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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - 3 Mindsets for a Better Year

Craig Groeschel - 3 Mindsets for a Better Year

Craig Groeschel - 3 Mindsets for a Better Year
Craig Groeschel - 3 Mindsets for a Better Year
TOPICS: New Year, Mindset, We Are The Church

My problem started when I started reading the Bible. It was this Bible, exactly, which was a little old school, with these little tab things. How many of you remember these? Anybody remember these? You can type in the comment, "I remember these". Those of you who have digital bibles, you have no idea how easy it is just to type in the book of Amos, and find the book of Amos. Back in the old days, the pastor would say, "Turn to the book of Amos," and I would start sweating. So I got these little tabs so I could find Amos real easy. And my problem started when I started reading the Bible. Because what I read in Scripture, and compared it to what happened in the church, what happened in the church I was going to paled in comparison to what I read in God's Word.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the church that I grew up into was a good church. It had really good intentions. But as kind of a young person, or a young adult, so much of it went over my head. I often felt bored, I felt disconnected. And everything that happened seemed almost embarrassingly safe, because when I read about Jesus in Scripture, there was nothing safe about the Son of God. This guy touched lepers, and he befriended prostitutes, and he enlisted tax collectors to be a part of his discipleship team. And I would look around at some of the people in church, and while it was easy to be kind of narrow minded, or judgmental, or hypocritical, when I looked at Jesus, he loved those who hated him, and he blessed those who persecuted him, and he welcomed everybody, even those that religion rejected.

My problem started when I started reading the Bible, because what I saw in the church that I was going to paled in comparison to what I saw in Scripture. So it was 27 years ago, on this very weekend, that we had a goal to start a Jesus-honoring church, a church where everyone would be welcome, everyone would be needed, and everyone would be changed. And we had a mission, very simple, very, very clear, very, very focused, unapologetically, our mission was to lead people to become fully-devoted followers of Christ. Would you say that with me? Our mission is. To lead people to become fully-devoted followers of Christ. Because Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world. He came that we may have life, Life.Church, and life to the full. So today we are starting a new message series called, "We Are the Church". And the title of today's message is "Three Mindsets for a Better Year". Would you pray with me?

God, thank you, that Jesus said he would build his church. We acknowledge, God, that this is your church, for your glory. God, would you strengthen your church, that it would be Jesus honoring in every way? Empower us, God, to be your light in a very dark world, and use your people, your church, to lead people to become fully-devoted followers of your Son, Jesus. It's in his name that we pray, and everybody said. Amen. Amen, type it in the comments section so we'll know you're with us, amen.

We're gonna be today in Acts 2, and what I wanna do is I wanna give you some context of Acts 2. This is after Jesus had given his life on the cross. Get ready for it, 'cause you might be excited when I tell you, this is after Jesus gave his life on the cross, and God raised him from the dead, defeating death, hell, and the grave, the greatest news in the history of the world. And this guy's a lot like the rest of us, he was kind of a screw up, got his life changed by Jesus, forgiven by Jesus, and he was preaching about repentance, and grace. And Peter preached the gospel, and 3,000 people were saved. On a side note for those who hate megachurches, this was the first megachurch, right there in the book of Acts. And at the very beginning we see what this group of New Testament believers did as the church. And I'm gonna show you in Scripture, Acts 2 tells us this, "They devoted," somebody say they devoted. They devoted.

Touch your neighbor and say I'm devoted. I'm devoted. Touch your other neighbor and say, I'm devoted. I'm devoted. Scripture says, "They devoted themselves," what'd they devote themselves to? Watch this, "To the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer". They were devoted to Jesus and the things of Jesus, the teaching, prayer, fellowship. And, "Everyone," this is amazing, "was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. And all the believers were unified, they were together, and they had everything in common, that they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need". And this is mind blowing, "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts, they broke bread in their homes, and they ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God, and enjoying the favor of all the people". And watch this, "And the Lord added to their number," how often? "The Lord added to their number daily," those who are born into the kingdom of God, daily, "those who are being saved".

Like I said, my problem started when I started reading Scripture, because what I saw in the church paled in comparison to what I saw in the Word of God. I'll show you a version of what I saw in the church. I'm gonna read you that text again from a different version. This is from the MDV, which stands for the modern day version. I made this up, in case you're wondering, it's not a real version. But this is kinda what I see today. "They were devoted to their comfort, happiness, personal goals, dreams, and bucket lists. No one really noticed the Christians, because they focused on themselves. Very few of the believers were together. And when they were, they fought about stupid things. If they sold anything, they used the money to buy something better for themselves. And they claim to love God, but they didn't even love each other. So they felt empty, alone, and depressed. And as a result, most people disliked them, and very few lives were changed".

Obviously God has something way, way better for his church. And so if we want a different type of a year, if we want different results, I would suggest that we need a different mindset about our own role, and what we are to do, and who we are to be in the church. And so I wanna give you three mindset changes for our church, in Acts 2, and the first one is incredibly and indescribably important. Number one, what are we gonna be? We will be an intensely-devoted church, to lead people to become fully-devoted followers of Christ. In fact, the Bible says, "They devoted, they devoted themselves to the things of Jesus, to the teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer".

And one of the most important words in all of the New Testament, in my opinion, is the Word translated as devoted. It's the Greek word proskartereo, not easy to say, but this word, I'll tell you what it means. It means to live in a constant state of relentless pursuit. It's a persistent, ongoing, obstinate devotion. That's what these disciples were to Jesus, and the things of Jesus. It was this constant, relentless pursuit, this ongoing obstinate devotion. And the reality is all of us, we got our own proskartereo, right? We all do, we all have our ongoing obsession. For a lot of people, it's their kids, because they're pretty important and we had 'em, so we might as well love 'em. But they keep us really, really, really, really busy, and our lives revolve around them. For others, it's our career, because we wanna be successful.

Some, it's a hobby, it used to be CrossFit, now it's pickleball, whatever, you know how it goes. For some, it's their shoe game. Gimme the wide shot, gimme the wide shot. For some, it's their shoe game, or their dream vacation, or a certain amount of money in the bank, the financial success, the house, or getting your hands on some Taylor Swift tickets, come on, somebody, right? It's whatever it is that is taking up the majority share of your heart, your affection, and your devotion. And there are far too many people today who would call themselves a follower of Christ, who have more of a casual, or a comfortable approach to Jesus, and might be what we could call cultural Christians, and not fully devoted. These 1st century, these believers, they were sold out, they were all in. They were fully-devoted followers of Christ.

And I wanna tell you a little bit about when the church started, and tell you about a person who had a shift to proskartereo. It was 27 years ago this weekend when we started in a two-car garage. If you look carefully, there's the, oh, there, right there, there's overhead projector, the famous overhead projector. And look at how up-to-date that building is with all of the great things. We started in this building, and there is one story that may stand above all the others I know in our church, about my friend named Jerome. Show you a picture of Jerome. Jerome has something in his hand that I don't think is legal, and he's not very sober in that picture I'm pretty sure. Jerome had been in prison, and was radically changed by Jesus. His proskartereo changed. Before, it was drugs, and it became Jesus, and all the things of God.

And let me tell you what he did. It's very, very simple. All he did was he started coming to church every service. At first it was one service, then it was two, then it was three, then it was four, then it was five, then it was six, and he came to every service. And he was like a utility guy. He would serve anywhere. He'd serve on the host team, he'd serve on the kids team. He was the overhead projector flipper, which was not his best gift, for multiple reasons. One reason Jerome had a finger shot off in a drug deal that went bad. And so when he was changing transparencies, people were counting fingers, one, two, three, they were very confused. The other reason is because Jerome liked to worship, and would be like three verses behind, while we couldn't see the songs. But nevertheless, he just started serving, and he started growing in his faith. Jerome needed a job.

And so we sat down one day and I said, "Let's create a resume, what have you done in your life"? He said, "All I've done is sold drugs". So I helped him create a very true, with integrity resume, that said, "Jerome is an experienced salesperson. He's a strong negotiator, he's got a strength in marketing". Jerome got his first job. Jerome had never had a relationship last more than three weeks. He was never sober, was never in good shape. He met Shanna, who was coming out of the sex industry, and together with some premarital counseling, and some disciple, they got married 24 years ago. And Jerome and Shanna now have six children, three of whom are adopted, homeschool their kids. The transformation started when I said, "Let's memorize James 1," when we were going verse by verse through James.

Jerome memorized James 1, then James 2, then James 3. To this day, he's memorized 57 books of the Bible, is a very successful computer programmer, who leads mission trips several times a year to a place and a mission that he leads and sponsors. Jerome has in person one-on-one, one-on-one. I would tell you the real number, but I don't think you would believe it, the real number is much higher than this. But I'll say, well over 1,000 people, one-on-one, he's led to Jesus, and the number's way higher than that, but you probably wouldn't believe it. So I'll say way over 1,000. How did he do it? He stopped focusing on himself, and the things of this world, and he devoted his life to Jesus. You wanna have a better year? We'll be intensely devoted to the things that matter most, devoted, not a casual comfortable Christianity, but a full in devotion to the God who loved us so much that he sent his Son. Because of who Jesus is, because of what he's done, we will be an intensely-devoted church.

Number two, we'll be an irrationally-generous church. In every way that we possibly can, we'll be irrationally generous. If you remember in the early portion of the text that we read, we saw that they sold their possessions, these crazy people, and they gave to anyone as they had need. I want you to see what happened two chapters later, in Acts 4:33 says, "And God's grace was so powerfully at work in all of them," watch this, "that there were no needy persons among them". There was no one in need, because the church was so radically generous and engaged in the lives of people.

Notice, there was no need for government programs, because the government wasn't necessary to meet the needs of the people, because the church was meeting the needs of the people. We will be an irrationally-generous church, and I'll tell you the story of how God built my heart around generosity. It was on the very first weekend, you saw the building. We had no phone, no nothing. All the chairs were borrowed, we had nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. And I went to invite people to give. And I saw a man, who came in on a snowy day, with no coat, no hat, no gloves, no nothing, and he looked like he was homeless. And I was about to call for the offering, and I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to just say something that I'd never thought I would say.

And I just said, "As you give today," before we had anything, "as you give today, if you have a need, like if you need a place to stay, or if you need food, you can take back out of the offering". And sure enough, I went and sat on the side as the offering plate went by. Lo and behold, somebody put money in, and this old guy took money out. And I thought to myself, "That is the kind of church that is Jesus honoring". And from that time to this day, we said the same thing over and over and over and over again. And God continued to work in our heart.

It was 15 years ago, I can't remember how long ago, people started wanting to buy our resources, sermons and videos and such. And someone had the idea, let's give them away. And at the time when we were most in debt, we decided to give all of the resources away. And now, at this time, there are over 600, listen to 620,000 churches have received over 20 million free resources. For perspective, for perspective, for perspective, there's only 300,000 churches in the U.S. We're talking around the world, over 600,000 churches. And when you hear big numbers, it's hard for you to feel the impact. So I wanna introduce you to just one pastor who's a bivocational guy, named Steven in North Carolina.

My wife and I, we started about four years ago, jumped into student ministry. I was in full-time construction. As a construction worker, man, you work 60 hour weeks. We were coming in part-time, but it was nights that I would be here at the church, 'til midnight, one o'clock in the morning. I was scouring the internet for everything I could find, messages, content, graphics. I couldn't find anything that met the need, until I came across To be able to go on your website, and to pull up everything that I would need to put together a great sermon series is huge. That extra time is priceless. Over the past year we've seen 99 salvations, seven baptisms, multiple, multiple rededications. It's just been amazing to watch God move. I can't tell you enough how much you guys have helped us grow our ministry. I want people to see what they're doing isn't a waste. It's producing souls for the kingdom.

To every pastor out there, we love you. And to everyone that gives to make this possible, we have a team of over 20 people, that all they do is serve other churches, and that's because of your radical generosity. What I've discovered is guess what? You just cannot outgive God. You cannot outgive God, you cannot outgive God. When we started at the highest point of our debt, when we were like paycheck to paycheck, we started giving away. And before long, we were debt free. Here we are today, you ready for this? As of today, in 44 different Life.Church locations, without a single mortgage, on a single building, come on. Don't just sit there and be kind of quiet. For the glory of God, all glory goes to him. You can't outgive God.

And what we say and we will live is that we will lead the way with irrational generosity, because we truly believe it's more blessed to give than to receive. It's not a game, we are the church. We are the body of Christ. And we will be an intensely-devoted church, and we'll be an irrationally-generous church. And we will be unapologetically, we will always unapologetically share the love of Jesus in all that we do. And you see it in the Book of Acts, when the believers had this proskartereo, this radical devotion to Jesus and his Word. Scripture says the most amazing thing, when they were completely devoted to the work of God, in the church, as the church, the Lord added to their number how often? Daily. Daily, daily those who were saved, daily those who were saved, the Lord added to the number daily those who were saved.

And on the very first weekend, in a little two-car garage, with 40 people in there, and I knew most of them, we got to the end of the service, and I was preaching on this very text. And I thought, "I probably should present the gospel, but it's gonna be really embarrassing when nobody responds, because they're all Christians". And I just closed my eyes and said, "God, I trust you," and I told them who Jesus is, the sinless Son of God, who came for the broken, who didn't come for the righteous, but came for the sinners, who didn't come for the healthy, but came for the sick, who came for people like me, who were lost and hurting, and not a good person. And I told about his grace, and I told about his love, and I told about his death, and I told about his resurrection, and I said, "If any of you want to step away and follow him, the new comes, the old is gone, and you can be forgiven. All things new in Christ".

And on that day, I closed my eyes and said, "If you wanna follow Jesus, lift your hands". And seven people out of 40 said, "Yes, I wanna follow Jesus". And I just preached daily, daily, saying how it, that's one for every day this week. And Jerome, you remember, I sat there and I said, "That just happened, that just happened". What would happen if we were a part of a church that daily people came in the family of God? Then I got really excited and I said, "How many people would that be a year, if seven people a week came to faith in Christ"? I said, "Somebody do the math, what's seven times 52? Seven times 52, carry the, that's 365, you dumb butt".

That's why I'm a preacher and not a math teacher. That's one person a day, what if 365 people a year came to faith in Christ? And there has never been a week, from day number one, that there haven't been way more than seven people come to faith in Jesus Christ, because the power of the gospel transforms lives. And that's why we say we'll do anything sort of sin to reach people who don't know Christ, to reach people no one's reaching. Listen to me, church online, free resources, YouVersion Bible App, we will do things that no one else is doing. I thank God that he allows our church to steward the greatest Bible engagement tool in the history of the world, do you realize that? The YouVersion Bible App, created by the church, funded by the church.

Give you a little context, 'cause people don't really understand, last year there was 115 staff members. This year there's 160. Some people say, "Wow, there's a lot of staff members". For those who understand the impact of this app, they have no idea how we do it with such a lean team. It's the most amazing, devoted developers, and spiritual entrepreneurs, who have enabled us with partners around the world, donating their bibles, over 2,700 versions, to give away to over half of a billion people around the world, from one local church, from one local church, from one local church. And I know it's polite for you to clap, and you kind of do your little thing, but you don't understand, you don't understand, because that's just a number. And I want you to feel the weight of the work of God, and what he does, through what we do as the church. I'll introduce you to someone from Bangalore, India, a very precious woman that I've been emailing with this week, who is alive today because God's Word is living. This is Dia.

I felt very alone, and in the place that I was in at that time, I really felt that I had nothing to offer. There was a time when I was in a shopping mall, feeling so overwhelmed, and so scared and powerless. And I went to the Bible App, and I went to the emotions feature, and I chose overwhelmed. And I found Isaiah 54:10, "'The mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you will never end. I will keep forever my promise of peace,' so says the Lord who loves you". And I just latched onto that verse, and I couldn't have found it any other way, 'cause I didn't grow up as a Christian, I didn't grow up reading the Bible, so I had no idea where to start. And I just repeated it to myself, over and over and over again. That verse is what kept me alive. And sometimes that was all I could do was muster the strength to just repeat that one Scripture to myself. YouVersion and Life.Church was like a lifeline for me.

Dia, we love you, my family loves you. You're a part of our church, and I want you all to know, Dia is alive today because you made the Word of God available to reach her. The next big celebration, and believe me, we will celebrate, when there are a billion Dias, and lives touched around the world, from the glory of God, as God entrusts to, who are we? We're the church, entrusts to the church, entrust the church to distribute God's Word, and engage people in the Bible all over the world. What are we, church? Listen to me, we are faith-filled, big-thinking, bet-the-farm risk takers. We will never insult God with small thinking or safe living.

I've had people tell me sometime, "But Pastor Craig, the church is kinda too big". Listen to me, we're just getting started, you hear me? We're just getting started, like I'm telling you, I'm telling you, as long as there is one person, as long as there is one person broken, one person's suicidal, one person about to give up, one person who can't get free from drugs, one person who's still in bondage to pornography, one person who's still living in abuse, one person who's still trapped in human trafficking, one person who doesn't have access to clean water, one person who has not yet heard the living Word of God, that Jesus is the Son of God that came to seek and save the lost, we will not stop, we will not stop, we will not stop. And I wanna invite you to, don't just go to church, be the church. What do I do? Change your proskartereo. Do what Jerome did, just change the object of your devotion.

One very simple challenge, as you start the new year, devote one thing toward Jesus. What might your one thing be? I'll give you some options, I'm so glad you asked. What might you do? You might start reading God's Word. If you're not reading God's Word, you might start reading God's Word daily, feed on the living Word of God. I'll recommend a little app for it if you need a place to read the Word of God. But listen to me, be careful, be careful, because when you start reading God's Word, it is living, it is active, and it will get in you, and it will transform you, and you will not be the same. You might also consider serving in church. You, listen to me, everyone has a gift to be used by God, for God, in the church. In other words, if you just watch, and you don't do something, then there is an unfulfilled assignment with your name on it.

How can you sit by and just watch? We're the church, we're the church. You have gifts, and your gifts are needed. But be careful, if you start to serve in the church, you might get weird. Come on. You might start getting a little bit like Jerome, and might start making a difference in all these ways, and getting obsessed with serving people in the world. You might join a LifeGroup, but be careful, because when you do, you start having accountability in your life, and you actually start getting close to someone, and you start caring about people, and you start praying for people, and then you like start visiting them when they're in a hospital, and you start doing missions work together with them. And all of a sudden you become a little vibrant army for the glory of God. You might start tithing, but be careful. I gotta warn you, because your heart follows where your giving goes. And the more you give, the more you love, and the more you get obsessed with the work of God, and what he is doing all over the world.

Or you might just commit to pray daily. I mean like to pray, to really intercede and seek God. But be careful, because when you do, you'll start to see miracles, and you'll start to see God move, and other people look on and go, "Oh, we're in awe that all God is doing," and you'll start to fall in love with the church, the work of God in the church, because we are the church. We don't go to church, we are the church. We are the church. We are the church. We are not spiritual consumers, that's not what we do. We're spiritual contributors. The church does not exist for us. Who are we? We are the church, and we exist for the world. The church is not a building, it's not a place we go. Who are we? The church. Who are we? The church.

Type it online, who are we? The church. And what do you think we can do when we are together? "All the believers were together, and there were no needy people around them". We are strong enough that we can meet the majority of needs in our community, and make a real difference around the world. We, our church, partnering with others, can translate God's Word into every language on our Earth, in our lifetime, and we can give it away, and eradicate Bible poverty in our generation.

We can start life-giving churches, in cities around the world, and proclaim the gospel, that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And we can tell 'em, just like I did on the first week, "Come with your doubts, come with your fears, come with your brokenness, come with your sin, and just come to Jesus, just come". This is a safe place to belong even before you believe, and just keep on coming, and just keep on letting Jesus work, and keep on putting him first, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then all these things will be added unto him. Jesus said this, he said, "I will build the church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against us". Who are we? We're the church.

Let me ask you, who are you, like for real? No like, "Yeah, I'm a Christian". Who are you really? Are you the church? Listen, listen, if you're the church, that changes everything. We're not just believers, we're not just Christians, we are the church. We don't like go whenever we feel like it, there's nothing else going on. No, no, no, we are the church, and we just go, we're filled, we're empowered, and we then go into all the world, and, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask, think, or imagine, according to his power," listen, "that is at work," where? In you, in us, in the body of Christ. "To him be the glory," where? "In the church, and in Christ Jesus, through generations to come, forever and ever we give him praise". Who are we? We are the church of Jesus Christ. Let the church rise.

Father, we pray in the name of Jesus that your Holy Spirit would empower us like never before, to be your church in this world.

Wherever you're listen from right now, nobody looking around, those of you who would say, "I've been kinda halfway in. I'm kinda more like that second version you read, and I am convicted and I'm ready to go. I'm ready to be the church," lift your hands right now, lift 'em up right now. Lift 'em up right now, there's more of you. Lift 'em up right now. You're not sitting on the sidelines. Lift them up online and say, "I'm ready to be the church".

Father, I pray that you would stir up within us a passion to share your gospel in this world. We commit to be devoted to the things that last, and honor you.

As you keep praying today, nobody looking around, are you hurting, are you broken? Are you lost, are you desperate? Do you feel alone, do you feel stuck? Do you feel guilty and ashamed in your sin? That was me, all those things. And I read about Jesus, the sinless Son of God, who gave his life and God raised him from the dead so I could be forgiven. The Scripture tells us that anyone, doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter what you've done, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your sins would be forgiven, and you would be brand new. The power of the gospel is here for you. God loves you, he loves you, he's ready for you. He's reaching out to you, this is your moment. This is the day of your salvation, wherever you are.

You may have been in going to church like I was, but you don't know the God of the universe. Step away from your old life, step towards Jesus. He loves you, he will forgive you, and you will become brand new, adopted into his family, as his church. Wherever you're watching from, those who say, "Yes, I need his forgiveness, yes, I need his grace, I step in and I say, yes, Jesus, forgive me. I give you my life, I surrender to you. Jesus, I make you first, and give you my life," if that's your prayer, lift your hands high right now, all over the place and say, "Yes, that's my prayer".

Right over here, praise God for you. Others of you say yes, right here, right back over here. Come on, somebody. Right back over here, okay, let's go. Let's go, there's four, come on. Others say, "Yes, Jesus, I need you. I wanna follow you, Jesus, be my Lord. I put you first". Those of you online, just type in the comment section, "I'm surrendering to you". And all over the world we pray:

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love, thank you for your Son, who gave his life so I could be free. Jesus save me, forgive all my sins. Fill me with your Spirit, so I could serve you. I give all of my life to you, in Jesus' name I pray.

Now heavenly Father, empower your church, by the power of your Holy Spirit, to use their gifts to impart life, hope, freedom, and victory to this world. God, may your church rise up to preach your Word, to love the lost, to bring healing to the broken, and bring redemption to a lost world that needs you. Empower us, God, to be your church. We pray this in Jesus' name, and all God's people said? Amen. Amen and amen.

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