March 24 - How Do We Respond to Unexpected Opportunities - Pastor Paul Vallee

March 24 - How Do We Respond to Unexpected Opportunities - Pastor Paul Vallee
Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta
March 24 - How Do We Respond to Unexpected Opportunities - Pastor Paul Vallee

Mar 25 2024 | 00:39:26

Episode 12 March 25, 2024 00:39:26

Show Notes

Matthew 21:1-11

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Amen. I'm going to have you turn in your Bibles this morning to the Gospel of Matthew. Gospel of Matthew. I'm just going to take a little break from our series on the Gospel of John and move us to a little. I'm going to fast forward us into the final week of Jesus'life here, and we'll begin in Matthew's gospel. [00:00:19] You know, the palm Sunday. [00:00:22] When we look at it today, in hindsight, it's a great day of rejoicing. But I want you to know that it was also a very challenging moment and a very courageous moment in the life of Jesus. As a matter of fact, as he's approaching the city, Luke gives us this insight into what was happening in the mind of Jesus, to give you a sense. It says here, as he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. And he said, if even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace. But now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side, and then they will dash you to the ground, you and your children within your walls. They will not leave 1 st on another because you did not recognize the time of God's coming. [00:01:20] What was Jesus saying? He was basically saying, God himself in human form now was among them, and they did not recognize it as a nation. This was a moment. This was an opportunity. How do you and I handle those unexpected opportunities that come into our know? I'm just showing you a little picture here of the city of Jerusalem. This is from the mount of Olives looking over. That little gold dome is now a memorial, a mosque, actually. It's a burial site, a mausoleum. [00:01:55] And here's a picture of, actually, the rocks that are cast down from the site. Jesus understood what was about to happen. So a lot of times when we're living life and we're in the middle of a cris, we don't always get what is about to happen, and so will we embrace God's opportune moments for our lives. I want to fast forward three decades, because Jesus had warned them. And many times when God warns us and we don't heed the warning, it doesn't mean that immediately it may happen upon us. It could, but sometimes there's a delay. And so three decades later, Josephus, who actually lived through the experience, was a jewish historian, wrote about what occurred. He said, you would have thought the hill on which the temple stood was boiling from the bottom upwards that everywhere was a mass of flames and there lay a sea of blood deeper than the fire and that they were more killed than those that were killing them. [00:03:00] You could not see a single piece of ground anywhere because it was so thickly covered with bodies, forcing the soldiers to climb over them in order to reach further victims. This is a terrible situation. [00:03:12] Most of the noncombatants and the precincts stayed behind, however, for climbing onto the outer colonnade, which was 12ft wide. And some priests among them were tearing the railings down from the sanctuary to hurl them at their enemies. As the sanctuary had been destroyed, the legionnaires could see little point in preserving the temples, other buildings. So they torched the lot, including what was left on the colonnades and the gates. They lit fires beneath the terrified people cowering on the top of the outer colonnade, mainly women and children, many of whom jumped to their desk to escape the flames. [00:03:49] Josephus says that about 6000 perished in this way. They had taken refuge here because earlier in the day, yet another so called prophet had told them, get up on the temple where you'll receive a sign of your deliverance. Josephus continues. Citizens of Jerusalem who perished during the siege were the lucky ones. While the Romans were deciding what to do with the captives, 11,000 of these that were penned inside the temple ruins died from hunger, some because the guards deliberately starved them and others because they refused to eat. In any cases, Josephus tells us, there was not enough food to feed so many prisoners. He continues on. Although the prisoners were dying in countless cruel ways from fights with wild animals, being burnt alive in combat with each other's, the Romans thought it was far too mild a punishment for the jewish people. [00:04:41] It was a shocking experience. [00:04:44] You know, the triumphal entrance of Jesus on Palm Sunday was marred with the foreknowledge that Jesus had of an impending judgment coming against the people because they refused to receive their moment of deliverance. You know, it's interesting. God gives us opportunity. We're living in a moment of opportunity. We have a moment right now to choose Jesus to be our savior, to be our deliverer. Just like you heard these baptismal candidates express that they've now chosen to follow Jesus. And why is that so critical? Because there is a day coming. Jesus said, it's appointed a day in the future. It's appointed a day that we will all die. And then we were going to face a day of judgment, a day of evaluation, a day that will address how we lived our lives on this planet. And I think we've kind of lost that message. There's some basic things in Christianity that we need to understand. Yes, God is a loving God. Yes, God is a forgiving God. Yes, God died and substituted himself on our place. But if we reject God's provision, God as a savior, God, point of deliverance for our life, we have nothing left but judgment ahead, just like these people did. [00:05:59] Palm Sunday was not just a moment of foreboding, though. Jesus, as I said, was received by some with great triumph and great cheer and great joy. And you know, I'm going to say this, that for many people who are followers of Christ right now, there's a day coming when Jesus comes back. It'll be a day of great rejoicing. [00:06:19] We will be so excited, but there'll be some people that will still be railing and opposed to him. Isn't that an amazing thought? It's kind of shocking, but it's the way it always been. There's a great divide in humanity, and it comes about in that way. By writing into the city, Jesus was not only fulfilling Old Testament prophecy, but also jewish expectation. It was an announcement that he was the king of the Jews and he was coming in peace because his kingdom is a kingdom of peace. And so as we turn back to that day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem in broad daylight, surrounded by a loud and joyous crowd shouting praises to God. [00:07:03] It was a moment of unexpected opportunity. [00:07:07] In this triumphal entrance, Jesus had now come to set his people free, not from the Romans. That's what unfortunately thought it was, actually to set them free from something far deeper than that, and not only to them, but to all humanity. It was to set us free from our sins, which is the ultimate problem that we're dealing with in our society today. You can trace everything back to the fact that sin is the culprit in war, in the dissolution of relationships. It all comes down to that, and it all comes down to addressing this fundamental problem in the human equation. And so Matthew here is going to reveal to us in this chapter four things about Jesus. And I'm going to be brief on these. First of all, as Jesus fulfills the prophetic promises of the Old Testament, look what Zechariah nine nine says. It says, rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion shout, daughter of Jerusalem see your king comes to you righteous and having salvation gentle riding on a colt. Donkey on the colt the fall of a donkey. It's interesting that Jesus selected a donkey to ride upon. Well, he knew what he was doing. He knew he was fulfilling Zechariah but it was also a symbol, because in the ancient world, usually kings came riding into conquered cities on a horse. [00:08:26] But we also know there's examples from the Old Testament within their own culture. The king, like Solomon, rode in on a donkey. Isn't that interesting? Because it expressed that they were bringing a reign of peace into the lives of people. [00:08:44] Now, Jesus was basically making a declaration. He was gesturing, he was posturing. Here. This gesture of Jesus going public about his kingship had two responses. One was a response of celebration, and we heard it today as we're singing praises to God, to response of celebration. The other, though, was a response of outrage and indignation. [00:09:12] The one was a fulfillment of a lofty aspiration. The other was a threat to the power base of the jewish leadership of that time. The people felt the freedom that Jesus was bringing. The religious leaders felt a loss of control. And therefore, we read of their indignation and anger in the story. We're going to look at that really quickly here. [00:09:41] Those that refuse to surrender to Jesus are always in a posture of resistance. In Luke's account, we read in chapter 19, verse 39, some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, teacher, rebuke your disciples and note, Jesus's response is very interesting. He said, no. He said, if I tell them to keep quiet, even the stones will begin to shout out, amazing. Even creation itself will cry out and acknowledge Christ as rightful king. But not only does Jesus give us a certainty of the promises of God being fulfilled from the Old Testament, we see he also creates within our hearts a heart of celebration. And we sense that today, in the lives of those that were being baptized, we sense it in our own hearts as followers of Christ. The condition of our soul is directly related to our understanding of who Jesus is. That's an amazing thought. Now, what I know about Jesus affects what's going to happen inside of my soul. [00:10:50] When we discover his love, his forgiveness, his grace to us, his love, his joy, his peace, it does something inside of us. It overflows from our lives. Praise arises from within us. I believe our greatest need in this life is a revelation of God's love, a revelation of the person of Jesus. Let's take a look here in Matthew, he says, a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the ground, while other cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted Hosanna to the son of David. See, they're declaring he's the messiah by saying that, blessed is he, who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest heaven. When Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the whole city, the Bible says, was stirred. And people asked, who is this? Isn't that a great know? I love that. The whole city was in a state of anticipation and excitement. There was a stirring, there was an explosion that was happening. You know that word stirred? We get the word, it's from the greek word. We get this idea of seismic. It was like there was an earthquake, there was a shaking going on. [00:12:10] Jesus was about to bring salvation to this nation, not only to their nation, but to the nations of the world. He's not just the savior of the Jews, he's the savior of all peoples, for all you know. I believe that so often even we do this, we have certain expectations from God about God. And when they don't become realized, we become very disillusioned and unhappy. Right. We're disappointed with God. I've run into people over the years, and that's because we set ourselves up. What God promises sometimes is different than what we think he's actually promising. It's not just about mastery over our external situations in life. I think that's what we really want, isn't it? We want to have things in control. We want to have our outward circumstances managed. [00:13:06] But really the greatest challenge is finding peace in the human heart, because the reality is that's what Jesus came to do, and he's still doing it today. What we want, as I said, is a change from the outward circumstances. But we can't always control what's happening to us, can we? No, but we can experience peace and comfort in life's most tragic moments. As we surrender to him, peace begins to flow into our lives. This is the beautiful thing, what you and I can't control outside. But God can do something on the inside. I think it's powerful when you and I can have joy and hope and love, even though a world around us is coming unglued, and we see it all the time. Look at our world today. It's broken, it's falling apart, it's coming unraveled. [00:14:03] And sometimes we're trying to manage, we're trying to keep our little world glued together, and sometimes that doesn't even work. [00:14:11] But what can happen is when we trust in Christ, there can be a peace that passes human understanding. There can be a joy that fills our heart. [00:14:20] It's supernatural in nature. We can't even understand why we're not falling apart because everything around us seems to be but something inside of us is steadying us through that tremendous pressure and storm in our lives. It says here that not all were celebrating when Jesus entered the city. As I already said, the whole city was stirred. Now, why were the people rejoicing? Why was there so much excitement? It says in John's gospel in chapter twelve. Now, the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. See, you have to see the stories. They're kind of glued together. [00:15:02] Raising Lazarus from the dead after being dead for four days just happened during the week previous. So everybody was talking about this amazing miracle, and the word was being spread throughout the city, and it was during a festival, this was during the feast of was. It was leading into the Passover celebration. So here they were. All these Jews were gathered in Jerusalem. They were talking about Jesus and what had just happened. And the Bible says many people, because they heard that he had given this miraculous sign, they went out to meet him. They wanted to know who this was. Luke describes the response as a result, not just of that one miracle, but when they came near the place where the road goes down to the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles that they had seen. Many of them had seen other miracles. Some people had been touched by Jesus. Can you imagine in the crowd there were people who had been healed by Christ, people that couldn't talk, people that couldn't see, people that couldn't walk. Now we're in this crowd, they're rejoicing. How many think this would be an exciting moment? They're saying, this is the one. This is the one. And yet there were other people there struggling with that point of view. [00:16:22] Jesus knows that he's going to ultimately be rejected. Isn't that an amazing thought? He's so courageous. He knows he's coming to die. He enters into the city, he's in front of everybody. And the third thing that Matthew shows us, that when Jesus comes, not only does he come to fulfill the Old Testament promises, not only does he create a heart of celebration in a changed life, but he also cleanses that which is defiled. And when he came into the story here, we recognize that one of the things that Jesus did was go into the temple and cleanse the temple. And when we look at that story, we go, wow, why did that need to happen? Because they had allowed corruption to defile their religious life. And, you know, that can happen in our lives as believers, because when we think of the temple of God. Yes. I showed you pictures of the stones being thrown overboard. There is no physical temple today, but there is a temple. And the temple is actually where God lives, because a temple represents where God's presence is. And the temple today is inside the heart of believers. You and I are now the temple of God. You and I allow the presence of the living God to live inside of our lives when we invite him into us. And this change that occurs in our lives is a change from the inside out. It's not like you and I are trying to renovate our own souls. It's not like you and I are trying to be good enough. I love what Alice said. She said, I was just told to follow the rules, but I wasn't good at it. [00:17:55] I just love that line because it's so true. It's not about keeping the commandments of God in our human ingenuity and strength. That's impossible. What we need is something far greater. We need a power living inside of us that brings transformation in our lives. And when the spirit of God comes, you see, when we invite Christ into our lives, God's spirit comes inside and lives within us and changes us. It's powerful. [00:18:23] Listen to what Paul says to the Corinthians. He says, do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit? God living in you, who is in you, whom you've received from God. And now because of that, you're not your own. You don't belong to yourself anymore. It's a very amazing thing. God wants us to have a paradigm shift. It's not about you and I being in charge of our lives. It's about allowing God to be in charge of our lives. It's not about me doing my will. It's about me doing God's will. It's the same for you. It's about you doing God's will and not your own. Lord, what do you want me to do? And I'm going to encourage you. It's the most dynamic life. It's the most exciting life. It's the life that God designed for us. [00:19:11] He says, you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. So when Jesus comes, he came and he cleansed this physical temple. And yet, I'm going to argue today that he's still in the business of temple cleaning. [00:19:25] He's in the business of cleaning us. He's in the business of cleaning the junk that we allow to accumulate in our lives that's defiling God's presence within us. It's grieving his spirit. And God wants to cleanse that from us. It says, when Jesus entered the temple courts in verse twelve of chapter 21, and he drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. It is written, he said to them, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you're making it a den of robbers. You see, you and I were designed to commune with God, but we allow other things to crop into our lives, and then pretty soon, we develop a very prayerless, dry life. [00:20:08] That's not what it's designed to know. Jesus was disturbed by what he saw in the temple. He went directly to the money changers. You say, what's going on here? Well, you see, when people travel from long distances to celebrate the Passover and to bring a sacrifice, can you imagine traveling with lambs hundreds of miles to sacrifice the animal? No, they didn't do it that way. They came to the temple and they brought currency to buy a lamb, and then they would sacrifice the lamb for that person's sin. Are you following? But yet the temple people said, hey, all of that currency out there is corrupt. And so they made their own temple currency. And what they would do is they would have to buy this temple currency, and then they charged exorbitant rates, and they were cheating people. The worst thing in the world is to be cheating people in the disguise of religion. Do you think that happens today? That there are people that are using the cloak of religion to take advantage of people? [00:21:09] I think, unfortunately, yes. [00:21:12] And Jesus saw that as an impediment, because this was happening in a certain part of the temple called the court of the Gentiles. This was the place that they were doing it. This was the place that was impeding the people who were non jewish from really getting to know the true and the living God. And you know what can happen in our lives? That when you and I live a defiled life, we're actually impeding non believers from seeing the reality of the true. [00:21:37] Know, you and I can say I'm a Christian, and then we can live a non godly or very worldly life, and we're actually impeding people and hindering people from really seeing the reality and the genuineness of the christian faith. And what does Jesus want to do? He wants to come in and flip those tables in our lives. He wants to come in and cleanse our heart. He wants to come in and transform our inner being so that you and I can be transformed and changed and actually become a kind of a person that helps people come to faith in Christ just because of our lifestyle. [00:22:12] How tragic it really is when believers are that stumbling block. And too often in our dealings with people, we're more concerned about what we get out of a situation than about the people themselves. [00:22:25] That's because we're focused on ourselves. And really what God wants to do in our lives is transform us to such a degree that our focus moves away from self to others. That's a very powerful shift that we're concerned about where other people are at. Can it be that our understanding of the christian faith is more about what pleases us than what pleases God? [00:22:48] Let's look at these worshippers in the story once again, there's a wholesomeness, a delight, a self abandonment in serving and celebrating Jesus. [00:23:00] I think they got into it. They really worshipped. [00:23:05] There was an unreserved joy and an exuberance. I love it. Sometimes we'll have in our services little children, and they're up here and they're dancing and they're rejoicing. And I look at that and I can just see the heart of God. He goes, that's the way I want you to worship, right there. [00:23:23] Do you think they're worried about what the rest of the people in the room are thinking? No, they're just worshipping. They are forgetting about themselves. We used to sing a chorus years ago. Forget about yourself and concentrate on him and worship him. I remember singing that as a new Christian, how important that was, because so often it's all about me. I come into church, it's about my problems. I come into church, it's about the things that I'm concerned about. Wouldn't it be great if we could just leave all that stuff at the door and come in and say, okay, I'm leaving that all behind. Right now I'm just going to do one thing. It's focus in on your love and mercy and grace. Do you know what happens when you do that? You get changed. As a matter of fact, what happens is you usually forget to pick up the stuff you left off at the door. [00:24:10] That's what I notice when you're really worshipping God. It's really freeing. It's liberating, isn't it? [00:24:18] And then the other thing is, are we celebrating his presence or are we resisting his presence? Are we praising or are we complaining? Is our heart cleansed and ready to offer worship to him, or are there rip offs happening in our relationships with others? Are we taking advantage of others. Are we a hindrance of people coming to faith in Christ? And do we make assumptions of where people are really at? I think so. Often we can become just a hindrance. And often our judgments and anger towards others are a reflection of ourselves. [00:24:52] I think we have to guard him becoming self righteous little pharisees. [00:24:57] We're not God. [00:24:59] We don't know what's going inside the heart of someone else. [00:25:03] Sometimes when you see something, you know the best thing to do is begin praying. Just start praying. Just say, Lord, I don't know what's going on in their life, but I'm just going to pray for them and just allow your grace to work in their hearts. And how many appreciate it that people pray for you? Isn't that amazing? I feel humbled so often as a pastor. I know people pray for me. It's very humbling, but it's so needed. We need the prayers of one another. And then there are moments when our hearts need cleansing. Just like the temple here. There's a need for renewal in our lives. I think it's easy to allow our lives to be cluttered up by all kinds of things that are actually peripheral to our relationship with God. They're outside of really what matters. [00:25:48] When you get right down to it, and maybe some of us are around people who are dying or you're at a funeral service, you start realizing what was really important is the relationships we have and how we treated one another. Isn't that true? It really comes down to that. It really does. And that's why I love this prayer from the psalmist that he says, search me, o God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there's any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. What a great prayer. Let me move on to the final thing here is the condemnation that rejection of Christ brings. [00:26:31] What's really tragic is so many people are living today with a sense of guilt and shame. And then there's a lot of people, they don't feel anything. When somebody says, well, I don't ever feel guilty. I don't have any shame. I go, that's not always necessarily a good thing. You could be dead. [00:26:47] Dead people don't feel a lot. Years ago, I remember somebody saying, we talked about the burden of sin, and somebody said, well, I don't feel any burden about sin. Blood just tells you the condition of your soul. That means you're dead. You're not going to feel anything. But the moment God's spirit starts to work immediately when you do the wrong thing. This is when I know that I'm close to God. I'm far more sensitive to doing the right thing or the wrong thing. How many know what I'm talking about? The closer you get, the more you realize that you're more sensitive to the needs of people. You're more sensitive to your own soul. You're more sensitive to doing what's right. You want to please God. I'm not talking about being totally introspective and hung up on all kinds of stuff. [00:27:37] That's a negative approach. That's a very morbid approach. But I'm just talking about when there's an awareness, an awakening in your soul and you're more concerned about others. Listen to what John tells us. And I think this is so true. He says, this is a verse we don't always read, but it follows John 316, where God so loves the world. Listen what he goes on. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world. How many are glad God's not here to condemn us? That's not his goal. [00:28:06] He came here not to condemn, but to save. [00:28:08] But the next verse is interesting. [00:28:11] He says, whoever believes in him is not condemned. How many say, thank God, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already. You see, what we don't realize is condemnation is resting on people. Today. They're under condemnation. And Jesus comes to deliver us from condemnation. Jesus comes to rescue us from that shame and that guilt and that rejection and that brokenness that we're experiencing in our know, in our culture. We struggle with the idea of judgment. How many know that's true? And I thought about that. Why do we struggle with this idea of judgment? But the reality is judgment exists even though we pretend it doesn't, even though we say, don't judge me. We can say all these statements, but how many know when we live a wrong lifestyle, there are consequences as a result of that. And that is a form of judgment. [00:29:02] But there will be the ultimate judgment. [00:29:05] And I think one of the reasons we struggle with judgment is because we have God on trial. [00:29:11] We evaluate God according to our values. [00:29:16] Isn't that true? We've put God on trial when reality. [00:29:20] We're on trial by God. [00:29:24] God is transcendent. What does that mean? It just means that he's beyond our thoughts and ways. God is evaluating all of our lives based on his standards and his values. We either surrender to him or we are in a state of rebellion against him. [00:29:42] To accept Jesus is to receive a savior, to reject Jesus means who's going to save us? And if we think we can save ourselves, I think you'll be sadly disappointed, because it's not going to happen. [00:29:57] It says early in the morning, Jesus was on his way back to the city and he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. And then he said to it, may you never bear fruit again. And immediately the tree withered. It's a very interesting story. [00:30:12] Mark adds in his gospel, the reason for not bearing frigs was that it was not the season for them. But Jesus was actually looking what he called the first fruits. And David McKenna said the fig trees curse for its pretense of its leaves. In other words, it was showing that it had something, but it lacked fruit. How many know hypocrisy is more than being what a person is not. [00:30:40] It's also failing to produce what is promised. [00:30:43] And a lot of times we let people down because we promise, but we don't deliver. And I think sometimes we fail God because we're promising what we're not delivering. The disciples, it's interesting in the story, they wanted to know the mechanics. How'd you do that, Jesus? He cursed the fig tree and then boom, it dries up and dies. How'd you do that? They're totally missing the point. [00:31:06] Jesus. They failed to understand his intent. Just like the temple, the fig tree outwardly appeared healthy, but what was promised was not being fulfilled. A temple which ought to have been a place to worship God, a place of communion with God, a place to enrich, was now a place that stripped the worshipper and left them empty. [00:31:30] Whereas the fig tree promised bodily nourishment, it lacked any substance and left one still hungry. How many know God is a fruit, Inspector? [00:31:38] He really is. [00:31:40] You will know them by their fruits. [00:31:44] God looks into the fruit or the result of our lives. And it can be disturbing if what is seen as merely a pretense and there's no real fruit. Often people talk a good talk, but they don't back it up with a fruitful life. God is looking for genuine relationship. [00:32:01] Our society is looking for reality and authenticity. How many say that's true? It only comes when you and I abide in God's presence. You see, you and I don't produce the fruit. You and I actually are a channel of God's fruit. And so for you and I to produce fruit, we have to be in his presence. You see, John tells us that in John 15 we have to abide with him, right, in order to produce fruit. So I'm not telling you to go out and try to produce fruit. I'm telling you to abide in him. So today I'm closing is a special moment. It's a moment of opportunity. [00:32:34] How will we respond to his searching gaze upon our hearts? Will we respond in praise or in indignation? Will we allow this moment to pass like the money changers and just continue to set up shop as if we've never been interrupted by his passing? Or like the temple and the fig tree, Jesus is now gazing into our inner lives, examining our hearts and what is the condition of our soul at this moment? [00:32:59] And rather than feeling bad about it, here's what you need to hear. Jesus is here to heal, to touch, to cleanse, to renew, to restore, to know. Isn't that amazing? [00:33:13] I love that about know. How many know Alfred Noble? You know who he is? Alfred Noble actually was the guy that originated dynamite. He made a lot of money. And so there was an obituary about Alfred Noble in the paper. [00:33:31] The problem was, the reporter misunderstood who had died. It was actually his brother who had died. But Alfred Noble was reading his obits. [00:33:40] How many think that'd be a little scary? He was reading his obits, and it said, know. [00:33:47] Basically, it says he devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before. And he died a very rich man. That was the obit. And it had a real impact on him. And so Alfred Nobles decided, you know what? I don't want to be remembered for a person who made a lot of money by people dying. And so he said, I'm going to create a prize for the people who would actually institute peace and help to other people. And so that's where we get the Nobel Peace Prize from. This is the guy. He used his money now to help that foster that. And he said, noble said this. Every man ought to have the chance to correct his appetite midstream and write a new one. [00:34:29] Few things will change us as much as looking at our life as though it is finished. Let's stand. [00:34:35] That's a powerful thought. I don't know if you ever thought about it, but every once in a while, I kind of picture my life at the end, and I'm about to step into God's presence, and I think about it. What really matters then? What really matters then, right? And what really matters then should be what really matters now. [00:34:55] How many say amen to that? [00:34:57] And so, with every heart bowed right now, every heart bowed, every head bowed, it's pretty hard to bow your heart, but I think we can bow our heart by surrendering to Christ. [00:35:09] And maybe here this morning, as you're listening in on these testimonies of these individuals who have made a commitment to Christ, I want to give you that opportunity today to respond. Maybe you would like to say, I'd like to change the story before the end comes. There is a savior who loves us and wants to give us the opportunity to rewrite our story in midstream. And it starts by surrendering to him. [00:35:39] And when we do that, God begins to change us from the inside out. [00:35:45] God begins to allow transformation to happen so that our course of our life begins to change. That's a powerful thing. [00:35:54] And that from this point on, our life will become different. [00:36:00] Maybe you're here today and say, I don't know Jesus, but I sure like to. You know, he's a prayer away. If you cry out to him and say, jesus, I want to know you. [00:36:10] I want to get to know you. I want to receive you. I want to discover who you are. I want to learn about the God who created this world. I want to learn about the God who died for my sins. I want to learn about you. [00:36:23] God will hear that cry of your heart. The Bible says they that call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. You're not looking to yourself anymore. You're not looking to society anymore. You're going to look to God and you're going to look to Christ. And if you make that decision in your heart today, the Bible says, if you believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died and rose again, and you confess that with your mouth, you will be saved. [00:36:51] Isn't that powerful? It's that simple. [00:36:54] Means that you've changed sides. In a sense, you've come over to the God side. You said, I'm going to become a follower of Jesus. [00:37:05] If that's you today, I want you to pray that prayer because it'll change your life. [00:37:11] And then if you pray that prayer in your heart of hearts and say, lord, I want you to forgive my sins. I want to know you. [00:37:19] We have opportunities in our church to help you develop and grow, but you need to communicate that to us. [00:37:26] It's not just a personal thing. Christianity is not private. It's personal, but not private. What do you mean? It's community. [00:37:36] It has to be done in community. And so we make this confession of faith privately, but ultimately we eventually become public with it and we begin to live it out in community. [00:37:47] And there's other people beside you that are going to walk this walk with you. [00:37:53] I think it's nearly impossible to live this faith life in isolation. You'll get defeated. There's too many things to go against you. You need community to grow. I've discovered that. I believe that with all my heart you won't make it on your own. You'll need community. So if you pray that prayer this morning, I'm leaving it up to you. I'm going to end the service here in a moment. I'm leaving it up to you to make that your choice. And then if that's your choice and you pray and you say, okay, I'm ready to go now, because you, we can't do it for you. That's why I'm leaving it in your court, because, like I said, it's private. But then eventually it has to become public. And that's when you need to reach out to us and say, hey, I made this commitment and I need to start growing. Would you help me? And the moment you do that with the little connect cards, we will contact you and we will help you develop in your christian walk. We will do all that we can to come alongside of you and to help you. It's in your court. So, Father, we thank you this morning. Thank you for the amazing service we had. And now we pray. Lord, as we leave this place, may we leave with a sense of your divine presence hovering over our souls. May we leave this place, Lord, hearing and knowing that you've been with us and we have heard the testimonies of these beautiful people, Lord, as they are walking with you right now. They have personalized this in their lives, and they're doing it in community, and they're doing it publicly. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name, amen. God bless you. As you leave this morning.

Other Episodes