In this message, we learn that there are specific individuals Jesus is asking us to invite to Him.
Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you’re here. We want to give a big welcome to our Denton campus. We love you guys!
We are glad that you are here. I’m going to start this message by telling you a little bit about next weekend. Next weekend we’re going to start a new series, and I’m super excited about that series. There’s some great things that I’m going to share with you, and it’s a series that you want to be here at. Especially next weekend you want to be here, because we are going to give every person that’s here something for free that everyone always asks if they can buy.
So you’re going to want to figure out how to get here and get a whole bunch of other people here with you, a bunch of the fringe people that maybe don’t come all that much. Or you’ve been talking about inviting somebody as we’ve been in this series. Next weekend is the weekend to get them here, because every person that is on campus will get something for free that everybody always asks if they can buy. Do you want to know what it is? Then I’ll see you next weekend and it’s going to be great!
Okay? So if you’ve got your Bible – Mark Chapter 10. We’re going to finish up our series today called, “It’s a Party.” For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about having a spirit of invitation, and it’s been a great series. I think it’s been a series full of lot of energy, a lot of life. God, I think, has been giving us a passion for the world, a love for people, a courage to do something about it. And we started the first week by just saying you have to first enjoy the party, the kingdom of God, before you will invite anybody else to it. And then last week we talked about that you are literally God’s living invitation that he sends to this world, and it’s such an important invitation that it cannot get lost in the mail. And I want to finish it up today by talking about the guest list. Okay? So Mark Chapter 10, starting in Verse 46, let’s read it and we’ll talk about it. It says, “Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus, that is the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside begging.”
“When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?”, Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” Okay, this passage captures everything about the spirit of invitation that we’ve been talking about. And it’s a super simple story that I think really looks like the reality of the world and our engagement with it. It says Jesus and his disciples were walking down the road. A large crowd gathered”, because wherever Jesus goes there’s a party.
So a party is walking down the road and there’s a blind man on the side of the road. He is sitting on the sideline of life. He is no longer defined by his potential. He is defined by his problem. He is known as blind Bartimaeus. His brokenness has become his identity. And he is literally sitting on the side of the road watching life passing by. Or maybe a better way of saying it; he’s listening to life passing by. He’s defined by his brokenness, not his potential. And I think the reality is that all the people in this world, they are sitting on the sideline of life and they’re watching it pass them by. They’re not defined by their potential. They’re defined by their problem, their shame, their brokenness, their past, their issues, their problems. And they’re sitting there and life is passing them by. And as the man realizes it’s Jesus he starts crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He goes into this desperate pitch and he starts screaming out, because he is desperate for hope. He is desperate for life. He is desperate for love.
And we live in a world where people are desperate. They’re desperate for hope. They’re desperate for life. They’re desperate for love. So they will do crazy things. And it’s amazing how easy it is when we’re on the road to judge people who are doing crazy things on the side of the road. It’s really easy when we’re walking with Jesus on the road of life to see people on the sidelines doing crazy things and be like, “Man, why are you acting like that? Why are you choosing that lifestyle? Why are you behaving like that?” They are desperate. They’re desperate for hope and for life, so they will crazy things because of their desperation. And the crazy part is that this guy is desperate and he’s crying out and it says, “Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet.” And these aren’t just random people. These are the disciples telling this guy to be quiet. Listen to me. The world is a mean place. The world will tell you to be quiet. The world wants to rebuke you. Proverbs 18:21 – “The tongue has the power of life and death.”
The tongue can build things up or it can tear things down, and the world uses it’s tongue to tear things down. To define people by their shame and condemn them in their brokenness and so on and so forth, and the paradox is that the very people we rebuke are the ones that Jesus is calling. They’re rebuking the very person that Jesus came to save. And so in Verse 49, I think – Verse 49 it says, “Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” Now catch this. Jesus stops and looks at the disciples and says, “You call him.” Jesus didn’t walk over to the blind man. He looked at the disciples and said, “You go and get him. Call him. Invite him and bring him to me.” Jesus didn’t see the man as an interruption. He saw him as his purpose. And he didn’t give a vague generalization here. He said, “You go get him, that one, Bartimaeus the man who is blind. Go get him.” And so the disciples walk over to the side of the road and they get him and they say, “Man, cheer up! He’s calling you. Get on your feet! Come.”
And it says, “Bartimaeus throws his cloak aside.” He throws his beggar’s cloak aside. His beggar’s cloak would have represented his identity, his security, and his shame. It was his identity because he had to have a beggar’s cloak, so he could get money because he couldn’t see. He would hold it out and people would put it in, which was his security. It made him feel safe, but it also represented his shame because he was defined by his brokenness. So he throws it aside, which means when you and I call people on the sidelines of life onto the road with Jesus they throw aside their old identity, their old shame and their own security to come and find Jesus. And so he gets to Jesus and Jesus says, “What is it that you want me to do for you?” He says, “I want to see.” Jesus says, “Go, your faith has healed you. Open your eyes.” And the man sees. And here’s what it says. “Immediately he started following Jesus on the road.” Because people don’t belong on the sidelines of life; they belong on the road with Jesus. That is the reality of what we do as followers of Jesus.
People do not belong on the sidelines of life. Every broken person in this world is made in his image and likeness, has redemptive potential, and is his lost child. And he says to us, “You go call that one”; specific, him, Bartimaeus. “Call him unto me”, and when we do that – like this story is the spirit of invitation. You all say where is the spirit of invitation? This story is it. We walk on the road with Jesus in community with other disciples. He stops and points out people and says, “That one right there, go and get him for me.” And we have the courage and we walk over and we invite them, and they get off of the sidelines and onto the road of life, and everything about them changes and they get set free. That’s the spirit of invitation. Okay? It’s okay. I know. Listen.
There’s a burden today in our church for people on the sideline of life. That’s what you’re feeling today. There’s a burden for the reality that people are blind in all kinds of different ways. They belong on the road. And so when Bartimaeus got invited onto the road and he met Jesus, you know what happened? All of heaven rejoiced, because when one person meets Jesus all of heaven rejoices. All the angels, like, go crazy and party. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep the angels partying.
That’s what I’m trying to say. Okay? So a couple of thoughts for you and then we’re going to do something together. First thing is this. It’s not just about you and Jesus. It’s not just about you and Jesus. I realize that feels shocking when I say that to you. It feels shocking coming out of my mouth, but it is not just about you and Jesus. The biggest problem we have in American Christianity is we think it’s just me and Jesus. Rugged individualism, Lone Star State – we make it happen baby! Come on! Texas!
We don’t need no one or nothing! And we believe that. As long as I’ve got Jesus I’m good. I don’t need the church. I don’t need gatherings. I don’t need people. I don’t need belongings. I don’t need small groups. I don’t need no – I’ve got me and Jesus, we’re good. And yes, there’s an element of truth to that. Like, yes, you can have a personal relationship with Jesus and should. And yes, everyday you can spend time alone with just him, and you should. Yes, he will never leave you nor forsake you. And yes, you can hear his voice speak directly to you. Yes, you have access to boldly approach the throne of grace and walk right into the throne room and talk to God. And yes, he will never leave you nor forsake you. And it’s your faith that brings personal salvation. All of that stuff is true, but it’s not just you and Jesus. In fact, what Jesus would say to you is that he would say, “If you’re going to follow me, you’re going to walk with them and you’re going to reach them.”
If you’re going to follow me, you’re going to walk with them – other followers who are on the road with me – and you’re going to reach them, those who are sitting on the sidelines of life. Your faith is personal, but it is not private. No one follows Jesus alone. Well, Jesus would say, “If you’re going to follow me, you’re going to walk with them.” Like, when you become a follower of Jesus you get drafted into the family of God. You become part of the body of Christ. He’s leading us towards unity. There’s a reason when you read the gospels that it’s always Jesus and the disciples – plural. The gospels are not the story of Jesus and Peter – the adventures of Jesus and Peter.
[Laughs] It’s not the epic tale of Jesus and John. No. It is the story of 12 men in community, walking on the road with Jesus, reaching the world. No one follows Jesus alone. When you get saved you become part of the kingdom of God. That’s the first circle you live in. And then you’re supposed to be planted in one, life-giving, healthy, local church. That’s where you will flourish.
And then you need godly relationships in your life; other disciples that are helping you follow Jesus. So he will say to you, “If you’re going to follow me, you’re going to walk with them.” Look at these beautiful, wonderful people around you. Look at them. Go ahead, it’s okay. Look at them. They’re not scary. “You will walk with them”, he says, and “you will reach them.” He says, “I’m going to use you to invite the people I love.” Matthew 4:19 – “”Come, follow Me. I will make you fishers of men.” Right from the very moment that they started following Jesus they understood that they would reach the world. Matthew 28:19 and 20 – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Like, you’re going to actually go to them and reach them and bring them off the sidelines. Acts 1:18 – “You be my witnesses.” “You’re going to go and tell other people about me.” And when you follow Jesus, what starts to happens is you start to care about what he cares about, have compassion on what he has compassion on, and love what he loves. And Jesus cares about, has compassion for, and loves people. People!
I mean, catch this then. There’s this group; it’s Jesus and disciples and then a bigger ring of crowd. And they’re walking with Jesus. And they’re so concerned about themselves and Jesus that they miss Bartimaeus on the side of the road. The disciples are so concerned with “me and Jesus”. “It’s just me and Jesus.” They must have been from Texas. “It is me and Jesus.”
That’s it man! I’ve got to be at the front of the pack. I’ve got to be up here by Jesus, rubbing shoulders. I’m taking notes like crazy, everything he says [Laughs]. I’ve got to be in position to see the next miracle. They’re so focused on “me and Jesus” that they miss Bartimaeus. We get so focused on “me and Jesus” that we miss the people on the side of the road that he’s asking us to call. We get so focused on our daily devotions. My quiet time with God. What’s his will for my life? Are my prayer requests going to get answered? I’ve got to deal with my brokenness and my issues.
We get so focused on “me and Jesus”, but it’s not just about you and Jesus. In John 4:35, Jesus says, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” He says there are people sitting on the sidelines everywhere you go. [Laughs] And what I think is funny is that the disciples, they saw Bartimaeus as an interruption from their work of changing the world. “Jesus, have mercy on me.” “Shh! Quiet man! Can’t you see we’re busy? We’re changing the world. We’re setting people free. Stop bothering us.”
Wait, what? He was an interruption to them. Listen to me. People are not an interruption to your work. They are your work. You are not a financer. You are not a salesman. You are not an education. You are not a student. You are not in the healthcare profession. You are in the business of redeeming people.
That’s your role.
It’s not an interruption. That’s your work. Matthew 16:19 – Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Okay, we talked a lot about this, that we as the church have keys to unlock heaven and bring it to earth. I won’t go into that, but keys are also given to a gatekeeper. A gatekeeper has keys and he is the one who has access to decide who gets in to see the king and who gets shut out. So we have keys and we get to decide who gets in to see the king and who gets shut out. Who are you opening the door for and bringing them off the sidelines onto the road of life to come and see the king, that they might be free? It’s not just you and Jesus. It’s you, Jesus, us and them. That’s what it is. And if you think it’s just you and Jesus, you’re not really following Jesus because Jesus is always leading you to people. That’s strong, it’s weighty, but it’s true. Okay? That’s okay. There’s a burden today, so just let’s go with the burden, okay?
It’s not just about you and Jesus. Second thing is this; there are specific people that he has called for you to reach. Specific people that Jesus wants you to invite. Verse 49 – “He stops. He looks the disciples. “You call him. You call him, that one, blind Bartimaeus, that one.” It wasn’t this big generality. It wasn’t vagueness. This wasn’t a moment when Jesus stopped and preached some awesome vision about changing the world. Jesus wasn’t saying, “You’re going to be salt and light.” He didn’t even say, “Go make disciples of all nations.” He said, “No, that one. That guy right there; his name is Bartimaeus. Call him to me.” There are specific people with specific names and stories that he is asking you to invite. Invite that person to hub. Invite that person to your group. Invite that person to a serving team. Invite that person to church. Invite that person into your home. Invite that person into your life – specific people.
See, I think we sometimes, as the church, we’re really good at general invitations. We’ve got to be good at specific invitations. General invitations inform people. Specific invitations move people. So when you go on Facebook and you say, “I love Jesus. My church is awesome. You should come.” That’s really good. It’s really important, but it’s a general invitation and what it just did is it informed a load of people about reality. But a specific invitation says, “Hey Bill, will you come to church with me next weekend at the 9:30 service? I’ll meet you at the front door and we can sit together.” Will you come with me? That moves people. It doesn’t inform them. It moves them because it forces them to make a decision. There are people that Jesus has said, “That one. Call that one.” See, you have access to people that none of us else do. There’s people in your life you have access to that we, no one else in this room, actually has access to. So God has positioned and prepared you to reach people no one else can.
Listen to this. John 1:40 and 42 – “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of two who had heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah, that is the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.” So picture this. Andrew meets Jesus first and it says the first thing Andrew does is he goes and gets Peter, because he has unique access to Peter’s life that no one else has. And he says, “Peter, we have found the Christ. Come with me. Get off the sideline, onto the road, and come and meet Jesus.” When you have been found by Jesus your response is always to find others. Okay? Are you with me? Let me draw for a minute, okay? I’m not a very good artist, so track with me. This is you, right here. And you’re happy because it’s a party.
And we have hair because we still want to. Okay.
There are people in your life, these people that no one else has access to. You have a unique favor. You have a unique opportunity. You have a unique relationship with these people. No one else around here has access to them but you. And when you have the courage to invite this one person who got his calling, no one of us else know, so we can’t invite them. You invite them. They have access to people in their life that no one else knows. And when they invite that person to come and meet Jesus they have access to people that no one else knows. And when they invite somebody to come to meet Jesus they have access to people that no one else knows. And when they do it, they have access to people that no one else does. And that’s how we change the world. That’s how we change the world. One simple invitation at a time, into groupings of people that no one else has access to. Did you ever wonder sometimes? Did you ever like think about somebody and think, “Man, there’s no way they will ever meet Jesus?” Like, “Look at this person. They are not happy because they are not at the party.”
So they do not have hair.
And we look at this and we think, “Man, this is an athlete, a celebrity, a politician; crazy stuff; an ISIS fighter.” And we look at this person and we think, “Man, they’re never – I can’t reach that person for Jesus. We can’t really change the world.” Okay yeah, you probably can’t reach that person, but what if you just invited this person that you have unique access to? And they invite one person they have access to, and that person invites someone they have unique access to. And that person has unique access into this person’s life, and they invite them to come and meet Jesus. And now they’re changed and they’re happy because they got invited to the party, because you invited one person that no one else had access to. That’s how we change the world. I mean, think of this. Jesus meets Andrew. Andrew invites Peter. Peter invites somebody he had access to. That person invited somebody he had access to. They invited someone they had access to, and that person invited you.
That’s how you got into the kingdom of God, just so you know. It wasn’t because you drove by and saw Red Robin and thought, “Let’s check out the church with the pond.”
Or in Denton you weren’t hanging out a hobby lobby and thought, “Let’s walk next door because it’s Sunday. It’s closed, the hobby lobby. Let’s try that thing.” No.
That’s not how it happened. That’s how it happens! Does that make sense to you? You see, we have all these lists in our lives. You have grocery lists, to-do lists, wish lists, bucket lists. The most important list in your life is your guest list. It’s the few people that are on your guest list that come and meet Jesus. God has two lists. He has a list of everybody he’s invited, which is everyone in the world. John 3:16 – right – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” On the invitation list is everybody of all time, all of humanity. And then there’s the list of those who have accepted his invitation.
And if you’re a follower of Jesus, you are on that list. Luke 10:20 – Jesus says, “Do not rejoice that the demons submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Two lists. And what he does is when you’re on this list he breaks up the remaining names on this list and he gives a few of them to you and a few of them to me and a few of them to the person sitting next to you, and he says, “You go and call that one to me.” And you say, “Well, how do I know what those few names are?” Have you asked him? Like, who has God highlighted in your life? You know how like there’s just that person that’s just like highlighted? Maybe you see him everywhere you go. I mean, just highlighted. Or maybe it’s somebody you have compassion towards. Or maybe it’s somebody that you have unique favor. Like, no one else has access into their life like you do, or an opportunity in a scenario. Or no one else has invited them.
Or you just hear a whisper. “That one, right there.” What that means is the Holy Spirit has been working in their heart like Bartimaeus on the side of the road and God is saying, “Okay, now is the time. Invite him.” And I know what you’re thinking. You say, “Yeah, but what if they say no?” If they say no, then you’ve valued them. You planted a seed in their heart and they didn’t reject you. They rejected Jesus. Matthew 5:11 through 12 – “Blessed are you when people insult you.” Let’s say that again. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” There are rewards in heaven that many of us will never get, because we were too afraid to invite somebody because they might say no. When they say no, Jesus says you get a reward in heaven. I think that’s worth the risk. Don’t you?
We don’t change the world by sitting in church saying, “We’re going to change the world.” We change the world by inviting specific individuals He has put right in front of us. Okay? Are you with me on that?
Last thing is this. We invite and we include. Bartimaeus was invited off the sidelines onto the road, but he was also included. He became part of the group. He was accepted and wanted and loved and belonged with the other disciples. We can do a really good job of inviting people, but if we don’t include them, they will always fall away. Like, have you ever been invited to a party and when you got to the party you weren’t included? You know what I’m talking about? Come on. Right? Like, you got invited and you show up at the party. You’re a little nervous. You knock on the door. Someone opens it. You walk in and you kind of look around, and everybody is in like little pods. And the person that invited you just gives you one of these and goes back to their little pod. Okay. You extroverted people, maybe you could crack in to one of those.
Us introverted people, we hang out for about 3 minutes and we’re gone. It was already hard enough for us to walk up and knock on the door. If you don’t bring us into a pod quickly, we’re leaving. Okay? Introverted people can’t even laugh at that because they’re so worked up about it in their spirit.
They’re like, “Yes! That’s not even funny.”
It’s me. My wife, she breaks in; I’m gone. See you. That’s how a lot of people feel in church. I read somewhere just this last week. If people don’t make six relationships in 9 to 12 months at a church, they will leave. No matter how much they love the church; they can love the worship, the kids’ ministry, the preaching, the vision. If they don’t make six relationships in 9 to 12 months, they leave. Why? Because life is about relationships. No one wants to just attend a party. They want to belong to the party. They don’t want to just be invited. They want to be included.
I mean, I remember six months ago, it was a weekend; someone was preaching and I got to just hang out in the atrium. I was in the atrium and I watched as these two women walked in the door about 15 minutes into service. And they walked in and the one lady just was looking down at the ground, and the other lady was just kind of stressed out. And she walked up to one of the people at the information center and basically said, “Hey, I’ve just moved my friend here from another state. She has no one. She had to get out of her life back there and she’s here. She’s got a job. And she doesn’t do church. I don’t do church. But we just figured this was a safe place for her to start meeting some people. Can she go into service?” And so the information people out there were amazing. They brought her in and they sat her down. They were sitting there and I was standing in the back and I watched this whole thing happen. And I leaned over and I looked at the person standing next to me and I said, “If we don’t give her community, the darkness will.” Here’s a 30-year-old woman running from some reality in her life.
If we don’t give her community, the darkness will because Satan is so smart that he understands that people want to belong more than anything else. And even if they can belong on the sideline of life with a bunch of other blind beggars, they will choose that over walking on the road alone sometimes. And the problem is that our lives are full. They’re full. They’re at capacity. So we need to make some space because you have to give something out before you can receive something else. Jesus says, “The Good Shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to go find the one.” He will leave 99 sheep in an open pasture, which means he will leave control, comfort and convenience to go find one, pick it up, and bring it back. So the question is this; like when you’re out in the atrium and you’re part of friends, will you leave your part of friends to go find that one person over here by themselves and bring them in? Will you be willing to leave your small group when it gets too full and start a new small group to create space, so that the person that needs to be included can be invited in?
Will you go and invite somebody onto your serving team even though it’s “Us Four No More! We love it, man!”
We can make this happen like nobody’s business in the café. We don’t need no one else. It’s us; we love it. Okay. Are you going to create space so someone else can come in? Are you going to sit in service and look to the person that’s sitting by themselves and walk over and grab them and say, “You want to come sit with me and my family? My name is John. Great to meet you.” We’re always waiting for them to go first. Maybe we’re supposed to go first. Like, think of a pickup game. This maybe will translate for men, like a pickup game. If you’re playing a pickup game of basketball with your buddies and you’re playing, people come and they watch and they sit on the sidelines. Bu you never expect somebody that just showed up and is watching the game to like jump on the court and be like, “Hey guys, I’m ready. I could come in.”
And if they did, you will be like, “Get out of here, man. Like, no, no. You look like a terrible basketball player by the way.” [Laughs]
No one does that. No one self identifies and just jumps on the court. They sit there and they watch and they’re waiting for a break for someone on the court to look at them and be like, “Hey man, you want to come and play because we’ve got another spot? We would love to have you come and play with us. Come on, man. I’m John. Come, join the game with us.” That’s when they get off the sideline and get into the game. We’ve got to stop thinking that just because we have a building and pathway stuff, that people just do it by themselves and naturally find friends. No. And here’s the reality; if you’re in any church in America, the number one thing you’ll hear if you just start talking to people is this. “I just couldn’t get connected.” – number one. You say, “Where did I come up with that?” I made it up just like last week, 90%.
But it’s number one. I couldn’t get connected. I need to get connected. Nobody connected me. It’s hard to get connected. Boy, I wish I could be connected. That’s what everyone says. Okay. Maybe we need to flip our mind and stop being focused on getting connected and start becoming the connector.
What if you stopped saying, “I need to get connected. Someone needs to connect me.” And you realize that just about everyone else feels that same thing, and you became the connector. And you just decided, “Man, I’m just going to start connecting with people. I’m going to walk around and be like, :Man, everybody is waiting for someone to go first. I’ll be the one with courage and just walk over and introduce myself and start a question, have a conversation, invite somebody to something.” Maybe the best way to get connected is just to be a connector. So this is your “thus-hereby” commissioning and empowerment with authority to be a connector at Valley Creek Church.
And the next time you say, “I can’t get connected”, before it comes out of your mouth you’re like, “I can’t get connect…”, you’re going to stop and say, “I want to be a connector. And I’m going to try to find one person that looks as lonely as I feel, and I’m going to go and invite them to coffee, to sit in the café, to sit with me in service, to a small group, to a service.” – whatever it is. Does that make sense to you?
Okay. Let me pull it together with this. Do you remember the movie Schindler’s List? I told you it was heavy a little bit today, and this is a little heavy. Schindler’s List, if you don’t remember, was about a man named Oscar Schindler. He was a German businessman that lived during the Holocaust. And when the war broke out he was a savvy businessman and he realized he could get tone of Jewish labor for almost next to nothing. So he started using and abusing the Jews to make all this money. And he amassed a fortune during the war, during the Holocaust era, because everyone hated the Jews. They wanted to kill the Jews. So he just thought, “Man, this is cheap labor.” And he made this boatload of money. He used them to make money. And as the war went on he started to develop this hurt for the Jews. He started to see them as people in the sideline of life defined by brokenness instead of potential.
And so he started to use all this money that he made to save them, to buy them, to rescue them, to bring them out of the gas chambers and out of the torture places and all these different kinds of things. He started using everything he had. He had this massive factory and he just bought as many as he could and he brought them in. And you get towards the end of the war. Germany is losing. They start trying to literally exterminate all of the Jews. And so what Oscar Schindler did is he literally made a list – a list of 1200 names, specific people with specific names and a specific story in a specific concentration camp; 1200 names. And he put them on this list and he wanted to buy these 1200 people, individuals, specific people to save them. And he risked everything he had because if he would have been found out, he could have been killed. It cost him everything he had, but he had 1200 names on this list and he spent everything that he had and he saved those 1200 people from the gas chambers.
And at the end of the movie – maybe the hardest part of watching the entire movie is that at the end of the movie he is standing there and here are these 1200 Jews. The war is over. They’re all saved, and he is standing there and he starts having this realization. He looks at his car sitting there and he is thinking, “Why didn’t I sell that car? That’s 10 Jews right there.” “10 Jews could have been alive if I would have sold this car.” And he sees a pin on his chest and he says, “This is made of gold. This would have got me two Jews. It would have at least got me 1 Jew. I could have done more.” And you see him go with this anguish and this turmoil inside him. Like, “Why didn’t I do more faster?” And I think that story is a phenomenal picture of the kingdom of God, because all of us start this life by using other people to build things for ourselves. Like Oscar Schindler, we use people to amass a fortune in our lives, but somewhere along the way you meet Jesus and your heart changes. And no longer do you want to use them to build something for you. You start realizing you want to use everything you have to rescue them.
And you start doing everything you can to get them off the sidelines onto the road of life. And you need to have a list of specific individuals that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to reach, because the reality of heaven and hell hang in the balance. No one belongs on the sidelines. They belong on the road. And the greatest way we honor God is by inviting people to his party. Luke 14:23 – Jesus says, “”Then the master told his servant,” – talking about the Father – ‘Go out into the roads and the country lanes and make them to come in,” – ready? – “so that my house will be full.” All the Father wants is a full house. The greatest way you honor the Father is by inviting his children home. That’s it.
So here’s what I want you to do. In the seat pack in front of you there’s one of these. Can you take it out? Every person should be able to have them. Go ahead and take this out. And what it is, is this is an envelope and there is a card inside that says, ‘My guest list.’ And so here’s what we’re going to do together for a moment. And maybe we can bring the lights down. We’re going to just take a moment and we’re going to ask God who three people are that are supposed to be on our guest list. There’s pens in your seatback. Everybody can get one. Here’s what I want to do. It is so easy to go through a series like this and walk out of it with great intentions. To walk out of it and be like, “Yeah, the kingdom is a party. Yeah, God is good. Yeah, He wants to invite people. Yeah, he wants to say. Yeah, I want to invite people.”
And then we just go on with our life and we never turn it into action. And so my hope with this series is that we can take good intention and actually move it into action – to application, where we will actually invite people to the kingdom of God. So can you sit there for a moment and just ask the Holy Spirit who your guest list is? Three specific names, and write them down, of people in your life that you have unique access to. Three people; it might be somebody you work with. It might be a family member. It might be your neighbor. It might be that kid on your sports team. It might be that person you crossed paths with at the gym. It might be that person from the grocery store. It might be that person that intimidates you.
It might be that person that has hurt you. It might be that person that you’re not even really sure what their story is. But I know this; if you just ask the Holy Spirit, he will very quickly bubble up three names in your heart. Three names of people that he is saying, “That one. That one, right there. Call him/her to me.” So Holy Spirit, will you speak? Will you whisper in our heart and give us names? Maybe it’s someone you’ve had compassion for. Maybe it’s someone you have unique favor with.
Don’t say no for them. I think right now God is telling some of you a name and you’re saying, “Not that person, God.’ That’s my boss. That’s my coworker. I could lose my job. If God has given you the name, there’s a reason He has given you that name. Who are the three people that need to be on your guest list to invite to the party that cost Him everything to throw? I am so grateful that you are in this room because someone had you on their guest list. Maybe it wasn’t written down on a card, but it was on a guest list in their heart, and they invited you. Maybe it was 40 years ago, but they still invited you. And you’re here today because of that.
There are people on the sideline of your life that need to be called into the game. And so maybe wrap up writing those three names down. And then there’s three cards, really simple, easy ways to just say, “Man, I would love for you to join me at service. Here are the service times. Here is a reminder of Valley Creek.” It’s a seed you plant in their heart, and watch what God will do in the midst of that. Okay? So maybe wrap that up, put it back in the envelope, and then as you finish that up here’s what I would like you to do. I still hear envelope stuffing, so I’m giving you a second. And if you can’t figure out all the names right now, just spend time with God. He will give them to you. Put it in the envelope and then I’d like you to just stand on your feet where you are.
And here’s what I would like us to do as a sign of faith. I would like us to hold this in the air, and I would like us to pray together over it as a sign of faith to say, “Jesus, these people don’t belong on the sidelines. They belong on the road of life. And we are by faith your living invitation, and we are going to take these three names and we’re going to invite them to the party that you’re throwing.” So can you raise your voice, raise your faith with me? Jesus, we just pray right now for every name that’s been written down on these guest lists. Lord Jesus, we believe that they are people that you are pointing out to us saying, “Call that one onto me. “ And so Lord, we pray right now that the Holy Spirit will start working in their life. Every name written on these cards, we pray that you would draw them onto Jesus, Father. We pray that you would remove the blinders that have blinded their eyes, that keeps them from seeing Jesus and keeps them from seeing the gospel of Christ that will set them free. And we pray that you would overwhelm them with kindness, that it would lead them to repentance.
Lord, we pray that we would be workers in the harvest field. We pray for ourselves to have courage, to be a missional living person with a heart that believes you have sent us out. And this invitation is too important to get lost in the mail. And we pray that these people would accept this invitation, that they would come, they would meet you, Jesus, and they would leave behind their beggar’s cloak that defines their shame, their identity, and their security. That stuff would be left on the side of the road. They would join the road with you, Jesus, and walk with us, with you down this road that leads to the abundant everlasting life that is only found in Jesus Christ. I pray that you would give us an urgency and a burden to have the courage and the strength to say, “You died for these people and you have sent us to reach them.” So we say, “Here we are, Lord. Send us divine opportunity, divine favor.”
And we believe that these people are going to come to the party and that your house will be full. Can you believe that church?
Can you believe it by faith? And watch what He will do if you will have the courage to just obey. So Lord Jesus, we celebrate you in this place. I bless every person. May be we known as people who enjoy the party of the kingdom of heaven, and we can’t wait for the stories in the days to come. In your name we pray. Amen.