Pastor Greg Griffith highlights the crucial role of prayer in achieving spiritual growth and unity as believers in Christ.
Good morning church. So good to be with you today. Hey, as we think about the next year, I want to ask you a question, right? Normally, people ask about resolutions. I'm not asking about a resolution. What's your theme for 2024? Do you have a word that you use? Do you have a theme? Do you have something that you go this year? I want to do this, right. Why would you do that, honestly? I mean, I think some of you might be asking the question. Maybe you're saying to yourself I've never actually thought about what my word is or what my theme is, and I actually don't think that that's truly a common thing to do, but I think some people do it. I think it's also sometimes helpful for us to say in this year here's what we want to do. I would actually even say I think subconsciously we do this. So, like in a year from now, my daughter will be a senior in high school. I will be thinking about that year, about sending her off. My year, my theme will probably be family change, right, as my daughter launches into a new season, a new era. So what's your theme? Well, did you know that there's actually a study that says there's a way to build what your theme is. Here's how to do it, and I'm going to share it with you, and then I'm going to share, actually, why this is important. I think for us here at King of Kings, first thing to do when you're thinking about what do you want the year to look like and what is the theme for the year, think big picture, find your starting point by looking back, right, and then write out all the phrases and the words that resonate and then choose one or two. So think big picture, find where you want to start by looking back, and then what are the words that pop, what are the things that happen? So, as I was thinking about this, I was thinking big picture, and what does God want for us as disciples in 2024? What does God want for you and for me, as those who love Jesus, who are having our lives transformed and who are living out as part of this amazing church that we call King of Kings? What does God want? Well, I think first to understand that we have to look at the Word of God First. Jesus prayed for you. I mean, let that sit in for one minute, let that sit in one more time. Jesus prayed for you, not about you Not about a long time for you specifically, can you believe that? Look at this Word of God from Jesus praying for you, from John 17. It says this I pray also for those who will believe in me, you that through their message, that all of them may be one Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us. So that, why? Why should we be in that? So that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them God's given you something. I have given them the glory that you gave me. That they may be one, as we are one, I and them, and you and me, so that they may be brought to complete unity. Jesus prayed for you, prayed for me, and what did he pray? He prayed that we would be one. So I want us to think about this for a second, as we think about what it is. Big picture wise. God wants our church to be one. God wants our church to be unified in our resolve and our purpose. I think that's why it's so important that we have this beautiful mission that God has called us to do to transform lives. And what does that look like? We know what that looks like. That looks like a life that's reliant, that means we pray, we trust, we put everything to Him. That's authentic, that we're not going to get it right and that sometimes our lives are messed up and that we make mistakes, that we're courageous, we're willing to try new things and we're willing to fail in order to reach those who don't yet know Jesus. And that we're going to be generous. We're going to be generous with our words, generous with our actions and generous with our giving. And all of this is about connecting to God, connecting to each other and connecting to the world. And so what happens is in this prayer from God about us, is that he wants you and me to be unified in our resolve, and so I want to invite us to be unified in our prayer. When I think about what is God doing in this place this year, I think he's leading us to be a people who pray deeply, devotedly and unlike we've ever prayed before. I think we pray authentically, that we uplift and encourage and support one another, that we hold accountable one another when we mess up and we forgive one another freely. That we together say we don't need to have all the answers, but what we need to do is have all our direction unified and aligned in following Jesus. I think that, as we look and we pray to God as a people of God, that we'll see God answer our prayers in ways that are beyond our own comprehension and our own understanding. And I think, as we look at this, we're going to see that in our resolve of being unified as God's people, unified where he's leading us, that's not about what we want, but is about what he wants, that we're going to see God leading the way, going before us to encourage us, behind us, to befriend us, beside us, to walk next to us and within us, to give us peace. And what does God want from you? Well, jesus wants you to be with Him forever. Jesus wants you to be with Him forever because that's what His mission and His purpose, that's why he came into this world. I love John, 3.16 and 17, and maybe in your head you're going oh, I know 3.16, but most people don't know 17,. And I think 17 is actually paramount to 16. For God so loved the world everyone. And the world includes those who think they're far from Him. The world includes you, the world includes everyone. There's not a person who's left out of that. So no one can truly say that God doesn't love me because he does. God so loved the world. Because he loved the world, what did he do? He gave His one and only Son. This is personal to the Father. This is personal to the Father. You matter to Him. God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son so that whoever, whoever believes in Him, whoever Believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life. That's John 3.16. Here's what 17 says. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world. Jesus is not a God who comes with wrath. He doesn't look at us and say you do this, this and this and this, you're going to hell. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but rather to save the world through Him. Jesus came with a mission and a purpose to save us, to save all mankind, all human beings, no matter who you are, where you've been or what you've done. Jesus came to save you, me, our neighbor, our enemy. That's what God wants. I love the way it is in 1 Timothy 2. It says this this is good and pleases God, our Savior, who wants all people to be saved. This is the big picture when we think about what does God want? He wants everyone to be saved, so that even if there's just one person in this world who does not yet know Jesus as their Lord and their Savior, we will not rest in prayer, in love and in care until they come. He wants everyone to be saved. That's His big picture. So where do we begin with this? Well, I think we start by looking back. As it says and gosh, what has God done in this place? I mean, think about this. God has done so much in King of Kings in order to reach those who don't yet know Jesus, whether it's from India transformed, which has just planted over thousands of churches and raised up thousands upon thousands of pastors, where it's helped women become empowered into work and become empowered into their lives, where it's now helping raise up educationally those in the lowest of the caste system who are told you have no hope, who now, here they have a hope to get out of that. Whether it be us just stepping out boldly into faith and saying we know that God desires for us to plant churches, and in 2005, that meant buying some land where we thought we would move a church and we would grow as a church to where we realized that God had greater things in store for us and said this isn't about you planting one church, this is about you planting multiple churches. And this past year we planted one church now in Northwest Omaha which is averaging over 250 people a weekend, which has had over 450 people come to it at Christmas and maybe even more which is seeing new baptisms we're 150 people. Through our serving challenge this year, stepped up and said I'm going to serve one hour a month right here in my church, across all of our campuses, where we look and we continue to see that God has opened up our doors and opened up the hearts for us to come in and step in with great love to Disney Elementary, standing Bear Elementary and Concordia. Where are we going to start? Well, first let's look back. God has put on the DNA of King of Kings this unquenchable thirst to reach those who don't yet know Jesus, to courageously take new ground. And so we don't look back and just say look at all we've done, that's enough. We look forward to what God has in future and ahead of us. That's greater than we could ever imagine. Paul writes about this in Philippians, three brothers. I don't consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do forget what lies behind and strained forward to what lies ahead. It'd be so simple for us to just look back and go yeah, we've done great things for the kingdom of God, and we have. But there's more to be done in this city, there's more to be done in our state, there's more to be done in our country, there's more to be done in our world, because there's more people who are yet to be saved, that need to know Jesus. So what words and phrases are popping for you? I think for us, when we think about us as a church. I think the two words that pop for us are prayer and discipleship. And let's not say that those are independent words. I think they're dependent words. I want to share with you a study that I just heard about, and it's actually a very interesting study. It said the discipleship of people who go to church every single Sunday and those who come to church once or twice a year isn't much deeper. Hear that again the faith maturation, the discipleship of those who go to church every Sunday and those who go to church once or twice a year isn't different. They said that people that are deeper in discipleship are the people who are spending three to five minutes each day in prayer and in word of God. They have a deep desire of faith that is leading them to share their faith with others, and that's what a disciple does. A disciple is someone who's following Jesus, but also bringing others along to follow Jesus, and so when I think about this year for us, I think what does King of Kings look like when we go deeper in our discipleship journey through prayer, where we're not seeing those two words independent, but rather dependent on each other? They need each other. This is why I want to say to you right now please download our app and every day, do the daily journey in there, where you're going to reflect on how has God blessed you or what are you excited about, or how has God answered a prayer for you, where you're going to get to pray for other people, and then you're going to get to actually put a prayer in there for people to be praying for you, and where you're going to read a scripture, a couple verses, and every day, go deeper. I've been doing this now and I'm at about 110 days straight, and I got to tell you, these past 110 days, my walk with Jesus has been so close. I found myself in the midst of temptation, seeing the way out, hearing the voice of God. I found myself looking at people and saying I want to love them like Jesus loves them. Three to five minutes. I want to invite you to commit to coming at least once, maybe twice, maybe 12 times, to our prayer and worship nights On the first Wednesday of every month. We will gather at all campuses, starting in January at I Street, in February at Northwest. We will gather at all campuses every first Wednesday and we will pray and we will worship God together. I want to invite you to commit to that. I want to invite you, starting on January 7th, to commit to 21 days of prayer with us, to coming to our prayer and worship nights through the week, to praying each and every day, to using the prayer guide that's available through our app or available at our locations. I want to invite you to take the mantle on with us together. To be unified in this. Prayer is not for someone who you think knows Jesus better than you, a pastor, a friend, a neighbor, someone that you aspire to be like faithfully. Jesus prayed for you that you would have unity, that the whole world may see in you his love and his life. And so I want you to pray, I want to challenge you to join me in this journey and let's grow deeper as disciples, as we share his love. Let's identify those who we want to have a spiritual conversation with. This year. Let's pray about someone by name who we want to invite into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Those are the words that pop. Those are the things that I believe God has put on the heart of us this year as a people. As I look to 2024, I see God's big picture that everyone would come to be in heaven, that heaven would be fuller, the kingdom would be stronger and lives would be greater through a life transformation with Jesus. So, together this year, let's connect to God, to each other and to the world, and be unified. As Jesus prayed for us, let me pray for us now. Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for the gift of your Son, who came to save each and every one of us. You sent your Son in order that all would be saved through His life, his death and His resurrection. And so today, o Lord, may His Easter story live out in each and every one of us as we look back and see what You've been doing and as we look forward to what lies ahead and what you will be doing. In the great name of Jesus and all of God's people said Amen.