At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series called 2020: Envision a New You.
There’s something about teams and working together to win that’s in the human spirit. Maybe what draws us to teams is that we were all meant to be players on God’s winning team. How can we work together to defeat our evil opponent and bring goodness and light to the world around us?
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
Message Audio from Gateway South:
Today’s America’s big sports day the Super Bowl.
But today, two teams go head to head—they’ve have been working hard for years to reach this moment:
- They’ve daily disciplined their bodies with strict eating, sleeping, workout routines.
- They’ve practiced together mentally in the locker-room going over endless loops of game film. They’ve practiced on the field, running the same plays, day after day for years in order to be so coordinated, as One Team, that they can win the big game.
- Many of us are going to huddle around TVs to watch today.
All for the Glory, fame, honor and financial rewards that come with the title: Super Bowl Champions.
There’s something in the human spirit that loves teamwork—that loves what all this stands for. The challenge of working together as One in order to defeat your opponent. Something about humanity loves what this represents.
I actually think it points to a transcendent quality that God has put in the human heart. I know, I know—it’s just Football—it’s just a game, but my point is—that’s why we value it so–because it points to something so much bigger God wants us all to be a part of.
The Super Bowl is BIG.
Crazy big if you think about how much we value it.
Businesses will pay $5 million per 30 second ad—why?
Cause that’s what ½ of us watch the Super Bowl for—the Ads
Businesses will spend ½ Billion on ads during One Game—that’s a Big Game.
The 3 Big Networks will collectively pay $3 billion dollars each year just to show Football games in order to show the Super Bowl every 3 years.
Stores make $14 Billion in sales from this One Game.
One team, the 49ers is Valued at 3.5 Billion dollars—that’s more than the country of Belize, Burundi, Grenada or 20 other countries.
That’s a Big Game.
The halftime show is a coveted honor and this year’s performers will be Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. They are both getting paid a whopping – $0.
Following a Super Bowl Lady Gaga’s sales skyrocketed 1000%–performers typically make $1MM per concert after the exposure!
Why is a game such a big deal?
Because we value it. We value watching sports teams compete. Some would argue we value it too much, and don’t value other things enough—but that’s not my point today. It’s not just pro football, pro soccer is even bigger on a global scale. But why?
There’s something about Teams and working together to win that’s in the human spirit.
We love being on a great work team that wins in business.
Why is it a transcendent human expression around the globe?
I think it’s Because WE were all meant to be players on a winning team—God’s team.
That’s what we’re talking about today as we wrap up our series 2020 Envision a New You.
3 Questions I want to pose to you today:
1). Do you see yourself as a part of God’s team making a difference in the world?
Have you ever envisioned yourself that way—that you were created to be part of God’s team?
2). What’s the unique part God designed you to play?
3). How can we win together?
1. Are you on God’s Team?
When we say “yes” to Jesus we become part of His family with a purpose to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth through loving others, serving others, and sharing our faith with others.
As a team together, we share an enemy.
William Easterly is professor of economics who worked for 16 years at the World Bank distributing IMF funds to the poorest of the poor, until he lost faith in AID.
- He writes in his book, White Man’s Burden how Malaria is a preventable disease, yet it is a leading cause of death among children under age 5 (90% of which occur in Sub-sahara Africa).
- Preventing 5 million child deaths would cost just $3 for each new mother.
- So $15 million could provide what’s needed to prevent 5 million child deaths.
But before you just compare Super Bowl spending and judge—it’s way more complicated than that.
- The great tragedy, Easterly confesses, is that the West spent $2.3 trillion on foreign aid over the last 50 years and still has not managed to get 12 cent medicines to children to prevent malaria deaths.
- After spending $2.3 trillion, we still have not managed to get $4 bed nets to poor families.
- Then Easterly points out something even more shocking.
- On July 16, 2005, in a single day American and British ingenuity delivered 9 million children the sixth volume of the Harry Potter book series. 9 million children received a book in one day!
- Then he says, “It’s heartbreaking that global society has evolved a highly efficient way to get entertainment to rich adults and children, while it can’t get $.12 medicines to dying poor children.”
There’s a real problem in our world, isn’t there?
- But it’s not simple to solve.
- The problem is not simply a lack of finances.
- It’s not a lack of ability or ingenuity.
- We can put a man on the moon, or get books to 9 million children in one day.
- The answer is not simply a free-market economy.
- Free market is great, but with no morality and no law it’s horrible.
So what keeps us from being able to push back the darkness that destroys people?
Our problem is evil – Evil is our opponent.
It’s true in just about every situation of poverty and injustice, what holds them back?
Corruption, war, evil.
Corruption and war keeps aid from getting where it needs to go.
In our society, Evil isolates, divides, inflicts pain by hurting people who it then manipulates to hurt more people, addictions destroy individuals and families, evil hardens hearts to the point of divorce which divides one-time lovers and breaks the heart of their children.
We have a real opponent.
God has been recruiting a team to win against evil.
To answer that question we need to start with God’s heart for all people, and his vision for His team—called the local church in local relational communities.
I have heard people resist Jesus claims saying that it seems exclusive.
What about all the other nations and peoples?
In the 66 books that make up the Bible all the nations are addressed in almost every book from 533 times from Genesis to Revelation.
- This is remarkable as the Bible is written by numerous authors over 1000’s of years.
- There is no other sacred writing claiming that God is speaking to all the nations, again and again, for 1000’s of years! Look for yourself.
- God’s heart, God’s plan, has always been to restore all willing people everywhere, and to unify them to be part of the solution that overcomes the forces of evil that destroy people.
God says to the prophet Isaiah:
“Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow…The kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are chained by injustice and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own relatives in need?” Isaiah 1:17, 58:6-7
- God cares about those that no one else cares about.
- God cares about the physical and spiritual needs of people.
- God cares about the injustices of the world.
He taught us that when we care about those who no one cares for that God sees, and it counts in eternity’s scoreboard.
God’s Vince Lombardi trophy is given out at the end of the game of life.
Jesus said when those who belong to God stand before him he will say, well done—for when you saw me in need, hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, in prison—you did something about it.
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:37-40
Jesus taught us that every person matters to God.
Jesus demonstrated what every single person is worth in God’s economy—worth dying for.
And he said to those who would follow him:
“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16
What does it mean to bring light into darkness?
Well, when Jesus was here among us, he said “I am the light of the world.”
Everywhere he went, spiritual and physical needs were met.
- People who felt hopeless found hope and forgiveness and a second chance.
- Outcasts felt included and cared for.
- Those who wondered if God could love them at all discovered an amazing free gift of Grace and unconditional love.
- Those broken emotionally or physically found healing.
- Those hurting or tormented found relief.
- Those who were trapped in addictive patterns found power to overcome.
- Those who were restless found peace.
- And everywhere Jesus went he said: “God’s way of life is among you – the kingdom of God has come.”
- That’s the light that overcomes the darkness – meeting both spiritual and physical needs.
- And Jesus’ desire is that His church would carry on His work now you are to be light.
Do you envision yourself that way?
On God’s Team, pushing back the darkness that destroys people?
Maybe that feels overwhelming, but here’s the thing – you and I can do very little alone by ourselves. If we stay solo, we change little in the way of pushing back the darkness and bringing light.
But together, we can do a lot.
On God’s team it’s amazing what can happen.
Just a small sample:
- Over 20 years as a church 7000 people have found faith in God and started to grow and care for others.
- $7.5 million has been given to serve people in crisis in Austin, alleviate poverty in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Burundi, India, Nicaragua, Mexico.
- In partnership we help feed 91,000 Haitian kids daily.
- We helped 30,000 rural Burundi families.
- We built a hospital and school in India for the poorest of the poor.
- There are 2 villages in the Dominican Republic that still have fresh water because of you.
- 686,000 meals were distributed to people in need in Branson.
- We’ve mobilized 394,000 hours of volunteer service to Austin.
- You would have to serve 12 hours a day for 90 years to do that much good, but we did it together.
God’s team, his local church.
Are you on God’s Team?
He’s drafting every willing person because he’s the best coach if we will listen to Him.
He has a spot, a unique roll for each of us, but we have to sign up for the Team.
What does that mean?
It means you tell God: “I’m in, I want your forgiveness for my wrongs, that Jesus paid the price to forgive, and I want your leadership in my life. You call the plays.”
Tell him that, and you’re on the team—not just his team—his family.
He’s building a family by bringing together people who tend to be divided—in Jesus day it was the Jews and Gentiles (the rest of the nations).
Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. Ephesians 2:16-18
So God is defeating Evil, our opponent, by drafting a Team of people he can coach—a team drafted from every willing person from every nation.
When we come together and listen to our Coach and work together as one, we overcome Evil – the ultimate opponent to humanity.
We were made to play a role on God’s team—so…
2). What’s the unique part God designed you to play?
You figure that out by being coachable.
This means letting God lead you and coach you into developing your uniqueness—then playing different roles as you work together on His team.
The local church is his team to overcome evil.
I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. Matthew 16:18.
God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 1:22-23.
The church is not a building, or Sunday service.
The church is people being led by God as a Body – many different parts, working together as One person.
Jesus said, this Team, my Body, will overcome and defeat evil.
You’re on a winning team!
But first, we have to work together in local relationships – in campuses, in networks, and in life groups.
That’s why we are starting campuses like Gateway Buda, Pflugerville, Dripping Springs, And within campuses, we have Networks to work as Teams serving and meeting spiritual and physical needs of different people groups. In two weeks we will be having a Network Fair in between our services. This will be where you can meet some of the leaders of these networks and sign up for their next event. Plus you can win a Yeti cooler – donated by someone in our church family!
In smaller Life Groups and Community groups, we grow together.
It is in community that we see this new Vision of ourselves working together to defeat evil in our own lives and then setting others free.
We impact society here and globally through relational partnerships.
Now, a good coach knows and develops each player’s uniqueness, and help them work together as a team.
Coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs has taken them to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. There are Chiefs fans who have never seen their team make it ot the Big Game in their lifetime.
- Coach Andy Reid could win a seat in the NFL Hall of Fame if he wins tonight.
- As a coach, he’s won 5 NFC championships.
- He’s had 1 Super Bowl appearance.
He has won 221 games – the most NFL wins for any coach not winning a Super Bowl championship.
- And a good coach can make all the difference.
In Basketball for example, John Wooden coached the UCLA Bruins’ for 27 years.
- His teams won an unprecedented 10 national championships.
- But think about that. In college basketball, 25% come and go every year from a college team.
- That is complete turnover every 4 years, yet somehow Wooden put together winning teams consistently.
If you’re a soccer fan, you may know that in 26 years of coaching Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson won 38 trophies.
- The Queen Knighted him for his soccer accomplishments.
- Before Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United had gone 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd , and 1st place in the Premier league and won the FIFA Champions League and the FA Cup.
- Yet with the exact same team, the next 4 seasons with a new coach – barely climbed out of the bottom from 14th to end 7th, then 4th, 5th, 6th the following years. From 1st to 7th with the same players.
Teamwork. Same players, different attitude, mindset, unity of working as One.
Ever been on a good team?
A great team is one in which each player knows their unique contribution, and they work together as One. It’s beautiful! But it doesn’t happen unless they all listen to the coach. Good coaches win the trust and respect of players and unite them to play as One. But it also requires players who are humble and teachable and learn from the coach.
Let me ask you, is Jesus your Coach in the game of life?
Do you humbly listen and learn and take his Words seriously? You won’t make an impact that lasts until you do.
That’s why we try to get every Christ Follower into rhythms of reading and meditating on God’s Word daily.
- The YouVersion Bible App has reading/listening plans, and many of you are reading through the New Testament to Envision a New You.
- Make it a goal to study the playbook this year!
- You can’t expect to defeat evil in this life unless you listen to the Coach.
- So good teams listen and learn from the Coach, and The Coach develops and draws out their unique contribution.
It’s the same with God’s team.
God has gifted each of you in unique ways to work together and win together.
We have different Passions, different Experiences, different Gifts, and God made us that way for a purpose.
Do you know how God’s wired you, and the unique contribution God designed you to make?
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a person’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” – Romans 12:4-8
This says that God’s intent for His church is to function like your body does– eyes, hands, ears, toes, organs—all work together to present you to the world.
God wants to re-present Jesus to the world through a body made up by us, following the Coach, to do what Jesus did when he was on earth.
So diversity is a good thing – a God given gift, and unity in diversity is even better.
Let us help you discover your gifts and uniqueness – that’s one of the Outcomes in the Life Group Spiritual Formation path.
GET IN A GROUP if you’re not yet. Try it out. It’s not too late, whether Community Group to just discuss the Sunday message and make friends, or a Life Group to get intentional about discovering who God made you to be.
3). How can we Win Together?
I can’t do much by myself, but because we have joined together as one Team, God’s team, we can do so much more.
- A disabled woman was caring for her disabled children and grandchildren.
- The family was struggling to keep the utilities on.
- Someone connected her to our community care Network, who helped her establish immediate next steps to keep her utilities on and provided immediate food assistance through our food pantry.
- They attended our service with the person they met with and after the service, she said it gave her hope to get through this tough time in her life.
- When it was discovered that they did not have adequate furniture in their home, someone from our church donated existing home furniture that would meet the needs of her disabled children.
God, coaching his team, overcame evil’s isolating, crippling ways.
Lindi started a Network to serve women in brothels—which are all around us if you didn’t know.
- They would bring gifts, love on these girls, most of them grew up abused and got taken by evil.
- One girl started coming to Gateway with Lindi.
- She made friends, felt loved and valued in a way she never had experienced.
- That opened her heart to Christ, and she got baptized.
- She wanted to get out of the sex industry but didn’t have the money to get back home to Oklahoma. Some of you started praying for a way – helping her in small ways – encouraging her to ask God to show her how and be willing to follow.
- She had never played Lotto (I don’t advise it), but she got 1 ticket and won $34,000 the next month.
- She moved home and reconciled with her parents.
God, using his church, His team, [and Texas Lotto] overcame evil. [don’t go saying I told you to play Lotto].
Have you ever seen Geese flying south for the winter?
- They fly in a V formation, do you know why?
- It’s because the flapping of the wings creates an uplift for the bird behind.
- By flapping in a V formation, the whole flock adds 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
We go farther together, working as one Team, God’s Team in all our local-relational ways.
You know what kills teams: self-centered players.
- If a team doesn’t have individuals who think of team first before self, they don’t have winning seasons.
- People normally use their gifts to try to be remembered – to try to make a name for themselves, right?
- But the ironic thing about using your gifts and abilities only for your glory?
- In reality, no one remembers– you will be forgotten.
Want proof of this?
What was your great-great grandfather or grandmother’s name?
You probably don’t even remember.
Even “Great” men and women from the past are quickly forgotten.
But check this out, God will remember everything!
Every act of service motivated by love, every sacrifice in his name, every gift given, he solemnly promises that he will remember and reward
“He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” – Hebrews 6:10
He forever remembers those small, seemingly unimportant acts of service that even you have forgotten.
What do you remember about January 18th weekend? – probably not much, but God remembers every member of his team and their work together.
- When Mark Pena and a team of Buda/Kyle volunteers got up early to set up, God remembers that.
- Because of them Yolanda came and listened, and because Gina found faith through Alpha at North, she volunteered to help facilitate Alpha Buda, where Yolanda came to faith.
And God wins over evil that keeps people from his Love.
- God remembers Ricky and volunteers from South, along with volunteers from North–Joel, Britney, Dan, Chrissy and more who gave up a 3 day weekend to host a Camp for 350 kids and students. That’s why 2 middle schoolers felt loved and safe enough to admit they came with suicidal thoughts–this camp was their last hope. They found love and value from Christ and His Body—and God’s Team won over evil.
- God remembers when Levi, Hannah, Andrew and all the bands woke up at 6am to volunteer their musical abilities not to make money or get famous, but to serve God so that Jim, hurting from a broken marriage could realize he could start over spiritually and grow through his failures and start recovery.
- No one remembers how Wayne brightened the lives of a dozen preschoolers that day–But God Remembers.
- No one knew the 68 names who signed up for Go-teams to serve our partners around the globe–to push back poverty and injustice by helping God’s Team in those local areas win, but God knows and remembers.
- Mark and Kimberly were busy using their gifts of teaching and their business experience to put together a a financial seminar for people needing financial help.
- Greg was preparing for their Dripping Springs Life Group
- Karen was getting her Network ready to serve the homeless.
- Even if everyone else forgets all the acts of service done in his name this January 18th weekend—God Remembers.
Tonight a team of people will hoist the Lombardi trophy and be crowned in Glory as Super Bowl Champions—80 years from now, no one will remember.
But God says this to those who serve and sacrifice and play team for Him:
4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. – Colossians 3:4
The glory we play for lasts. So…it’s game time—ready?
Let’s go win together.