A PARTNERSHIP WITH PURPOSE – Partners in the Gospel
Philippians 1:1-8 (p. 818) October 16, 2016
During the summer of 1904 an unlikely partnership was formed at the World’s Fair St. Louis. The summer was unusually hot and people were searching the fair for something to help cool them off and Arnold Fornachou had just what they were looking for, ice cream. People lined up for what seemed like miles to get some of his cool and satisfying ice cream but there was one problem. Arnold was not prepared for the demand and ran out of paper bowls and was forced to wash a few porcelain bowls over and over again. The result was too few bowls and people were getting tired of waiting.
Next to Arnold’s ice cream booth was the booth of a pastry chef named, Ernest Hamwi and he was making a Persian wafer desert called zalabia. Ernest also had a problem, his pastry was not selling. He noticed the problem Arnold was having and took some warm zalabia and rolled it into a cone shape. He then went over and showed Arnold how the zalabia could hold a scoop of the ice cream. On that hot day during the World’s Fair, the ice cream cone was born because a partnership was formed.
Kari and I are very grateful to Arnold and Ernest! Their partnership brought us joy last week…
What amazes me about God’s plan for the salvation of mankind is that He wants to partner with us. He’s provided sweet forgiveness and eternal hope but He puts it in a cone like me…and you.
Have you ever seen that last cone in the box? The top is broken and the bottom has been mashed out of it…That’s me! Most would just throw that cone away, but not God. He fills it with good news…and it’s the answer for something a lot hotter than an unusual summer day.
No wonder the Apostle Paul used a pretty similar illustration when he said
2 CORINTHIANS 4:5-7 (p. 804)
No one buys the ice cream cone for the cone (or at least not many of us). No one finds a treasure and says “Man, what an amazing box,” and throws the gold away.
Doesn’t it just amaze you that God would choose to put his priceless treasure…the gospel in clay jars like me and you? It’s a partnership that only happens because of his grace and His mercy.
It’s this partnership the Apostle Paul found joy in…as he remembered sharing this ministry with Timothy, and the leadership and all God’s Holy people in Philippi.
As we journey through this series called “A Partnership with Purpose” let me begin with this truth…having a partnership with God in sharing the gospel is always about:
I. BUILDING MEMORIES IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE
Think about your favorite memories for just a minute…and I’ll bet they don’t focus as much on where you were and what you were doing…but who you were with…If you’ve ever been on a mission trip you don’t smile because you remember the drywall you ripped out…you remember the old couple or the kids…and you remember the team of people you sweated with…laughed with…cried with…There is true joy when you bring good news to people…with God’s people.
[As I write this I’m getting ready to head to Eastern Kentucky with a team of Gardenside folks…men and women I love and I’m excited to be with…on the piece of paper we’ve given to everyone it says Projects: (construct a porch roof for an elderly gentleman…and I know constructing that roof is important…but I also know “the elderly gentleman” is more important…and when we return…we’ll remember who we served much more than how we served…if we do it right!]
It’s the memories of those relationships with people that are more important to build than porches or buildings…but real love is always preached most effectively with a hammer in your hand…John writes in his first letter these words:
1 JOHN 3:16-18 (p. 856)
Saying I love you is easy…saying it and backing it up with your actions makes it true…it’s how we know what love is…God said it…and then He became flesh and backed it up by walking towards a cross. How can God’s love really be in any of us if we see someone in need and don’t have compassion to help? This is the difference between belief and faith…it’s the difference between attending church and being a disciple of Christ.
It’s why committing ourselves at Gardenside to becoming “A family committed to loving Jesus and others so our neighbors, community and world can experience “GOOD NEWS,” must be more than words on a banner…This must become what the Spirit of Christ compels us to do in action and in truth.
Let me ask…do you have a real name for who you are partnering with God to love? Do you have and Ethan…do you have a Cory? Jesus didn’t just love a big flock…He knows His sheep by name.
When Paul says, “I thank God every times I remember you…I pray with joy because of our partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (v. 4-5)
Real faces came to that remembrance…leaders, servants…families that he had in his heart.
It’s why the most effective mission strategy can never just be about writing a check…It has to be a partnership with a real God and real people…I would call it connectivity.
Here’s a list of the Missions we partner with to share the good news with, here and around the world:
SHOW PICTURE OF MISSIONS AT GCC
Our total budget for everything we do at Gardenside Christian is $548,000…$74,800 of that goes to Missions…around 13% of our total budget. 13 cents of every dollar we tithe and give…goes to our partners in the gospel…Here in our community and around the world.
But our partnership only takes on flesh and bone when you know Denford Chizanga’s heart for Africa…and Don & Aleta Hulsey’s. When you share a purpose with Fred Mitchell from Russel Cave and Larry Mulhulland and Ken Henderson from Mission Journeys…when you share your heart with Dennis & Mary Herko in Jamaica….Real people like Rhona Webber from Assurance Pregnancy Center, and many more…It’s how we connect…send…and support, with prayer that makes a difference.
After all this is God’s money and our partnerships should be the most effective for His Kingdom as possible…There must be transparency, accountability and celebration…Connectivity!
If you look through the entire New Testament…there were never missionaries just sent out or serving and then forgotten, or left to fend for themselves…The relationship always continued with prayer, financial support, communication and constant remembrance…There was always a deep loving partnership to share the good news of Christ…Both parties needed each other. Both partners kept these lines open.
That’s why Paul says, “From the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This verse perfectly describes the connectivity of a healthy mission relationship…Memories continually built in our relationships with people.
“I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you…I always pray with joy.”
This allows us to:
II. DO WHAT’S BEST
Anyone want to guess how many missions in the world would like for Gardenside Christian Church (us) to support them? Uhhhhh….ALL OF THEM! So how come we don’t? Because trying to do everything good is impossible…And it’s absolutely important that we are led by the Holy Spirit to do what’s best.
One of the most difficult things we must do as we partner with God and others in sharing the gospel is the evaluation of what’s best.
How do we do what’s best instead of trying to do too many good things? Paul tells us:
“This is my prayer (best way to start!) that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”
Those overseers and deacons who led all the Holy people in Christ at Philippi were responsible for growing disciples who abounded in love…who absorbed in understanding of God’s plan…who had insight through the Spirit’s leading…God would reveal best as they grew…and as they sought.
Doing best sometimes means saying no to what is good…It takes courage to do this and not everyone will…The good is fruit that comes through Jesus…but there are a lot of voices that scream “Wait a minute, we’re good!”
Churches that make decisions because “It’s always been this way…or we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings will never be able to courageously do what’s best…The cone becomes more important than the ice cream.
Satan would love us to choose so many things that we think will bring us a reward. And as we do, we forfeit the joy of choosing what is best…Like this story:
A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American casually asked.
“Oh, a few hours,” the Mexican fisherman replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American businessman then asked.
The Mexican warmly replied, “With this I have more than enough to meet my family’s needs.”
The businessman then became serious, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, “I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs…”
The American businessman impatiently interrupted, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.”
Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, “Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”
Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, “But how long will all this take?”
After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”
“And then what, señor?” asked the fisherman.
“Why, that’s the best part!” answered the businessman with a laugh. “When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?” asked the young fisherman in disbelief.
The businessman boasted, “Then you could happily retire with all the money you’ve made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want.”