October 1, 2023 - Finding the Ultimate Reason for Life - Pastor Paul Vallee

October 1, 2023 - Finding the Ultimate Reason for Life - Pastor Paul Vallee
Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta
October 1, 2023 - Finding the Ultimate Reason for Life - Pastor Paul Vallee

Oct 02 2023 | 00:53:31

Episode 40 October 02, 2023 00:53:31

Show Notes

John 1:35-50, John Series

What is it that each of us genuinely longs for? So, often, what we think we desire has been culturally conditioned. We want to be rich or have financial security; some want to be famous or have meaningful relationships, but people want to be happy. We need to be loved, heard, understood, and accepted. This need is ultimately found in a person, and that person is Jesus. For most people living in the daily grind of life, with its ups and downs, there is a part that desires life to be more than it so often is. Here in John's gospel, we have the introduction of the first followers of Jesus, how they came into contact with Him, and how that changed who they were and what they became. These people discovered the ultimate reason for life, which changed their lives' trajectory. Early in the chapter, John the Baptist discovers that Jesus is God's promised Messiah. This happened at the moment of Jesus' baptism when he saw God's Spirit descend like a dove upon Jesus.


John 1:32-34

Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.

And I myself did not know him, but he one who sent me to baptize with water told, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Hold Spirit.

I have seen, and I testify that this is God's Chosen One.

So, how do we come to know Jesus? How does God reach us and those we care about? How do we find the ultimate reason for life? We see that this generally happens through the testimony of others. So, how do we become effective witnesses so others find the ultimate reason for life? Where do we begin? How did Jesus do it? Did Jesus have a method or a strategy? There is no argument as to what Jesus' purpose was.

            Luke gives us the reason for His coming in Luke 19:10.

            For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

Jesus is here for people. How did Jesus bring His kingdom to our world nearly two thousand years ago, and what does that mean for us today? We are about to discover that God's kingdom comes through people like you and me. It occurs through people whose lives have been changed and are changing. It is people reaching out to other people.  John Maxwell explains, "The only thing God will ever rescue from this planet is people. Therefore, if you want a ministry of permanence, you must build it in the lives of others." Ministry is caring for others, building them up, praying for them, and communicating grace and truth. As we go back in time and see how Jesus went about His ministry, we will learn what makes life worth living by following Jesus' approach toward others. In John's gospel, we see how people came to Jesus. There are four insights that reveal the ultimate reason for life. 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Well, speaking of standing, why don't we just stand together and we'll go to the Lord in prayer? [00:00:07] So, Father, we thank you this morning. What an amazing God You are and how much you love us. And I pray today that that idea will flow through this message that we will begin to understand the ultimate reason for life. And we know it's knowing you, and then it's making yourself known through us to others. And so I pray today, open our hearts to hear Your voice, help us to be strengthened, comforted, encouraged, and filled with hope. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name and God's. People said amen. Patty, could you give me that remote device? I didn't bring it up here. [00:00:47] Thank you. [00:00:49] This is Patty. She's my helpmate. [00:00:52] And you can see she bailed me out again. What can I say? [00:00:56] Finding the ultimate reason for life. What is it that each one of us truly longs for? And I just was thinking about that, and I just said so often what we think we desire has been culturally conditioned. You go, what do you mean? I think that our social values and the advertising industry puts all kinds of ideas in their head, and then we start thinking, we need these things. This isn't our goal in life. As a matter of fact, some maybe want to be rich, while others would just settle for financial security. I mean, some desire to be famous. Well, I think most of us just at least want to have meaningful relationships. But I think, in essence, most people just would tell me, I just want to be happy. Wouldn't you say that's probably where most people are at, just want to be happy. Okay. But what is intrinsic in the design of the human soul is the needs. And here they are to be loved, to be heard, to be understood, to be accepted. Is this resonating with you? It's the way God wired us. These needs are ultimately found in a person, and that person is Jesus Christ. [00:02:05] When we find him, we're actually finding what's missing inside of us. Because, you see, God designed the human soul to have a relationship with us. [00:02:16] And only God himself can meet the deepest longings and needs of our lives. Nobody else can meet that. God alone can do it. He's designed it that way. We're designed to fellowship with God. And when we don't do that, there's always an ache, a longing, a piece missing, however you want to describe that. [00:02:35] For most people living in the daily grind of life, with all of its ups and downs, there's a part that desires life to be more than what it so often is. Some of you are probably thinking, yeah, I wish. I just seem like I'm going through the little hamster on the wheel, going in circles here. There's got to be more to life than this. And I think there is. I think jesus said it, I've come to give you life. And that more abundantly. Then why are we not always experiencing that life to its fullest? And I believe that part of it is because we've lost a sense of what life is ultimately about and what really brings meaning to us. As an know. I think of the people in John's gospel here we're going to get an introduction to the first followers of Jesus. So what I want to do in your minds is we're all stepping into a time capsule. We're going to go back to the first century and find out what it's like to meet Jesus afresh and we're going to learn some things about how Jesus is relating to these disciples and how they are relating to one another. And I think we're going to learn some beautiful lessons there. Here we see that the encounter with Jesus literally changed the trajectory of their lives. How many know that's know these guys are fishing every day? Most of them. The first few guys were fishermen. They were in that business. And when they met Jesus, it just changed their whole life. They went in a whole new direction because of Christ. [00:04:02] It changed their priorities, it changed their desires, their goals, and it shaped their future. As a matter of fact, I would say that what they once wore, they no longer wore. Because Jesus starts allowing things to happen and brings about transformation to such a degree that they actually become the person they always wanted to be. And I believe that that same element is true for us today, that God wants to do such a work in our lives that he literally brings us on a journey to help us to become the person God designed for us to become. Now I want to take us back to John, chapter one, where John is now baptizing people and Jesus comes into his life. Let's pick up the story. I know this is a repeat, these few verses from last week, but I think we need to start the story there. So we're going to go there. John gave this testimony I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and I remained on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water. The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that this is God's chosen One. [00:05:16] So how do we come to find the ultimate reason for life? [00:05:20] Well, I've already said you got to come to know Jesus. So how do we come to know Jesus? That's the great question. What does it mean when God reaches out and reveals Himself to us like he did John the Baptist? And then because of that revelation, john was able to reveal Jesus to other people. He was able to testify, not reveal, but testify to other people who Jesus is. And because of that testimony, they themselves discover who Jesus really is in their lives. [00:05:52] Now, in Luke's gospel, he gives us here, this text. [00:05:59] This is kind of a summary text. This is kind of a propositional text or a premise for his gospel. He said, you know, the reason why Jesus came, the Son of man came, was to seek and to save what was lost, which it's actually a summary of the condition of humanity. Humanity is lost. We're living in a fog. We see it all the time. There's so many problems in our world today. People are just clueless. They're just going, what in the world's going on? What can we do about it? People are trying. They're doing their best. But how many have ever driven in a fog and you just can't see clearly? So we're living in a fog. This world is a fog for most people. They just can't see what's happening and what's going to happen. Jesus said, I came to save lost people. That's what Jesus'purpose is. If we're going to find ultimate meaning in our lives, I believe not only we have to get to know Jesus, but we have to make Jesus known to other people that's many times in our lives. The missing dynamic that brings about abundant living, because we're getting caught up in our own personal worlds with our own personal issues and all the challenges and all the things that consume our energy and time. And pretty soon, we're moving away from probably the second aspect. Not only is Jesus known to us, but we need to help people find who Jesus is. We need to help make Jesus known to others, but we lose track of that. I believe the enemy will do everything he can to distract us from that second aspect, because how many realize when you get good news now think about this for a minute. How many here have ever had such good news in your life? What's the first thing you want to do when you have great news? [00:07:44] You want to tell somebody, right? You want to tell people, hey, you want to tell the people you love the most? I got good news this week. I've been waiting for something for 20 years, and it happened this week, and I was so excited, I had to say something. So I had to tell Patty. I had to tell our staff. I had to tell the church board. I mean, I am excited because I have good news. Good news is something you want to share with other people. You want them to experience that good news with you. It's a shared thing. How many know joys are multiplied when they're shared with other people. It's the way it works. And how many remember back when you're a brand new Christian and you got to know Jesus? It was so exciting. You just wanted to tell people hey, listen, I just found the purpose for life. I just found the person who's changed my life. I just found hope when I came out of despair. I just experienced an absence and deliverance from shame and brokenness. Wow, this is so amazing. I want everyone to experience the joy that I have discovered in meeting Jesus. But then eventually time goes along, life sets in. [00:08:55] Pretty soon the joy and the excitement starting to diminish in our life and we get focused on the wrong things in life. Let's be honest, we do. And we're not as excited anymore. And then we've had a few people throw cold water on our excitement. Isn't that true? It happens. We know that. Well, we're going to get back to that because I believe that one of the ways to rekindle that joy is to rekindle the mission. It's going to happen. [00:09:26] I like what John Maxwell says. The only thing that God will ever rescue from this planet is people. [00:09:32] That's a pretty profound statement. In other words, everything else, it's a lost cause. Therefore, if you want a ministry of permanence, you must build it in the lives of others. So ministry is about caring about building others up by praying for them, communicating grace and truth into their lives. Now, as we're seeing how Jesus goes about doing it, we're going to learn a whole bunch of stuff. And I'm going to give us four insights in how we bring people to Jesus, which is the ultimate reason for life. Four insights. First one is the need to help other people voice their deepest desires. Notice how Jesus asks key questions in people in order to awaken something inside of him. So two of the John's disciples come to Jesus. Chapter one and verse 35. The next day, John was there again with two of his disciples. And when he saw Jesus passing by, John the Baptist is the second time in the chapter he says this, look, the Lamb of God. So what is John doing? He's testifying that this is the Lamb of God, which is another way of saying this is the Messiah. When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Now, a lot of people say, well, that would really be diminishing John's ministry, wouldn't they be? I mean, people are leaving him to follow Jesus. No, that is his ministry. His ministry is to help people come to Jesus. And so in reality, it's the fulfillment of his ministry. What a beautiful thought. Sometimes we don't want to let people go, but in reality we have to let them go. It's a fulfillment of what we've been putting into their lives when we're releasing them. Parents have to do that with their children. They gotta let them go. [00:11:11] Some parents have a hard time doing that. But you got to you've put all this inside of them that's the fulfillment of your parenting is being released. And now they're know turning around, jesus saw them following. He said, what do you want? Great question. They said, Rabbi, which means, Teacher, where are you staying now? I like what? D a carson says. And, you know, it kind of struck me before I was reading this. I think Jesus is asking a more profound question. D. A. Carson says it this way. He said, it appears that the evangelist, that's the writer, the Gospel of John, is writing on two levels. The question makes sense as a straightforward narrative. Jesus is simply saying to these guys, what's on your mind? Like, what do you want from me? [00:11:55] But I think there's a deeper level of meaning that John is trying to convey in this Gospel, and he says it this way. The evangelist wants his readers to reflect on the deeper question. The Logos, the Word, the Messiah confronts those who make any show of beginning to follow Him and demands what they really want in life. In other words, God is really saying to us, what is it you really want from me, and what is it you really want from life? It's a great question. Maybe we haven't really asked ourselves that. What is it that I really want? [00:12:27] What is it that I should want? I think we're so culturally conditioned, folks. [00:12:32] We think we know what we want. I would say most of us haven't got a clue what we really need. [00:12:38] How's that? It's a lot deeper. I would argue that if we were really honest and we were really in a right space, we could say this to God I want to become everything you want me to be so that I could bring absolute glory and honor to you. [00:12:57] That would be the ultimate, and I think it would look different in all of our lives. How is that? Is that a neat thing? And I'll show you why in a few minutes, because Jesus always begins where people are at. And I think if we're going to be effective at communicating to people, we need to discover where people are coming from. How many say that makes sense? [00:13:20] How do you find out where people are coming from? You have to ask questions. [00:13:25] A lot of times we're excited. We want to give them good news. That's great, but I think we got to be smart about it. And being smart means I got to understand and be sensitive to where the other person's at, and I got to figure out where they're at, and I need to have an interest in where they're at. I think we got to start seeing people as Jesus sees them. It'll change us. [00:13:44] Now, notice that Jesus is focusing on the people who are interested in spiritual things. So here's a little asterisk. Besides running around telling everybody about Jesus, here's what happens to a lot of us. We run into people who are not interested at all, and they really rain on our parade. Anybody ever have that happen. You're going, wow, I just feel like I got wiped out. Now, listen very carefully what Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew's gospel. He says, don't give dogs what's sacred. Do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then they're going to turn and tear you to pieces. And we've all had that experience. So here's a little side note to help all of us. Work with the willing and work with the receptive. [00:14:30] You know, there's some people at this point in their life they're not there. Yeah, but I love this person. That's good. Pray for them. They're in the wrong spot right now. They're in the wrong head place, and they're not ready to receive what you're going to put down anyways, and you're going to waste your time. Don't do that. There are so many people right now that want your time and need your time, and they're so open and receptive. And you know, when you run into those people, it's life giving to them, and it's life giving to you. Find them, you say, well, who are the most receptive people, pastor? Well, I remember years ago we had a minister that used to come to our church and help me. I was a young pastor. How many think it's good to have older pastors helping younger pastors? I bring them in and he said to me, focus on the most receptive people. He said, the harvest is plentiful, laborers are few. But he said, Focus on the receptive. I go, well, he says, now, do you know who the most receptive people are for your church family? [00:15:36] I said, well, probably our friends and family and neighbors, I guess the people that we know. [00:15:41] He said, Maybe, and they might be, and they might eventually be. But the most receptive people at this minute are the people who come to your church every week. They came for a reason why that made total sense to me. Why don't we focus on these people? They came sometimes they came because there's a cris in their life. [00:16:05] They need help. Maybe they're new to the community. They need relationships. Focus on these people. [00:16:13] Is this making sense to us? Now you know why it's important. And members reach out and try to get to know the people in the church, because some of the people in our church family are going through all kinds of stuff, and we could be a blessing to them. [00:16:26] Interesting. I thought that was good advice. Then there's another verse of Scripture, deals with how we live. [00:16:34] Peter talks about it. He says, but in your heart set apart. Christ is Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect. Now, how many know that people aren't going to be asking you a lot of questions. If you're behaving like everybody else, what's different? Nothing. [00:16:59] Now, I'm going to share a thought with you that you may not appreciate, but I think it's important that you understand it. You know, sometimes God allows trials in our lives so that the people around you can watch how you respond to them. [00:17:11] Come on. [00:17:13] Or sometimes God gives you a job and you're the only believer in the place. And I've had people come to me and go, pastor, please pray for me. I'm the only Christian in this place. It's awful. [00:17:23] And I don't really want to pray for them because I don't want them to leave that place. You go, well, why? Because they're the only light bulb and everything else is dark. You're the light. [00:17:37] Little shocking, isn't it? You're the light. [00:17:40] And sometimes when you're working in a place where there's a whole bunch of Christians and some of the Christians aren't behaving the way they should be, they're a hindrance to the sharing of the gospel. [00:17:49] I've been in those places, too. [00:17:52] I was at a restaurant where some of them were Christians. And you're trying to say that's not how Christian behavior trying to defend them, right? You're trying to share the gospel, but these guys are messing it up. Then I've been in a restaurant and I was cooking and I was the only Christian there. And it was great because I was the only person. I mean, it was a lot harder. The atmosphere wasn't as know, wasn't more as relaxed. But I'm going, I'm it, I'm the light here. [00:18:17] I gotta shine my little light for Jesus because there's a lot of darkness where I'm working right now. [00:18:22] You get more opportunity. [00:18:25] See, when you're in a crisis and you respond in the right way, the people that are having a similar crisis, they're going, how are you handling this? Because I'm not. I mean, they're looking at you and they're going, what's keeping you together? And you can say, Jesus, I'm putting my faith and trust in him. He's the one that's holding my life together. [00:18:44] Really? Yeah, it works. Yeah. I can see know, if you're walking around full of joy and you're happy, all the know, I even jokingly told you about the one night I was cooking in the restaurant and I was having a great time, worshipping God, tears coming down, praising him. All these guys coming out of the bar at two in the morning, having something to eat, and they're looking across the thing and they spent a lot of money to try to drown their sorrows or whatever drug they were on. So they said to the waitress, one guy said, what's he on? [00:19:12] Because what he was basically looking as I want what he's got, and I certainly don't have it. He's got it. What is it? Waitress came up, said, the guy over here wants to know what you're on. I said, go back and tell him I'm on jesus. [00:19:26] It's a great answer. It was the right answer. I was worshiping the Lord. [00:19:32] We need to be prepared to listen, ask open ended questions. We must learn to be gentle and respectful of other people. [00:19:40] Well, what about the pharisees? You know, Jesus wasn't always nice to them, Pastor. He wasn't kind of respectful or gentle. Well, I got to just make this little point. See, a lot of times we have an all or nothing attitude. But listen, the tragedy in their situation was that they thought they were serving God in the process, but the truth was that they were serving themselves under the disguise of being God's servants. And what Jesus was doing was exposing them. [00:20:05] See what you know, you go, yeah, I'm supposed to be kind and gentle. That's true. But it's nothing wrong with exposing people to know. Sometimes you got to correct people and say, hey, you guys are saying you're Christian, but you're behaving like, you're not a Christian. I've actually said that to people. [00:20:25] That makes them think if they know anything about the Bible, they'll realize they need to smarten up, right? [00:20:33] What was significant about their answer? [00:20:36] They said to you know, they said, Where are you staying, Rabbi? Where are you staying? They were requesting not where Jesus was living. He probably wasn't even living there. He was just staying somewhere. They wanted to know, we want to just spend time with you. We just want to get to know you, Jesus. I mean, if you're the Messiah, we just want to connect with you. That's what they were saying to him. [00:21:02] They probably had a whole bunch of questions. [00:21:05] And I think a lot of times we have a bunch of questions, and I believe that there's a messianic hope, just like they had a macianic hope. But in their case, they were looking for a deliverer to deliver them from the Romans. In our case, we are dealing with life. And many times the things that are happening in our lives, we go, I am no match for what's happening in my life. You ever had those moments in your life going, I'm just no match for this. I need help. I need God's help. [00:21:32] And so we keep searching for this security oftentimes in our relationships with others. Or we may look for this dealing with what? The emptiness or brokenness in our life, in our jobs or our social status or our achievements and our wealth. And I've already said it already earlier here in the message. You and I will never be satisfied with anything but God in our lives. You say, Why is that? Because that's the ultimate reason for life. God designed you. God created you. God created me. He created us in this time zone. He created us in this place. We're here for a reason, and God wants for us to know him. And it's a beautiful thing when we do to be known by God to experience that in our lives, to have hope in our hearts. That even though there's times I don't have an answer, I know who does. And I can fall on my knees and call out to Him. God is at work in people's lives, preparing their hearts for His Son. There was something awakening within the hearts of these people before they came to know Know, god sent a forerunner, John the Baptist. He was preaching. He was awakening something inside of the hearts of people. And now they were ready to respond to Christ. What we need to realize is that there's many people who are receptive to Jesus. [00:22:52] The harvest truly is plentiful. The workers are few. The problem is not that people are not interested, because I think people are searching for the meaning to life. [00:23:03] But sometimes on our side of the equation, we're so consumed with our own affairs, we tend to forget and lose sight of the people. [00:23:12] Without Jesus or lost, we lose sight of the lost condition of the people around us. They are lost. Oh, yeah. They act like they're not lost. They look like they've got it together, but they're in a fog. They have no idea what's going on. They don't understand this world. They don't understand the spiritual ramifications that's happening around them. I'm not suggesting that right now we're totally insensitive to other people, but we need to pray for a new spiritual awareness. I've been praying, God, help me to see people the way you do. Help me to see through your lens. Help me to see people. Jesus said he saw people as helpless, harassed and in need of a shepherd. He saw them as leaderless. He saw them all over the back, 40 straying. They were all over the place. They were in terrible shape. He saw them in this condition. And I look at our society today, I see the rise of all kinds of problems. That's all I hear today. There's this issue and there's this issue and there's this issue and there's this issue. How many are hearing this? It just seems like the problems are multiplying right now. People are so confused, so broken, so hurt. Come on, let's be honest. People are self medicating. People are doing all kinds of stuff. They're trying to deal with the pain in their soul. Listen, people are in terrible shape right now. [00:24:36] And if you don't deal with things in the right way, it's just going to get worse. [00:24:42] That's what's going to happen. And we're seeing it. People are getting worse, not better. And in our society, we think, throw money towards it. Yeah. More money goes in, nothing gets changed. [00:24:54] Oh, there's that problem over there. Like a tree growing. You cut the branch off to get rid of. That what happens when you prune a tree, it grows back even worse. [00:25:06] So the problems are multiplying, guys. But see, John the Baptist says, hey, if it's a spiritual problem. You can't deal with it on a political level. You can't even deal with it on an emotional or psychological level. It's far deeper. It's a spiritual problem. John says, you know what the real root problem? Most of it is sin. And you got to get right to the root. You said, you got to take the action, cut it at its root. There's the real issue. Are we really getting to the heart of the problem? Let me move on. The need to challenge people to discover for Know how to bring people to Jesus. You challenge them to investigate the answer. For Know, Jesus invites people to explore the question. He says, come, you'll see. [00:25:53] He says to them, we just want to know where you live. He said, well, come on, you'll see. And so they went and they saw where he was staying and he spent that day with them. And it was about 04:00 in the afternoon. Now, I believe that this is just a picture. Jesus is just saying, come and follow me and you're going to discover some things. That's what he's telling them. [00:26:12] Now, how many know that you and I cannot effectively influence people from a distance? How many know that's true? You can't just brush past their lives and expect to have a great impact on them. It's not going to work. And here's another thing we need to learn from Jesus. Do you know Jesus didn't concentrate on the multitudes? Does anybody know that? Yeah, he preached to a lot of people, but he didn't concentrate on them. He had people come to Him one on one, and they talked to him and he talked to them. But where did Jesus spend his time? [00:26:44] With the Twelve, primarily, and with the 70. But he focused on his disciples. He focused on a few people, actually. It's really interesting. I remember years ago reading a book by AB Bruce called The Training of the Twelve. And AB Bruce brings out a very interesting premise. He says, do you know when you study the Gospels, all you can come up with is about 33 to 34 days in the life of Jesus? Most of them are focused on the last week of his life. I don't know if you realize that half of the Gospel of John is the last week of his life. That's the focus. [00:27:12] Now what's he doing the rest of the time? He spent three and a half years in his earthly ministry. What was he doing? And AB Bruce's argument is that he's training twelve people because he knows his time is short. He has to leave. He's equipping these men in order for them to lead the church into the future. He understands the intensity of what he's trying to get accomplished here. And folks, can I just say something? Every one of us in this room, we have a shelf life. We better be pouring our life into people. [00:27:40] It's true. We. Do have a shelf life and we better just be focusing in on people and saying, I'm pouring myself into certain few people and we better be pouring them in to the right people because otherwise we're going to put a lot of time and energy and it's going to turn out poorly. But then I always remind myself of the twelve one of them betrayed him. That happened to Jesus. [00:28:00] And the other eleven guys, sometimes they weren't that bright. [00:28:06] I don't know if you noticed that they didn't always pick up what he was laying down. I mean, Jesus says, really? I got to tell this to you again, I got to explain this over again. You guys aren't getting this, come on. [00:28:18] And we go, man, what's wrong with those guys? Those guys are us know? And then they're arguing with Jesus, they're telling them to smarten up. You got it all wrong, Jesus. You go, I wouldn't do that. No, we're just telling God what to do. [00:28:32] Isn't that what they were doing? Of course. [00:28:37] I think we also have to learn from Jesus to be sensitive to those we come across. [00:28:42] We have to zero in. You know, a lot of people today are lonely, I don't know if you know that. And the bigger the city, the lonelier people know a little town, everybody knows everybody and it's kind of hard to do anything without people talking about it. But in a city you can be living in these huge cities and you can feel absolutely alone. [00:29:03] It's actually more scary to walk down a street packed with people and you don't know anybody and you feel all alone. [00:29:11] Wow, do we really know where people are at? I don't think so because I don't think we take time to really spend to just talk to people and listen to people. It's very powerful. No, I love the story Erin McManus tells. He pastors a church in Los Angeles and he's talking about the story of a visitor to his church. A man was on a spiritual journey, had studied Buddhism and the Sikh religion of India, but he had never really seriously considered the message of Jesus. But his brother in law brought him to church on a Sunday and of course McManus said to him, why don't you go talk to your brother in law and see if he's interested in this message about Jesus? And his brother in law came back and said, Nope, not interested. [00:29:53] So McManus said, would you mind if I go over there and talk to him? He says, yeah, go right ahead. So I walked over, he said, McManus says this and he began to tell him that he had just read the entire New Testament that weekend. [00:30:06] Now McManus explains, sometimes I miss the obvious, but I thought that this probably indicated some measure of spiritual openness. He had just read the entire New Testament. He went on to tell me that everything he had read felt true to him and added that the morning message also spoke to him. So I asked him what stood between him and God? And he answered with one word despair. Wow. [00:30:32] This kind of caught me off guard. He said, I'd heard a lot of reasons for not coming to Christ, but I'd never had anyone articulate so clearly what lurks deeply in the heart of human beings who are separated from God. And so I asked, what do you mean by despair? And he went on to explain that if everything he read was true, then the last 40 years of his life had been a waste. [00:30:54] All of a sudden, I understood. Here was a man whose background and religious worldview told him that to fix the problem in his life, he would have to die, be born again and do better in the next life, have to be reincarnated. That was his background. When I explained to him that what was more important than the time he had lost was the time that stood before him, he looked at me and he said, do you mean it's not too late? [00:31:19] And when he understood that Jesus Christ could redeem all the years that he felt were wasted and give him a new life, he surrendered his life to Jesus. [00:31:30] The Gospel is, in essence, a message of hope to a world full of despair. Which leads me to the third point. We have a message of hope. Do you realize we have the greatest message? And it's a hope filled message. [00:31:50] If you're living in despair, your greatest need is hope. [00:31:55] The exciting thing is that God can take us from where we are today and make us into the kind of people we've always wanted to be. Isn't that neat? You know, people give up on themselves. How many say that's true? Do people do that? I think they do. [00:32:10] As much as we try to change. How many know change is a very difficult thing. How many know what I'm talking about? [00:32:17] You want to be different. You want to be better, but it's a struggle, right? Let's be honest about it. [00:32:24] Listen to what Jesus says to Peter. [00:32:27] Andrew, simon Peter's brother. Of course, Andrew is a very small player in the story. [00:32:34] Or is he? Andrew Simon, Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. So the two disciples of John that followed Jesus that day, one of them was Andrew, and his brother happened to be Peter. [00:32:48] It says, the first thing that Andrew did was find his brother Simon and tell him, we have found the Messiah. That is the christ. Here's a guy that this is what we've been looking for all of our life, Peter, and we found him. [00:33:02] Now, how many know that got Peter's attention, right? Hey, if you're looking for something all your life, somebody come up to you and know you're their relative. And you know what's going on in their life. You say, there's an answer for what you've been looking for all your life. You got to check this out. [00:33:18] You know, if you're desperate enough, you're going to check it out. Look what happens. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looked at him and he said, you're Simon, son of John, you're going to be called Cephas, which, when translated, is Peter. What does Jesus do? He looks at him and he says, this is who you are. This is what you're going to become. How many? Go, this is amazing. [00:33:39] If you knew that you could have a reset button to start your life all over again, how many of you would hit it? [00:33:46] Yeah, but I want to say something to you. You can hit it. You can reset from this day forward, because everything that happened, your life is a culmination of all the decisions you're making. I don't know if you know that, and if you don't like where you're at today, you need to stop and say, what decisions have brought me to this place and what decisions will lead me away from this place? [00:34:10] Because decisions are going to determine what's going to happen in your future. It's very powerful. [00:34:16] Now you know what the nature of the good News is. First of all, we want to share with those who we care about. When the longings of our heart have been touched by Jesus, we're motivated for within to bring those we love to him. That should be the cry of our heart, lord, I want to see this person come into your kingdom now. If they're not open right now, don't give up. Just keep praying. Prayer is very powerful. [00:34:41] Sometimes the people that have the hardest time responding are those that are full of themselves and they're very self sufficient. But, you know, God can bankrupt them so fast their heads will be spinning. You go, I'm praying for that. Well, you might be. You don't know it, but what would you rather? Have them get everything they ever wanted in life and spend eternity in hell, or to have their lives disrupted in life and have eternity in heaven because they came to Jesus? I would choose the latter. I would have no problem. I'd say, yeah, god, if you have to send something in to mess them up for a bit, spin the head around and turn them right side up. Go. For know, hope is about giving us a new future by changing us, by changing our future. I like what Meryl Tenney says. Simon was hot tempered, vindictive, volatile and violent in action. Jesus predicted a change in his unsteady personality. You are, but you will be. I love that. [00:35:38] How many today need to hear these wonderful words of hope? [00:35:44] Jesus is here to change what we are and to shape us into what we ought to be, what we long to be. What we need to be and out of a wavering. Simon, he made a stable and rock like Cephas. Isn't that amazing? [00:35:58] He's in the changing business. [00:36:01] I can just imagine years later when Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, the Bible says, and Peter stood up with the eleven. Remember that? The eleven stood up and Peter spoke. His brother was right next to him. His brother was Andrew. I can't imagine how Andrew felt. And he said, wow, it's amazing. We've been hanging out with Jesus for three and a half years, and Peter isn't even the same guy. And look what he's doing now. He's preaching and thousands are responding. Do you think these guys had any idea what was about to happen in their life? Because Jesus came into amazing. [00:36:32] You know, none of us can foresee when he brings a man, woman or child to Jesus what Jesus will make of that person. You have no idea what God's going to know. The sad part today is that we're trying to change what is symptomatic rather than address the real root issues, not only in our society, but in our lives. We've got to get to the heart of the problem. It's about sin. We got to deal with it. [00:36:56] And here's the problem. We're asking people to change when it's impossible for them to change. What do you mean, pastor? Well, let me just remind us of something from Paul's writing to the Ephesians. He says, you know, as for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. As for you, you were past tense. You were what dead. Dead means disconnected, not having any life, right? There's physical death, which is separation of soul and body, but there's spiritual death. When we're disconnected from God, then what happens, he says, in which you used to live. When you follow the ways of this culture, this society, the value systems, the mores the things that people are embracing right now. You used to be there. And he says, and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work, and those who are disobedient. You know, when people tell me, yeah, I can just do anything I want, I go, no, you can't. If you're not a Christian, you're not doing what you want. You're doing what your sinful nature is dictating for you to do. You have an authority in your life. It's not even your own. You're following the prince of the air, who's the spirit that's now at work, and those who are what? Disobedient. Disobedient to whom? To God. [00:38:02] Our planet is in revolt and in rebellion against the ultimate authority, god himself. [00:38:09] A lot of people are in revolt against God. He said all of us. All of us means all of us. This is universal. This is a universal problem. He's saying, you lived among them at one time. You did the same thing, gratifying the cravings of your sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. And like the rest, we were by nature objects of God's wrath. We were going to be judged. But God, who is rich in mercy, he showed us grace. What an amazing thing. But this is the part I want you to get. [00:38:39] Dead people don't save themselves. [00:38:43] How many? That's true. What can a dead person do for themselves? What's the right answer? [00:38:50] Nothing. It takes the supernatural power to change the hearts of people. You see, when you're dead in trespasses and sin, you need the spirit of God to come into you, to raise you from spiritual death. And that's what Paul writes in chapter one when he says, the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you know, think about what baptism symbolizes and represents. You go into the waters of baptism, that means you're dying. The old man is now dead. And when you come out of the water, you've been raised to new life. There's a new power in you. What a beautiful thing. [00:39:30] Anything less to try to change people is just making the problem worse. How is that so? Our culture is busy. Oh, they're doing everything to solve these problems. I'm going, well, knock yourself out, guys, because ultimately it's not going to change people. Ultimately, what really changes people is the work of God's grace in our souls. We need the Spirit of God. Let me go to the final one. We need to challenge people to a life of commitment. Do you know Jesus is still calling us? Day by day he's telling us, put your trust in me. Obey me, follow me. The next day, Jesus decides to leave for Galilee, finding Philip. He said, Come, follow me. You know, I don't like the name Christian. I think it's overused. Actually, in my discipleship class, I point out something. The term Christian was only used three times. In the New Testament, disciple is used over 300 times. Okay, what's a disciple? A disciple is a follower. I like following because it's a verb. I think we need to keep following. I think this idea, well, I'm a Christian. I gave my life to Jesus 30 years ago, but I stopped following 20 years ago. Am I following? The question is, am I still following? We need to keep following. Are we getting a picture? I'm a follower. I'm a follower. I'm a continuous, lifelong learner about Jesus. I'm walking with him. I'm growing. I'm changing, I'm developing. [00:40:52] Well, guess what? Philip's a resident of Bethesda along with Andrew and Peter, and these guys are fishermen. And so he runs up. He's got a friend. His name is Nathaniel. I love these guys. How many are catching on? Jesus isn't calling all of these guys. They're calling each other to Jesus. Anybody picking that up? You see, the ultimate reason for life is not just knowing Jesus. It's helping other people know Jesus. You see what's going on and by the way, if you're bored in your Christian life, let me ask you one big question. [00:41:28] How closely are you following? And number two, who are you sharing this life with? You see, if we're helping other people get to know Jesus and they're getting to know Jesus, believe me, it's not boring, it's exciting. [00:41:42] Verse 45, it says, Philip found nathaniel told him, we found the one Moses wrote about in the law, about whom the prophets also wrote Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. He's just basically saying there's a text in Deuteronomy that talks about the Messiah there. He said we found him. [00:41:57] But when he used the word Nazareth, it triggered something inside of Nathaniel. He says nazareth. He says, can any good thing come from know? By the way, I don't know if you know this, but the Galileans, they caused a lot of grief. They're the ones that precipitated the first Roman revolt. It all came out of Galilee. There was a lot of false preachers out in Galilee. So Jesus was seen sometimes in that light by a lot of, you know, these guys were all from Galilee, but Nathaniel was from because, you know, sometimes these little towns have rivalries. He goes. Man nazareth? Are you kidding? Those backwood know probably thinking and how many know? It's really sad when we miss the truth because we allow the blinders of prejudice to keep us from it. At least Nathaniel was wise enough to check it out. And I love the way Philip handles him. He copies Jesus. He says, well, you ought to come and see. He's taking a line right out of hey, you know, don't knock it till you tried know Patty's. One of her favorite verses is taste and see that the Lord is good. If you haven't tried it, don't knock it. You have no idea what you're missing. Okay, check it out. And he did. He checked it out. But when he showed up, guess what happens? Jesus sees him coming and he says, truly, here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. And he said what? How do you know me? He said, Well, I saw you when you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you. How many know that kind of blew him away because first of all, Jesus wasn't with Philip. He was sitting under a fig tree when Philip showed up. And I think I know what he was doing. He was praying. He said, I saw you. So who does Jesus say he is? He's telling him, hey, I'm more than what you think. [00:43:44] And notice his response, rabbi, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel. That's a great proclamation. [00:43:52] I mean, obviously it took supernatural insight to see all of that and he recognized that. Then Jesus said, you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You're going to see greater things than that. Wow. [00:44:04] Rarely, truly. I tell you, you're going to see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man. Now he's alluding to something. There's a story in the Bible all the way in Genesis that talks about Jacob, who, when he was running away from his brother, went to sleep in a place he eventually called it Bethel, the House of God, because when he woke up, he had had a dream. And in that dream he saw that ladder coming down from heaven. He saw angels ascending and descending. Wow. And what's Jesus saying to him? He said, Listen, you're going to see heaven open. You're going to see things that you can't believe. As a matter of fact, D. A. Carson says he's promising them heaven sent confirmation that the one that they had acknowledged as Messiah had been appointed by God. [00:44:47] Do you know when the first miracle happened in the story in the Gospels? It was in a little town called What Cana of Galilee, Nathaniel's hometown. Jesus shows up for a wedding and what does he do? He turns water into wine. And everybody knew what was going on. His disciples saw that miracle. [00:45:06] Wow. Isn't that amazing? [00:45:07] Wow, that's great. [00:45:11] Number of years ago I'm going to close a service this morning. I was in seminary. [00:45:17] Actually, I spent 20 years in seminary. Not the cemetery, but seminary, seminary pastoring all along taking courses, two decades worth. But over those years I got to have amazing instructors. One of them was Dr. Leith Anderson. Some of you probably don't even know who he is, but eventually he went on to be the National Association of Evangelicals, the president in the United States. Of all the evangelicals. Very beautiful guy, liked him. [00:45:49] And he said he shared a story. He had a chapel service. This was away from class. We had a chapel service. And he was sharing in chapel service. I don't remember the whole sermon, but I remember his concluding story because it really you ever have those moments where AHA moment, this really hit home. He said he was on a trip to Zaire and he was traveling in a jeep across a very desolate area of the country. And there was a young woman that was traveling, driving him, and she was the missionary's daughter. And she began telling him what had recently occurred at their missions conference. And he said during that conference, many people arose and they shared about God's grace and how it changed their lives. And then she's finally an old gentleman, I mean, this guy looked close to being closing in on 100. He was ancient, and he told a secret that had haunted him for many years. He said that it didn't matter if people found out now because everybody that was involved in was dead. He was the last one to know the secret, and he was about to die anyways. And he told that when the first missionaries arrived to the Congo. That was its previous name, Sayer. [00:46:49] He said the tribal people were very suspicious of these missionaries, and when they heard the story of Jesus and about eternal life, they decided to slowly start poisoning these guys. They poisoned their food. [00:47:02] Missionaries and their families started dying. No sooner did the missionaries and their families died, then other missionaries came and replaced them and they started poisoning them slowly, and they died. And the missionaries never knew why there was such a high attrition rate there. [00:47:18] But as these people watched how these people gave their lives for what they believe and watched how they died while continuing to put their trust in Christ, they too started coming to faith in Christ. [00:47:29] They figured out that anyone willing to give their lives for what they believed had something worthwhile to give. [00:47:35] And he ended the sermon. Dr. Anderson ended the service. He said, you know, many times we're challenged in our lives to trust Christ. But he said, today, I want to change that challenge. [00:47:47] Can Christ trust you? [00:47:50] And I don't know, sometimes you ever have the Holy Spirit going, can Christ trust me? [00:47:58] That's a challenge, isn't it? [00:48:01] Can Christ trust us? [00:48:05] Let's stand as we close. [00:48:14] Can Christ trust me and you to bring his message of love and hope and grace into the lives of others? [00:48:23] Can he trust you and I to do what needs to be done for our society? [00:48:30] What are we going to say when we enter into heaven? Are we going to have been so enamored with this worldly life? And have we have pursued its pleasures and pastimes and failed to show a concern for other people for their eternal future? [00:48:48] Because really finding the ultimate reason for life, simply knowing Jesus and making him known to others, and just with every head bowed as we close the know so many here this morning, I was thinking about this. How many here say, you know what? I look at my life right now and I'm going, man, am I really living for the ultimate reason? Question number one. Number 02:00 a.m I making Jesus known to others by how I live, by what I say, by the focus in my life, through my prayers, through my sharing and caring. [00:49:32] Am I investing and mentoring people right now? Are there people in my life that I'm pouring myself into, people that are open and receptive? [00:49:43] Is that what's happening in my life? [00:49:46] And if it isn't, you're saying, you know what, Pastor, I want to ask God to I want to hit a reset button right now. I want to hit the reset button right now and say, I want to change what I'm doing right now. I want to make different decisions. I want to make the last part of my life so much more meaningful in my life and have an impact in the life of people around me. I want to change the focus and direction of my life right now. That's what repentance is, changing the direction of your life. [00:50:14] And start ask God, who do you want me to mentor? Who do you want me to pour into? Who do you want me to care for? Who should I be sharing and developing and helping them so that they come into an eternity? [00:50:27] Because you don't know who you're going to reach. [00:50:30] You don't know if you're an Andrew right now bringing a Peter to Christ. Look at the change that happened there. Or a barnabas that came alongside of a Saul of Tarsus and helped him become a great leader in the church. You have no idea who you're going to touch. [00:50:45] So how many here today? You say, you know what I want to recalibrate today? I want to hit the reset button. That's me. You're talking. Spirit of God's talking to me right now. That's you? Just raise your hand. Just raise your hands. I'm going to pray for you. [00:51:01] Quite a few. It's good. God's talking to us. [00:51:05] I'll tell you why this message is important, because the fact that you're going to change direction right now, there's going to be people in eternity because of this decision that you're going to pursue this direction. You're changing a direction. That's what real repentance is. It's not just, well, I feel bad. I haven't been doing it. No, it's saying, I am changing the direction of my life. I'm making a decision to move in this direction. It's going to change someone else's life for all of eternity. It's a big deal. It's a big deal. Guys, maybe you're here today, you can lower your hands. Maybe you're here today and you say, you know what? I want to know the ultimate reason for life. And you've been telling me the whole message, it's Jesus, but I don't know him. And I want to I want to experience that transformation. [00:51:51] I don't like where I'm camped in my life right now, but I know that you're telling me that Jesus has the power to change my life, to take me from what I am to what I could be to what God designed me to become. I want to be the person God designed me to become. Maybe that's you today. Just raise your hand and I'm going to pray a prayer for you. Yeah, it's good. People are responding. Beautiful. Okay, let's pray. [00:52:16] That's your last cry, that last part. I don't know. Jesus, let me tell you something. Go to the guest reception area and we'll give you material so you can follow up on that and let us know. Fill out that connect card. Let us know, and we'll help you grow spiritually. That's our job. So let's pray. Father, we thank you this morning. [00:52:39] We thank you this morning. It's all about you. [00:52:42] And when it becomes about you in our lives, we get happy. [00:52:47] We find joy, we find meaning. We find significance, we find purpose. We actually become the person you designed us to be. And I just pray today, Lord, that as people are making major life choices, this is a major life choice, and it moves people to a new direction in their lives. You're going to bring people into our lives where we can mentor them, disciple them, encourage them, bring them to faith in Christ because we're sharing the good news with them, and they'll come to know what the ultimate meaning of life is all about. [00:53:17] We thank you for that, Lord, of the people that we're looking now in future who are going to be in eternity because of today and because of our decision today. In Jesus name, amen. God bless.

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