Lessons From Concert Weekend (1 of 2)
Introduction: I don’t know how last weekend could have been any better! The church came together in a unified way. We played and sang music that glorified Christ and honored His kingdom. We loved on our friends and neighbors. We served our neighborhood with the gospel and with food. We raised money for Reaching Out homeless shelter - in one weekend more than 5% of our annual funds raised - and we freely gave it away. We heard public testimony from one of those who were homeless and who was rescued by Reaching Out and who now serves others full time through Reaching Out. We enjoyed with great fellowship together and great joy as we served together. Honestly, I don’t know how last weekend could have seen any better results!
All too often when we fail and have terrible results, we stop and ask ourselves “What went wrong?” We want to learn from our failures and mistakes. But I think the opposite is just as important! When something goes really well, we should stop and ask ourselves the question, “What wen right?” How can we learn from our success? How can we repeat this in the future.
So as I sat down and thought about it, I came up with 6 lessons from Concert Weekend. As I have prayed about this and thought about this, I believe there are at least 6 principles that we followed that led to great results. And I believe if we stick to these principles, these 6 lessons will provide great results in any endeavor we attempt, whether it be as a church, or in our businesses, in our schools, or in our private lives.
Over the next two Sundays I’d like to talk to you about these 6 lessons. We’ll talk about three today and then three next Sunday.
#1 - Great Results BEGIN WITH GOD.
We like to affirm that God is good. All the time. We recount great stories from the Word of God about what He has accomplished. We talk about these great stories as if they were all history and all in the past. However, I’m here to affirm publicly that I believe God continues to do great things. I believe God wants to do great things - not just through his leaders of the ancient past - but through his children today!
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4-5
We DO delight in the LORD for this. Serving God together is such a great delight! God DOES want to give us the desires of our hearts. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God is cheering us on?
I love that song that we’ve been singing this past year, “The Blessing.” I actually have a hard time singing it all the way through because I tear up. It’s just so powerful for me. We get to that one part and we sing it over and over: “He is for you! He is for you! He is for you! He is for you!”
I believe our Heavenly Father is for you and me - more than what we can possibly imagine! Sadly, so many of us have not had the example of a godly dad who was always on our side. If that describes you this morning, I am truly sorry for you. I really lucked out. I have a dad that I know has always been on my side. I have a dad that when I played football in high school, he didn’t just show up for every game… he came to most of my practices. He cheered me on! I never doubted he was on my side!
So it’s relatively easy for me to grasp that if my earthly father can be this way, HOW MUCH MORE is my Heavenly Father on my side! He is for me! He is for me! God wants to give me the desires of my heart. God wants to give YOU the desires of YOUR heart too!
Having affirmed how much God wants to give us our desires, let me now switch gears and suggest that this also means that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts! I know this seems like I just repeated the same thing, but it’s all in the EMphasis… or perhaps the emPHAsis of the verse.
Consider that as we are Christ-followers filled by God’s Holy Spirit, God actually gives us our desires… He changes our desires… When we first become a Christian, we have desires that are selfish and self-serving, but the more we are influenced by God’s ever-abiding Spirit, our very desires change. Our wants change. God gives us our desires. We want what God wants. We desire what God desires.
Three months ago our leadership began talking about this past weekend. How great would it be if our praise band sang worship songs, NOT inside these four walls, but OUTSIDE where the whole neighborhood could hear? How great would it be if we raised money NOT for ourselves, but for a HOMELESS SHELTER, where men are given a place to stay in Jesus’ name? Were these our desires? Absolutely! Were they given to us by God? Absolutely! Great results BEGIN WITH GOD!
#2 - Great Results Are SUPPLIED BY GOD
Do you believe that God not only wants to give you great desires, but that He wants to give you great results too? After watching what happened this past weekend, I’m in that camp of believing God has great results in mind for us! How about you?
Most of us have grown up with the great American work ethic mixed in with our Christian faith. If you’re like me, you’ve grown up with this ethic: “Work like it is all up to you. Pray like it is all up to God!” It certainly does seem like that should be in the Proverbs somewhere. Here is what the wisdom book of Proverbs actually says about this:
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Once we knew that God had given us a great desire to work towards - in this case a public outdoor worship concert - we began making our plans. We began researching outdoor platforms and outdoor canopies. We contacted a local sound gear provider known for his support of local ministries. In our hearts we humans “planned” our course!
Looking back on it now, it almost seems funny. Because just about none of our originally plans worked the way we thought they would. We absolutely could NOT afford to purchase an outdoor platform. The cost of rental canopies was through the roof and it would be almost just as easy to purchase. But they were not available. The one thing we determined that we could NOT do was to move all of our own sound gear outside because we needed everything inside for the next morning. Ha!
Now - don’t get me wrong. We should plan. God wants us to plan. God gave us brains and good minds so that we could plan! Nothing in this verse says otherwise. BUT - in every single one of our plans, it was The LORD Who established our steps!
We discovered that we couldn’t AFFORD TO BUY the outdoor stage platform. Perhaps we could afford to buy the lumber to build our own. NOPE! Lumber prices went right through the roof at the very time we needed it. BUT - one of our parishioners came and just at the right time - told us they were remodeling their kitchen and tearing up the old floorboards. If we didn’t mind the nail holes, we could just HAVE the lumber! The LORD established our steps!
We discovered that we couldn’t AFFORD TO BUY the outdoor canopies, but the mother of a parishioner still had wedding canopies stored away from several years ago and we were welcome to them. The LORD established our steps.
We found out that our planned upon sound gear provider had back problems and couldn’t provide us his sound gear. Turns out we can indeed use our own sound equipment on a Saturday night and get it back inside for Sunday morning. The LORD established our steps!
The reason it is so important to know this is because of #3…
#3 - Great Results Are ALIGNED WITH GOD
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
Yes, we had our many plans… and they were good plans. But they were not what God had in mind for us. We had to make those plans and then discover that those plans weren’t going to work out.
So what do you do, when you are pursuing great results that originate from the great desires that God has planted within your heart and you find out that your plans aren’t working out? Do you just quit? Well, that didn’t work out the way I thought. I guess this great desire is not really going to happen. I guess I read that wrong!
No! This is where FAITH comes in! This is where TRUST comes in! We knew that God had planted the great desire within our hearts to play this concert. We didn’t know exactly how it was going to happen without a platform or without canopies or without a sound system. All we knew was that God had given us the desire and we were going for it. And we never ever doubted that He was for us!
It’s at this point that it’s really important to know the truth of the last half of Proverbs 19:21. “But it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails!” Of this we had no doubt. For several weeks we just envisioned ourselves playing music on the front steps. We knew God had given us the desire. We were counting on His provision to provide His results.
I cannot begin to tell you how relieving it is to live like this. When you know that the Lord’s purpose will prevail and that it is up to Him to provide, then you take the weight off your own shoulders. It’s not up to you to provide. It’s not about your purpose. It’s about His purpose and therefore it is His provision.
When it’s His provision and His purpose, the game changes. Then it is all about keeping our eyes open for His provision. Then it’s about prayer. Then it’s about faith. Then it’s about seeking opportunity that He provides. What a relief! “God, I know you want us to do this. Right now my plans don’t seem to be working. But I know Your purpose WILL PREVAIL. So help me to see what You are providing!”
In the case of concert weekend - I knew that we had planned that all the giving would be for others. That none of the donations would be for Church Requel. That all the money raised would be for Reaching Out Homeless Shelter. And to make sure of this, the church leadership even passed a resolution to give away $500 as a church - over and above any other expenses we might incur.
Then we opened up the giving to our church and established a special account for a two Sunday period of time. Many of you made contributions to Reaching Out. Then we made a TIPS jar for cash donations on the day of the concert. Over $400 came in to Reaching Out just from tips!
As of last Sunday morning we had raised $1,275 from everything. I don’t know about you, but I was feeling pretty good about that. But God had other plans in mind that went beyond my plans. A man came up to me after the service and told me that he wanted to double everything that had been raised so far. He proceeded to make another $1,275 donation on the spot! Great results come when they are aligned with God!
Conclusion - What about you this morning? Do you know that God is FOR YOU? Do you have great desires for great results? Do you know that it’s ok to have great desires because those very desires come from God Himself? Do you know that the very great results you so greatly desire will come from God? He provides not only the desires but also the results? In other words, He lets us in on what He is accomplishing! I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a WOW! God doesn’t have to use us but He does! He lets us in on His Kingdom building!
There is so many more lessons we have affirmed over this past week. I hope you come back next week. We’re going to talk about how God helped us to overcome obstacles, how he used us to serve others, and how we got to do this together - as a TEAM! There are just so many wow moments to affirm from last weekend. Will you come back next Sunday for the rest?