The Light Of The World!

We Will Stumble In The Dark Unless Jesus Is Our Savior And Lord!

Rate this:

Advertisements
(This is the third in my Lent Series: YAHWEH! THE GREAT I AM)

We are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements Jesus Ever Made when He Claimed To Be The Great I Am.  Our focus verse is Exodus 3:15 “Say this to the people of Israel:  Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.  This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.”  It is God’s eternal name, His name for all generations to remember.  Though it was illegal to use that word in public, yet Jesus used that Name and He backs up that claim in another moment when He uses His Eternal Name.  It’s found in John 8:12-20 (NLT)

12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

13 The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself!  Such testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself.  For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 

17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”

19 “Where is your father?” they asked.  Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is.  If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” 20 Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury.  But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.

Jesus is now making His move toward the ONE reason He came:  The Cross.  Jesus is making the calculated steps toward His Purpose.  And in today’s passage, Jesus lets us in on yet another dimension of His Eternal Name:  Light.  Have you ever given serious time thinking about “light”?  Light tends to be one of those things we typically do not think about, until—until we find ourselves in the dark. 

Let’s review where Jesus used that Name.  Jesus has dramatically called people to come to Him.  To the Samaritan woman thirsty for God’s presence, He explicitly called Himself YAHWEH—the eternal name for all generations who provides us Living Water. 

Last week by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus clearly called Himself YAHWEH—The Bread Of Life.  They asked for a sign like the manna in the wilderness.  Jesus contrasts the Life He offers to the life they were wanting.  Unlike Manna that never lasts and never inspires us to the Great Adventures with God, He calls us to a relationship that satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts.  And now He refers to himself in a most startling way, saying, I Am The Light Of The World.  If you can remember only one thing, this is it:  We Will Stumble In The Dark Unless Jesus Is Our Savior And Lord!  This claim to be the Light Of The World, like the claim to be the Living Bread, has a setting.  This is it!

It’s the Feast of Tabernacles, where they remember how God led their ancestors by the pillar of cloud in the day and the pillar of fire at night to the Promised Land.  In this feast there was a lamp-lighting ceremony that took place in the temple every evening of the Feast.  Large lamps were set up in the Court of Women and lit.

Then, lamps filled every courtyard in the city. In the light of these lamps there was great singing and dancing all evening in celebration of God’s salvation, especially His deliverance at the Exodus as He led his people with his presence in a pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.  They were never in the dark when it came to God’s presence and when it came to following God.

In the sight of these great lamps in the Temple and throughout Jerusalem, Jesus proclaims himself to be The Light Of The World.  Light, pure light, is composed of all the colors of the spectrum.  Filter one of those colors out and the light changes in appearance—the hue becomes different. 

When Jesus said, I Am The Light Of The World, He was saying that He alone is all of God, and to follow that Light means we accept Jesus as He is.  When we reshape Jesus to someone easier for us to follow by resisting and refusing to do what He wants, we change the light that we follow. 

We take out a little here, and a little there, and soon we have shaped a formed a Jesus that is easier to follow; but he’s not the real Jesus.  If you take away all the colors of the spectrum and do you know what you have?  Absolute Total Darkness.  For the Pharisees, that Pillar of Fire, God’s Holy Presence, had been replaced by the Law.  Everything For Them Was About A List Of Things To Do And An Even Longer List Of Things NOT To Do.  They pursued and followed what they thought was the light with every fiber of their being.  They Were Religious For Sure

That’s why they didn’t have the time to even care about people who did not fit their description of being religious.  They wrongly believed that following the Law would be the light that would lead them into the very presence of God.  But it didn’t!  All it did was make them feel more important and better than most folks.  And rather than leading them into the Promise of God, it brought the darkness into their life. 

And there they were in the middle of the Holy Days, days that were to remind them that just as their ancestors followed the Light of God in the wilderness, so were they to follow the Light of God in their day to day life.  It must have been a spectacular sight at night…but:

Surrounded By All Those Lamps, Illuminating The Temple Courts, Lights Shining Out Into The Streets Of The City, They Didn’t Have A Clue Of What It Meant To Follow God.

A lot of people today are clueless just like those Pharisees and Teachers of the Law.  They think they’ve got it all figured out—following everything from power and money, to rules and traditions.  And they think in their hearts, “Eureka!  I’ve found the light, I’ve found the light!”  But all around them is darkness—without a clue they follow and follow and follow and then they wonder, “Why is my life so empty?  Where’s the purpose?  What’s the meaning?”

And then Jesus makes the bold statement:  “If You Want Light—If You Want To Know What It Means To Follow God—If You Want To Know That Your Life Is Meaningful And Has A Holy Purpose—Then Follow Me!  I AM—YAHWEH—The Light.”  And let me share with you why Jesus is The Light!

1.  First, His Light Is Revealing

He Is The Light That Reveals The Secrets We Hide In Our Hearts.  We can all be masters of deception when it comes to what goes on inside our hearts.  Any of a number of us could have an Academy Award sitting on a shelf in our living rooms—if others just knew what we were hiding. 

When I think about Jesus as The Light, I must be honest; there are times when thinking about The Light that I shudder.  I tremble because Jesus sees those times that I am living a lie, those things that make me feel ashamed.  Every corner, every dark cave where we try to push down those things we don’t want anyone to see, Jesus sees because He shines The Light in there.  When He shines The Light and reveals the true me, I feel the shame and regret.  But He isn’t disgusted with what the Light shows. His light makes us deal with some dark stuff that resides in our heart.  And here’s why:

His Light Reveals The Solution, The Cure For What Is Ailing Our Hearts And Spirits.  He isn’t content to leave us in the dark because He loves us too much to leave us there.  He wants to lead us out of the dark places of our heart with the Light of His Love, His Grace, His Mercy.  It’s the Light that shines and shows us what we need the most. 

And what we need the most is to kneel, kneel at the foot of the Cross that is soaked with His blood.  If you feel like everything has gone dark in your life, Look!  Look at Jesus because His Light shows us our shame, and His Light shows us the way out of the darkness.

2.  Second, His Light Is Restoring

Jesus Came Because God Wanted To Restore His Image Bearers Who Are Held Captive By Sin.  He came to set back right everything that was wrong.  He came to put things back right—to put us back right with our Creator!  What Sin Takes Away, What Sin Destroys Is Our Birthright To Be The Daughters And Sons Of God.  Jesus Is All About Restoring Everyone Who Is Broken In Their Heart—Alienated From The Father

Don’t overlook what happened just before this revelation from Jesus.  Earlier that day, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had dragged a woman into the presence of Jesus.  They publicly shamed her.  They publicly declared this woman was worthless.  She was wasting space and oxygen.  They did that when they said, “Rabbi, this woman is guilty of adultery.  The Law says she should be stoned to death.  What do you say?”  But Jesus ignored the question and quietly started writing something in the dirt.  They push Jesus for an answer and it never ends well when anyone tries to push Jesus

So He does, “Let the first stone be thrown by the one who is without sin.  Then the rest of you can join in.”  Then he goes back to writing.  Do you ever wonder what Jesus was writing?

I do.  Maybe it was from Numbers 14:18—“The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.”  Maybe it was Psalm 107:1—“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”  Whatever it was, it must have been powerful because one by one the rocks hit the ground and they drifted away until it was only Jesus and her.  And what does Jesus do? 

He restored her by forgiving her and releasing her from her shame and guilt—restored her back into fellowship with God.  He came in the flesh, died on the Cross, Rose from the grave to Restore us to the relationship we were created for—with God our Father.

3.  Third, His Light Is Renewing

There Are No Chains, No Fears, No Prison That Can Stand Against The Light.  When the way gets hard and difficult; when the pressures and stresses of life puts the squeeze on us; when it feels like the last drop of energy is about to leave us—The Light comes to put everything back in us, and more. 

In Those Times When The Life In Grace Feels More Like A Routine Than A Relationship—

  • The Light breaks the shackles that have imprisoned us.
  • The Light cleans and heals those wound caused by the shackles.
  • The Light rekindles the Fire of the Holy Spirit in us. 
  • The Light places the song back into our heart. 
  • The Light puts the step back into our dance. 

His Light Lifts Up Our Hearts With Joy, Hope And Purpose. The Light IS the Life.  It’s all about the relationship. 

It’s not just a dim light, but the Light that literally shatters the darkness.  He is the Light of the World!  The word John used from the Greek was “kosmos”.  It means more than just the globe we call earth.  It means literally everything around us—what we see and what we can’t see—what we understand and what we don’t understand!  It’s the realms of both time and eternity.

And He Wants To be The Light in us, but He wants something more from us.  He wants to be The Light that shines through us.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16—“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” 

Motel 6 had a very popular slogan:  We’ll Leave The Light On For You.  God has left the light on for you first.  Will you allow Jesus to be the Light that will guide you to the very throne of your Heavenly Father?

Next Steps

It’s the same as last week.  Our world needs the Light of Jesus.  It’s our responsibility to get it out there.

  1. Come Up With An Idea Of A Way We, As A Church, Can Get To Know People Around Us.
  2. Come Up With An Idea Of How We Can Connect With Other Churches Around Us In Order To Do More For The Kingdom Of God!

THE LIVING BREAD LIFE!

Your Heart, Life, And Mind Is Being Fed By Either The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life.

Rate this:

(This is the second in the message series “YAHWEH! THE GREAT I AM”

We are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements Jesus Ever Made.  We are looking at some of those times when Jesus said:  “I am.”  Last week we looked at the Story of the Woman at the Well.  But remember that Jesus never said “I Am” because He didn’t speak English.  He would have spoken Hebrew and the word he would have used was Yahweh.  Yahweh is the name God revealed to Moses.

It is God’s eternal name, His name for all generations to remember.  It was illegal to use that word in public, yet Jesus used that Name when He revealed himself to that woman. Claiming to be Yahweh, He backs up that claim with another moment when Jesus uses His Eternal Name.  It’s found in John 6:32-51 (The Message)

32-33 Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread.  The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.” 

34 They jumped at that:  “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!”  35-38 Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.  The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.  I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me.  Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me.  And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go.  I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

39-40 “This, in a nutshell, is that will:  that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole.  This is what my Father wants:  that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life.  My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”

41-42 At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him:  “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?  Don’t we know his father?  Don’t we know his mother?  How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”

43-46 Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me.  You’re not in charge here.  The Father who sent me is in charge.  He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come.  Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End.  This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’  

Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father.  No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me.

47-51 “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now:  Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life.  I Am The Bread Of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died.  But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven.  Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever.  I Am The Bread—Living Bread!—who came down out of heaven.  Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever!  The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”

Have you ever thought about how images of bread are used in our ordinary day to day life?  “That’s the best thing since sliced bread.  He’s rolling in the dough.  Hey Dad, I need some bread, (meaning money).  Their bread isn’t buttered on both sides (meaning they lack common sense).  Man, he’s toast.”  In Middle Eastern culture, and Mediterranean culture, eating bread together is a sign of friendship and connection.  Bread is a symbol for life.

When it comes to people’s spiritual lives, they will be living either the Manna Life or the Living Bread Life.  There is a sharp distinction between the two.  There is no confusion about which life we are choosing the live.  And make no mistake about it; it is our choice whether we live the Manna Life or the Living Bread Life

Let’s find something we can all agree on:  We have no control over some things that come our way in life.  There are some things that happen to us that are absolutely beyond our control.  Does everyone agree with this?  I didn’t say we liked it; just that it happens.  Now, my next point is something that you may dislike even more, but it’s the truth:  We Do Have Control Over How We React To Those Times.  How We Live Each Day And Our Reactions To Life As It Happens Come Out Of The Life That Is In Each Of Us. If you can remember only one thing today, then remember this: 

Your Heart, Life, And Mind Is Being Fed By Either The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life.

One life never satisfies and the other will always satisfy and see us through anything that life throws our way.  Let’s see the difference by setting up today’s passage.  The day before Jesus had fed a large group of people with a young boy’s sack lunch of 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fish.  Now Jesus and the 12 are on the other side of the lake, and the people have come to Jesus again.  This time they are seeking a sign.  They wanted a sign from Jesus before they would accept Him as Messiah.  They pointed out the Moses had given them Manna as a sign that God was with them.  Now they want Jesus to give a sign that God was with Him. 

OK, excuse me, but He has turned dirty water into the most extraordinary wine, healed every disease put before Him, cast out demons, opened eyes and ears, and gave voice to those who could not talk.  And added to all that, He taught the Kingdom principles with authority, like no one else ever had.  And NOW, they want a sign?  Jesus doesn’t waste His time or their time.  More than a sign, Jesus talks about life through the images of Manna Life and Living Bread Life.  Think about the differences. 

1.  What Does The Manna Life Look Like?

What does this life feel like?  Well go back to the time when God gave them Manna.  It appeared every morning on the ground.  Each family could pick up enough for just 1 day, and no more—except on Friday.  Then they could pick up enough for 2 days.  It never lasted longer than that.  Any thing left over would be ruined the next morning, so they would have to go out and pick up more. 

Every meal was the same.  The husband or kids never asked “What’s for supper?”  It would be manna casserole, manna pot pie, manna sandwiches, manna stew, manna soup—and for dessert it was always manna cake.  I mean, there was not a whole lot of variety to their meals.  And they had to do nothing to do to get it.  They didn’t have to trade or buy or barter for it.  Every morning, day after day after day, there it was.  And every morning, whatever was left in the jar was ruined.  And here was where the problems started.  It produces the same problems today:

  1. They Believed They Were Entitled To ItThey did not have to buy it and it was always there every morning.  They begin to feel like they were entitled to it.  Few things are worse than living every day with a sense of entitlement—that life owes you something simply because you are breathing and alive.  Living With That Evil Spirit Of Entitlement Will Remove From Your Heart Any Sense Of Gratitude.  Oh, for sure, at first they were grateful.  But after only a few weeks of it, things changed.  First, they always expected it to be there,
  • They Got Tired of it.  But can you blame them?  The same meal day after day after day is enough to make them want something else.  This is what the Manna Life is like.  It’s waking up every morning to the same routine. 
    • There Is No Sense Of Excitement In The Manna Life.
    • There Are No Adventures To Explore in the Manna Life.
    • There Is No Anticipation For Anything Different To Happen in the Manna Life
  • It’s The Dull Life.  Nothing to inspire the mind or stir up the heart.
  • It’s The Life That Is Afraid To Get Out Of That Comfort Zone.  Comfort is more important than Purpose.
  • It’s The Life That Is Unwilling To Take The Risk.  Playing it safe is the key to survival for them.
  • It’s The Life Spent In Waiting And Then Wondering Why They Never Experience The Great Victories In Life.  Now mind you, they haven’t sought great victories, they’ve never engaged in the battle—but they expect great victories and are disappointed.
  • And For Church People, It’s The Life Sitting In The Pew Sunday After Sunday, Who At Best Think It Is Enough, And At Worst Think This Is All There Is To It.  They never get to experience the surprises of God’s presence, God’s grace, and God’s activities.  And sadly, they never experience the joyful surprise of being used by God to touch another life and watch God change that life. 

It’s routine life, and nothing is more boring, nothing is more unfulfilling, and few things make a life more ungrateful, than the Manna Life.  These people around Jesus thought they wanted the Manna Life.  But Jesus did not come to bring the Manna Life, but something so much better.  He came to bring them and us the Living Bread Life.  Jesus is much more than a free lunch—more than a vending machine dispensing what we want.

2.  What Exactly Is The Living Bread Life?

What does it feel like?  Look like?  Allow me to sum it up for you. 

  1. It Is The Life That Is Deeply And Intimately Connected To Our Heavenly Father Through Christ Living In Us.  It is living your life with the assurance and confidence that Jesus actually lives in your heart—lives in you so that you can grow to become all God sees in you!
  • It’s A Life That Is Abundant In Power, Love And Grace.  There is more than enough of Jesus living in the heart of every believer to accomplish anything that God wants.  It’s not just enough for today.  It’s enough for tomorrow, and the next day and the next, all the way to eternity.  There is enough grace, enough mercy, and enough love to lead us right up to the very throne of God.
  • It’s The Life Of Adventure.  When the Hebrews would wake up each morning in the wilderness, they didn’t have to look far to find the manna—just go outside and pick it up.  But Living Bread Life calls us into an adventure where we trust in Him to provide what we Cannot See Or Even Imagine.  God wants to take you on an adventure in life where nothing is bland or dull.  It’s the life of excitement knowing that Jesus lives in you, and that He is going to use you in ways you never imagined. 
  • It’s The Life Of Exploration.  It’s going down different paths, trying new ways.  The only thing we know about the future of this life in grace is that one day, we will end in His eternal presence.  So every day offers us the opportunity to find that God is always doing something new.  It’s exciting to be a part of what God wants done.  God is anything but predictable when it comes to how He works in this world.
  • It Is The Life Of Contentment.  Let me tell you something about real life.  There will be times of abundance in our life.  And there will be times of scarcity.  There will be times when all of our ducks are in a perfect row and all marching to the same beat.  And there will be times when the ducks will scatter in all directions.  There will be times when the sailing is smooth as silk.  And there will be times when it will feel like we are on a monster roller coaster.  But the one thing about the Living Bread Life is that in every condition and situation, we will learn to be content—that we are at peace with God, self and the world. 

The only source of life for all of this—comes through the only thing—rather the only ONE—who will be present in both extremes and every point between them.  I’m talking about Jesus living in your heart.  You know He is the one who blesses us far more than we deserve.  And you know He is the ONLY one who will stand with us to strengthen us and guide through the rough waters and over the steep mountains.

We can choose to accept the Manna Life with all its hollowness.  Or we can choose to accept The Living Bread Life with all its Hallowedness—by inviting Jesus, The Living Bread, into our hearts.  For someone here today, this may be the very first time for you to invite Jesus into your heart.  For the rest of us, it’s our time to renew our decision by inviting Jesus to go deeper into our hearts.  Just bread on the table will leave us hungry again.  But the ONE who dares to call Himself YahwehLiving Bread, can and will satisfy our deepest hunger and deepest thirst.

Next Steps

  1. Come Up With An Idea Of A Way We, As A Church, Can Get To Know People Around Us.
  2. Come Up With An Idea Of How We Can Connect Other Churches Around Us In Order To Do More For The Kingdom Of God!

The Great I Am!

The Deepest Longing Of Every Human Heart Is To Be Near To God

Rate this:

This is the first in my Lent Series “YAHWEH!”

For this Lenten Journey, I want us to look at the most profound statement ever made by Jesus while He was here in our human form.  Throughout Lent we are going to be in John’s Gospel looking some of the “I-Am” sayings of Jesus—those moments and situations where He identifies Himself in a very specific way.

Let’s lay the groundwork for today’s passage before I read it to you.  Moses had this unbelievable encounter with God.  We call it “The Burning Bush” story.  God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and inform them that God has appointed him to lead them to the Promised Land.  But before Moses agrees, he wants to know who it is that is sending him.  They will want to know who has sent him, so Moses poses the question:  “Who shall I tell them sent me?”  And in that moment God reveals His true Name:  I Am Who I Am!  In Hebrew, the word is Yahweh!  And God goes further with this statement:

This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because without this knowledge, nothing that we look at this season will make any sense.  We are going to journey through Lent by looking at certain moments when Jesus says, “I Am”.  The first one we need to look at is from John 4:4-26 (N.L.T.)

He had to go through Samaria on the way.  Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.  Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”  He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”   Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep.  Where would you get this living water?  And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well?  How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”  Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.  It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”  

“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”  “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.  “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.  Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.  So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”  Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 

You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.  But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.  For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”

We need be begin our journey with boldest statement ever made by a human being.  Jesus tells her:  I AM!  For what I am about to say, some would want to tar and feather me and run me out of town, but I’m going to say it.  Jesus did not say “I Am”.  Now, you look confused.  “Preacher, you just read that Jesus said I Am.”  But Jesus did NOT say I Am—because He did not speak English.  Jesus would have been able to speak in both Aramaic and Hebrew.  So when He identifies himself to her, the word He used is Yahweh

The Name That God Told Moses Would Be His Eternal Name, The Name That People Would Identify As None Other Than The God Of Abraham, Isaac And Jacob.

Can you imagine the shock on this woman’s face when Jesus identified Himself as Yahweh?  It was a name so sacred that Law prohibited its use in public.  No human being since Moses was allowed to use that name.  And no one dare named their child Yahweh!  Yet this is the name Jesus calls Himself.  What were the first thoughts running through her mind? 

“Is he crazy?  Has he been out in the sun too long?  Is he playing mind games with me?  Is he mocking me because I’m a Samaritan?”  Whatever her first thoughts might have been, they didn’t stay long.  Somehow she knows His words ring true, so she runs back into Sychar with the news, telling everyone she can find:  “I’ve found Him!  I’ve found Him!”  And the people may have laughed, “Who, husband number 6?”  She catches her breath, “No, no, I think I’ve found Messiah!  I just know He must be Messiah!” I know it says she asked a question:  “Could He be the Messiah?”, but it’s not a question of doubt.  Hers is the question of hope.  And here’s the one thing you need to remember today:

The Deepest Longing Of Every Human Heart Is To Be Near To God!

Hers may have been a tarnished hope, or it may have been a secret hope that no one could see in her life.  But somehow, deep down in her heart, there must have been that hope that God would come near to her to satisfy the deepest longings of her heart. 

As we make our Lenten Journey, we need to know that we are going to find that same longing in our heart—to see and experience the nearness of the One, True and Living God.  And we can count on Jesus being that just for us, as He was for her!  And it is all because of The Name:  Yahweh!  Jesus is Yahweh and here’s why:

1.  He Is Yahweh Because He Looks For Us

Jacob’s Well was the place ordained by God for this woman.  He Has A Place Ordained For You, To Meet Him Face To Face, For You To Surrender Your Life To Him.  And Jesus planned it out for that moment when she would be coming to draw water.  As Jesus and his entourage arrives at Jacob’s Well, Jesus announces, “Guys, I need to stop and rest; besides it lunch time.  Tell you what, go into town to McDavid’s and get you something to eat, and bring me back a #7 combo.  I’ll just wait right here.  Now, go on guys.”  Have you ever wondered why Jesus sent them ahead while He stayed behind?  Well, I have and I’ve come to this conclusion.  If there had been several of them with Jesus, that woman probably would have stayed away.  But just one man there, it’s not as threatening to her.  Jesus wanted this moment with her.

He had been looking for her and the time was right.  And He looks for us.  There are God-ordained moments where He is looking for us.  He is looking for us to have this special relationship with Him.  God wants us to have more than a mental knowledge about Him.  He longs for us to give Him our hearts.  But God-ordained moments go further than for us to become a Christian.  There are God-ordained moments to comfort us, encourage us, strengthen us, and to take us deeper into this relationship with Him.  And you never know when they will appear.  This woman came in the middle of the day; not the usual time to draw water.  And God may surprise you with ordained moments because He is always looking for us. 

2.  He Is Yahweh Because He Knows Us

Everyone in Sychar must have known this woman.  5 divorces and shacking up with another man?  She must have been the talk at all the hair salons.  They looked at her and saw someone who couldn’t keep commitments.  They saw someone who had no morals.  They saw someone whose only contribution to the community was to keep the gossip lines hot.  They saw her as dirtied and all messed up. 

The women of Sychar always went to the well early in the morning, but she would not have been welcomed then.  They saw everything that was wrong with her.  They thought they knew her.  But there was so much about her they could not see because they had made up their minds about her.  But Jesus knew there was more to her than what was on the surface. 

Only God, Only The One Whose Eternal Name Is YAHWEH Can See Into The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Heart.

He sees the secret sins we hide from others.  He knows the dark secrets we keep pushed down deep.  But He knows more, much more.  He knew what she was truly longing for, and He knows what we are longing for.  Because He knows us, He knows what it will take to bring that hope alive in us.  This woman wasn’t ignorant of God’s promises.  She knew one day Messiah would come.  And though it may have been a weak hope, there was the hope that Messiah would come to save her.  Listen to your heart; your heart knows it wants to be known deeply and loved intimately by God.  Yes, He knows our flaws and sins, but He also knows the real you—the one waiting to be born, waiting to be released upon this world and into God’s Kingdom.

3.  He Is Yahweh Because He Offers Us Life

At Jacob’s Well this God-Ordained moment was for one single purpose:  To Bring Real Life To This Dirty, Broken Woman! Nothing Can Give Us The Life We Long For, Only Jesus.

Some people settle for a life of thrills, but there are never enough thrills.  Some settle for a life of wealth, but there’s never enough wealth to hold off the fear of losing it all.  And some settle for a life of respectability—but they are hollow and empty inside.  This woman was looking for life through one relationship after another.  But none of them satisfied the cravings of her heart.

Nothing in this world can give you real, abundant, lasting, eternal life.  This is something only God has—Jesus is Yahweh because only HE has the life that we hunger for.  Only He has the life that will survive the ups and downs of life here on earth.  Only He has the life that can hold up under the fiercest storms.  Only Yahweh can offer us this kind of life—and He offers it as The Gift. 

He and only He paid the price necessary to take away the dead things of our life, and put in their place Life.  It’s not just any ordinary life, but the most extraordinary life of all—His Very Own Life.  In this Lenten Journey, in your life journey, remember that There Is A Name For All Generations To Remember

It is His Eternal Name, Yahweh and He is looking, looking for you because He knows you. He knows you need more than an ordinary life—but the most extraordinary life of all.  Paul nails it when he describes this life in Galatians 1:27

And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Only Yahweh, only The Great I Am can put real and abundant life in you—That life is Him In You!

Next Steps

  1. Has anything robbed you of hope?  The news?  This controversy going on in our Tribe?  Guilt?  Some fear, named or unnamed? Crushing grief that you keep holding on to, that you never completely give over to Jesus?  Feelings of inadequacy?  Or, how about despair, that you’ve given up on something, something very important?
  2. Give whatever that is up.  Give it up to Jesus.  Make it your offering to Him.  He’s not looking for only the good things to offer Him, He wants the pain, the burdens that you carry to be given over to Him.  You don’t have to keep carrying them because He carried that weight, while on that Cross!
  3. If you have given Jesus your heart, then declare this truth every day, all day long:  Christ Lives In Me.  When you doubt, say it:  Christ Lives In Me.  When you are afraid, say it:  Christ Lives In Me.  When that thing you gave up that was robbing you of hope starts to weigh on you again, say it:  Christ Lives In Me. 



Your Unique Mission!

Your Purpose Is To Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known To The World By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship With Jesus!

Rate this:

(This is the final in this message series)

For the last 4 weeks we’ve been talking about Kairos Living In A Chronos World.  Chronos and Kairos are the Greek words for time.  Chronos time is measured time—a second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year.  It’s That Time Between Punching The Time Clock In And Punching Out.  It’s Endured Time.  God offers us more—He Offers Us Kairos Time—Time That Is Rich And Full Of Experience. 

There are so many Kairos moments for us to experience.  Today, we’ll close out this series with the most significant kairos moment a disciple of Jesus can have:  The Kairos Moment of Discovering Your Unique Mission.   Knowing your Unique Mission in life is crucial.  Talk about a powerful Kairos moment—it will change the way you live the rest of your life.  Look with me at 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NLT)

4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

What could be more important than to be on a mission from God?  You are 1 of a potential 7.6 billion followers of Christ.  Yet, out of so many, God has called YOU to carry out His special mission in the world.  Do you know what your Unique Mission is? 

If you can remember only 1 thing this morning, this is it:  Your Purpose Is To Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known To The World By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship With Jesus!  If this sounds sorta familiar, then you’ve heard the Westminster Catechism.

People who choose to live in Kairos Time find their Unique Mission as we live out this purpose.  Inside purpose, we always find the Mission.  To Be A Real Disciple Is Not About Creeds And Rituals—It’s All About Relationship And Experience.  I want to share with you how you and discover God’s unique mission in your life so you can have Kairos Living in a Chronos world!

1.  First Of All, Make The Conscious Decision To Nurture God’s Thoughts!

It’s possible to plan out a day, a business agenda, a church agenda, or even life goals without knowing God’s thoughts and without the certainty of moving in God’s presence.  Before Jesus ascended back into heaven, his last words of counsel to the disciples and to us are:  Wait until you’re sure you’re moving with God’s plan.  Hang on until you know you have God’s presence, because this mission is impossible to do in your own strength and resources!

As you walk in step with God, you have a tremendous privilege of knowing the heart and mind of God.  Anyone—not just pastors or great saints or Bible scholars—can dream the dreams of God.  God promises that all Kingdom People, regardless of gender, race, economic status, social status, or age will be given the ability to think God’s thoughts for the purpose of acting on God’s plan for the future. 

It says so in the book of Joel, that Peter quoted on the Day of Pentecost: Acts 2:17-18—17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy.  Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.’

Those days are the time between Jesus’ Ascension and His Return.  You need to begin right now nurturing God’s thoughts.  Most of us need to learn this nurturing process. 

Some People Develop Inspiring Visions For What Their Life Potential Could Be, But Few People Have The Sense Of Supernatural Intervention That Provides For The Ability To Think God’s Thoughts Today.  The world teaches that life centers around self-focus.  But a person filled with the Holy Spirit puts the focus on knowing and pleasing God.  Spirit directed people gear their whole lifestyle toward the purpose of God. 

In Mark 1 we read about Jesus going out to pray before sunrise.  What was he doing before his day began?  He was Dream-Visioning and Thinking God’s thoughts in order to direct the purpose for His day.  Because Of The Holy Spirit You Can Dream God’s Dreams And Know God’s Thoughts Right Now

We have to go on a course that is not always comfortable or natural and that is moving counter clockwise to the rest of the culture because we will be surrendered to a God-focus.  We develop the ability to think God’s thoughts and then move further toward God’s preferred future.

2. The Second Step Is To Connect With People Who Share God’s Passion!

You need to connect with people who will encourage you forward in God’s Mission.  This is what mentoring is all about. 

You Will Begin Thinking Like The People With Whom You Spend The Majority Of Your Time.  If people around you think money, you will begin to think money.  If you spend time with negative people, your attitude becomes negative.  If those you hang with people who are critical, you will be critical.  I want to hang with people who throw more fuel on the fire of God!  You need mentors.

But the truth is, there are not enough mentors to go around.  Mentoring cannot always be done through 1-on-1 relationships.  But you are still responsible for managing your own mentoring needs.  Time boundaries and geography restrictions are no excuse for not building a solid network of mentors.  You can have mentors who may not be aware they are your mentors; they may not even know you exist, yet you can draw from their wealth of wisdom. 

Let me share with you some of my mentoring network:  My Dad, Debbie, Carrie Thompson, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, Mike Stenson, Tim Buchanan, Reggie McNeal, John Wesley, Kyle Idleman, Mike Stonbraker, Matt Redman.  Some I know personally, others I’ve never met, but they and many others, are a part of my mentoring network. 

You may never meet a lot of the people who are a part of your mentoring network, but you can listen to them and be the better for it by spending time with them.  Who are the mentors in your life?

How much time do you spend under the influence of Godly People?   It will be these godly people who will help you discover your mission from God and encourage you to move forward into God’s future for your life.    

3.  Finally, Name Your Unique Mission From God!

Allow me to make an important distinction:  Your Unique Mission Is Different From Your Life Purpose!  My life purpose and your life purpose is simple and it is our overall reason for being here on planet Earth.  Our life purpose, whether we’re a pastor or factory worker or teacher or retired, is to Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known In Our World.  This is the purpose for every person.  Young, old, rich, poor, men, women—it’s the same.

Your mission is highly specific.  Your Unique Mission Is To Make Him Known By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship with Jesus!  My mission is clear to me:  To fulfill my Unique Mission, I am to be a pastor, preacher, teacher and leader.  When you identify your mission, it will be as specific as mine.  Here is a way to find the Clarity you need for your Unique Mission: 

  • Your Mission Will Come Out Of Your Passion. 
  • It Is Something That You Are Drawn To
  • It Will Probably Be Connected To Your Life Experiences. 
  • It Will Be Something You Feel Is A Gift From God.
  • You Can’t Keep From Doing It.

Will living out your mission cause you to leave your job and seek employment at a church or ministry?  Maybe, maybe not.  Will it cause you to bring your skills, your talents, and your gifts to the church for use?  ABSOLUTELY!!! 

You decide who your mentors will be depending on your life situation.  Choose people in your mentoring network who can help you name your mission.  Your mission is for the body of Christ, the Kingdom of God!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to use your life to carry out God’s Dream.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, you can make a difference in your world.  Identify your unique mission and serve God by serving people.  Should you choose to accept this mission, God will be with you every step of the way.  Your life will not self-destruct, but will grow and blossom as you live in Kairos time!

Next Steps

  1. Build your network, and write down their names.  If they are local, get with them frequently.  You need at least 3 or more people you can meet with face to face.
  2. Study about Spiritual Gifts and name your gifts.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try something different.  Failure isn’t fatal, but fear is!

BE OBEDIENT TO GOD!

(Part 4 of the current Message Series)

We are looking at 2 Greek words that translate time, Chronos and Kairos.  We have only 1 word for “time”, but the Greek has these 2 words.  Let’s give this simplified way to describe the 2 Greek words.  Chronos is the unchanging ticking of the clock—a measured duration that consumes all

Kairos Is The Wonderfully Unique Moments Where God Steps Into Our Space And Time—To Renew And Restore Human Hearts And LivesChronos Is Ordinary Time—Kairos Is Holy Time.

So that we can recognize Kairos Time and insure that we are living in Kairos Time, there are certain steps we need to take.  First, we need to remember that God is in control of Kairos, not us.  We simply need to be involved where God is involved in order to see it.  Then we need to listen to God, not just hear Him—by being alert, sensitive and ready to move with God. 

There is another step for us to take.  It’s by Being Obedient.  Obedience is a word that isn’t well received in our Chronos Culture.  Our culture has replaced Obedience with holding onto views, beliefs and opinions that confirm whatever it is we want to believe.  It’s designed to relieve people of responsibilities for their choices and actions.

And even in the Church Culture, obedience is seen much in the same way.  I want to introduce you to a new word, a word I picked up from fellow blogger InsanityBytes.  That word is Churchian.  A Churchian is someone so deeply entrenched in the status quo of church that they reject everything contrary to what they believe and want.  They look for confirmation for what they already believe and typically—what the average Churchian believes is something that makes them comfortable and is easy to follow.  For example, “The Lord wants us to help those who are worthy of our help.”  Or, “The Lord never puts more on us than we can bear.”  But you won’t find those anywhere in the Bible.

Obedience is a word that is presented by both sides in a negative way.  But it’s a word that we cannot avoid if we are going to seriously follow Jesus in life.  It’s a missing word that we need to reclaim—but reclaim it the right way.  Let’s look at today’s passage from 2 John 1:5-6 (TPT)

Dearest woman, I have a request to make of you.  It is not a new commandment but a repetition of the one we have had from the beginning: that we constantly love one another. This love means living in obedience to whatever God commands us. For to walk in love toward one another is the unifying commandment we’ve heard from the beginning.

If you can remember only 1 thing today, this is it:  Obedience That Honors God—The Obedience God Demands From The Followers Of Jesus—Must Come From The Relationship, Not From The Rules.

Thanks to the Legalists and Modern Day Pharisees, obedience sounds harsh, difficult, and quite honestly, it is unfulfilling.  Modern day Legalists and Pharisees present obedience in such a way that it puts more emphasis on the external than the internal—and all at the expense of the heart.

Obedience to God doesn’t mean that we give up the freedom of the heart.  To the contrary, there is a real freedom that we find in the new heart—and this new heart calls us to obey.  It’s this freedom that draws us in the direction of what Eugene Peterson once called in a book he wrote, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction

Obedience Is Not The Relationship God Offers.  But You Cannot Have The Relationship God Offers Without Being Obedient.  And here in John’s letter, we have the way obedience works the way God has designed it—obedience that develops both maturity—and a life of holiness that pleases God.

1.  Obedience Begins As A Decision

And the first decision we need to make is to admit our need for The Savior.  Here are the first 3 critical decisions we must make about this need: 

  1. We Are Sinners cut-off from God.  We can’t save ourselves.  If we bypass this step, we will never be able to have The Relationship God longs to have with us.  Obedience grows from the heart that knows it is dead without being forgiven and delivered from our sin by the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross.  None of us are exempt from it—that we are sinners.  No sinner is any worse than any other sinner.  We are equally sinners needing Jesus to deliver us from the penalty and dominion of sin.
  2. The Second Step Is To Confess.  Confession means being of the same mind.  It means we cannot follow Jesus into the life of holiness until we are of the same mind about what God says about our sin—For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)  Confession isn’t the same thing as admitting you sinned.  Simply admitting you’ve sinned is like a child admitting they took a cookie from the cookie jar when confronted by Mom, acting like they are sorry and won’t do it again.  But deep down, they really want another cookie, so when Mom isn’t looking the next time, they will get a cookie.  Confession starts the process of changing how we see ourselves in light of God’s Truth.
  3. The Third Step Is To Repent.  Repent Means That You Turn Away From The Old Life, And Move Into This New Life.  Repentance doesn’t mean you have to feel miserable and cry your eyes out.  You might need to do that—but tears of remorse are not enough.  It’s like Peter preached in Acts 3:19-20—“And now you must repent And Turn Back To God so that your sins will be removed, and so that times of refreshing will stream from the Lord’s presence.  And He will send you Jesus, the Messiah, the Chosen One for you.”  Without turning back to God and His Ways, we haven’t repented, we’ve only admitted we are sinners.  There has been no transformation—and transformation will NOT happen until we turn back to Him.  Repentance is not repentance unless it includes the desire to turn back to God and live like He wants us to live.

God has only one plan for Salvation, and that is in Jesus Christ, through confession and repentance for those who will admit they are sinners.  We obey God’s plan because we have been saved through His grace.  If we try to have a relationship with Him in any other fashion, it becomes a negotiation—and God doesn’t negotiate.

2.  Obedience Becomes The Choice

Every morning and all day long obeying God is a conscious and intentional choice.  Every situation we face becomes a moment where we choose to obey God or disobey God.  Everything in your life, everything you face, from ordinary moments to even painful moments, are moments we choose to obey God or disobey Him.

I think about Joshua’s retirement speech to the Hebrews in Joshua 24:15—“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.”  Once you come into the Relationship, there’s more.  Obedience Is Doing What God Wants Done—More Than What YOU Want Done.

And so you make a choice, every day and all day long.  That’s what Peterson meant in his book—it’s a long obedience in the same direction.  Your Choices Are Based On The Values Of The Land You Are Living In OR Based On The Truth Of God

Too many are making choices based on the land they are living in—a land filled with idols and false gods.  The land we are living in has declared war on the Rule of God!  Our choice is either to surrender to the culture or to step into the realm of God’s Rule and join in the battle against Satan by living in obedience to God. 

J.D. Walt, a powerful writer, teacher and preacher reminded me the other day of something very important. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day focused on the Rules of God because they thought God was in the Rules.  Jesus came to proclaim God’s Rule! To experience Kairos, Our choice needs to submit our heart, mind, soul and life to God’s Rule over us.

3.  Obedience Builds Into A Process

God created life to work for us and not against us.  And life does work for us when we live it the way He designed it to be lived.  To successfully and abundantly live this life He created, we live in His way, not our own way.  Obedience Is Doing What God Says, How God Says To Do It And When God Says To Do It. 

We learn to obey God’s Law—God’s ONLY Law—and that is to love the way He loves.  We don’t obey so that God will bless us.  We obey God because we Love Him!  The difference is in these 4 words:  Have To or Get To.  Your heart and mindset will be the you either have to obey or get to obey! The New Heart God gives us responds with the joy of “get to”–you get to obey God because His heart and strength now lives in you.

I want to close out with this quote from Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, and it’s about obedience:

“We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth; we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and goal.”

Obedience must be rooted in both—the Past AND the Future.  Obedience without God’s Word is living without roots to hold us steady and strong in the winds of change.  Obedience without the Future—that direction and goal—leaves us stuck in the past—and we miss out on God’s future.

Obedience is about becoming whole in Jesus.  It is through obedience that we become whom God made us to be—the reflection of His Image.

Here Are Your Next Steps:

  1. Focus On The Relationship Not The Rules.  This was where Satan began with Adam and Eve—The Rules.  They forgot about the relationship because they were so focused on that Rule.  Had their focus been on The Relationship, they would have made a different choice.  Choose God’s Rule over the Rules of God.
  2. Start With One Area Of Your Life Where You Know You Are In Disobedience And Work With The Holy Spirit To Change That.  Have you become someone else’s judge?  Are you holding onto a grudge?  Is there a bad habit?  Align that one area of your life with obedience, and the others will begin to change, too.

BE LISTENING TO GOD!

Listening To God Leads To Learning And That Learning Leads To Holiness. Hearing God doesn’t accomplish that. Hearing only captures the sound. Listening Captures The Listener. We need to Listen to God for Kairos Time to invade this Chronos Time culture that surrounds us.

Rate this:

This is Message #3 in my current Series

Quick review:  We have only 1 word for “time” but the Greek has these 2 words.  Here is the difference between the 2:

Chronos Time is Time measured by the ticking of the clock.  Kairos cannot be measured by the ticking of a clock, But By The Beating Of The HeartKairos Is When God Steps Into Our Time And Space And Does Something Incredible.  Chronos Is Measured by Quantity.  Kairos Is Measured By Quality.

We live in a Chronos World—but God offers us more than the ticking of the clock kind of life.  He offers us the Kairos Life, and it’s found when we recognize Kairos Moments.  So today we look at another way we can be in a place where the Kairos Time invades and overwhelms our Chronos Time.  Turn in your Bibles, tablets or phones to Hebrews 1:1-3 and I want to share it with you in The Passion Translation.  It spoke to my heart and I hope it speaks to your heart.

Here’s one of my personal observations:  Most People Tend To Be Listening Impaired Rather Than Hearing Impaired.  There is a difference between Hearing and ListeningHearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear.  Unless you are hearing impaired, Hearing just happens.  However, Listening is something you Intentionally choose to do.  Listening requires concentration so that your mind can process those sounds.

How we live each day is rooted in what we choose to listen to.  Hearing is simple enough: the ears register the sounds produced and the brain interprets them.  But in the act of Listening, we must be paying attention.  Sometimes we may be distracted by something we see, or we may be lost in our own thoughts and we are Hearing but not Listening.

Think about this worship service.  Do you Hear worship in Chronos Time or do you Listen to it in Kairos Time?  Here is an easy way to tell if you are Hearing or Listening.  If you are waiting for the service to end—then you are Hearing in Chronos Time and your worship happens As Chronos Time. 

But—if you wish the service wasn’t over because you have been captivated and caught up in this moment of Worship—then you are Listening In Kairos Time and your worship becomes a Kairos Moment

If you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, this is it:  Listening To God Leads To Learning And That Learning Leads To Holiness.  Hearing God doesn’t accomplish that.  Hearing only captures the soundListening Captures The Listener.  We need to Listen to God for Kairos Time to invade this Chronos Time culture that surrounds us.

To remember this, we need to intentionally cultivate some Holy Habits that will move us from Hearing God to Listening To God.  What I am about to share with you is not natural, nor is it easy.  But when we do them Intentionally it opens our hearts and minds to the invasion of Kairos Time.  To help you remember how to Intentionally develop this, the Spirit has reduced it to only 3 words:  Each word comes with its own example from the Bible.

1.  Be Alert

Become Aware Of Your Surroundings With A Sensitized Heart, Not A Desensitized Mind.  Do you understand the difference between being sensitized and being desensitized?  Sensitized means to quickly detect and respond to even the slightest changes in the moment.  It’s being tuned into your surroundings. Desensitized means we are emotionally insensitive or detached.  It numbs us so much that we fail to act for the sake of The Kingdom.  Be aware of what is ordinarily going on around you. 

When ordinary surroundings change, then it is likely to be a Kairos Moment.  Moses is a great example of this.  One day he was taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep.  He would have been in that area many times, taking care of those sheep.    

He walked by that mountain so often that his mind could have become desensitized to any changes.  But on that day—Moses knew something was different.  A bush was burning, but not burning up.  He was alert and he went to investigate.  And because Moses was alert and went to investigate, here’s what God said in Exodus 3:5—“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.”

When we are alert to God’s presence, Ordinary Chronos Time becomes Extraordinary Kairos Time.  An Ordinary Place becomes Holy Ground.  Alert means to be on the lookout for what’s happening—and if in your ordinary day-to-day life, you do not expect to find Holy Moments and Holy Ground, guess what—you won’t find it.  But, if like Moses, you are alert to your surroundings, any moment will become the place that Kairos invades the Chronos.

2.  Be Sensitive. 

Love God So Deeply That Whatever Moves Him To Act, Causes Your Heart To Act.  One of the things Jesus manifested in His daily life was His sensitivity to the people around.  He was so sensitive that one day He knew when a woman touched the hem of His robe.  Jesus was sensitive to Zacchaeus, sensitive to the lepers, sensitive to the hungry crowds.  He’s sensitive because He knows the right time to move.  Samuel is a great example.  After King Saul had turned against God, God sent Samuel on a quest—to find the next king of Israel.  God led Samuel to the family of Jesse. 

And we read in 1 Samuel 16:3—“Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”  But God doesn’t tell Samuel which son.  Samuel is ready to pick the tallest, strongest, oldest and most handsome son to be the next king. 

But that wasn’t the one and God said in Verse 7—“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

God thinks, plans and operates on a different level than us.  He wants us to know and to see what HE knows and sees, so we need to be sensitive to God because He is aware of what lies within people—both their needs and their potential.  We need to be sensitive to God because He is on the move and working in the hearts and lives of the broken and fallen All The Time.

3.  Be Ready

When God Steps Into Our Time And Space He Is Ready To Act—And So Should We.  God steps into our space and time Intentionally.  Readiness on our part needs to be Intentional, too!  Being ready means that we seek and anticipate the movement of God—in the culture and in the lives of people. 

Isaiah is a great illustration on the importance of being ready.  In chapter 6 we find Isaiah grieving the death of King Uzziah.  Naturally he goes to the Temple to grieve.  And in that moment of grief, Isaiah sees God—but he thinks his goose is cooked—that he is about to die.  Isaiah admits his condition—that he’s a sinner surrounded by sinners.  But God redeems and purifies Isaiah, and then He asks this question in Isa. 6:8—“Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”  I said, “Here I am.  Send me.” 

Isaiah was ready to go!  And here’s the thing you need to really pay close attention to in Isaiah’s response: 

  • He didn’t know where he would be sent,
  • didn’t know what he would have to do,
  • and he didn’t know what that message would be. 
  • But he was still ready to go! 

If he was only Hearing God I don’t believe he would have been excited nor even wanted to go.  But because he was Listening to God, Intentionally processing that Kairos Moment, he was ready to go implement that plan of God.  God is looking for people to implement His plan without their corrections or additions.  God doesn’t need us to improve his plans. We need to respond like Isaiah:

  • We must be ready to go not knowing where it might be 
  • Ready to do not knowing exactly what we will be doing
  • Ready to speak not knowing exactly what He wants us to say
  • Just be ready.

God is always looking for ordinary lives through which HE can do extraordinary things.  I mean, if it takes being extraordinary to do what God wants—then how would the world know that it’s God doing it?  They would think it’s the result of extraordinary people.

Sometimes things you may not even want to do can open the door for the Lord to use you to impact the life of another!  Let me tell you the story of John Egglen.  John had never preached a sermon in his life—until that morning.  In January 1850, snow buried his town of Colchester, England.  He thought about staying home. Who would go to church that day?  But he reconsidered.  He was, after all, one of the leaders and if leaders didn’t go, who would?  

He put on his boots, hat, and coat and walked the six miles to the Methodist Church.  Only thirteen people were present: 12 members and 1 guest.  Even the pastor was snowed in.  Someone suggested they go home.  John would hear none of that.  They’d come this far; they would have a service.  Besides, they had a guest; a thirteen-year-old boy.  But who would preach?  John was the only leader there, so it fell to him.  His sermon lasted only ten minutes.

It didn’t make a lot of sense, he struggled to make any point at all.  But at the end, a Kairos Moment stirred him, and He looked straight at the boy who was that guest and said:  “Young man, look to Jesus. Look! Look! Look!” 

Did the challenge make a difference?  This boy grew into a man and when he told this story he said, “I did look, and then and there the cloud on my heart lifted, the darkness rolled away, and at that moment I saw the sun.”  The boy’s name? Charles Haddon Spurgeon—England’s prince of preachers. 

Tens of thousands of people came into a relationship with Jesus, and even more deepened their commitment to Jesus through the life and preaching of C.H. Spurgeon.  It would not have happened, except that John Egglen recognized his own Kairos Moment.  And If You Don’t Have This Hope And Belief That You Can Make A Difference, Then Chronos Time Has Devoured You.

John Egglen was Listening to God.  Could it be, that somewhere around here, is the next C. H. Spurgeon, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, E. Stanley Jones, C. S. Lewis, Charles Swindoll, Charles Stanley?  

Who knows what impact 1 person will make down the line, when we are Listening to God!

Here Are Your Next Steps:

  1. Are you hearing God or Listening to God?  Make an intentional decision to Listen.  This is a decision you need to make each day and several times during the day.
  2. Partner with someone with whom you can deepen each other’s spiritual life.  Have 2, 3, 4 no more than 5 who will love you enough to tell you the truth about yourself, and who will allow you to do the same.
  3. Look around here to see what needs to be done, and volunteer.  There’s always something to do, something that needs to be done.  These are Kairos Moments waiting for you.
  4. Allow your complaint to become your job description.  Look around this community to see what needs to be done and do something to help out.  Whatever is wrong, work to make it right!

THRIVING IN THE KAIROS LIFE IN CHRONOS TIME!

When We Are Controlled By Chronos Time, It Limits, Even Eliminates, Our Ability To See God’s Time Of Kairos.

Rate this:

(This is the second in my current Message Series, “Kairos Living In A Chronos Life!” You can find the first message here)

Remember from last week that Chronos Is Measured by Quantity.  Kairos Is Measured By Quality.  Kairos Time reveals and expresses quality moments that First Changes Us, and then Changes Our Surroundings

Our passage today is taken from Habakkuk 2:1-3.  Here’s the background you need to understand before we read it.  Habakkuk was a prophet just before the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem.  He senses doom is just ahead, and he does a very human thing:  He complains.  First he complains about his culture and why God doesn’t do something to change it.  God answers his complaint with the truth. 

Because they have been unfaithful, just as Habakkuk complained, He’s about to send Babylon to bring judgment.  Habakkuk doesn’t like God’s answer, so he complains again—complains about HOW God is addressing the problem.  All of this is chapter 1.  Now let’s look at the heart of God’s reply to Habakkuk’s complaining in Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT)

I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post.  There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint.   Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
    for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed.”

This passage talks about the impending judgment on Jerusalem.  But it also says something about God’s Time and Timing, especially that last sentence:  “It will not be delayed.”

Now here’s the one thing you need to remember today:  When We Are Controlled By Chronos Time, It Limits, Even Eliminates, Our Ability To See God’s Time Of Kairos.

The life that God offers us is The Kairos Life—moments full of God’s Kairos Time.  And as I said last week, we live IN a Chronos World.  We are surrounded by Chronos.  Until we die or unless Jesus comes back there’s no escaping Chronos Time.  And there are demands that Chronos puts on us.  To deny this truth is to live in a fantasy land.  It’s unrealistic and untrue. 

And as God’s messenger, I’m not going to deceive you into thinking that Chronos Time is no longer real once we become a disciple of Jesus.  There’s no way around it; but we do not have to be controlled nor limited by Chronos Time, because God has another Time and it’s the Life called The Kairos Life.  So, how can we thrive in a Chronos World with a Kairos heart? 

If give our heart to Jesus and throw our life into the Kingdom of God, Chronos Time remains for now.  But we do not have to live in Chronos Time the same way.  It’s all a matter of the mind and heart—and where we hitch our hearts and minds. 

At every given moment, our minds and hearts are attached—tethered to either Chronos or Kairos time.  Chronos remains dull, boring, and a difficult thing to endure without being connected deeply and strongly with Kairos Time.  But, When we are tethered to—fastened to The Kairos Life, it changes how we live in the Chronos Time.

Kairos changes our perception to see beyond times and appointments and duties.  Kairos opens us up to the true power of the Kingdom of God that redeems and transforms anything and anyone—that brings God’s glory into everything and everyone.  You just have to be in that place to see Kairos Time.  To make sure you can thrive in The Kairos Life in Chronos Time, allow me to share some steps you can take so you will Thrive In The Kairos Life:

1.  First, Check To See If What You Are Doing Really Matters To God & The Kingdom

Luke 17:21—“You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

When your focus is on what you are doing it’s hard to focus on what God is doing. (Allow me to repeat this: When your focus is on what you are doing it’s hard to focus on what God is doing.)  Our focus tends to be on the external trappings of what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, touch with our hands.  It’s not that way with the Kingdom of God.  And what matters to God and His Kingdom?

Your salvation!  Your spiritual maturity!  Speaking to each other rather than about each other!  Helping others!  Getting to know people, their hurts and their hopes.  Caring about others more than yourself!  How much more time do I have?  Well, obviously not enough.  Let me put it this way—God cares more this community than He does about this building.  And if you want to live in Kairos Time, then you need to do the same.

2.  Second, Kairos Is Planned By God’s Time And Not Us

Ecclesiastes 3:11—Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Kairos is that Moment where God is making a move—in the hearts of people and at the center of communities.  It is all about trusting in God’s timing.  I have moments where I have issues with that timing.  But God sees farther ahead than we do.

This requires us to make a mental shift.  Instead of looking at our time as grains of sand slipping through an hourglass, we view our time as opportunities that God has been planning.  Trying to control as much as possible is living in Chronos time.  We need to live into time by seeing it as Kairos time, God’s time.  Instead of viewing our time as seconds ticking by, we can see God’s grace at work.

3.  Third, Kairos Time Is Big Picture Time

Isaiah 55:8-9—8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

In Chronos Time we get locked in our stuff—our abilities, our limitations.  Human reasoning and human logic are under both the influence and the control of Chronos Time. 

Kairos Time Is Under The Influence And Control Of God.  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts.”  God’s thoughts are rooted in His Power and His heart, not our abilities nor our desires.  God knows what He can do while we think about what we can’t do.

And look at that other part:  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”  As wild as my imagination can be at times, it’s nothing compared with God’s imagination! Our perspective is always limited by time and space—so we imagine in ways that are limited by Chronos Time.  So we use time selfishly—what we want and desire.

God’s perspective is unlimited because there are no boundaries to eternity.  Kairos Time reveals that unlimited perspective and unlimited opportunity that God sees because of Eternity.  When you lock God into Chronos Time, you deny yourself Kairos Time!  Last, but by no means least—

4.  Kairos Is An Invitation Time

Matthew 28:19-20—“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Some moments are more valuable than other moments.  The five minutes that I have to share the gospel with an unsaved stranger is more valuable than the five minutes of listening to people complain.  I must take advantage of my opportunities—and so must you.

Kairos Time is when we accept God’s Invitation to be involved with Him, rather than us asking Him to be involved with what we are doing.  (I need to say that again)  Chronos Time is doing what we want.  Kairos Time is living in what God wants.  Chronos Time is killing the church.  But Kairos is bringing the Kingdom that will never die! 

God is looking for those of us who are sick and tired of living with a Chronos Heart—and who long to live with The Kairos Heart–to lean in and step into what God is doing, unlike what King Asa did. The story is in 2 Chronicles 16. King Asa saw his Chronos as what Chronos ends up being: HOPELESS! So he made a treaty with his enemy. But the prophet Hanani calls Asa on this and gives us hope:

2 Chronicles 16:9 (The Message) – God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him.

Asa saw his future as Chronos time but Hanani saw it as Kairos Time. Your current situations are the direct result of your past decisions.  Your future situations depend on your current decisions.  It comes in the moment of opportunity. 

The perfect moment is perfect because God has been planning it and now invites you into a moment that can never be measured.  When you realize the Kairos moment, take a breath and pause before you exhale.  If you do this your life will be changed.  We only have such a brief opportunity to shepherd our kids and grandkids when they’re still young children. When a friend is experiencing pain, we have a brief window of time in which to reach out to them.  You never know when the Chronos Time you spend with any person is in reality—a Kairos Time for both of you.

Next Steps

  1. Each day this week invest some of your Chronos Time in prayer.  Specifically in 3 areas: 
    1. Someone who has been on your heart
    1. The upcoming General Conference
    1. Our future as a church
  2. Get involved in our new Bible Study Group that begins Feb. 27 on the Book of Acts

Kairos Living In A Chronos World

This is the first of my latest Message Series, “Kairos Living In A Chronos World)

I have a riddle for you. 

  • It’s free, but it’s priceless. 
  • You can’t own it, but you can use it. 
  • You can’t keep it but you can waste it. 
  • Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. 
  • In one person’s hands it brings hope and in another person’s hands it brings pain. 
  • It can crawl or it can fly, but it has no hands, legs or wings.

Think you know the answer?  It’s Time!  Let’s take a look at today’s passage found in Ephesians 5:16-17 (NLT):

Today we begin a new series called Kairos Living In A Chronos World.  The 1 thing you need to remember from today’s message is a question:  What Are You More Interested In–Counting Your Days, Or Making Your Days Count?  Let this question roam freely in your mind this week.  In fact, I will beg you NOT to answer this question until you have spent a lot of time thinking about it.

Have you ever slowed down enough to do serious reflection on time?  When it comes to “time”—what thoughts do you have?  What effect does that word “time” have on your emotions?  Are you overwhelmed?  Frustrated?  Fulfilled?  Stressed?  Fearful?  Anxious?  Happy?  Joyful?  Depressed?  Discouraged?  How do your emotions respond to “time”?

Think about how often we use that word “time”:  What time is it?  What time is the next doctor’s appointment?  I can make it on time.  There’s not enough time in a day to get everything done.  What time is practice?  What time does the movie start?  It’s time to move on.  It’s time to give up.  And, my favorite, TIME OUT! 

Our word “time” covers a variety of settings, each with its own unique “ambiance”.  Verse 16 says, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”  Some of you may be more familiar with the KJV:  “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  While our language has only 1 word for “time”, the classical Greek has 2 words—words that have different meanings: 

Chronos and Kairos.  Both words are accurately translated as “time”—but they are diametrically opposite in meaning.  So, let’s spend the first Sunday in this series looking and exploring at those 2 words.  Bonus information, the word in this text is Kairos:

1.  Chronos

Here is definition for Chronos:  Chronos is a duration that can be measured.  It has a certain set of values.  Seconds, minutes, days, weeks, month, years, decades, centuries, millenniums, is how we measure Chronos.  Chronos Is Quantitative Time.  A second here has the same quantity as a second at the Beach or in the Mountains.  It just seems longer here.  The duration of a second in the U.S.A. is the same duration in every other country.

Chronos Time is the ticking of the clock.  Chronos is where we get our word chronological.  To keep up with Chronos we wear these things on our wrists called a watch.  Do you know why it’s called a watch?  It’s so we can watch Chronos go by. 

Chronos Time Is Found In Our Agendas, Calendars And Bulletin Announcements.  Chronos gives identifying labels to those measured durations.  The labels are not just the units of measurement, but about the power that Chronos Time has to drain and debilitate those held captive by Chronos Time.  Chronos is driven by very human-centered sets of values.

Each day contains 86,400 seconds of time—which represent 1,440 minutes—which equal twenty-four hours each day.  It never fluctuates or varies.  And truth is we live in a Chronos World.  You have appointments, places to go, bills to pay, TV shows to watch, church to attend, practices, games and recitals to attend.  And all of this happens in that measured duration of Chronos.  Now let’s look at that other word:

Kairos

Kairos cannot be measured by the ticking of a clock, but by the beating of the heart. Here is the definition for Kairos:  Kairos is when God steps into time and space and does something incredible.  Kairos are the moments that are Right, Ripe and Rich with meaning.  Think about each of these:

Kairos are the moments that are RIGHT.  They fit into the rhythms of life as The Creator intends.  Debbie and Sandy love to work jigsaw puzzles.  And there’s the truth about jigsaw puzzles:  Each piece will only fit where it is made for.  Kairos never contradicts God’s Design and Purposes—It fits perfectly.

Kairos are the moments that are RIPE.  They are moments designed and prepared by God for His Image Bearers.  Have you ever read something or had someone call you and it was words that you were needing in that moment?  This is what Ripe means.

Ripe means it is the perfect moment.  The Time was Ripe when He called Abraham.  Ripe when He called Moses.  Ripe when He anointed David to be King.  Ripe when Jesus was born in that Manger.  Ripe when He died on that Cross.  And Ripe when He conquered death!

Kairos are the moments that are RICH with meaning.  These are the Epiphany Moments, when the Light Bulb comes on and clarity happens for us.  Epiphany Moments—Discovery Moments that define and redefine us—that shape and reshape us—that form and transform us—only happen in Kairos Time.

Kairos are the moments provided by God to know Him more deeply.  Kairos is about seizing the opportunity God provides in that moment.  Chronos drains life and hope out of us but Kairos enriches our lives with hope, love and grace. 

Understanding these differences, what you need to decide is this: Will You Live ON Chronos Time Or IN Kairos Time?  Where Chronos Is Quantitative Time, Kairos Is Qualitative Time.  Chronos Time measures seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years.    Kairos Time reveals and expresses quality moments that first changes us, and then changes our surroundings.  It is easy to think that our time is the most important time.  It is easy to be controlled and consumed by Chronos Time.  But What Are You More Interested In–Counting Your Days, Or Making Your Days Count? 

Every one of you will face multiple defining moments in your lifetime.  Defining Moments Are The Moments That Will Shape And Determine Your Character, Your Attitude, Your Altitude And Your Future

It changes your future course by changing how you see your life.  Defining Moments happen in both Chronos Time and Kairos Time.  But Defining Moments that will transform your life into that life marked by holiness are never found in the Chronos Time of schedules and calendars, but only in Kairos Time of following Jesus.  The reason why your life will remain empty and dead in Chronos Time is that Kairos can’t be planned, and it certainly can’t be forced. 

Kairos Time does not wait for you to fit it into your schedule.  It simply happens, and if you miss one—it’s gone and won’t come back. This doesn’t mean that there will be no more Kairos Moments. More Kairos moments will indeed come, but they are new and different ones.  Kairos Moments happen one at a time.  Unlike network TV there will not be any reruns of what you missed.  This is what makes them priceless.

The “Kairos” Opportunities we face in 2019 speak into what is God calling this church to be!  And with this in mind, it’s important to ask—are we a community of people who simply gather each Sunday with good memories to celebrate—or

Are We A Community Of People Who Are Willing To Listen To The Stirring Of The Spirit, Who Are Ready To Explore New Ideas And Who Are Prepared To Embrace Where Change Needs To Happen And To Be The Church In New, Creative And Even Uncomfortable Ways?

The decision you make today about time—is a decision only you can make.  Your Next Steps will be your answer to this question.

“Where Do I Need To Change So That I Will Experience More Kairos Time And Less Chronos Time And Am I Willing To Do It?”

The answer is as unique as you are.  Perhaps it’s spending more time in the Bible.  Maybe it’s having that dedicated time to pray.  Maybe even change HOW you pray.  Maybe it’s getting to know your neighbor better.  Maybe it’s in stopping your voice of fear about our future.  Will you live BY Chronos Time, or will you live IN Kairos Time?

As we step into this moment of Holy Communion—it can be for you a Chronos Moment—where you step in and do something. 

Or—it can be for you a Kairos Moment where God steps in and He does something.  It all depends on that 1 Thing You Need To Remember:

Are You More Interested In Counting Your Days, Or Making Your Days Count?

When Jesus walked this earth as one of us, He was more interested in making His days count.  And we see it here on This Table.

GOING AND DOING!

When we are going our own way and doing it our way, Jesus isn’t with us. But, When We Are Going And Doing What Jesus Wants, We Are Never Alone.

Rate this:

The Final Installment of this sermon series….

As we close out this Blueprint For A Brand New You, I wanted to find the word that brings all this together.  When it comes to following blueprints for a house, each specialist looks only at their part.  But for the home to be built everything needs to come together in the right way at the right time, otherwise there is chaos and confusion.  I want you to be able to see clearly how thinking in a new way, having eyes that are open, and learning to step out in faith can transform you into a brand new person. 

Neither God nor I want you to just become a different person, but to become the person that God Created And Redeemed you to become.  God takes the junk out of our lives but He also gives us a reason and a purpose in life

This God-Created, God-Honoring Purpose is where we truly find the life that our hearts are hungry for.  More than just you being a different person from last year, God Wants Us To Become Who He Wants Us To Become By Going And Doing What He Has Designed For Our Life In Christ.  And the only text that God would allow me to use is from Matthew 28:16-20 (The Message)

Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion.  The moment they saw him they worshiped him.  Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge:  “God authorized and commanded me to commission you:  Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.  I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

Anyone here ever heard of the Kodak Company?  At one time it was one of the top corporations.  Where is it now?  On Jan. 17, 2012, it filed for bankruptcy.  It took them years to get out of bankruptcy.  Why?  They forgot their purpose.  They thought their purpose was to produce film for cameras.  In 1975, one of their researchers developed the first digital camera, but company executives told him to keep it quiet.  In 2006 they stopped manufacturing Kodachrome Film after 74 years. They thought their purpose was making film—when their true purpose was creating images. 

Ever since then, they have been playing catch-up instead of being the leader in their industry.  Imagine people going to work day after day without knowing their company’s business, yet that’s exactly what happens when churches don’t know where they should be going and what they should be doing.  

Rather than try to find out what they should be doing, they keep doing the same things, expecting different results.  To become the Brand New You that honors God and gives us that life of purpose and meaning, then we need to know where we need to be going and what we need to be doing. 

In the beginning of the Church, it was clear to them—they knew where to go and what to do.  It was going into their world and doing the very thing Jesus told them to do.  They didn’t have anywhere else to go or anything else to do, but the One Thing Jesus told them to do:  Make Disciples Of Others Through Loving Them And Sharing With Them What Jesus Had Done In Their Life

The One Thing that EVERY Church and THIS Church must be is that Community of Believers who GO into the world and DO what Jesus wants, and what Jesus wants is for the lost to know they are loved by the Father and can have a relationship with Him! 

We need to know that our One Thing, the ONLY Thing Jesus wants is for us to Make Disciples By Showing Them God’s Love, Sharing What God Has Done For Us, And Inviting Them Into That Most Important Relationship Of All.  It is about becoming The New Creation by The Blood Of Jesus Christ.

Too much of what happens in many churches today is about consumerism.  We think that the church is all about meeting our needs.  Have you ever heard anyone say, “Well, I’m not going back to that church because it’s not meeting my needs.”?  They’ve made the church about what they want more than what Jesus wants! 

Purpose Is God’s Gift To Us, Not Our Offering To GodThis Means We Exist To Show The Real Love Of God To Real People In Real Ways So That They Can Become A Real Disciple Of Jesus.  

To be the person that God created you to become, to live the life that Jesus died to give you, there are two steps to take and one thing to remember:  Step One

1.  Make The Commitment To Go Into This World!

It is a world that is not very nice.  Sometimes it’s dirty and ugly.  It’s a world that is filled with a lot of pain.  It’s a world that is scary.  It is a world that is unfair and unreasonable.  It is a world that is selfish and narrow minded.  It is a world that is torn apart by disasters and wars.  It is a world that is filled with darkness and sin.  That’s what Satan is doing with God’s creation.

But it was into this same world that Jesus left heaven and entered into.  Jesus Entered Into The Pain, The Filth, The Brokenness And The Sickness Of This World.  Sometimes, people came to Him wherever He was; but Jesus didn’t wait for them to show up.  He went to them.  Jesus sat and ate with the worst sinners of that day—Tax Collectors. 

He reached out to everyone who was called unclean—the prostitutes, the adulteresses, the lepers, the poor—by those who thought themselves to be religious and godly.  Anyone who had been pushed aside by the world, Jesus reached out to them.  And if we are going to be His Disciples, then we follow his example!  In order to be a Brand New You, we stop going where we want to go and start going where Jesus goes. 

Make your commitment to go into this world.  Now Step 2:

2.  Make The Commitment To Do Something Only Jesus Would Do!

Do you know what Jesus is doing in our world today?  He is loving every single person.  When Jesus walked this earth as a human, He came to show a world that for some who wondered if God loves them, and for others who felt like God didn’t love them—to show that God has unconditional love for everyone! 

It is really clear what Jesus wants us to do—To Love Others Like Jesus Loves Us!  Jesus loves us completely, unconditionally and sacrificially.  None of us deserves this.  Yet Jesus shows us how much God loves us at the cross. 

And He wants us out there showing others how much God loves them.  We love others with our actions and not our words.  We show our love for Jesus when we give food to the hungry, clothes to those who have little or none, when we offer care to those who are sick or lonely, when we care for those who are in prison.  It’s not what we talk about that shows our world the love of God, it is what we actually do to help those who are among the least, the last and the lost.  Your world will never see how much God loves them until they see AND experience how much you love them.  Do Something Only Jesus Would Do!

3.  (And Here Is The One Thing You Need To Remember:)  Go And Do Because Jesus Is With You!

When we are going our own way and doing it our way, Jesus isn’t with us.  But, When We Are Going And Doing What Jesus Wants, We Are Never Alone.  He is with you. 

Did you hear how The Message translation puts it?  “I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day.”  He has never asked you to go and to do it alone.  In fact, He Insists That You Don’t Go Or Do It Alone.  In order to be a Brand New You, it takes confidence, the confidence that what Jesus said to those disciples, He really meant it and He really means it for you, too

And You Must Believe That It Is His Presence That Will Make The Difference In Our Life, And In Those Lives We Are Called To Go To, And To Love.  Our Life Purpose is to make new disciples for Jesus, by going to them, by doing for them in love, sharing with them all that God has done for us, And Then Inviting Them Into The Relationship With The Father. 

Churches that close their doors when there were people around them without Jesus, didn’t know what their business was.  To be a real disciple of Jesus, to be an authentic Christian, to be a real church, we have to remember that our business is all about bringing people into a relationship with Jesus.  You have to know why you are here.  Do You Know?

NEXT STEPS

  1. Is Jesus Living In You?  Galatians 2:20—“My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  I’m not asking how much you know about Jesus.  I’m asking:  Is Jesus living in you?  The only way He can live in you is that you ask Him and surrender everything in you to Him—your will, guilt, fear, your days, your relationships, ALL that makes you who you are.
  2. Ask Him To Give You This Week and Every Week The Opportunity To Show The Real Love Of God To Real People In Real Ways So That They Can Become A Real Disciple Of Jesus.  You can do this in many ways:
    1. Don’t judge them.  Sinners know they are sinners without you reminding them.
    1. Forgive Someone who has hurt you.  The best way someone can know that God will forgive them is to see that same forgiveness in you.
    1. Help Someone who needs help.  Open a door, give up your place in line, help change a tire, share an unexpected gift, encourage someone with your acts rather than your words, take someone to lunch—do you get the idea?
    1. Tell someone what God has done for you, especially if you didn’t deserve or earn it.  The world sees us who follow Jesus as a people who feel superior to others, or that we never have problems.  This just isn’t true.  Change that perception by being honest about your issues and struggles—and how Jesus came to you in the middle of those struggles.

Step Out In Faith!

Life With Jesus Is About Stepping Out In Faith And Giving Him Complete Control Of Our Life Regardless Of How We Feel.

Rate this:

Part 3 in the Series Building A New You

The term, “Playing It Safe” is about avoiding the risks, even if the risks might lead to a greater result.  We do so for 1 of 2 reasons.  One is that we choose a more cautious approach because we are afraid of the other resultfailure.  The other reason is because some simply are not willing to pay the price of complete surrender—i.e. selfishness.  So, we settle for something less, much less.  There is a fine line that exists between being courageous and being foolish. 

Our problem is we call it “risky” when we make our resources primary and God’s resources secondary.  Usually, but not always, when we face the choice between what is risky and what is safe, we will give in toward playing it safe. 

And many people, especially when it comes to church, prefer playing it safe over taking risks.  Why?  Because isn’t that what it means to be a Christian?  Doesn’t God want us to be safe from harm and evil?  Absolutely He wants to keep us safe from evil. 

But I am concerned that we’ve taken being safe too far, especially when it comes to following Jesus.  Following Jesus isn’t about playing it safe; It’s About Taking The Risks!  In the desire to play it safe we have mistakenly thought that God wants us to be comfortable.  But What God Wants From Us Is Faith.

In the Blueprint For A New You we started at the beginning with changing from thinking in an entirely human perspective to thinking with the mind of Christ.  Last week we uncovered the next step:  that we need perspective to go along with this new way of thinking.  We need Jesus to open our eyes in order for us to follow Him into the work of The Kingdom.  Now comes action—specifically taking action that comes out of our faith.

If you can remember only 1 thing this morning, then remember this:  Life With Jesus Is About Stepping Out In Faith And Giving Him Complete Control Of Our Life Regardless Of How We Feel

Playing it safe is looking at our abilities and resources then making our decisions.  But where is the faith in that?  Faith leads to more.    Faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross is required for us to be saved.  There is more to faith.

Faith isn’t a trophy we put on a shelf and say to our friends, “See that faith?  Yep, that’s when God saved me from my sins and gave me a new life.  I keep it there to remind me how gracious, loving and good God was to me.  Yep, I dust it off every week.” 

But faith does so much more.  Faith isn’t just for our salvation.  It is for our daily walk with Jesus, and this daily walk requires that our faith grow and expands.  The Life Of Faith Isn’t About Feeling Safe But Being Confident In Whatever It Is That God Wants Us To Do. 

In this Blueprint For A New You, there comes that moment when we must Step Out In Faith!  Never has this been more important than at this very moment.  This place, and this movement of Wesleyan Awakening hinges on answering this question:  Will You Play It Safe Or Take The Risk Of Stepping Out In Faith?  Or will you retreat to some moment in history when it was safer and easier to follow Jesus?  To help us understand what it means to Step Out In Faith, turn to Isaiah 43:1-2 (NLT):

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.  O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you

Did you hear those words:  deep waters, rivers of difficulty, fire of oppression?  Pardon me, but does that sound safe?  Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t sound safe.  And did you notice what God said about those times? 

He didn’t say “If” you face those moments, but “When” you are in those places.  When the waters run deep, When rivers are turbulent, When the fire rages—we step out into those risky places because we are not alone in those moments. 

But we do tend to forget that He is with us.  So, we choose to avoid risks at all costs.  And the price we pay is too high!  To Step Out In Faith means we know that in the risky moments, God is with us.  He said He created us, and He created us FOR those moments

The Hebrew word for “created” doesn’t mean just the story found in Genesis.  It means To Create With New Conditions And New Circumstances.  The New Condition is that God has made us a totally different person.  The New Circumstance is that He now lives IN us. 

Our New Condition is that we are now Formed By His Hand To Join In His Purpose Of Restoring Others and this New Circumstance is that The Holy Spirit Lives In Us For That Purpose. Now more than ever, we need to remember God’s promise through Isaiah.  When the challenge is great and the risks are high, remember His promise.

1.  When You Go Through Deep Waters, Think About Moses (Exo. 14)

God called Moses to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt.  Remember in Egypt that Moses’ first attempt at being a leader failed.  In Egypt, Moses is a man wanted for murder.  When God calls him to go back, he offers all kinds of excuses, but God doesn’t let go.  He has created and formed Moses for such a time as that.  So, Moses takes the risk.  He had no idea what would happen, only that God was with him.

After some plagues, Pharaoh agrees to let them go, but changes his mind and sends the army to go bring them back.  God has led them to the Red Sea.  Behind them is the army to take them back to bondage.  In front of them is the Red Sea and not a bridge or boat in sight.  Moses is about ready to panic, but God reminds Moses of His presence.  They go “through” the deep waters of the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army tries but doesn’t make it. 

If you remember the story, it tells us a wind divided the water so they could cross over on dry land.  That “Wind” Was The Holy Spirit—The Same Holy Spirit That Comes To Live In Us With The Presence Of Jesus

There are many deep waters we face—and the greatest risk we face is being the Body of Christ in this world.  When you face your deep waters, remember that God has given you the wind and breath of the Holy Spirit.  He Has Created And Formed YOU For Such A Time As This.

2.  When You Go Through Rivers Of Difficulty, Think About Peter (Matt. 14)

Jesus had sent the disciples on ahead to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, but He stayed behind because He needed His “safe place” to get away for a time.  During that night journey, an enormous storm came up.  It looked like they would sink and drown. 

But through the storm someone said, “Look, someone is walking on the water.  It’s a ghost!”  But Jesus said, “Oh pipe down, guys, it’s ME!”  Peter wants to be sure that it’s really Jesus, so he said, “Well, if it’s really you, invite me to join you out there.”  And what does Jesus do?  He invites Peter to take a walk, not on a calm sea, but a stormy one.  Do you remember what Peter does? 

(And don’t say “He sinks”!)  He steps out of that boat, and really walks on that stormy sea.  The preacher, teacher and writer, John Ortburg, is right.  To follow Jesus, we have to get out of the boat, because Jesus isn’t in the boat.  Jesus invites us to join Him in an adventure. 

Jesus Calls Us To Go Into Those Places Where It Is All About Him.  He doesn’t call us to a set of rules or traditions; He doesn’t call us to the safety of a bank account, home, family, career, or some other thing.  He calls us to be in relationship with Him and working with Him in what He is doing.  When the river is turbulent, take the risk of joining Jesus in what He is doing.

3.  When You Walk Through The Fire, Think About Shadrach, Meshach, And Abednego (Dan. 3)

The Israelites had been carried into exile.  Daniel, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were blessed by God with wisdom.  King Nebuchadnezzar recognized their talents and appointed them to leadership positions.  Some of the local guys were jealous, so they convinced the king to construct this enormous statue with the order that when the theme song was played, everyone was to bow before that idol. 

But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused and were hauled in before the king.  He gave them one last chance to worship an idol or be thrown into a fiery furnace.  And in that defining moment of decision—play it safe—or—take the risk—they said:

“Look, King, no disrespect intended.  We worship only one God, and that statue isn’t Him.  And about that furnace, our God has the power to protect us even there.  (Here’s the great part.)  But even if He doesn’t deliver us, if He whispered in our ears ‘Guys, this is gonna hurt’, we will not bow down to this or any other image.  So, go ahead and throw us in.”

Well the King got mad and put that furnace on super high, and had them bound and thrown in.  And once in there, an unbelievable thing happened.  The only things that burned were their captors and the ropes.  Once inside they didn’t see 3 being burned up, but 4 freely walking about—IN that fire.  God did not send some kind of force field to keep the flames away.  He showed up in that furnace and said, “Mind if I join you?” 

Whatever the risk is for faithfully following Jesus, count on Jesus being right there with you.  Those times when the heat is on for you to show Jesus to our world, count on Jesus to see you through it.  The risks He calls us to take, will at times look like it will destroy us.  Outside the furnace, no one else saw God but Shadrach, Meshach and AbednegoBut Inside That Furnace, Everyone Could See God.  Not outside the furnace, but inside the furnace is where others could see God.

Life with Jesus isn’t about playing it safe, where we can control everything.  Life With Jesus Is About Stepping Out In Faith And Giving Him Complete Control Of Our Life Regardless Of How We Feel.  Stepping out in faith means that we really, I mean REALLY trust in Jesus.  If we can see it with our physical eyes, touch it with our hands, and understand it with our natural minds, then it’s nowhere near faith. 

Faith is about giving up control—control of trying to save yourself, to be good enough by yourself—to be smart enough by yourself, to be strong enough by yourself—in order to totally trust God with everything, I mean every detail and every part of your life. 

Trust Him—when the waters are deep—when the rivers are difficult—and when the furnace is hot!

Next Steps (Homework)

We’re talking about Faith.  Remember what it says in Hebrews 11:1 about Faith

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Young’s Literal Translation puts it this way: “And faith is of things hoped for—a confidence; of matters not seen—a conviction.”  With this as the definition of Faith, answer these questions this week and consider it your homework:

  1. Where are you showing Faith in your life?  Remember that faith isn’t when you know the outcome, but when you have confidence that God is there with you.
  2. What are you NOT willing to do either because of your fears, or you are unwilling to pay the price?  The fear of failure and selfishness prevents us from experiencing the power of Faith.
  3. Is there some change that might happen in this church that makes you nervous or uneasy or that you simply do not want to see happen?  Church, as we have all known it, is changing.  It will never be the same, But It Will Be Better.  God is prepared for this moment.  But to see it, you have to make a commitment to it—and that’s where faith comes in. 

BLUEPRINT FOR A NEW YOU: DEVELOP YOUR PERCEPTION!

Only God Can Give Us The Vision To See A Future Filled With Promise, Hope And A Real Purpose.

Rate this:

Last week we talked about the importance of having a transformed mind because only the mind transformed into the mind of Christ can discover, accept and live in God’s will.  But God also wants us to see our world the way He sees it.  And it’s different from the human view.  To be able to see a person or situation in a different way requires paying close attention to all the details, even the minute details.  It’s easy to overlook the most obvious things, and sometimes it’s not easy to see the smaller details.

At times it even requires that we look at more than just what lies at the surface.  We need to see beneath the surface at what you can’t see, and most of the time, that’s real difficult.  I Mean, How Do You See What You Can’t See

But with persistence, careful analysis, and sometimes even with the help of a friend, we can scratch beneath that surface and discover more, much more than we thought.  Seeing requires more than just physical eyes.  It takes the right perspective.

Take a moment and think about something you had misplaced; maybe car keys or a tool.  You look everywhere and it just seems to have vanished.  We blame the kids, the spouse, or even a gremlin.  But then you start all over looking again and like a miracle, there it is.  It was there when we looked the first time.  We want to think that somebody put it there AFTER we looked, but the truth is—it was there all along.  We simply didn’t see it.  Our perception is it wasn’t there.  The reality is it was there!

It is tragic for anyone who is physically blind.  But there are so many who have been able to compensate for their loss of sight in so many other ways. 

Think about Helen Keller and her accomplishments.  Think about the contributions to music made by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Ronnie Milsap, and Ray Charles.  But, as tragic as it is to be without sight, there is a greater tragedy when We Live Our Lives Without Perception

Let’s step back a moment and define perception.  Here is my definition of perception:  Perception Is The Ability, Skill And Gift Of Recognizing What Is Happening To Us, Around Us, And Within Us. 

  • When I say it’s an ability I mean that God has given every one of us a way to recognize all that makes up our world.
  • When I say it is a skill what I mean is that this given ability needs to be sharpened and refined through use. 
  • When I say it is a gift by that I mean only God can bring all our ability and skill to the depth that we need in order to live life the way it has always meant to be.

We all have blind spots, and not just in our cars.  We have emotional, psychological and spiritual blind spots where we fail to recognize what is happening around and even within us.  And in this Blue Print For A New You, you need to Develop Your Perception.  Let’s look at the story of a man who needed his physical eyes opened and see if there’s something in this that can help us in our perception of God and our world.  It is found Mark 10:46-52 and I want to share it with you from The Message:

They spent some time in Jericho.  As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. 

When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus!  Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David!  Mercy, have mercy on me!”

 Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”  They called him.  “It’s your lucky day!  Get up!  He’s calling you to come!”  Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus.  Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  “On your way,” said Jesus.  “Your faith has saved and healed you.”  In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.

Now, try to put yourself in the shoes of this beggar named Bartimaeus.  Think about his world and his life.  Ask a resident around Jericho, “Who is this fellow Bartimaeus?”  Anyone who knew would probably answer, “Oh, he’s just a poor, blind beggar, that’s all.”  Nothing more, nothing less—a poor, blind beggar.  What does it mean to be blind?  Normally, most people think about total darkness, and for sure, some who are blind live in a totally dark world.  But not all blindness is total darkness. 

If you forget everything else I say today, then remember this:  Only God Can Give Us The Vision To See A Future Filled With Promise, Hope And A Real Purpose.   

I was blessed with the friendship and teaching of a saint by the name of Dr. David Naglee.  For years he wore glasses that looked almost like prisms.  Later on he needed the help of a magnifying glass to read.  And finally he had to give up teaching anywhere but near his home at LaGrange College because with the strongest lenses and the strongest magnifying glass, his world turned blurry. But Dr. Naglee never lost sight of God’s Promise, Hope and Purpose for his life.  He lived with a laser-sharp perspective.

So many today are living an out of focus life.  Day after day after day many are living in blindness that they don’t want to live in.  And sadly, many have resigned to that kind of life.  Maybe that’s where Bartimaeus was.  Every day was the same for him.  He would go to a spot, sit there and beg.  He never woke up with the excitement of anticipation that something exciting would happen.

All he could pray for was that generous people would pass his way.  And on that ordinary day, just another-day-of-begging, he went to that place.  He was hoping for enough to just barely get by.  But suddenly he senses a large crowd and there’s a lot of commotion and talking.  He can’t see what’s happening but he has a feeling something big is happening.  He just doesn’t know how big a happening it will be.

He asks, “What’s going on?”  And someone tells him, “It’s Jesus, the traveling Rabbi from Nazareth.”  Bartimaeus Is Blind, But He’s Not Deaf.  He’s heard people talking about Jesus and all the miracles He had been doing.  And he found in his heart a small ember of hope.  If Jesus could heal others diseases, just maybe He could open his eyes.

But he has to act; no time for delaying or pondering.  So with the loudest voice he had, he began crying out, “Son of David, Jesus!  Mercy, have mercy on me!”  The people around him tried to hush him up, but he only got louder.  Let’s leave Bartimaeus in his place of begging to ask you 3 crucial questions:

1.  What Is It That Blinds You?

There are lots of things that blind us to the real world around us.

  • Prejudice blinds us because we make up our minds before we know all the facts, and so it blinds us to the worth and value that God sees in people. 
  • Oh, then there’s Fear.  It gets us all knotted up inside to where we can’t think clearly.  It makes problems and especially potential problems more powerful than they really are and causes us to doubt God’s presence, promises and provisions. 
  • Resentment and its twin Bitterness can blind us to the power of grace.  Resentment and Bitterness are like kudzu; it grows wildly and covers everything up in its path.  They are like corrosive acid, destroying everything it touches so that on the inside, we become hollow and empty people.  It Takes Away Hope, Joy And Peace. 
  • Feeling Forgotten can blind us to the truth that God loves us.  The feeling of being ignored, that no one cares, can shut down the heart and spirit.  It will blind us to the truth that God does love us. 
  • When we feel unloved, unwanted by others, makes it easy to think that God doesn’t love or want us.  Perhaps this is where we find Nicodemus.  Being crushed by the belief no one cares crushes us.  A lot of people are in this place still today.

There are lots of other things that blind us.  This makes it crucial that we regularly evaluate our heart and mind to see if something is blinding us to the real world and to the presence of God.  Question 2:

2.  What Does NOT Seeing Cost Us?

We don’t know if Bartimaeus was born blind or if some accident or disease claimed his eyesight.  The price of losing one’s sight is to miss, miss the experiences that happen every day.  When we are spiritually blind, we pay the same price, too. 

  • We miss seeing the beauty that is always around us.  We can miss the beauty of a smile, the beauty of a child exploring their world. 
  • We miss friendships that are waiting to be made by someone who has so much to give as a friend. 
  • We miss experiencing love from another person.  Our hearts could be changed if we knew we are unconditionally loved.  But if we are blinded spiritually, we can’t see those people.  We miss feeling the sigh of relief that comes from a friend who simply offers their presence and nothing more.  It not only costs us.
  • The price is extracted from others who miss out on the ministry that only you can give.  The biggest price of our self-imposed blindness is that others are denied what God longs to pour into them, through us!  NOT seeing costs us the opportunities to become the presence of Jesus through the use of our hands, our words, our actions and our hearts.  It strips us of the very purpose we were created for.  Perhaps this describes Bartimaeus.  Always on the receiving end, never on the giving end.  We know deep down, that we are made for giving, for helping others.  Loss of perspective robbed him and robs us of that deeper purpose in life!

But there’s one more question that begs to be asked, and maybe someone here today needs to confront this question:

3.  What Can Happen To Us, If We Make The Same Request As Bartimaeus?

Bartimaeus is sitting by that dusty road begging when he hears that Jesus is there.  His heart knows what needs to be said—What Must Be Said.  For much of his life he had been treated as second class, but he cries out anyway. 

People try to silence him because, after all, What Could Jesus Possibly Want With A Poor, Dirty, Blind Beggar?  Would Jesus really have anything to do with someone who is a poor, blind beggar?  You Better Believe He Would.  And Jesus tells those trying to keep Bartimaeus silent, keep him away from Jesus, “Hey!  Stop treating him that way.  I want to see Him.”    And so they bring this blind beggar to Jesus. 

Why does Jesus want him there, near Him?  To ask the only question that God has for those who are poor, blind, and broken inside.  “What Can I Do For You?”  This is the question Jesus desires and longs to ask everyone, each of us. No beating around the bush for Jesus.  No long theological discussions or committee meetings.  Now Bartimaeus has a decision to make.  Should he dare make the bold request?  Does he fear that Jesus would deny his request?  I see no hesitation from Bartimaeus when he says:  “Rabbi, I want to see.” 

And in this very moment, right now in this place, listen—listen because Jesus has never stopped asking that question, “What Can I Do For You?”  And if right now you feel just like a poor, blind beggar, that your life is out of focus and blurred, that darkness, a darkness no one knows but you and Jesus, has blinded your eyes to a future filled with Promise, Hope And A Real Purpose, He is asking you, “What Can I Do For You?” 

Will you trust Him enough to repeat those same words to Jesus?  Lord, Savior, Master—I want to see!  And what will Jesus do? The same thing he did for Bartimaeus:  “Your Faith Has Saved And Healed You.”  Make your request, and then do what it says that Bartimaeus did:  In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.  And that, my friends is how Jesus works: To Give Us Eyes That Are OpenAnd Then For Us To Follow Jesus Down The Road.

Your Next Steps

Your next steps are simple—but they may be difficult. 

What Do You Want Jesus To Do For You?

What is it that is keeping you a prisoner—a captive?  What is it that has robbed you of any hope of a better you—a better future?  What is keeping you from seeing your world—your situations—this church—your life—the way HE sees it? In order to see all this as God sees it, then you have to confront whatever it is that is blinding you to what God sees.  Things like Pride, Fear, Prejudice, Bitterness, Resentment, Overwhelming Grief, A Sense Of Worthlessness….and the list goes on.  Only Jesus can help you see—and the Good News today is this:

He Will Open Your Eyes When You Admit You Are Blind.Only then can you have the perspective to see yourself, your circumstances, and the world as God sees it.

Remember, Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the Glory goes to HIM!

BUILDING A BRAND NEW YOU! Part 1

This Transformed Mind Is Where We Discover, Accept And Live In God’s Intended Design.

Rate this:

This is part 1 of the new message series “Building A Brand New You”.

When I was on staff for The North Alabama Conference Center, I had this sign on the door to my office:  “A Lack Of Planning On Your Part Does NOT Mean We Have A Crisis.  It Means YOU Have A Problem!”  The meaning is pretty obvious:  When you are in the panic mode because you failed to make and follow a plan, do not expect me to join you in your panic.  Planning is important.  To borrow a term from Coach Nick Saban, there is a Process to follow. 

We plan lots of things like careers, work, families, and retirement.  And we would never build a home without first having a plan.  But what about the development of our spiritual life?  If planning work, families, retirements, and homes are important, why do so many spend so little time planning the development of their spiritual life?  Have you heard this saying?   When You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail

Today I want us to look at developing a plan, a blueprint of sorts for Building A Brand New You.  I believe that God is on the move in our culture for yet another Great Awakening, much like what God promised Israel through Isaiah in Isaiah 43:19

For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

When God promised this, they were in exile and things seemed hopeless.  If we are honest, we feel the same way about our culture—that things seem hopeless.  But I am convinced otherwise.  I see the signs in Africa, Southeast Asia and in Central and South America—and I am seeing and sensing the same in our time and place.  God is doing a new thing in our time, and we need to position ourselves to see it.  We need a new blueprint for a new you.  Every blueprint has a beginning point, so I began thinking about where to start.  I kept thinking and thinking and thinking, but I just couldn’t figure out where to start this blue print. 

I was thinking about a lot of different things as the first part of this blueprint—transformation of the heart, the importance of living out God’s word, faith, but the more I thought about it, nothing seem to fit.  I did my usual walking and pacing as I was thinking.  Now, I don’t know how other preachers arrive at their messages, but me, I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say it just feels right.  I was doing all this thinking, and nothing felt right.    

Finally, I said, “OK, God, what are you thinking?”  And I thought I almost heard Him say, “Exactly!”  Excuse me?  What do you mean by “Exactly”?  Then it hit me, the Blueprint For A New You begins with A New Way Of Thinking!  And our passage for today comes from Romans 12:1-2.  Last week I shared it with you from The Message, but this week I want you to hear it from The Passion Translation:

1] Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies?  I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices.  And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart.  For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.

2] Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.  This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.

How we think is more important than many may realize.  It influences our perceptions and our reactions—both positively and negatively.  And our thinking greatly shapes our daily actions.  How many times after we did something that defied common sense did we say, “What was I thinking?”  Anyone here other than me who has ever said that?  When Debbie and I got married, I wanted to use that country song as we walked the aisle.  She wouldn’t let me. 

Usually our own answer to that question is:  “I Wasn’t Thinking!”  Most of the time, this is probably true.  But open your minds to another possible answer.  Maybe, just sometimes the answer is:  “I was thinking the wrong way.”

Case in point is found in Mark 6 when Jesus had been teaching most of the day. This was supposed to be a day for just the Disciples and Jesus. But then the crowd showed up, ruining their plans.  This crowd had been there at least all afternoon long.  I don’t think the disciples had a table set up with snacks, coffee and water, so they had been there most of the day without eating.  The disciples know this, so in order to get their own time with Jesus, they tell Jesus, “The day is almost over.  These people need to eat.  Stop preaching and send them home.”  But their little ploy to keep Jesus to themselves quickly unravels.

Jesus tells them, “OK, they do need to eat, so YOU give them something to eat.”  Maybe Jesus doesn’t fully understand this situation.  Almost immediately they reached a rare consensus:  “It would take 8 months of our wages to buy that much bread.  You want us to do that?”  At first their thinking was:  “Send them home”, and their second thinking was, “It would take 8 months of wages to buy that much bread.”   The meaning of that statement is:  “We don’t have enough money to feed them.  So, let’s go back to our first statement:  Send them home!” 

But Jesus the Teacher is persistent, so He asks another question:  “Well, how many loaves do you have?”  There must have been a look of shock on their faces because Jesus added, “Well, go on and see!”  It seemed like Jesus wasn’t listening to them.  But they do what He says just to prove THEY are right.

They take a very quick inventory.  John’s Gospel says they found a young boy with a sack lunch.  They come back with their report:  “We have 5 loaves and 2 small fish.”  Obviously this is not enough, so they are probably back to their first way of thinking:  “OK Jesus, send them away.”  But Jesus Doesn’t See This Situation The Way They See It.  He tells them, “OK, everybody, I mean everybody have a seat.  We are going to have a picnic. Sit in groups of 50 or 100. Oh, and save the leftovers.”  Try to imagine, if you can, the look on the faces of the disciples.  5 loaves of bread?  2 small fish?  A picnic? 

Anyone with common sense would know this can’t feed all those people; 5000 men plus women and children.  I can just imagine Matthew, who knew how to work with numbers, thinking:  “Well this won’t take long.” 

But look at what happens.  Everyone eats until they are full, and then there are 12 baskets full of leftovers.  Their way of thinking said, “This isn’t enough.”  But Jesus’ way of thinking said, “Everyone sit down, the servers will bring your meal to you as quickly as they can.  And save all the leftovers!”

A New Way Of Thinking Begins When We See People And Situations The Way Jesus Sees Them.  And this will never happen in us until we have our minds transformed by God’s grace into the same mind of Jesus who told those disciples, “You give them something to eat.”  It happens when we allow Him to make us something altogether different.    It happens inside us when His Holy Spirit, is more than with us; But Living IN Us.  It’s all an inside job.  We can’t make it happen, but we can choose to allow it to happen by surrendering to God’s grace. 

Here’s the one thing you need to remember:  This Transformed Mind Is Where We Discover, Accept And Live In God’s Intended Design.  God has an Intended Design for your life.  It’s Called His Will.  That Will brings about His Purpose which is bringing people into a relationship with Him. 

The natural mind cannot see it no more that the natural minds of the disciples could see how to feed all those people.  But Jesus did feed them, and Jesus will use us when our minds have been transformed by the Jesus who wants to live in us.  Only with the transformed mind can we discover and live in God’s will. 

It’s that transformed mind that understands why we need His Intended Design.  It’s the renewed mind that understands 3 Unshakeable Truths that keep us Thinking In A New Way.

1.  God’s Will Is Good

God’s will is good because it is honorable.  Thinking A New Way understands that our everyday life can also be honorable.  We can show integrity and compassion in any situation.  It works from the desk of a CEO all the way to a simple ditch digger. 

Wherever you are, Thinking A New Way Means We Look For Ways To Express The Holiness And Majesty Of God; His Grace, Mercy, And His Unlimited Love To A World That Desperately Needs To See Him.  To say His Intended Design is good means that whatever it is He wants from us is the right thing.  This adds value, purpose, and the beauty to life.

2.  His Will Is Life As It Is Meant To Be.

Thinking A New Way means that we Look For Ways To Bring Our Daily Life Back Into Agreement With God’s Intended Design For Our Life.  Thinking A New Way Shows Us How To Live This Life In Such A Way That We Find A Passion Living God’s Way

It is pleasing to us, because it is the very life we have been created for—a life in deep intimate relationship with Him.  And it is pleasing to Him—who created us and who loves us enough to allow His Only Son to die on that Cross, just for us so that this horrible and destructive power of sin that was Defeated ON That Cross could be Defeated IN Our Life.

3.  This Life Moves Us Towards Perfection

God’s Intended Design is perfect because ultimately, it will make us perfect.  We’re not perfect yet, but Thinking A New Way means we know that Every Choice, Every Carefully Chosen Word, And Every Deliberate Act Can Take Us Closer To Or Further Away From That Total Perfection.  It all depends on YOUR chosen priority.  Thinking A New Way means We Live Our Life With A Clearly Defined Purpose—To Allow All The Life That Is Jesus, To Be Seen In Us And Through Us

God’s Great Desire is to finish the process of transformation that begins when we invite Jesus into our heart as Savior and as Lord.  Then we begin this journey to Become The Person Who God Intended For Us To Be All Along. Thinking A New Way can only happen when we offer Jesus both our heart and our mind.  Does this process of surrendering the mind really work?

Fast forward to Acts 3.  John and Peter are about to enter the Temple in Jerusalem.  A beggar stops them, asking for money.  They don’t have any money.  What will they do?  Do they start shouting, “Hey, this man needs money.  Will someone please step up and help this poor man out?”  That, my friends, would have been their old way of thinking. 

But now, thanks to the Holy Spirit, they have a new way of thinking.  Listen to verse 6:  Then Peter said, “I don’t have money, but I’ll give you this—by the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!”  A new way of thinking is all about knowing that Jesus isn’t just with you, but that He wants to be and can be IN you.

Here’s Your Next Step

Do Something This Week That Will Cause 2 Things In Your Life:

  1. Find a way to look and think a little more like Jesus each day. Maybe read the Bible more, pray more, start reading a book by a solid Christian writer–whatever works for you.
  2. Ask God to use you to show someone else that God loves and cares about them.