Sermon:  Why are you Here?   (#2 in series: "Your Kingdom Come")

Summary:  God's overall purposes for choice of Israel were relational.  He chose Israel for 
the specific purpose of being a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations not just at some 
future time, but also in the present.  This was to be merely in profession, but in practice.  
As Christians, our practice demonstrates our godly character more than our profession, therefore 
we need to ensure that our practice is in line with Christ's demonstration in his ministry. 

Know:  God's purpose for his people is for them to draw people to himself.  This happens more 
so by practice of godly attributes than by profession.  Poor practice destroys good profession.

Feel:  Small by yourself, because you are part of a purpose larger than yourself

Do:  Reflect on some of the characteristics of God and how a community of believers that 
demonstrated these characters might carry out God's relational purposes.  Identify ways you 
fit into this overall picture.

Text:  Exodus 19:1-6; 1 Pet 2:9; Mt 5:14; 

Scripture Reading:  Lk 2:32  or  Ezek 39:7

1.  Singing Camp this summer, some are going
	a.  First year I went to Camp Hensel, built new bath house for boys cabins
	b.  First camp all girls camp, found new piece of equipment in bath house
	c.  Special sink to wash hair, several could do it at the same time, bragged 
	     about how they had this modern sink
	d.  Found out later, it was a urinal.  Good thing they were the first camp to 
     use the facility!
2.  When you don't understand the purpose of something, can be disastrous
	a.  You need to understand difference between screwdriver and hammer
	b.  In same way, need to understand the church
3.  That is why we are doing this series:  "Your Kingdom Come"
	a.  We need to understand what the church is and its purpose
	b.  Before proceeding, state some truths about the church
		- It is not a building or an institution as we saw last week
		- The church is a creation of Christ 
		- Mt - I will build My Church 
		- Acts - Purchase the church with his blood
		- The church is the people of God
	c.  Why is it here?  Why am I here?
4.  Purpose:  Carry out God's concern for the word to know him
	a.  How does the church do this?
	b.  3 Realizations:

I.  God's power is relational
	A.  God's concern is always for people to know him
	B.  Examples from the beginning
		1.  From Exodus
			a.  (Ex 6:1-8) - 
				- God is making his "name" known to them
				- They will know God when he delivers them
			b.  Ex 7:3-5 - The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh
			c.  Ex 7:16-17 - Pharaoh will know that I am Yahweh when I 
			     attack the Nile river
			d.  (Ex 9:14-16) - His name resound through all the earth
		2.  God is a God who redeems oppressed people to himself
		3.  God reveals his "name" in both word and deed
			a.  It literally means, "He will be" or "He who causes to be"
			b.  "I will be who I will be" 
				- Hebrew - Ehyeh asher ehyeh
				- Identical word in 3:12 - "I will be" with you
				- God is "he who will be" what is needed
			c.  God is not a stationary idol, he acts for his people
		4.  The most significant thing is not just the definition of his name, 
		      but that fact that he even reveals his name
			a.  Yahweh is the God who comes near
			b.  Yahweh is the God who acts on behalf of his people
			c.  Yahweh is the God who makes a covenant and binds 
			     himself to it
	C.  ILL:  If go down street, do you say to everyone around, "My name is…"
		1.  Most of us do not tell our name unless there is a reason
			a.  Initiating some sort of relationship
			b.  There is a RISK in doing so
				- Vulnerability to another persons desire, needs wants
				- If they know you, it is possible they can hurt you
		2.  How amazing that God does this
			a.  He reveals his name so that we can have relationship
			b.  Yes, there is a risk of being hurt.  -- The cross!!
			c.  We can grieve God!
			d.  But that doesn't stop God
	D.  God demonstrates his character so that we can have a relationship
		1.  Do you have a relationship with the one who made you?
		2.  Do you talk to him?  Are you learning to love him?
		3.  Hopefully you will come to him if you haven't been doing so…
		4.  **Once you have a relationship, he has a plan…

II. God's purpose for choosing his people
	A.  Why did God have a "chosen" people?
		1.  Does God play favorites?
		2.  God had you in mind when he chose his "chosen people."
	B.  (Ex 19:6) - This is where God identifies the purpose of his people
		1.  A holy nation and kingdom of priests
			a.  Holy nation - set apart, not like the world, dedicate to God
			b.  A Kingdom of Priests - Engaged with the world
		2.  Function of a Priest?
			a.  To be an representative between God and the people
			b.  To help connect people to God
			c.  So Israel was to be set apart, dedicated as ambassadors
			d.  The entire nation was a priestly nation
		3.  How?  Was Israel to be "evangelistic" in any way?  Yes
			a.  Some of the more obvious ways:
				- Ex 18:11 - Jethro heard of God's acts and 
				  understood Yahweh was greater than all gods & 
				- Josh 2:11 - Rahab accepted Yahweh as God
			b.  Aliens were allowed to be among the people Lv 15:16
				- They also observe Sabbath Lv 16:29
				- If consecrated, observe festivals Num 9:14; 15:14
				- Is 56:6 - Foreigners not cut off if keep covenant
			c.  Israel to be an example to Alien by Torah
				- Ex 23:6-8 - Don't pervert justice to the poor, do not 
				   take bribes, don't oppress the Alien
				- Ex 23:4 - Bring back stray donkey to your enemy
				- Ex 22:25 - No interest to the poor
				- Ex 22:26 - Don't keep cloak as collateral
						- Love your Neighbor as Yourself
			d.  Mt 22:37f - Jesus connects Love for God and Neighbor
				- The way the people treat each other is evangelistic
				- It reflects the very nature of God
		4.  (1 Pet 2:9) - Keep this in mind as you read this verse
			a.  We are a "Royal Priesthood"
			b.  Purpose to proclaim his excellencies - God's character
			c.  Proclamation is louder through actions
	C.  ILL:  Several examples -
		1.  Group of ministry students wanted to reach out to a town
			a.  Went door to door, several baptisms
			b.  Ran out of homes, so they spent rest of time at the bar
			c.  Better reception there than in neighborhoods
			d.  "You Christians are not at all what I expected…"
		2.  Lesbian couple decided to go to church one day
			a.  Went to a church full of blue-haired people
			b.  Boy did they stand out in that crowd!
			c.  Instead of judgmental looks, they found love of God
				- These dear old folks took them under their wings
				- Invited them into their home, ate with them!
				- Do you know how disarming that was?
			d.  Eventually, open enough to deal with emotional scars
				- Came out of homosexuality and became Christians
				- One of them speaks at Christian conferences and is 
				  open to marriage to a man
		3.  Some folks with We Care Campaign knocked on door
			a.  Couple living together, children, poor
			b.  Helped them with their need
			c.  Didn't just give handout, took personal interest in them
			d.  They obeyed the Gospel and are growing Christians
				- At the same time they became a Christian, they also 
				  had a wedding ceremony
				- There were two weddings that day!
	D.  That is what is means to be a priest
		1.  Another word is Ambassador - You an agent of God's mission
		2.  To "experience" the love, grace, mercy of God is through us
		3.  Question:   How am I an agent of God's mission
			a.  What kind of person do I need to be?
			b.  What possibilities are there in my life?
		4.  **But it doesn't happen if we are not in the right place

III.  The place God puts his people
	A.  Idea of location begins with Abraham - He was promised land
	B.  Is there anything significant about land to be Kingdom of Priests?
		1.  Many emphasize "Holy Nation" aspect
			a.  Bad company corrupts good morals
			b.  We are not to be like the world, but distinct from it
			c.  We are "called out" of the world
		2.  If that is all there is, then God's choice of location was terrible
			a.  Canaan was the only place to travel from one part of the 
			     word to the other
			b.  Battles fought for control of this land
			c.  All kinds of exposure to other "nations" or "Gentiles"
			d.  Some would actually carry them away to foreign places
		3.  Map: the choice of land was perfect to be a "Kingdom of Priests"
			a.  If God wanted his people to be separate, he should have 
			     put them in the middle of the Arabian desert
				-  They would be in the middle of nowhere
				-  Wouldn't have to bother with outsiders
			b.  God placed them at the intersection of the world
				-  There were in the middle of everywhere
				-  People come from north and south
				-  People come from the east and the west
			c.  God's people not just called out of world, but "called-to"
				-  They were an exposed people
				-  They were to be an engaged people
	C.  ILL:  Church in an inner city to reach out to people
		1.  Started in a store front
			a.  Church growth literature says this is a no-no
			b.  Not very respectable, so don't do it
			c.  Respectable to who????
		2.  Reached out to poor and downcast with love of God
		3.  Moved there to live there, got involved with life there
		4.  Began to change lives in ways they hadn't before
	D.  This is incarnational - It is what God does
		1.  God sent Jesus to the intersections of life
		2.  (Mt 5:14) - We are a city set on a hill - exposed people
		3.  (Mt 28:20) - Make disciples of all the nations
			a.  Can't do that in the middle of nowhere in the desert
			b.  We are called to the intersection of life
		4.  This means the church does not send but is itself sent
			a.  God does the sending, we are the sendees
			b.  Go where the people are

1.  God chose us for a world-wide mission  (Invitation)
2.  Look at who we are before we look at what we do
	a.  If we understand what we as a body are created for, we can avoid 
     washing our hair in the wrong place
	b.  We can catch God's vision of the Kingdom
	c.  We are a Nation of Priests
3.  Q:  Where are the intersections in our community where God sends us?
4.  Q:  How will we fulfill our function as a royal priesthood right here?


Small Group Questions:  Why Are You Here?

Summary:  God's overall purposes for choice of Israel were relational.  He chose Israel for the 
specific purpose of being a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations not just at some future 
time, but also in the present.  This was to be merely in profession, but in practice.  As Christians, 
our practice demonstrates our godly character more than our profession, therefore we need to
 ensure that our practice is in line with Christ's demonstration in his ministry.

Open:  (choose one)
- What is something that you see that has no purpose?
- When did you first become aware that there may be a larger purpose in your life?

Explore:   (Ex 19:1-6; Ezek 39:7; 1 Pet 2:9)

1. What are God's purposes for calling his people as a priesthood?

2.  Discuss the tensions that might arise between being a Holy Nation and a Kingdom of Priests?  
How might God's purposes be twisted in this tension?  

3.  Discuss the differing perspectives of these statements:  
       Salvation from the world  vs. Salvation for the world.   
       The church is called-out of the word  vs. The church is called-to the world

4.  In what ways is the coming of Christ in the flesh (incarnation) a lesson or model for engagement 
with outsiders? 


5. What are you learning God has called us for?  In what way might we make God's purposes and 
desires our own?

6.  What are some of the obstacles or challenges in carrying out God's desires and purposes?

7.  Identify some possibilities among us in carrying out God's desire and purposes. What is something 
you specifically can do as one of God's "priests?"