The story is told of a man who had gone to church for several years but suddenly stopped attending. His pastor dropped by one evening unannounced. The man answered the door and invited him in. Of course, he knew why his pastor was there.
They went and sat in two chairs in front of a roaring fire. Neither man said anything. After a few minutes, the pastor picked up the fire tongs, took one of the logs out of the fire, and laid it on the hearth. The flames died down and flickered a few times before going out. They watched in silence as the log started to grow cold.
After a while, the pastor once again picked up the fire tongs and put the smouldering log back with the other burning logs. It immediately burst back into flame.
The pastor got up and said, “Well, I need to go now. But I’ve enjoyed our visit.”
The man rose too and said, “I appreciate your message, pastor. I will be in church on Sunday.”
We are better together. And we are far better served staying together, because when we are separated from other Christians our effectiveness, our fire, grows cold.
AGREE TO DISAGREE AGREEABLY
We are never going to agree on everything, but we can still be in unity. We may not see eye to eye, but we can walk hand in hand. We will all have different doctrines, different things we hold dear, different tastes and preferences, but real,
Life changing, Holy Spirit led power comes to our church when we lay our own agenda aside and pull together in unity.
At this time we are experiencing incredible blessing. God gives $700,000 for Lily House to buy this property, then we get to purchase an entire city block in Nambour for about $1 million. God’s blessing all round, and you get to share in it, as do I! As the church is about to move into Nambour, I want to encourage you to stick together, because we are better together. We have tremendous unity here at Ignite, which is a miracle in itself given how diverse our doctrines and backgrounds are, but I believe we need to guard this passionately.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)
walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We need to recognise what unity actually is. It’s not agreeing with each other, it’s not uniformity. Unity is agreeing to disagree agreeably. There can be union without unity: tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline, you’ve got union, but you don’t have unity!
When we put all of the passionate opinions we have aside, staying in unity is the most important thing. There is blessing in unity and there is power in unity. We may feel small, insignificant and sinful as people, but when we connect with God we connect with each other in a special way. Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but think about what they can do when they stick together!
A.W. Tozer likens unity 100 pianos. He writes,
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same tuning fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord not by being tuned to each other, but by being tuned to another standard to which each one must individually bow.
So today I want to look at the ways we can move ahead in unity together, because I believe we are better together.
1. WALK TOGETHER
Amos 3:3 (ESV)
“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?
This is a rhetorical question, because when two people are feuding, they don’t generally walk together. As we face the future, as you consider what significant, extraordinary thing God wants you to do with your life, let’s walk together. Let’s agree to put any differences, pet doctrines and opinions aside and walk together into downtown Nambour.
We can walk together right into the centre of our community. We could stay here, but if we walk together we are better following the Lord and walking into the destiny He has for us… , into the heart of our community.
2. TALK TOGETHER
I grew up in a country Baptist Church where 2 members, one the church secretary, had fought, and then not spoken to each other for more than 10 years! This church never grew, surprise, surprise! Paul writes,
1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
I’m encouraging you to speak words of love and encouragement. You don’t have to agree with each other, but you do have to love and be in unity with each other. It’s easy to criticise, but the disunity your critical opinion causes divides and destroys. Jesus said
Mark 3:25 (ESV)
And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
We need to guard our words, and we need to bridle our tongues. Paul says,
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
So as we move ahead, I urge you not to clam up in silence but to keep talking to each other, and make sure your words build each other up. Tell each other you love them in the Lord, and let your words and actions prove it.
- WORK TOGETHER
I already have people buzzing about our move to downtown Nambour, and many are excited about what they want to do for God. Whether it’s Street ministry, men’s, ladies, missions, the prospect of working together for the Lord is getting people excited!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil (work, travail). For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
As we work together, and work needs to be done, we can help one another up, thrive in our respective ministries, and work together to impact our community. As your pastor, I’m committed to training, equipping and empowering you to be all you can be for the Lord. I have some gifts, but I cannot, nor should I, do everything.
Romans 12:4-5 (ESV)
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Some of you sit here with a dream of ministry in your heart that’s never happened. Some of you were ministering elsewhere and that dream was shattered. If you have a dream of ministry in your heart, even if it’s your first or second time here, let me know, because there is a place fir you. My heart’s desire is to see you set free to minister in your area.
4. GIVE TOGETHER
We are about to receive an offering towards our new building. Now let me be honest, moving to this building, buying it and renovating is a bit of a stretch at the moment, and we need to pull together, but God is able to do exceedingly abundantly.
I am going to give as much as I can, because I believe in what God is doing here at Ignite. I have no doubt that God is blessing us and will provide for us. And I want you to join us in this great endeavour.
I don’t want you to give because you think we need it. I want you to give because you want to be a part of something big, something incredible, something God. This offering is not a burden it is a great opportunity to demonstrate your love and trust in the Lord. Ignite is a great opportunity to sow into a place where there will be growth and fruit.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV)
whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Giving in this special offering is a privilege, a joy, it’s being a part of something incredibly awesome God is doing here at Ignite. You can look back in years to come knowing that you were part of a miracle. You can be that cheerful giver!
And don’t forget God’s challenge to you…
Malachi 3:10-12 (ESV)
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.
I don’t believe in giving to get, just call my 1800 number and for every dollar you give God will give you back 100 fold. That’s not a generous giver, that’s a deluded, selfish giver. My experience is that when I give generously to God, He has my back.
If I give generously, no matter what the amount is, and remember Jesus delighted not in the rich man giving out of his riches but the poor widow giving all she had, God sees the heart with which I give, and He notes it and honours it. You can’t out give God!
But Fiona and I have decided to give not a comfortable amount, but to draw down on our mortgage and stretch and give something that hurts a bit.
2 Samuel 24:24 (ESV)
But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.”
So be praying right now and give generously because I assure you that when we give together here, Ignite Church is rich soil for an abundant harvest, and God will honour your gift.
5. SERVE TOGETHER
Mark 10:45 (ESV)
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus came to earth to serve, and one of the great joys of togetherness is serving together, and serving one another.
Ephesians 4:16 (ESV)
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
I am hoping and praying that you get excited about what God is doing here at Ignite, and then get involved. We can serve together and live extraordinary lives of significance together. God is opening incredible ministry opportunities at Ignite, and you can be a part of it.
UNITY… THE GLUE THAT HOLDS US TOGETHER
Psalms 133 (ESV)
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
Unity is the glue that holds this church together, and it’s the glue that holds the Blessing and Anointing of God. If we truly want revival, if we truly want to see the Spirit of God poured out on our lives, our families, our church and our nation, we need to put opinions and preferences aside and stand together in unity and love.
It’s not just pleasant when we have unity. It is where the Lord commands a blessing, even life forever more, which is salvation and eternal life. The Hebrew for “command” is SAWA, which means to give orders, command and it also means to charge. Unity means charging towards blessing, galloping across the battleground to ultimate victory!
And when we are in unity, as we are here at Ignite, the Blessing of the Lord flows throughout the whole body, like oil covering Aaron’s beard, and flowing down to the tip of his garments. Unity really matters, and we are better together.
Jesus, in His last few hours alive before His crucifixion, prayed for us. If you had only a few hours before your execution, you wouldn’t waste it would you? Don’t you think you’d want to do something significant?
John 17:22-23 (ESV)
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
On His last night before His execution, Jesus prayed for the church, and specifically He prayed for our unity. He didn’t pray for a spiritual gifts or a certain style of worship or preaching, He didn’t pray for denominations, or smoke machines or laser lights or televangelists… He prayed for unity in the church… Why? Because His desire for us is that we charge headlong into power and blessing.
WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER
Mother Theresa said, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot, but together we can do great things!”
Together we can do great things. Together, in unity, Ignite Church can do awesome things for God. We can see revival, we can see salvation, we can see incredible prosperity even as our souls proper. We can see victory over this dark world and we can win our community to Christ if we stand together in unity.
A farmer lost his 2 year old child in a corn field as night was falling and temperatures dropped. He searched and searched but could not find him. He phoned several Neighbours and they gathered to search, “But be careful,” the farmer said, “Don’t trample the corn.” They searched for some time, but as temperatures dropped to below freezing, they still could not find the boy.
In a panic, the farmer said forget the corn, let’s join hands. And so together they join hands and made a human chain, trampling the crop. They soon found the boy curled up in a hollow, frozen to death.
The farmer turned to the men and said, “Gentlemen, we should have joined hands sooner.”
Now is the time to join hands together. To walk, talk, work, serve and give together in unity for the work of the Lord in this place.
I HAVE A DREAM
Rev Martin Luther King Jnr was famous for a sermon he once preached. He proclaimed that he had a dream. Well I have a dream too… I have a dream for Ignite Church, and for each of you.
I have a dream that God would place us in the centre of our community. I have a dream that we would minister and care for the people of our community. That God would bring the hurting, the disillusioned and disenfranchised to our door, and that His Spirit living in us would love them back to life.
I have a dream that our people will be healed, will be set free, that marriages and broken relationships would be restored by the power of God’s love in us. I have a dream that we might stand together in unity proclaiming God’s truth to this dark world that is plunging towards a Christ less eternity.
I have a dream that God would raise up in each of you anointed gifts and talents that we might serve the Lord together in the centre of our community. I also have a dream that from that hub we might plant multiple churches around the state and nation, and find a way to impact thousands of churches and millions of people around the world.
I have a dream that we would be real people, a real community and proclaim a real God in the midst of the pain and hopelessness of this world.
I want to invite you to join me in my dream, and make it your dream. In a few moments I’m going to ask you to give into that dream.