If you’re following along in the Red Letter Challenge book, the schedule for this week is: Sunday (9/15) – Day 6; Monday – Day 7; Tuesday – Day 8; Wednesday – Day 9; Thursday – Day 10; Friday – Day 11; Saturday – Day 12.
What’s up Hope City? Man, I’m glad to be with you today. I had the privilege to travel to Texas this past week and visit with my mom, two of my sisters, my great aunt and great uncle… But there is no place that I’d rather be than here at Hope City! I’m glad you’re here too! If this is your first Sunday welcome! We exist for you! We’re glad that you’re here, and if there is anything we can do for you, please see anyone of our dream team members, or our staff, and we’d love to help you get more comfortable and connected.
Last week we kicked off our new series the Red Letter Challenge where we have said that it is possible to miss Jesus, or mistake Jesus for a version of Jesus that we see in Culture…
Like, go do a quick google search for Jesus and see what you come up with…
First off you’ve got: Handsome Jesus
Then You’ve Got: Babysitter Jesus
Clearly we have a skewed perspective on who Jesus is… So, for the next 35 days we are going to be investigating Jesus in His own words. And what we’re going to find is that Jesus talked about 5 big ideas… Being, Forgiving, Giving, Serving, Going. Jesus talks about these things, not because he wants something from you… but because He wants something for you. How often have you heard people describe God in negative terms… where He might look a bit like this… Jesus says in John 10:10 that
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.[i]
This sounds a bit different than Jonathan Edwards sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. This sounds like a creator God who knows what his creation needs. It’s almost like the one who knows us better than anyone else says, here’s what would be good for you!
I mean, that sounds pretty good, right? We’re all in search of that these days. We work towards that and on that. We all want to be Happy, and Healthy.
The other day after dinner Tiffany said to me, do you know what we need to do? It’s going to make us healthier. Okay… what’s that? (roll out the Berkey) We need to drink more water. I said, I drink water… I just put it in a machine that makes it hot and adds a bunch of caffeine to it. J Anyone else with me? Let’s hear it for the coffee lovers here.
Well, that wasn’t really the answer she was hoping for, so I bit. I said, well, how much water are you thinking? 80-90 ounces a day! Let me tell you what, that was work! Look at how much 90 ounces is… I’m supposed to be drinking that…. So, over the course of the next 3 hours I did it. And do you know what happened? I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I couldn’t close my eye lids they were floating… I was up 3-4 times that night.
I’m not alone in this though… we all do it. We all have tried different fads, or hobbies, we’ve made different decisions or choices to achieve that Healthy, Happy life that we’re searching for. Let’s talk about FOOD…
Any KETO fans out there? How about Whole 30? Where’s my WHOLE 30 peeps? Or, how about this crew… these guys may just be the most biblical…. How about You Intermittent Fasters? “But Jesus did it.” Yeah, yeah, yeah… If it’s not food choices, we will switch gears to FINANCES.
We do things like “No Spend November”. Somewhere, a husband’s ears just perked up. Or what about, “Target-less Tuesday’s”? Now I’ve got women on the edge of their seats… AHAHAHA. What’s going on here? Well, we’re searching for the happy healthy life, so we are going to double down on saving…
Or, FRIENDSHIPS… We take up certain hobbies and activities to develop relationships with other people. I asked some people on Instagram this week, what was the funniest thing you’ve done to make friends? They said, I joined the Pokémon Club… Another one said, I got really into metal detectors. J
Here’s the deal. Eating healthy is a good thing. Being wise with your finances is a good thing. And working to develop relationships in your life is a good thing. The tension is that “GOOD THINGS BECOME BAD THINGS WHEN WE MAKE THEM GOD THINGS”. Anything in our life that we put in place of God has the potential to quickly become poisonous in our world. Have you ever been let down by Food, Finances, or Friends? Of course, you have. We develop unhealthy relationships with all three of these things when we put them in the wrong place, when they take first place in our life. We aren’t the only people in history to have ever gotten out of alignment. In fact, Jesus talks to His closest friends about this very thing.
In Mark 6, Jesus has a plan and a mission for his friends, for his disciples, or those 12 men who were following Jesus during his time here on earth. He sent them out in pairs and gave them authority to cast out demons, to heal the sick and to preach repentance from sin. He gave them an assignment. Look what happened…
12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. [ii]
They did what Jesus was asking them to do. These 6 teams of men came back after a time and were pretty pumped about everything… Look what happens next in verse 30.
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.[iii]
This is what happens when Tiffany returns from being away. I start rushing to tell her all of the things that I’ve done while she was gone. I watered the plants, I weeded the garden, and I did the laundry, and Oh yeah, I took the trash out too! I’m looking for affirmation, I’m looking for her to SEE what I have DONE for our family, and for her! The apostles were doing the same thing.
“JESUS LOOK AT ME! Look at what we did! WHEW! I NEED A DRINK; WE’VE BEEN SO BUSY!”
Have you ever done that? You know, you drop a few extra things in the email report for your boss to see just how amazing you are…
Look how Jesus responds.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” [iv]
Jesus doesn’t say, oh wow…. Great work my students… If you keep it up, one day you’ll be just like me! He doesn’t say, I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT! He says, COME BE WITH ME… Take a break. Get some rest. I can almost hear Peter say, “BUT JESUS… I’m not done telling my story. You know Peter, he was the loudmouth of the crew. Then you’ve got Luke the DR. who piped up and said, Yeah, Jesus you should have seen this stage 4 leper that we bumped into and healed. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I know… I know… Jesus says, but Come with me, by yourselves and get some rest. COME BE WITH ME.
If you’re taking notes with us this morning, I want you to write this down, Pt. 1 PRODUCTIVITY FOR GOD CAN DISTRACT YOU FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD. The disciples were saying, JESUS look how PRODUCTIVE we were. And Jesus was inviting them into His PRESENCE.
As an Enneagram 3 with a 4 wing, I’m a Performer. I like to get things done, and not only do I want to get things done, I want to be excellent at all I do. But that 4 wing is sneaky… it means that I feel things deeply. I’m a High D I in the Disc Personality Test, and it pushes me towards doing more and pressuring myself to do it with excellence. This is all good, remember Good things become bad things when they become God things. They no longer are good things, when they stop being life giving.
Not long ago, I started getting ancy, I started wondering if I was DOING enough. Things were going well here at church, things were smooth, you know the kind of week when there are no problems, you go out and make a problem just so you can accomplish something? Well, I started hatching a plan to launch a podcast called, Son of A Preacher. I would take my dad’s sermons from Audio Cassette, and record them, and interact with his messages in a way to honor his legacy and help people. Now, this is a good thing. I’ve got over 10 year’s worth of cassette tapes sitting in my closet right now. And I have the ability and the means to do this… but do you know what? There was something unhealthy here. The Enemy was lying to me and telling me that my worth and my value was found in what I could produce.
Have you ever found yourself being distracted from the presence of God simply because you wanted to be productive for God? Maybe you were once told that you needed to earn God’s love, the way you earn a teacher’s favor, or the favor of a boss. Maybe you were told that God is happier with you when you’re busier. This maybe what you were told, or what you were told about Jesus, but what does Jesus say in his own words?
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.[v]
Jesus knows that if they don’t get away from the doing it is going to be detrimental. And the same thing is true for you! This is why Jesus instructs his disciples… and He is saying the same thing to some of you in this room today, PT. 2 DISRUPT DOING BY BEING. This is not only an invitation from Jesus, this is a command from God! This is a sabbath principle. God says in the 10 commandments,
8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work[vi] Exodus 20:8-10
In other words, PT. 2 DISRUPT DOING BY BEING … God knew that human beings would have a propensity for PRODUCTION. And yet, He was saying, I don’t want your production, I want your presence. SPIRITUAL EXHAUSTION STARTS WITH SPIRITUAL EMPTINESS.
Remember our little 90 ounce challenge? Well what happens when you come to the water filter and you’ve not put anything in it? It’s a very simple principle. You won’t get anything out of it if you don’t first put something into it. SO, what do we do? We disrupt our DOING FOR GOD… so we can start BEING WITH GOD.
This is true for any relationship though, not just your relationship with God. Every relationship needs an interruption from the production… Why? Because we are human beings, not human doings. We can’t just run from task to task. We need to be in relationship with one another. This is why CONNECT GROUPS are so important… if you aren’t in a connect group, I want to encourage you, they just started this week, you haven’t missed it. You can jump in this week and be a part of a group. Or, if you didn’t go to your group last week because you were afraid or nervous, let me encourage you to do EVERYTHING YOU CAN to get to your group this week. YOU NEED ONE ANOTHER.
This past Monday was my birthday, and I knew that on Tuesday I would be leaving early to head out to Texas to see my family, and to say goodbye to my great uncle who is in his last days. It was going to be a crazy week, but I got into the office early on Monday morning, got some things done, followed up with Pastor Justin about Glow Night… which by the way, look at this picture how great was glow night? I’m so proud of our student ministry. I’m proud of Justin and Amanda and all they are doing here…. You should be proud of him too! And so, in the midst of the crazy, Tiffany and I knew that we would need to DISRUPT DOING BY BEING and so we made sure we grabbed lunch together, simply to be together. And I’ve got to tell you that it was one of the greatest things that happened that entire day. We laughed harder together than we have in weeks! The kind of gut laughs that bring tears to your eyes… We needed to DISRUPT ALL WE WERE DOING TO SIMPLY BE TOGETHER. There is something that happens when we move from doing to being…
Jesus knew this, and the disciples were about to learn this… When Jesus and his men got to the quiet place, where they were headed, a crowd had already gathered there… a large crowd… Think about why this would happen… THESE PEOPLE RECOGNIZED JESUS. They saw him with their eyes, and they wanted to be with him with their time. Jesus saw them and had compassion on them and started to teach them. And the day went on, and Jesus looked at His disciples and said, let’s feed them… To which they said, that would be impossible! There are too many! And then Jesus said, Hold my Tunic. Watch this. He miraculously fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish. This is amazing, and you should read this for yourself, but I want you to see what happens next…
45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. [vii]
Do you see what Jesus was doing? He was DISRUPTING DOING BY BEING. He was modeling for us, and for his disciples that it was important to be with God, not just do things for God.
47 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed[viii]
Isn’t it ironic that the very people that spent the most time with Jesus couldn’t recognize Jesus? This is a passage of scripture that I could preach an entire series on this, so I’m not trying to get into all of the detail, but rather, take a step back and in light of the entire chapter, in light of the whole story, the bigger narrative, we find that Jesus’ own disciples were in the mode of hustle and bustle… they were in the mindset of I just need to get stuff done… that they completely missed out on a miracle of Jesus. They just witnessed Jesus miracle of multiplication, stretching 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000… and yet, because they were a part of the process of handing it out, they were a part of the DOING… they missed out on the SEEING!
I wonder if it is possible, or if it has happened to you, where you’ve gotten so busy WITH life that you miss out on what God is doing IN your life. Satan would love nothing more than this. If Satan can’t get you to sin he will do everything he can to get you busy. This is the greatest lie that Satan can whisper in your ear. You need to DO more for God to LOVE you more. If you don’t apply the TRUTH of God’s Word to what Satan whispers in your ear, it goes down to your heart and poisons you from the inside out. You start to live a life chasing the next accomplishment for Jesus, rather than simply BEING with Jesus.
Don’t forget, this is coming from your Enneagram 3, performer, perfectionist, highly motivated, highly driven, let’s DO ALL WE CAN DO FOR JESUS, PASTOR. I want to DO things for God. And we should. This is not a pass for you not to serve and give and go. Remember, Jesus talks about those things too… but Listen to me, PT. 3 OUR DOING FLOWS FROM OUR BEING. We can’t do more for Jesus if we haven’t first been with Jesus. I think this is one of the reasons why so many people are SPIRITUALLY EXHAUSTED, because they are SPIRITUALY EMPTY. You haven’t simply been with Jesus.
Dream team… can I talk to you for a second? You need to get to service on Sunday. Yes, you’re serving, I get it… but you need to come to the first service or stay for the second service. It’s important to BE WITH JESUS! The things you do for Jesus come from the time that you’ve spent with Jesus.
One of the greatest evils in our day and age is the theology of Legalism. This is the belief that God can be boiled down to a list of Do’s and Don’ts. God is cold, and dead, and simply a bunch of moral principles to follow. Legalism isolates the law from the God who gave the law. Legalism says just follow these rules and regulations, rather than obey God and honor God because of your personal relationship with God. And yet, Jesus comes and teaches a different way, He represents His Father God, with GRACE AND TRUTH.
And yet there is a version of “Jesus” out there that says, just do this and don’t do that and you’ll be good. Do more and your better. Do less and your worse. Is it possible that this mentality actually can lead us to a place of severe discouragement and depression? Don’t forget the verse we read earlier this morning,
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.[ix]
If Satan can destroy you by making you busy and getting you to believe that the busier you are the more you perform or produce for God, the more that God will love you, he can set you up for the greatest train wreck possible. This is not only destructive to your soul, but also to your mind.
It is no wonder that we have so many followers of Jesus, so many Christians who live in a constant state of depression. Listen, I understand that life is multi-dimensional, your body is multidimensional, you are Chemical, Social, Emotional, and Spiritual. I’m not saying every depressed person just needs to know Jesus and they will be magically fixed, but I am saying that knowing Jesus and resting in His Love and Grace will help every person. Is it possible that we’ve bought into a lie that YOU AREN’T ENOUGH? YOU AREN’T WORTHY! YOU DON’T DESERVE GOD’S LOVE. When your meaning in life is based upon something that you have to earn and defend you will always feel fragile and like a failure. Hoping in the wrong things leaves you feeling HOPELESS!
Paul has 9 words for those accusations… Romans 5:8
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Really, the whole verse is this:
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
There is nothing you need to do to earn God’s love. Listen to me, if you hear me say anything today… GOD DOESN’T WANT YOUR PERFORMANCE HE WANTS YOUR PRESENCE. If you’re tempted to believe the lie that you need to do more to be loved more, today is the day to break that… I pray that this week as you read the red letter challenge each day, as you spend time in your connect group talking about this that the chains of that lie would be broken, and that you would see just how much God desperately loves you.
Can I Challenge you today? After all it is the RED LETTER CHALLENGE… There are a few ways that this week you can increase your BEING with God. One of the first ways is in COMMUNITY. God is found where His people are found. Make it a priority in your life to come to Church. I know that there are any number of different things pulling you on a Sunday morning…. A ton of different things you can be doing, but don’t miss out on being with God and worshiping him with His church. Secondly, find your Connect Group. Get in a life giving group, where you are encouraged and you’re able to discuss with others what you have discovered here…
There is a second way to ensure that you are Being with God, and it is PERSONAL. God is not defined by a building or a place. He is a personal God that is with you wherever you go, and you can connect with Him through his Scripture. Reading the words of God help connect you to the heart of God. The next thing is Prayer. The relationships you value in your life you have regular communication with. You talk with them, text with them, hang out with them. And you watch that relationship grow.
GOD DOESN’T WANT YOUR PERFORMANCE HE WANTS YOUR PRESENCE
This week, I challenge you to step towards being with Jesus… Discover the life-giving pleasure of being in God’s presence. When you’re tempted to DO MORE, BE MORE. When you’re tempted to believe that God couldn’t love you, remember that God already loves you, and it is impossible for him to love you more! Let’s follow the words of Jesus and find time to BE with Jesus.