Facebook post about my cheesy jokes – and people are liking it – we have a serious issue within the congregation. Let me ask you a few questions?

Q: Why did the cookie go to the hospital? A: Because he felt crummy

Q: Why did Johnny throw the clock out of the window? A: Because he wanted to see time fly!

Q: Why was the baby strawberry crying? A: Because his mom and dad were in a jam.

Q: What has one head, one foot and four legs?  A: A Bed

 

Revelation 2 & 3

 

Politically Presidents always give a State of the Union address and in the past I have given a State of the church sermon as I will today. We will take a few minutes to see what we have done in the past year and what do we want to do this year.

 

If I asked you about our congregation – “What was the most exciting thing that happened in 2016?”

Three people committed their life to Christ – we have three new brothers in Christ.

We have Elders/Deacons for the first time since I have been here.

We bought 4 water buffalo for poor villages in Myanmar.

We have remained faithful to the message of Jesus.

80% of you are serving Jesus in some compacity on a regular basis; teaching, serving, nursery, providing meals, visiting, etc.

We had numerous events for fellowship and for outreach – Camp Oak Forest, Fair tent, Johnny Pressley, Peter Heck, George Al-Salty, and the Ladies Tea to name a few.

As a congregation you gave more to the Lord (we will see more with Tom’s presentation).

We help more than 10 families in the community when they faced difficult financial times.

We also helped families around America and around the world with our mission support.

As a congregation we give 11% of our finances to missions in 2016 that was $19,000 to spread the good news of Jesus in Asia, Dominican Republic, Poland, in prisons, at church camp, and state side missions.

 

Mahoning Valley Christian Service Camp

Christian Restoration Association – Restoration Herald, Church loans, Leadership training

GIJAPA – God is Just a Prayer Away – Ed Bousman’s sermon throughout America and the world

Open Your Hearts – Mike Breidenbaugh, 50 plus prisions

IDES (International Disaster Emergency Service)

West VA, VA Evangelism – Harold Goins

Poland Mission – Kostek and Mary Jakoniuk

Asia Christian Services

Merendon Mountain Mission – Toby and Amy Hill in Dominican Republic – training leaders, developing churches

This year we have added – SALT – George & Xena Al-Salty

Check the mission board by the water cooler for mission reports.

 

We have done a lot of good in the name of Jesus in Brookville and around the world.

We can do even more if we dedicate ourselves this year. So, let’s all work together to be a blessing to more people in 2017 than in 2016.  Let others see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).

 

I haven’t even mentioned our largest impact because I don’t know all the details.

Our biggest influence as a congregation is found in your individual lives as you impact your neighbors, your co-workers, and family. Oak Forest’s ministry is seen as you walk with joy, as you encourage others, as you extend the love of Jesus, as you share the word of God, and as you tell others about your hope in Jesus.

 

Oak Forest Church of Christ is here so we can worship God and grow in maturity so that you can live out the gospel of Jesus in your day to day lives.

So, what is the state of our congregation?

Oak Forest Church of Christ is in pretty good shape but we have room for improvement.

 

What would Jesus’ evaluation of Oak Forest be? We see in the book of Revelation Jesus’ evaluation of 7 churches in Asia.  How did He praise them, condemn them and challenge them?

What can we learn from what Jesus said?

(Handout)

Messages to the Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3)

Church Christ Commendation Rebuke Exhortation Promise
Ephesus

(2:1-7)

 

 

Holds 7 stars in His right hand; walks among lamp stands Deeds, toil, and perseverance; cannot endure evil men; tests; endures; hates deeds of Nicolaitans You have left your first love Remember and repent; do the deeds you did at first Will eat of the tree of life in the Paradise of God
Smyrna

(2:8-11)

 

The first and last, who died and came to life again Tribulation and poverty NONE Do not be afraid to suffer; be faithful to death Will receive crown of life; not hurt by second death
Pergamum

(2:12-17)

 

 

Has sharp 2-edged sword Hold fast My name; do not deny faith in face of persecution Some hold teachings of Balaam (idolatry and immorality) and Nicolaitans Repent or Jesus will judge them Will receive hidden manna, a white stone with new name on it
Thyatira

(2:18-29)

 

 

Son of God, eyes like flaming fire, feet like burnished bronze Deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance; doing more now than at first; Tolerates Jezebel’s false teaching, immorality and idolatry Repent and hold fast to what you have until I come Authority over nations; the morning star
Sardis

(3:1-6)

 

 

Has the seven Spirits of God, and seven stars Deeds, a reputation of being alive You are dead Wake up! Strengthen what remains; remember what you received, keep it and repent Clothed in white; name in book of life; acknowledged before the Father and angels
Philadelphia

(3:7-13)

 

 

Holy and true, who has the key of David, opens and shuts doors Deeds, kept My word and does not deny My name; perseveres NONE Hold fast to what you have Will be pillars in temple; name of God, of New Jerusalem, Christ’s new name written on them
Laodicea

(3:14-22)

 

 

The Amen, faithful and true Witness, Beginning of the creation of God NONE Lukewarm, neither hot nor cold; wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked Buy from Christ refined gold, white clothes, eye salve; be zealous and repent Overcomers will dine with Christ; will rule with Christ

 

Is Jesus commending us for our deeds, toil, and perseverance; that we Hold fast His name; do not deny the faith in face of persecution. Is Jesus praising us for our love, faith, service, and perseverance; that we are doing more now than at first.  Is Jesus commending us for our reputation, and that we have kept His word.

 

Even if He praises us for these good things are the any rebukes we must hear so we can repent and do better?

Have we left our first love, are we holding to any false teaching, are we putting up with any idolatry or immorality, are we lukewarm?

 

We must evaluate ourselves as a congregation but also as individuals so we really know how we are doing.

 

Evaluation is no fun, it is like going to the Doctor.

You know the doctor is going to tell you to lose weight and get your cholesterol under control and exercise more, on and on.

Who likes getting on the scales at the doctor’s office?  I normally don’t but I won’t mine on my next visit.  Why?  Because I know I have worked hard over the last 5 months to get healthier than I have been in 2 decades.  I can get healthier but I am headed in the right direction.

 

Getting on the scales every morning motivates me to be faithful to my eating and exercise schedule each day.  I don’t want to see a four-pound increase because I cheated on Thanksgiving, or even the two pound increase at Christmas.  The daily scale keeps me motivated.  In the past I didn’t want to get on the scales because I did not want to know the truth.

 

This is all true spiritually also. When we are being faithful to daily prayer and bible reading; when we are faithful to weekly worship and bible study we don’t mind if someone asks about your spiritual life.  But if you have been cheating, been lazy and not dedicated to your spiritual health you will get offended if someone asks about your spiritual life.

That is why it is so important for us to come each Sunday to worship and encourage each other so we can partake of the Lord’s Supper and evaluate our relationship with Jesus.

 

Everyone wants to lose weight and get healthier. Everyone wants to conquer that “pet” sin and become more spiritual and more knowledgeable about God’s word.  The issue is not desire but dedication.

 

Let’s go into strict training this year.

 

1 Timothy 4:7  Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

 

On Facebook there is an accountability group for reading the bible and for healthy eating.

 

Will you be more dedicated to Jesus in 2017 than 2016? Will we as a congregation be more dedicated to Jesus in 2017 than in 2016?

How can we tell?

 

Are we growing in the fruit of the Spirit?

 

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

 

 

Are we adding to our faith?

 

2 Peter 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9  But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

 

Let’s be even more effective and productive in this coming year. If you have ideas how we can do better or a ministry to can create please talk with one of the Elders or Deacons depending on the idea.

 

Let’s make sure that if Jesus sent Oak Forest Church of Christ a letter it would read more like the letters to Smyrna and Philadelphia and not like the letter to Laodicea.

 

The easiest way to be pleasing to Jesus in 2017 is to follow His last command.

 

Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

Who are you praying for to accept Jesus? Who are you talking to about Jesus?  Who are you discipling so they grow to maturity in Jesus?

 

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus know that is why Jesus came. He came and died for you because He loves you and we, His church love you and are glad you are here today.  He wants you to surrender your life to Him.

 

Do you believe Jesus loves you and will forgive you of your sins? Will you repent of your sins and be immersed today so your sins will be removed?

 

Come as we sing.