnerable when you’re coming against your enemy. You draw across your body like this. Ehud was left-handed. He would draw from his right. A right-handed man would draw from his left. He would be called in to go see the king. There would be security guards, people that would check to make sure you’re not going to assassinate the king. What they would do is check the left thigh. “You got any blades in there? Got any swords in there?” Check the left thigh to make sure he didn’t have anything. They wouldn’t check the right thigh because who would send a disabled left-handed man to the king? Think about that. Only Ehud could have gotten in. That’s a unique piece to this story. It takes somebody that could have said, “Hey, I’m out.” God is saying, “If you’re sitting here in this audience and saying I’m out because this is what’s happened to me or this is my circumstance, then this is what I’ve got, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Here’s what I wrote. I want you to write it down just below that point of framing and forming; its unique design. Unique design. Everyone has a unique design. Ephesians 2:10 tells us you’re God’s workmanship. Meaning, He created you the way you are. You’re His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared in advance for you to do. There is a line of stuff within the time continuum that is designed for you because of the way He’s made you. I didn’t make this up. It’s Ephesians 2:10.
God has designed you for something for His purpose. If you’re weird, he needs weirdos. If something bad happened to you, great because you need somebody to walk alongside people so that when bad things happen to them, help them find their way. You have a past. Your past won’t get in the way. Your past paves the way. Do you think you’re too young? No, we need your energy. Do you think you’re too old? No, we need your wisdom. Do you have a disability? It’s perfect because it will require God to show up in a way that He won’t for anybody else. The excuse that you may be using to disengage from doing something heroic for the kingdom of God is actually your ticket into the game. It’s part of God’s conspiracy to use you.
What does that look like? It’s the next person you meet. It’s the barista at Starbucks that you say, “You know, you’re doing a great job.” It’s the person for which you’re at the restaurant. You enjoy the meal, see the busboy cleaning up and say, “You know what, I appreciate what you do because if you didn’t do your job, none of this would happen.” Wow, thanks. It’s coming alongside somebody and offering a hug, a pat on the back, a blessing, or a word of encouragement. If you feel prompted to pray, usually most of the time, that means you’re supposed to. Prompts come for a reason. You have a unique design.
Second, write this down, God empowers you through His spirit. God empowers you through His spirit. I love some of the songs we were singing in church because it talks about this calling of the spirit and how we empower through the spirit. Again and again, through the stories of the Bible, we see the spirit of the Lord present and empowering His people again and again. In fact, in the Book of Judges; before these two judges here and the ones after, in Judges 3:10, it says, “The spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel,” another judge. Judges 6 says, “The spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.” Judges 11 says, “The spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah.” Judges 14says, “The spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson.” The spirit of the Lord, again and again, throughout the theme. It’s not just people being empowered because God made you a certain way. There is this spiritual red bull that’s inside of you that says you’re going for it.
Even Jesus Himself didn’t act until He was empowered through the spirit of God. In Luke 4, he says, “The spirit of the Lord is on me. He anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, recover sight for the blind, and set the oppressed free.” Even in the early church, nothing really happened with the disciples. They were just bumping into each other until Acts 2, “The spirit of the Lord poured out upon them.” All of a sudden, they’re preaching, speaking, being persecuted, and living this wholly different life empowered in who they were. They were just a bunch of unlikely and unusuals like us powered by the spirit of God.
Here’s what I want you to write underneath that. Being empowered by the spirit is what I call unprecedented power. Unprecedented power. If the church begins to recognize and realize that God is about empowering you to do the work of the ministry through His spirit, then we have an unstoppable force. The work that I get to do through transforming the Bay with Christ is that very equation. The Bay Area has 11 counties, 256 cities and towns, and almost 8 million people, 3 major metropolitan areas, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. It’s, I believe, the most influential place on the planet, and God is doing some significant work. But what happens is churches are siloed. They’re church-centric and global, but there’s nothing in that middle earth that says, “Hey, if I connected this church and this church, all of a sudden we can be an unstoppable force for good, the gospel, compassion, or addressing the city’s greatest issues.”
I hear people talking about all the issues within San Francisco. The church becomes the biggest contributor to solving for a solution, solving the issues. If the church can come together, then it becomes an unstoppable force. My job is to go into different regions and bring pastors together, have meals. I have breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, even happy hour. Bringing pastors together and saying, “Hey, what can we do? How can we come together? What can happen?” That’s happening all around the Bay Area. God is moving in the Bay Area, I promise you. From a 30,000 foot view, something’s happening. The church becomes an unstoppable force when the spirit of God is working in it. That’s the second thing.
The third thing I want you to write this down is God empowers you through His possessions entrusted to you. God empowers you through His possessions entrusted to you. Okay, I’m going to go back to the verse about Shamgar. I love this part of the story because it’s our assumption and it was my assumption even still when I was challenged early in my faith. What do I bring to the table? I realized, “What do I have in my hand?” Oftentimes, we think I need to get a seminary education, I need to have resources, and I need all these things in order for me to be commissioned to go do whatever God’s called me to do. That’s not how He works. He says, “What’s in your hands?”
In Judges 3:31, “After Ehud, came Shamgar, son of Anath, who struck down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.” Do you know what an oxgoad is? I’ve been to third-world countries, so I’ve seen ox and yoke together pulling a cart or tilling a field. There’s usually a guy standing behind them with a stick about this long, pokey on the end. He’s poking and prodding them in the backside. It’s a pokey stick. After Ehud, came Shamgar, son of Anath, who struck down 600 Philistines with a pokey stick. He saved Israel with a stick. Think about that for a minute. The dude is listed in scripture as saving Israel, and the resource he had was a stick. It was pokey on the end. I told the story to my kids. They’re out in the backyard sharpening the sticks, “I’m going to save you,” poking each other.
The question is, what do you have? What has God given you specifically that is unique to you? What talent, resource, time, or treasure that He has uniquely given you that opens the door for you to do something for other people? It’s what I call, and you can write this underneath this, ordinary and extraordinary resources. Ordinary and extraordinary resources. Ordinary is, say, tithes and offerings. What we commit to Him and what He’s given to us. But the extraordinary resources are other things that we have that might not be like somebody else, but everybody has it. Everybody has it.
I talked to some people at my church and this one lady said, “I actually have a vacation home in Tahoe.” I said, “Oh, that’s awesome.” She said, “I’d like to use it for families in grief because it’s a beautiful scenic place for respite, care, soul care, to really reconnect and grief.”She uses it. It’s booked all the time for families in grief because that’s the resource she had. That’s the resource she brought to the table. I talked to another lady in our church, she went on a game show called The Price Is Right. Got a lot of fans, The Price Is Right. There are more fans of Price Is Right than the A’s. That’s interesting. So she goes on and wins. She wins. I think the check was $17,000. I know, right? Awesome. In my mind, when I think of that, I think, “Oh man, let me just tell you what I…” Because you immediately go to you. What can I use that for, and it’s stuff that I don’t need. She calls me and says, “I just won $17,000.” What? “I just won $17,000.
She’s telling me the story and says, “I’d like to donate this for clean water projects in Africa that we’re doing. We’re able to purchase all these wells with that money because it was an extraordinary out-of-the-ordinary kind of gift. It could be an extra car that your family has. It’s a primary means of transportation for a single mom struggling to make ends meet. It could be anything that you have that’s a resource to you that God can say, “I will use this.” The Bible says this, it’s very unique, in 1 Corinthians 1, it says, “But God chose the fullest things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of the world, the despised things, and the things that are not to nullify the things that are.” God takes these things where it doesn’t make sense.
God empowers you. He empowers you through His framing and through His forming. He empowers you through His spirit. He empowers you through His possessions entrusted to you. Those are the three main points from that story. There’s another piece because this is from God’s side. There’s a piece from your side now. As I sat with this story, I was really working through and looking at this, and it seems that it requires something on our part. When I go back to the story of Ehud for a moment, there’s a strange piece, an interaction that happens in the story in verse 18, if you look back in your notes. In verse 18, it says, “After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent them on their way that had carried it,” and it says, “On reaching the stone images near Gilgal,” it says, “he himself turned back. He went back to Eglon.” On reaching the stones at Gilgal, he turns back. I sat with that. It didn’t make sense, because he’s on assignment, he’s equipped. He’s called by God. He’s uniquely designed, framed, and formed. He’s moving forward with this thing.
Here’s what I think would happen, and I have a theory. I brought it to my Hebrew professor and he said, “Huh, interesting.” What he didn’t do, it says he goes to the king. What I think would happen, he goes on assignment, he goes to slay the king, deliver Israel, and chickens out. He begins to think through his own strengths, “Maybe I can do this,” or whatever else, and he leaves and he passes. As he’s walking out and passing by the stone images at Gilgal, he turns back. I began to do some digging. What are the stone images of Gilgal? What does that mean? The word for that is a root word, pasil, and pasilim. Pasilim is a root word that stands for images, carved stones, or piles of rocks. The last time that we see any sort of mention of a pile of rocks at Gilgal was when Joshua, commissioned from Moses to Joshua, taking the children of Israel across the Jordan into the promised land, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, stepped into the Jordan and the water stopped. God does something crazy, and they go in to conquer the land. What Joshua does is he says, “Let’s take 12 stones out of the middle of the river and stack them up at Gilgal to remind us who God is.”
I go back to the story. It says in Joshua 4, “Joshua set up at Gilgal 12 stones they had taken out of the Jordan.” He did this so all the people of the earth will know, including Ehud, that the hand of the Lord is powerful so that you might always fear the Lord, your God. There is this active step of faith. God may have designed you a certain way, God may have resourced you a certain way, you may be filled with the spirit, but that requires you to take a step, a leap of faith.
Do you remember the Indiana Jones movies? The trilogy? I don’t count the fourth one. Remember the last one; does anybody remember that movie? Am I the only one who’s seen the Indiana Jones movies? The last one, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there’s this one scene that has marked my memory. He comes up to this place. He’s trying to get the cup of Christ, the holy grail, and bring it back. It says at this one place where it says only the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth. He has to take the step of faith. Here’s a picture right here. He comes up to this one spot where there’s this chasm and across the way, “You take a leap of faith, a step of faith.” I remember him saying, “This makes no sense,” and then he sticks out his foot. He steps out his foot. Then, he steps. He steps onto this pathway that takes him all the way across. It required him to just close his eyes and say, “This makes no sense.” That’s a step of faith for you and me as Christ-followers that God has commissioned.
Hebrew says, “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. For anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists, and He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” It doesn’t add up. There’s no logic or explanation, but because our God is big enough, strong enough, smart enough, able enough, He’s creator, He’s sustainer, He’s provider, He’s protector, God will do this and we’re reminded. God will do this. I just need to step out in faith and do this. His Spirit empowers us, enlightens us, and conspires with us. He calls us to stand up, not to sit down. He calls us to be awake, not to be asleep, to abandon our fears, not abandon our faith, to listen to those who have no hope and to speak for those who have no voice, to shout for those that have no rights, to repair things in your city that are broken, to redeem things that need to be brought back. Stand alongside those who are alone, lost, and bring them home.
You’re the light of the world, the Bible calls us. He says, “Let your light so shine before men that they see your acts of service.” They see the way you treat your next-door neighbor. They see the way you interact with your co-worker. They see the way you respond to the person that you just met. As you live that out and you take a step and say, “You know what, I’m going to actually buy that person this. I’m going to buy that Starbucks drink for them. Or, I’m going to invite them over. Or, I’m going to interact in a way that feels out of my comfort zone.” That’s a step. All of a sudden, God does something that glorifies Your father in heaven.
Cornerstone, this church, was never meant to be a place that’s a safe gathering for good Christians of San Francisco. It never was meant for that. Cornerstone is this refueling station for people, of us, conspiring God for people on a mission who by faith want to change the world. That’s what this place is. So the question is, will you take that leap of faith? Will you take that step forward? Ephesians 3 says, “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and I pray to the Father, the creator of everything on heaven and earth. I pray that from His glorious unlimited resources, He will empower you with inner strength through His spirit.” Now, all glory to God who is able through His mighty power at work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever ask or think. I’m not making it up. He’s designed it for you. You just have to step in it. So that’s what I want to call you to do.
Let me pray, we’ll have a time of giving and worship. I want to pray for this blessing. I would ask that you just put your hands out and I want you to receive this. Father, I thank You for my friends at Cornerstone. For those that have been here so many years, those that are pretty new to the church, those who are visiting today, I pray a blessing over them. I pray You to empower them, You strengthen them, that You cause them to search within themselves and say how have you framed and formed me. That they would lean into the spirit of God and You would empower them to do things above what we would ask or think. From that, they would take the resources that they have, the things that You’ve empowered them and given them, and they would take a step of faith and journey towards Your mission, Your purpose, and Your kingdom. I pray a blessing on them, empower them, strengthen them, give them courage and dependency in Christ’s name. Amen.