One Way Home

Well, good morning again. If you don’t know my name by now, it’s been said like seven times this morning. So my name is Khalid James. I have a great honor of serving the church as a director for worship. But my absolute passion and one of my most favorite parts that I get to serve is I get to serve as the leader of the teen ministry in Orlando and shout out to all my teens who are watching online and making all kinds of jokes to tell me about later. But I’m super thrilled. I’m super thrilled to get to have this unique opportunity to get to lead in the youth and Family ministry. It was such an amazing experience being at team camp again this year. And what we’re talking about today is basically the recap of what we talked about from teen camp. Our theme was One Way Home. As you guys probably see on a number of a couple of us who have on our shirts today.

This was our theme. We’re talking about the idea of the one way to be home, to be with Jesus. And I think what better way to start talking about home than to give you guys a glimpse into my home and where I’m from. Normally, whenever I tell people where I’m from, the first thing I usually tell people, I’m like, so look at a map of the Caribbean and then take your index finger and put it somewhere by Puerto Rico. You’re kind of in the general area. My island is only 13 miles long, so if you fly over it someone told me that if you literally spend 20 seconds too long in the air, you will miss the island. It’s that small. But literally, like, if you zoom in and you look here right to the right of Puerto Rico, that small island right there, that’s St. Croix. That’s where I’m from, this small little bit of island. And just to give you, like, a quick pick, like, this is like a shot. This was two minutes of a walk from my house. I literally walked right from behind my house up to the hill.

And literally, this was outlooking over the east town in St. Croix. It’s called Christianstead. And this is the harbor where a lot of tourists come and stuff like that. But this was Tara and Chandler were there. They know. But it’s such a beautiful outlook. But my favorite part of St. Croix is on the west end. This is on the west beach. This is near the town called Frederickstead, which is the town that I grew up in mostly. And I mean, basically our entire week was school, grandma’s house on Saturday and then the beach on Sunday. That consisted like, our entire week. So the beach was my favorite place to go. Still is my favorite place to go. And I’m kind of thinking of, like, for me, I grew up in a household. I have both my parents. I had my mom and my dad. And then those are both of my sisters. My oldest sister. If you’ve ever seen me showing pictures of my niece, that’s her child, but I take it that’s my child, too. When I’m around, that’s my child. And then that’s my baby sister on the right. She’s not a baby anymore. She’s 25.

But I love just being able to just share just bits of my home. You guys have known me. If, you know, I’m on the phone, my roommates can tell you. If you’ve been on the phone with my family for maybe 5-10 minutes, you get quite a snapshot of my accent, like, really thick. And so it takes me, like, about a day to get out of it, which I’m fine with, but I just love just being able to kind of share the idea of my home because I think that for what we’re talking about today, like, talking about what the topic of one way home is, I think we have to start with asking ourselves the question, what is home? So we have to kind of, like, define this idea of home. And it means many different things for many different people. I think that home can mean a physical place. You can ask like, Eddie, I’m usually here at the building a lot. My home address is sometimes 2400 South Golden Rod. I’m here all the time. I’m surprised there’s not a bed for me somewhere. There’s a shower. Thanks. Yeah. So I can shower, but I can’t sleep.

I can sleep on the floor. It’s fine. But home is sometimes defined as people sometimes define home as a physical building. Even, like, with the picture like with my family, I think of home sometimes as, like, being around the people who love you and care for you unconditionally. And I know for you with some of you guys, I asked a couple of people, and they said a place that we can rest and refuel, a place where I can put my head down after a long day. But this was the one that I love the most, is that it’s a place where they feel the safest. And I love that that’s just, like, their description of what home is like. Because I think that there’s a lot that we’ll be able to dive into today. Talking from our Scripture that I think that I want to define home the way that God had intended it for us. So if you have your Bible, we’re going to be reading in Genesis, chapter two. I think what better way than to figure out what it is? What does God describe as home than to go very back to the very first instance of God making a home for us?

So reading in Genesis, chapter two, make sure I get my right Bible. Gosh. I have, like, five Bibles open. There we go. In Genesis chapter two, starting in verse five. I’m sorry for my words on the screen, but follow along with me as I read. It says, now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth, and no plant had yet sprung up for the Lord. God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground. But streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And the man became a living being. Now, the Lord God had planted a garden in the east in Eden, and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground. Trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of a garden with a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowing from the garden, a river watering the garden flowed from Eden. From there, it was separated into four head waters. The name of the first is the Pishon. It waters through the entire land of Havilah where there is gold. The gold of that land is good. Aromatic resin and onyx are also there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It winds through the entire land of Kush. The name of the third river is the Tigris. It runs along the sides of the Asher. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. So this is an amazing description. I think this is the description of the way that God had described, like, making a home someplace that is like this amazing refuge. Just like a place where everyone can just feel at home, feel that you can rest yourselves, feel like you can be taken care of. I think we have to look at a couple of different things that God describes in the garden. The first thing that he says is that streams from the earth came up from and watered the entire ground.

You ever see those little pools of groundwater that sometimes come up from the ground? Imagine that, but, like, watering everything. In Florida, we just call that flooding. But this is the way that God has said he wanted streams to water the entire ground. The second thing I love is that this is the place that he chose to put man. Man, who he formed in his own image, breathed his breath into his lungs to be able to give him life. This is the place where he had put man. And this is where he wanted man to live. One of the third things I love is that there were trees everywhere. They were everywhere. There were trees that were for food, trees you could just look at. I mean, I can imagine Adam just standing there like nice, just enjoying, just looking at some of the trees. But then this is the one that kind of blows my mind a little bit is that there’s one river that watered the entire garden that flowed and watered many different lands. The first one, like he said, is like, with the Pishon. This one watered the entire land of Havilah, and it’s described as a land that is full of gold, aromatic resin, and onyx.

I haven’t seen a land that has gold like, sweet smelling resin and onyx. That’s insane to think about. The second one, he says, is that it waters the land of Kush, which is somewhere from between Ethiopia to Egypt. I was researching, and scholars can’t decide where that land, specifically that kingdom specifically resided, but it watered a really nice civilization that tied into the Nile River at a later point in civilization. And then the Tigris and the Euphrates are two rivers that circled around an area known as Mesopotamia. You might have heard of that land. It was part of what was known as the Fertile Crescent. It was one of the most lush parts that ever existed of civilization. And just thinking that this one river that flowed out of the Garden of Eden watered all of these lands. That must have been a nice, powerful river. Look at all of those. That’s the description of the home that God had made for Adam and Eve from the very beginning. And then here’s one of my favorite parts. If you look down in chapter two and verse 25, this is my favorite part that he describes how Adam and Eve lived in the garden is that Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

They were created with no shame. They had nothing to be ashamed. They had nothing on them, but they were unashamed of the way that they were made. Anybody in here can say that they’ve lived a life without any shame? No. Right? I can’t say it either. I have a life full of shame. I have a life that’s full of regretful decisions and things that I wish that I didn’t do, but amen. I am where I am, and that’s okay. But I think that there was a lot of points in my time growing up as a kid that I didn’t trust God, and that because of not trusting, trusting in God, I made a lot of decisions that literally just were the complete opposite of the way that God had intended us to live and the way that he wanted me to live. And that led me astray in several different ways, and Adam and Eve were no different. And later on, when you read in chapter three, as a lot of us know, right after it’s described, like, this amazing place, right in chapter three, it literally says, the fall of man is the heading of the next chapter.

And the thing that’s really just what I think is just, again, as we want to look at this really quick, and they will lead astray by the one thing that God told them not to do, if I was basically to put like an illustration of basically what God was telling them not to do is literally this: do not eat. It’s like a sticky note from God that says do not eat from God, basically. And this is the part that drives me crazy. They had all of the fruit tree. They had all of the food that was available to them in the garden. And God told them there was literally one thing do not touch it. Do not eat it. Don’t even go near it. And in my mind, I’m sometimes thinking, like my logistical mind, I can think if I have 99.99% of something, what’s that .01%? And why don’t I have that? Like, you can have so much of something, but there’s that one little bit that you don’t have, and you’re wondering, Why don’t I have that? I deserve that .01%, don’t I? Like that’s the way that I can think sometimes.

I can think that all the stuff that I’ve been given in my own life up to this point, I can think, Why don’t I have more? Why don’t I have the fullness that I think that I deserve from God and the thing that I love, the thing that’s just mind boggling in chapter three, the serpent literally tells him, he says, For God knows when you eat from this fruit, you will be like Him. So this is what he tells them. So he made Adam and Eve believe that God was holding the .01% from them. So he was making them believe that despite everything that God gave them, he was holding out on them. There was something that God was keeping from them because he wanted to keep it for Himself. And he’s God. If he decided to command that, that’s the end of the conversation. But the serpent led them to believe that God was holding out on them and there was something that they deserve that they should have had to be just like God. And the questions that he asked in the statement he said earlier, he says, Did God really say that?

That’s one of the first things he asked them. When he asked Adam and Eve about the tree, they said, God said, don’t touch this tree. Don’t eat from this tree. And Satan’s reply was did he really say that? That’s his reply. He’s making them doubt, making them question what God has commanded. He says things like, certainly you will not die. You will be like God. He says, you will know good from evil. So he made them buy into this doubt that there was something that God was holding out on them and that he wanted and made them believe that they wanted to be exactly like God, not knowing what would happen as a result. I think for me, this idea of wanting something more happens in our own lives every single day. There’s always something that we’re sometimes craving more of. There’s always something we’re desiring more of. I’ll give you a couple of examples, and a couple of these apply to me. I think one of the things that even I can personally struggle with is, like, why am I not married? Why don’t I have a significant other? Why don’t I have kids at this point? I can struggle with thinking that who I am is not enough, and I need to have that significant other in order to feel complete. I can think of my 2003 Honda Pilot that I drive outside with, like, 210,000 miles. So many of the teens and campus have rode in this car over the last three years, and I love that thing to death, but I can catch myself in those moments while I’m driving, and I see a nicer car on the road, and I’m just like, why don’t I have that car? So you see where I’m going with this. It’s like, we can lead ourselves, but even with what we have, we see something else, and then all of a sudden we’re convinced that I want what they have or I want something better than what I have. Some of the other things, we can get convinced of. I know most of the adults in this room can relate. We think we don’t have enough money. I know I struggle with this. I think that, why don’t I have my own house? I struggle with these things a lot. I can even share a personal story.

Like I shared, I started working for the ministry back in October of last year. That was when I left my full time job at Sam Ash Music. It was a music retail store that I had worked in for eight years. And I built up a great rapport with so many customers, with so many of my coworkers and stuff. And I started working for the ministry in 2020, working part time. So I had two jobs going on at the same time. I clocked out of Sam Ash and I clocked into teen ministry is usually how my weeks went. And eventually I got, like, an increase so that I could actually lead more in the worship aspect so that I could actually help in terms of music and helping with Sunday services. Many of you guys know I used to travel to the south sector and I used to help with that. So at that point, when I was making most of the money, I was like, I’m balling. I was like, I got money, I’m balling, I got some funds. I’m doing good. So I had convinced myself that, man, I’m doing good. I’m earning exactly what I deserve.

And then the challenge came when I got asked to go into the ministry full time. And for the first couple of months, it was like, okay, yeah, I’m good. And then I think around maybe March of this year, I had a really hard moment where I was literally thinking to myself, I’m like, I don’t get paid enough to do this. And I don’t mean that in a funny way. I mean that I genuinely thinking that the Orlando church doesn’t pay me enough. I was in that mindset of really being selfish and thinking that what I was making was not sufficient for me. What I was making was not sufficient for what I want from my life. And I think that, I had to confess this and I had to share with some of the ministers in the church and I had to tell them about this because I was like in some cases I think that maybe I convince myself that even if I tell them that maybe it shouldn’t sound so bad, maybe they’ll pay me more. But I got challenged and I’m like what are you actually doing with the money that you’re given?

Like what am I actually doing with the money that I’ve been given? Especially blessed by you guys without whom I would not have a job. And I think what am I doing with what God has given me through that? And I think that if any of these things apply to you or if none of these things apply to you there is something in your life that you think you don’t have enough of. There’s something in your life that Satan has convinced you that you don’t have enough of. And that is where that separation of that’s where that separation of God and man happen. Adam and Eve were convinced that they didn’t have enough that having everything they did was not enough. They needed to be God. And what happened? They lost everything. They lost everything. They got cast out of the garden. So sometimes you think to ourselves and just like man, I wish we could have been living in the garden. Can you imagine living in the Garden of Eden with everybody here and everyone in the entire world? That would be incredible. But we can’t and we never will again. We can never go back to the garden.

And this was as a result of us wanting more. But the thing that I love about this as we continue to talk about this is that that wasn’t the end of the story. Leaving home and losing our home wasn’t the end of the story because God had intended to help get us back home and he did that many times. There are many instances in the Bible you can see from thinking of the story of moving Abraham and his family to Canaan freeing the Israelites from slavery and giving them an exodus from Egypt. Thinking of returning the Israelites when they were in exile from Babylon and literally returning them back to Jerusalem so that they could be home in their home. So, it’s not that God has not made several attempts to help to bring us back home but nothing was working in the way that he had ordained. But again the story was not complete as of yet. I think the one thing I want us to even believe, whether you’re a Christian or not, whether you’re a disciple or not, if this is your first time visiting or if you’ve been a member of this church for 20 or 50 years, we are all looking for a way home.

All of us are always looking for a way home. But the challenge is, in the world that we live in, there’s so much confusion about what that way home is. Like, how do we get home? I will share another story from my childhood. This is a picture of the west town, the same town I showed you with the beach. This is the west town. This is called Frederickstead. And the thing that I think was always really funny about this town is that there are literally, if you look at a map of this town, there’s four streets going this way and there are four streets going that way. So the walk from one end of the town to the next takes maybe under 15 minutes. So it’s a small town. So to get lost in a town like that when I was a kid was very surprising. I think it was very impressive that I got lost in a town that has eight streets. That’s very impressive. But I think that even today when we think of navigating, just like, even, for example, most kids and people nowadays, when we navigate somewhere, what do we normally use?

We use GPS. Yeah, I heard someone say we normally use GPS. Now I think for some of the people who are not of the GPS generation or who grew into it, anybody remember printing out directions from MapQuest? Yeah, like 15 pages of paper just sitting in your lap and you’re like, frantically looking at the directions and you’re like, okay, that’s good, and you’re ready for the next one. Anybody grew up with paper maps in their glove compartment? I did. I grew up with paper maps on a 13 miles long island. So I don’t know why we had a map for the island. It was 13 miles long. But now this 1 may sound a little mean, but anybody grew up navigating by the stars except Eddie. Hey, I know he did. I’m just kidding. But the thing why I shared this all these different ways that there’s so many different ways that we can find and navigate our way home. For me, like me, we live like about 15 minutes from here on Alafaya, and I can get here one of three ways. I can get her on curry ford on lake under hill, or I can get her on the 408.

It depends on how quick I need to get here. That usually determines what route I usually take. Now, the thing that’s interesting about that is that I know how to get home mostly without having to navigate whatsoever. Like I can get home without needing to turn on my GPS. I know exactly where I’m going. I know what to see. I know what to look for. I know what streets, I know when to turn. So by my own accord, getting to my home, I know how to get there. But to get to be home with God, there is no multiple ways. There are not multiple streets that you can take to be able to get home. Turn over to John 14. We’re going to be reading, and this is going to be our other text we’re going to be reading out of. So in John 14, chapter one, we’re going to be starting reading in verse one, it says verse six, we’re going to start reading in verse one. So it says, do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. You believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not so what I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know the way you’re going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and has seen Him. So this literally just this kind of just kind of shuts down the argument. This kind of shuts down the conversation. And the thing that I laughed about when I was reading this is that it says that my Father’s house has many rooms. I live in an apartment with two bedrooms and four brothers. So you do the math. And I love my roommates, but thinking of when I’m there, I’m like, man, I can’t wait for my own room in heaven. But I think that what I love about this is that in order to be able to get home, jesus literally says, I am the way, the truth and the life.

Which means, as I said earlier, there’s only one way to get to heaven. There’s only one way to be with God, and that means you have to be with Jesus. But I want to ask you real quick, do we always like that? No, I don’t always like the fact that Jesus is the only way. That means that my way can’t happen. And that’s challenging for me and for a lot of us probably as well can relate to that, because we want our own way. We want our way. We want to feel like my way is good. I want to feel like I accomplished something, that I got there of my own accord. But if we want to get home to be with God, there’s only one way, which means that we have to get out of our own way and follow the one way that Jesus gave us. And I think, again, this is super challenging because this is not only applying to getting to the end of our life and then figuring out that we want to be home with Jesus. It’s not about getting to the end of our life, and then we get to be in heaven with the many rooms that God has.

Being home with God by following Jesus starts today. So it’s not about waiting for some random chance opportunity to do it. You start finding the way home by starting today. And that’s what I want to really be able to challenge everybody with today, as we were challenging our teens with through the entire week, is that you have to be willing to go, you have to be willing to find the one way and start navigating there today. So how do we get there? What do we need? We need a GPS to get to heaven. And I think that again, Jesus is that model GPS. His entire life was literally designated to help show us how we need to live in order to be able to get home to be with God. So how do we do this? It’s like, think of like when you’re navigating directions, you’re Siri telling you, turn left at the stoplight. You normally have something that tells you that, but the Bible is that that helps to give us the directions to get home. So what do we do? I think there were three ones that I really resonated with.

The first one is we need to study Jesus life. As it said here in John 14 six, it says that he is the way, the truth, and the life. So we need to know what Jesus life was like in order to understand how we can live like him. There’s no way that we’ll be able to model our lives after Jesus if we don’t know how he lives. If you’re not spending time in your Bible, you’re not spending your time in your Bible learning about Jesus, then you’re not going to know how to get home. One of the second things that I really loved is that you need to choose to follow Him, because you now know the way. You figured out the way home, but you need to choose to follow that one way. That means saying no to all of the other ways, especially your own way. Especially me thinking of myself, I have to think of my own way, and I have to say no to it all the time. It literally says here in Matthew 16:24, it says, anyone who wants to follow me must deny themselves and take up their cross.

And even I think in Luke, it says as well, you must deny your cross daily in order to be able to follow me to be called my disciples. And I think one of the most important ones that I think we really need to stress is that we need to love how he loved. In John 13:34 it says the greatest command that I give you is to love one another as I have loved you. Can you imagine loving the entire world the way that Jesus loved us? The world would look so different and I think that all people would know how to get home to be with God if we loved them. It starts with us. It starts with us loving people. And we need to follow in this same footsteps with this. And this is how we find our one way home to be with Jesus. Amen.? So as we close, I really wanted to transition it into communion. So we know about the one way home, we know about the way, we know about where we’re going. But I think the thing that I want us to reflect on while we’re taking communion is that Jesus is the one.

As it literally says here on the shirt, it says the way home, but he is the one. So when we’re thinking about all the things that Jesus did throughout his life, all the things that he shared, all the things, people that he healed, all the sinners that he loved, he was the one that paved the entire way. As it says here in 2 Corinthians, it says here in 2 Corinthians five, verse 14 and 15, it says, for Christ the love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So again, this doesn’t say that we will live at a certain point in time for God. This says that we will live, which means that it starts today. That means that it’s like if something is on your heart and you want to know about this one way, talk to somebody who’s here, talk to anybody who brought you to service. Talk to any one of us. I want to be able to be at the end of this life and be able to say that I can go home with God, but I have to start today.

And I would challenge us that we have to start today. So as we reflect on communion, let us remember that the blood of Jesus is what paved this entire way home. The blood of Jesus lay the foundation for the way to get home to be with God. And it’s through Him that we are saved, not by our own merits, not by our own way. Let’s pray for communion. God, thank you so much just for this blessed day that you have ordained for us. Thank you for an opportunity to be able to be here in your fellowship. Thank you that you have just given us away home. God, we are always searching for home. We’re always searching for a place to feel safe, a place to feel that we are with you. But God, it’s not something that we have to wait for. It’s something that I pray that we can take hold of today. God, I just pray that as we take this juice and we take the bread, that we can reflect on Your son Jesus, who paved the way by suffering and dying for us, dying for our sins, for something that we don’t deserve.

We don’t deserve to have someone given up his life for us. But he chose to do so freely. And because he does so, we must die to ourselves as well. God has to take communion, I pray that we can continue to live not for ourselves, but live for the way that you have called us to be. Live for the way that Jesus has called us to be. Thank you so much for this day. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

The Threat of Falling Away

We’ll go ahead and get started with our message today. Really is great to see all of you. Great to be together again today. And thank God for the opportunity. And I hope we don’t take it for granted, because as Marcus prayed, our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine are basically trying to stay alive.

And we get to come and be in the comfort of an air conditioned building. So let’s not take for granted the blessing that we do have. And let’s pray for Tyler’s friend, whose father is passing as well. For those who don’t know me, I’m Eddie Francis, and I’m one of the elders here in the Church, and we’ve been doing a great series on Hebrews. I hope you’re getting a lot out of it.

I hope you’re digging deep and going a little bit deeper. We’re going to talk a little more about that today. And the title of today’s message is The Threat of Falling Away, taking from Hebrews five and six. And it’s one of those messages that we really do need to take to heart because the Bible has it in there for us. It is in the Scriptures.

And this section starts with if you look at Hebrews five, verse eleven, it starts with a phrase that says, we have much more to say about this. You can go to the next slide. There it is. We have much more to say about this. And this is referring to the priesthood of Jesus, which we’ve kind of been moving around a little bit in this section.

And Marcus is going to have much more to say about the priesthood of Jesus this coming Sunday. So look forward to that. We’ll go ahead and read our text for the day and part of what we’ll cover, I’ll forewarn you, will be challenging to hear, but I believe we will end on a very positive and powerful note, a very encouraging note from Hebrew six. So let’s go ahead and get into it.

Hebrews, chapter five, verse eleven. It says, we have much more to say about this, meaning the priesthood of Jesus, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though, by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

The Hebrew writer knows the people that he’s writing to. We’ve heard that. We know the theme of the book is Jesus is better. And we see that theme multiplied in various ways. He’s better than the Old Testament priesthood.

He’s better than Moses, he’s better than the Angels. And Marcus is going to unpack the theme of his priesthood next Sunday. That should be incredible. Our focus today is to talk about the fact that he is giving them pretty stern warnings because he is concerned about where they are spiritually. They’ve drifted.

These are probably disciples, maybe not unlike us in the Orlando Church who have been around a long time. It shocked me yesterday when I thought about my own baptism. It was in 1972 and I’m going to mess with some of you. How many of you weren’t even a thought in your parents mind in 1972? Have mercy.

Look at your young people in this room. I’m sure we got a bunch of online, but it was a long time ago. Part of the challenge when you’ve been around a long time, is that you can start to drift. You can get to a place where this is sort of routine, where you aren’t really as fired up as maybe you once were. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit here.

And if you’re to go to the next slide, I want to read this to you in the English Standard version. It says, about this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. Dull of hearing. Now the word he uses for dull is nothros.

This Greek word nothros, which means sluggish or slothful. But I want to read to you what one commentator, the theologian William Barkley, says about this. It says in Greek, it means slow moving in mind. It means torpid in understanding, and torpid means sluggish or apathetic or listless in understanding. It means dull of hearing.

It means witlessly and senselessly forgetful. Listen to this. It can be used of a person who has the imperceptive and lethargic nature of a stone.

Now think about that. Want you hear that again. To be dull of hearing, this is used of a person who has the imperceptive and lethargic nature of a stone. He is basically telling his friends, you’re as dumb as a rock, you’re as dull as you can be spiritually.

That’s why he’s so concerned about where they are and about them being what God wants them to be. His complaint is that his hearers have been Christians for many years and they’re still babies. They haven’t matured in Christ. And that’s why we’re talking about this today. He says by now some of you, you should be teachers, but you’re not.

You’re not what God wants you to be. And what he’s talking about. We’re not talking about a situation where someone maybe from birth didn’t develop properly. People have no control over that. Like the man in John chapter nine.

You remember the man who was born blind. The disciples said, well, who sinned, this man or his parents? He was born this way. Jesus said nobody sinned, this is for the glory of God.

And so sometimes a situation may occur where you have no control. But what he’s dealing with here are people who refuse to understand, they refuse to do what’s right. No one ever really says, you know what? I’m done growing. I have arrived. I understand everything. I can’t be any more like Jesus than I am today. So I’m just going to stop growing. Nobody does that. But the way this happens is you stop being open to correction.

You stop being open to growing. I did a quick search in Proverbs. There are at least ten different scriptures that talk about the need for correction that we all have. I will tell you a secret. I’m an elder in this Church, but I still have to be corrected.

Ask Lepatic on any given day and she will let you know that Brother Man is pretty cool, but yeah, he messes up quite a bit. We all need to be corrected. We can stop and if we’re not careful, we’ll stop growing in knowledge. We’ll stop growing in our behavior.

I mean, let’s face it, you’ve been around a long time. How many of you have experienced at least one problem since you’ve been in the Church? Okay, we got a lot of honest people. I like that. I’m sure online.

Reggie’s got two hands up and a leg. Yes, these things are going to happen. But you see, if I don’t grow spiritually, I’ll tend to deal with those problems the way I did as a young Christian. I think, well, man, this can’t be God’s Church. People hurt my feelings.

Well, guess what? It’s going to happen again. I hate to tell you, I wish I could say it will always be perfect, but we’ll say more about that in a minute. We need to continue to grow in our knowledge and our biblical knowledge. You have not arrived.

And really, sometimes I think we’re sort of like this next slide here. We’re sort of like this. What do you remember about Peter Pan? What did he say? What was it?

Yes, he didn’t want to grow up. He said, I’ll never grow up. I’ll never grow up. I’ll never grow up. That’s the way some of you have the Peter Pan syndrome.

And that is defined as people who do not want to grow up. People with the body of an adult, but the mind of a child. It describes an adult who is socially immature. And spiritually, guys, we can do that. We can become Peter Pan in the Church.

That’s what he’s telling. He said, you guys are as dumb as a rock. You’re dull. You’re not where you need to be. You’re no longer trying to understand.

Maturity doesn’t just happen. It takes study. It takes effort. You’ve got to give it the time. What happens if we don’t apply ourselves to learning and growing?

Okay, let me just ask a couple of questions. What happens when illness, opposition or financial loss occur in your life? Well, if you’re not growing, then you look at God and say, Well, God, why did you do this to me, and you struggle and you have this attitude. You can become discouraged, you can doubt his love. You can feel like God has abandoned you and moved on to somebody more worthy. And you don’t mature.

What happens when bad things happen at Church? I mean, it still amazes me every now and then when somebody will say, Why came up to you and you didn’t give me a hug. Okay, now, during COVID, we didn’t give tons of hugs anyway. But someone says, you didn’t give me a hug. And I said, well, which side of me did you come up on?

Because if you come up on this side, I can’t see my hand. I have lost peripheral vision in my right eye. So if I ever don’t hug you from the right side, I probably don’t see you. And I’m going to mess with the campus guys for a moment.

Back in my campus days, when I was still playing a lot of basketball, I would have those people who say, So you mean to tell me, Eddie, I can come up on your right side and you won’t see me? I said, Bro, if it takes that for you to beat me, you use that. If you’re that bad that you gotta play on my messed up right eye, then go for it, you know? But it’s the kind of thing where bad things will happen, even in the Church, and you can get disillusioned and you can decide, Well, I’m going to stop coming to Church. I’m going to stop participating.

I won’t be apart. You’re not growing in your behavior when you make that. I’m going to go to the Church across the street. I’ll go to real life, and I’ll tell you a secret. Once you get there, it will have problems because you will have just arrived.

So it will have problems very soon. But what I’m getting at here, guys, is that if we’re not careful, if we’re not growing, if you’re not growing in your knowledge of the word of God, then you also become susceptible to false teachers and leaders. They can come to you saying some really good words, and all of a sudden you’re feeling like, yeah, this is good. This is right. The Bible has tons to say about the need for maturity.

Matthew, chapter 18, verse two. We’re going to read this together. The attitude we need to have is what Jesus talks about here. He says, in calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.

Jesus says, One of the greatest things that we can do is to have a childlike spirit, not a childish spirit. There is a big difference. We have got to retain a humble attitude so that God can illuminate his spirit in our hearts and keep us growing spiritually. We need to wrestle with God’s character so that we can be like him. God gave us this book.

There are 66 books in this book in this big book. He gave us this, next slide, so that, like I said, there will no longer be infants tossed to and fro by the waves. He wants us to grow. He says, So you’ll no longer be in tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. This is not an ideal for just a few heroic Christians.

God expects all of us to mature. He expects all of us to grow. He expects our families to become more and more stable. He expects us to be that stabilizing influence in the community. He expects us to do our part to help advance his cause throughout the world.

That’s what God expects of us. Now there are two different teachings that I’ll hit on briefly hear from Hebrews Five in the next slide. It talks about how there are teachings about the elementary truths. Then they’re also teachings about righteousness. Okay.

And we’re going to take them in reverse order. Let’s talk about teachings about righteousness. Righteousness simply stand for what is right. It’s doing what is right in the eyes of God, as good as judged by God’s character and nature. It’s what every Christian should be known for, is that we believe in doing what’s right.

We live what’s right, and that’s how we live. However, and I thought this was shocking, came across statistics that says over half of those who claim to be followers of Jesus, over half of them answer most moral and ethical questions the same way non believers do. So you have people over half, let’s say 55%. They’ll answer moral and ethical questions away people who are non believers who are living a horrible life outside. Now, what does that mean?

That means immorality sexual morality, usually one of the top ones in those lists of sins. You ask those professing Christians, well, what do you think about immorality? Well, I think it’s okay as long as you love the person or as long as you’re going to get married. We say that. Well, that’s what people in the world say.

Well, what about drug use? Well, I think doing a little drugs here and there is fine as long as you’re not hurting anybody or alcohol abuse. Well, I think it’s okay. I heard a brother just yesterday who was talking to a friend of his who was 20 years old.

He’s about to turn 21, and he said, I am looking forward to when I’m 21 because I’m going to get wasted drunk. People feel like it’s a rite of passage with age. There’s nothing, morality has nothing to do with it. And that’s why the world looks at the Church. And they said, well, we don’t see righteousness, we don’t see it in your behavior, we don’t hear it in your words.

Well, he said, the way to avoid that is what it says on the screen. It says, Solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to discern the difference between good and evil. Guys, when we get into our Bibles, when we’re studying, when we’re praying, when we’re dedicated to learning more about God, God helps us discern the difference between right and wrong. And this is very important. The world needs to see very distinct lives.

Now, what does it mean to grow up? It means giving effort. It means putting in the time, constant use. Now, one of the things I want to mention to you, what I’m not saying is, man, you got to work so hard and you got to bust your butt and you got to figure it all out. I believe God will be with you.

Okay? God gives us the Holy Spirit. John, chapter 7, our theme verse about living water. Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in him would later receive. If you were a child of God, you got God’s spirit.

You don’t have to worry about trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, but you’ve got to put in the effort. You’ve got to decide, I am going to walk with God. I am going to do what’s right. I don’t care if the people around me aren’t doing it. I don’t care what popular opinion is.

I’m going to do what’s right. So you’ve got to make sure you are doing it says, by constant use. Now let’s talk briefly about the elementary teachings. In Hebrews six, verse one, let’s read this together. It says, Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death and the faith in God. Instruction about cleansing rights.

Other translations say baptisms, the laying on hand the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment, and God permitting, we will do so. Talks about several errors. These are all basic doctrines. These are things that you should believe as a follower of Jesus. These should make up your foundation upon which God continues to build.

He says, Repentance from acts that leads to death. Repentance is the Greek word Metanoia, which means to change. It’s a change of mind. It’s a change of mind about your life, about God, about all that you do in life and other men. So it’s a change of mind, faith in God.

Hebrews eleven says, without faith it’s impossible to please God. You got to have faith in God. And sometimes I know, even in my own life when I’m really struggling with God, I have to come back to this and say, okay, do I still believe? Okay, do I still believe? Because that’s the way I started was with faith.

You gotta have faith. He talks about instruction about ceremonial washings, or baptism. Baptism is one of the big tenets of the faith in Ephesians chapter four. It says, there’s one God and one Spirit, just as you recall the one faith when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all is over all and through all and in all. Baptism is right in there.

And I know in our world, people want to say, well, baptism is not that important. Well, no, God said it is. God is in that list, and the Spirit is in that list. And we don’t write those parts out of it, but we want to do it with baptism. You got to understand baptism.

He talks about the laying on of hands. Laying on of hands. I thought of at least three different ways this occurs. There’s the transference of guilt in the Old Testament, the priest would lay his hands on the goat that they would release into the wilderness with the sin of the people.

There would be that kind of laying on hands. They would be laying on of hands of father, passing on blessings to his kids, Jacob with Joseph and that kind of thing. Then there’s also the situations where people would be called to a responsibility in Acts when they would send out the mission team, they would lay hands on them. Those are just some examples of this laying on of hands idea. And the other two resurrection of the dead.

There will be a resurrection of the dead. There will be a resurrection of the dead. And I always love Marcus’s statement. He says, our best days are where? Right in front of us, they’re coming. But the cool part about the resurrection is that our truly best days will be after this life is done.

There’s no more war, no more pain, no more Ukraine and Russia situations, no more crazy leaders out there. And we need to pray for Vladimir Putin, whether you like what he’s doing or not. The Bible says, pray for our leaders. We need to pray for this man, pray for Zelensky, pray for Biden, pray for all the other world leaders in this whole conflict, there will be a resurrection of the dead, something we look forward to and eternal judgment. Hebrews 9:27 said, it is appointed unto men that I want them after that to face judgment.

We will face judgment, and everybody in here will either spend eternity with God or separated from God. That’s just a fact. That’s not being unkind. We don’t like to look at God that way, but God will make a decision. But you are making the decision now.

We’ll talk about that more in a moment. Now we’re going to get to that kind of the tougher section here. As we get ready to wrap things up and take Communion, we’re going to look over in Hebrews chapter six, start reading it verse four.

And even though there’s controversy surrounding this, this is going to end on, I think, a very positive high note for all of us. Hebrews six, verse four. It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away to be brought back to repentance. To their loss, they are crucifying the son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often fallen on it, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receive the blessing of God.

But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed and in the end will be burned. Now, this is a strong passage because he talks about how it is impossible to bring certain people back. He is talking about people who have sinned to such a degree that they can’t repent. And I know there are some of us here, you can think of someone that has fallen away, who’s not a part of the Church. Maybe in your own life, you know you’re not where you need to be.

And I hope to give you a little bit of clarity about this, because I think there can be some ambiguity that we don’t necessarily need to have about this passage. So let’s try to unpackage them a little bit. There are those that really, genuinely believe that a genuine Christian cannot fall away. Okay? And I’m going to give you the scriptures that they generally will point to.

And you can study these out because I want your leads, the elementary stuff, and go on to maturity. So I’m going to give you some homework here. And also keep in mind, we do have a resource page online with some great articles talking about this idea of falling away. You can get in there, study these things out. But here are some of the passages that people normally use to support the idea that a genuine Christian can’t fall away.

One is John 1027 through 29. These won’t be on your screen, so I’ll give them to you. John 10:27 through 29. That’s the place where Jesus says, My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me.

I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. And so the idea is that okay, if no one can snatch them out of my hand, then the person is secure. But along with that idea, is that okay? Even you can’t snatch yourself out of his hand.

The challenge I have with taking an approach like this is that this verse tells me what an amazing Jesus I have. There are tons of verses that talk about how our Salvation is conditional. It says, if you hold on to the confidence you had at first. You look at John chapter eight, where it says to the Jews they believed in Jesus said, if you hold to my teaching, you’re really my disciples and you know the truth and the truth sets you free. So what if it happens if I don’t hold to his teaching? Well, I think the converse is also true.

There is no other relationship. And with my relationship with Lepatic guys, I am not going to treat her like dirt under my feet and have it be okay. That’s just not how relationships work. But somehow this vers is used to project the idea that okay, it doesn’t matter what I do. I can’t be snatched away.

Another verse is used in Romans chapter 8:31 to 39. That’s the place where it says, what shall we say in response is what’s going to separate me from the love of God? And it’s powerful, neither death nor hardship and all that kind of good stuff. It really is a great passage. But again, that’s about God.

That’s the confidence we can have in God. I know you can’t take away my sight. I don’t have to worry about Chandler if he comes to me and says, you know what, Eddie? I don’t think you’re right with God. You’re not going to heaven.

And I’ll say, who cares what you think, Chandler? I love you, bro. You’re a great song leader, but I don’t care what you think. And sometimes we have put ourselves in the place of God and made decisions for others that God hasn’t made. But this is about the incredible God that we serve.

He says, nothing can separate us from him. Another passage that used is Philippians one, verse six, where Paul says, being confident is he who began a good work in you will carry down the completion of the day of Christ. But again, that’s about God. That’s about the incredible God that we serve. Here’s what I’m getting at.

You can look at some of these ways of thought that people have people have tried all sorts of ways to get around this. Some people and this is kind of a last thought. Some people feel like this verse is all about people who got really close. Maybe they studied the Bible, they learned enough of the Scriptures, they learned about God, they learned about Jesus and his death. And they got really, really close.

But they never came to a point of genuine faith. That’s another angle that people use to try to understand this verse here in Hebrew six. Problem I have with that one is that if you never really made it, how do you know that you ever really made it? In other words, I may go before God on the day of judgment and say, you know what, Eddie? You came really close.

Sorry you get to go that way. But my Bible says in 1 John chapter five, I write these things to you so that you may know you have eternal life. Guys, you won’t convince anybody else to come be miserable with you in Church if you’re not even sure of where you stand with God. God wants you to be sure of where you stand, and we can be sure.

Here’s the way I think you ought to look at Hebrews chapter six, verse four. Let me just say this on the front end. If you’re still in the land of living, there’s hope. If someone close to you isn’t where you want them to be. Instead of using the word fall away, maybe we should use the word wander away. That’s what it talks about in James chapter five.

It talks about people who wander away. Some people may be drifting, but when you reach the point that he’s talking about here, this is a point of no return. That’s why he’s talking to them about it. I believe he looks at them and he sees that you’re drifting dangerously close. And I love you too much to not tell you the truth.

So here’s the way I look at Hebrews chapter six, verse four. It talks here, and I learned something about that I learned in the Athens Institute of Ministry is that unless you have a reason to look at a scripture differently than what it says at face value, then you take it at face value. Now, we understand that some of the Bible is historical, some is allegorical, and some of it is poetry. And so you have to keep that in mind. The Bible says, My wife’s eyes are as beautiful as deer on a sunny morning.

My wife ain’t a deer, all right, she ain’t a deer. You don’t read it that way. You don’t take that literally. It’s poetry. Here’s the way I look at Hebrew six.

Here’s what it says about these people. These are people who have once been enlightened. These have tasted the heavenly gift. They share it in the Holy Spirit. They’ve tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age.

These are people who are Christians. These are Christians. These are people who have been right with God, and now they have reached that place of no return. I really believe with all my heart there is a place of no return. How do you know if you’re there?

Sometimes people will say, well, look, I know people have fallen away and they’ve come back. How can they be sure of their Salvation in light of this scripture? How can they be sure that they are right with God? I believe probably a better way to look at it in the NIV kind of messes up with that version of the Bible messes up.

When we use the term fall away, we probably should use the term drift away or wander away. Because there’s hope if you drift or you wander. There’s no hope when you fall away. There’s a very big difference. And I really think that the real key here is if you’re still in the land of the living, there’s hope. Okay, if you’re still here, keep praying for those that you’re close to who aren’t where you want them to be.

Perhaps right now they’re just in that drifting state, but there is a point of no return. Second, Thessalonians chapter one, reading verses eleven and twelve, it talks there about how people can so reject the truth and so reject the truth that the Bible says they eventually start believing a lie. And then the scripture says God will send a powerful delusion so that they’ll believe a lie. And it’s like, okay, I don’t like to look at God that way. I don’t think God is this mean person who would do that.

Well, you’re already condemned because you’re not accepting the truth. And so there’s some little things that you can do to ensure yourself. What are you like when someone tries to confront you with truth? Are you willing to listen? I think if you’re willing to listen, there is still hope for you.

And so I want to close with this very encouraging part of this passage. Look at verse nine of Hebrew six.

Listen to what he says. He says, Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case. The things that have to do with Salvation. God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you are showing him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

We want each of you to show the same diligence to the very end so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who, through faith and patience, inherit what has been promised. The Hebrew writer looks at his friends and he says, Guys, I am convinced of better things for you. I really am. He calls them beloved.

He uses dear friends a very endearing term. It’s almost like he’s saying, it’s almost like a parent who has to spank their kids. Your parents say, okay, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. Some of you all said that and you knew better, but anyway, but it’s almost like he’s saying, I know I’ve just said some really hard stuff. I know you’ve been drifting.

I’m worried about whether you’re going to make it. You’re on a bad slide down a bad slope. You’re headed in a direction that’s not going to be healthy. And guys, if you don’t stop what’s going on, you’re going to reach a point where there will be no coming back. But I love you too much to not tell you that.

Just like Jesus said with the rich young man in Mark 10:21, he said Jesus looked at him and loved him. And he proceeded to say the hardest thing in the world to him. He said, Guys, I love you too much to not tell you the truth. He said, but you know what? You’re good people.

You’re helping God’s people. You’re serving others. It’s sort of like what John had, I think, to say in Revelation. He said, I know your deeds. You’re doing some good stuff, but you’ve missed out here.

You’ve lost your first love. He kept pointing it out. I think that’s a lot of what he’s getting at. He said, You’ve got some good stuff going on. We are an incredible Church.

I love this Church. Look around the room. I didn’t grow up in a Church like this. The Church was black that I grew up in, and I get to College and I go to us, and all of a sudden I’m going to a Church that only recently has started to be integrated. And that’s all I’ve known.

And I thought, this is great. This is the way it ought to be. The Church is incredible. We are an incredible Church. Some of you are so giving, so loving.

We ask for volunteers. You’re the first to get in line. We ask people to give for the missions offering, and you start saving your pennies a year in advance. I know some of you to give every week probably. There are a lot of good things, and that’s what he’s saying.

You got some good stuff going, but you’re on a slide in a bad direction and you’ve got to stop. You’ve got to get where you need to. Guys, being in the Church sometimes can be a little dry. Maybe the singer is not doing it for you. Maybe the sermon is not doing a lot for you.

Maybe people aren’t treating you quite the way you want to be treated. You have either two choices. You can sort of give up. You can give up. You can stop coming to Church, which is what he’s warning them about.

You can give up on God. You can give up on everything. And if you give up on everything, you will be lost. You will be in that category of those who fallen away and can’t come back. Or you can do what I’ve tried hard to do for many years.

It’s just to hang in there. I mean, sometimes I’ve hung on just by a thread. I’ve been mad at God. Some of you know, I’ve shared my story. I have been mad at God sometimes when he hasn’t allowed something to occur that I thought should happen.

When I felt like I did my part and he didn’t do his part, and I’ve been mad at God, but I still hung on and I kept on doing what’s right. And that would be my encouragement to you. As we segue in the Communion, the Bible says Jesus for the joy set before him. Hebrews chapter twelve endured the cross, scorning his shade and sat down at the right hand of God. Guys hang in there.

I’m saying it as a friend. I’m saying it as a father figure. Or the grandfather figure for some of you as well, hang in there. You’ll make it. Good times are coming.

You’ll make it to safe harbor. But you won’t make it if you quit. So let’s get ready to take Communion. Let’s remember that Jesus for that joy. But that joy was out there.

He says. I’m going to keep going. I’m going to do this.

Worship As Jesus Did

We’re going to make a couple of points about worship and then we’re going to close with Communion. And our theme for the year is living Water, and it’s kind of interesting. I came across a story this past last week that reminded me of why this is such an important theme for us, and I want to share that with you. The story goes like this. It says one day God was looking down at Earth and saw all the evil that was going on.

He decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out. He called one of his best Angels and sent the angel to Earth for a while. When that angel returned, he told God, yes, it’s pretty bad on Earth. 95% is bad and 5% is good. God thought for a moment and he decided, I’d better send down a second angel just to check this thing out.

He calls on the second angel sends him to Earth. When that angel returned, he went to God and told him, yes, the Earth is in decline, 95% is bad and only 5% is good. So God decided that he wanted to encourage the 5%. He said, well, I’ll send a text message to the 5% that are good, to encourage them. You need encouragement.

I want to encourage them and give them a little something to help keep them going. Now, does anyone know what that text message said? Oh, you didn’t get the text?

Oh, you got it. I’m proud of you.

Okay. George says that’s not right. Well, the good news, guys, is that we’re 100% bad. So if you didn’t get the text message, I’ll kind of encourage you. I didn’t either.

So let’s go ahead and get into our lesson for today.

Last week, we were challenged to think about and imagine the incredible victories God is going to have in our lives in 2022. And I hope you took the time to do what Marshall talked about in December, where he talked about us consecrating ourselves, consecrating ourselves, and getting ready for what God wants to do this year. I really believe it’s going to be a great year, but we need all hands on deck. We need to all worship God together. And that’s really the focus of the message, as I said, but let me remind you of our theme passage for the year from John chapter seven.

I’ll just read this for you in verse 37. It says, on the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me. As scripture has said, Rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this, he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

Up to that time, the Spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified. If you are a child of God, if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. If you’ve you been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, then you have God’s spirit living within you. And the Bible says streams of living water flow from within you.

I believe that means comfort for you. And I know sometimes we don’t feel very comforted with situations that go on, but I believe that means comfort for you, but also comfort that spills over to others. And we need that living water in our life, don’t we? Because we are sinful. We are people who fall short of God’s glory.

And sometimes with the failures that we have that occur to us, sometimes they’re small failures. Like, I remember the time when my wife was out walking in this park, and she came across this lady, and some of, you know, this story, she came across this lady and she said, when is your baby due? And she said, I hope never. So it’s one of those small failures that we get into at times. Or you could have even bigger failures.

Like, I saw a picture of this couple on their wedding day, and they’re getting ready to cut the cake, and the whole cake just toppled over. Now, if you’re superstitious, you start thinking, oh, my, is this an omen of things to come? But we’re not superstitious, so we don’t go there. And then I also saw a sign with a car that was wrecked and in a ditch, and it was right beside a sign that says, thank you for driving carefully through our village. Those are little bit bigger failures that occur for all of us.

But the Bible makes it clear that we all fail. Sometimes we don’t like to admit it. We don’t like to admit that we’re wrong or that we have a problem, but we all fail. We all mess up. And like I said, in reality, instead of 95% bad, it’s really more like 100% bad.

But what that simply means is that you miss the Mark. You miss the calling that God had for your life. In Romans three, verse 23, the Bible says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all messed up.

I’ve been around the Church for 50 years. I know I look like I’m only 35, but, no, I’m just messing with. I’ve been around for a long time, and I still battle certain sins. They still come back. They still dog me.

They haunt me. And by the Grace of God, I’m continually trying to give those over to God. But the good news for you and me is that Jesus rose from the dead. Because he rose from the dead, he took your sin and my sin with him to the cross. And, guys, we have a bright future in front of us because we have promise, because of what Jesus did, he paid the price for our sins.

And sometimes in our independence, we can better be a bit stubborn and not really embrace that, but you need to embrace that today. God wants us to allow him to be more in our life this year than ever before. Some of you know I love basketball say a couple of comments about athletics. I love basketball. Always have.

I enjoy sports, period. I really do. And every now and then there’s a YouTube video that I’ll watch just for fun because it’s such a powerful video. And it’s about a guy named Clay Thompson. Anybody knows who he is.

I see hands going up. Clay Thompson. I think he’s scheduled to be back on the court today after being away for almost two years with injuries. Well, he had a quarter of basketball the third quarter, I believe. I can’t even remember the team where he scored 37 points in one quarter.

He was twelve for twelve shooting. He didn’t miss a single shot. After a while, it got ridiculous because people started bowing. They started bowing to this guy because it was like watching a God at work, I guess, to them. And guys, that’s what I want to talk about.

We need to feel that way about God. And we’re going to look at passages where people had that response to Jesus. They saw things that Jesus did, and all they could do is fall down and worship. It’s like, really, dude, I can’t believe you just walked on water. I can’t believe you just healed this person.

I don’t know about you, but I want to worship God this year more than I ever have. I really do. I want to know him better. I want to make sure he increases a lot more. In John three, verse 30, John says this he must increase, but I must decrease.

I want God to be much more prominent in my heart and in my life. I really want to worship him more. And so that’s why I want to talk about worship. In Matthew 28, verse 8-9, this is when the women found the empty tomb and they saw the angel who was there guarding that tomb. Look at the reaction of the two Mary’s. Matthew 28, verse eight. So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid, yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them. Greetings, he said, they came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Notice what it says.

It says, they came to him, clasped his feet, grabbed onto his feet. They’re on the ground. We are worshipping him. And you remember. And notice Jesus doesn’t shoo them away.

He doesn’t say, okay, stop that. The Apostles had that happen to them. And they say, hey, stand up. We’re men just like you. But Jesus lets them worship because he knows he is worthy of worship.

Have you fallen at the feet of Jesus and worshiped Him? When was the last time you fell at the feet of Jesus and worshiped Him? Guys, we need to worship him more this year. And so I have three quick thoughts about worship that I want to give you today, and I hope these will help you out. First of all, we got to worship him only. Worship him only. Matthew four, verse ten. Jesus said to him, Away from me, Satan. For it is written, Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.

Notice, he says, Worship the Lord your God and serve him. Jesus had fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He was hungry. Satan comes to him with three strong temptations. And every single time Jesus got through the temptation with the word of God.

And he said to Satan very plainly, There is only one true God, and he alone is to be worshiped. Romans 1:21. Passage very familiar to many of you. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him. But their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and serve created things rather than the Creator who has forever praised Amen. Creation is never to be worshiped or served only the Creator. Why do I say that? Because sometimes we worship our families, we worship our kids, we worship our job, we worship our financial security, we worship our 401K or our 403 B.

If you don’t have either of those, you’re probably not worshipping those things. But I pray that you get those at some point going on.

We are never we are to worship the gifts, we are to worship the giver of the gifts. Every good and perfect gift comes from our Heavenly Father. We are to worship him only. Secondly, we are to worship him everywhere. We are to worship him everywhere.

Follow along. As I read Matthew 14 starting in verse 22. Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

Later that night he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before Dawn, Jesus went out to them walking on the Lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the Lake, they were terrified. It’s a ghost, they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them, Take courage.

It is I. Don’t be afraid. Lord, if it’s you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water. Come, he said. And I can imagine Jesus saying that with a smile on his face. I can imagine him saying there goes Peter again. Come on, Peter. Come on out here, man. He says, come. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink cried out, Lord, save me. Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and called him, you of little faith. He said, Why did you doubt? And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

Then those who were in the boat worshiped him. There’s our word again, saying, Truly, you are the Son of God. What’s the scene that’s going on here? Well, Jesus, before all this, had just learned that King Herod had killed his cousin John. And when there’s a death in the family, it’s customary for us to want to get some time away.

When there’s any kind of tragedy, you want some time alone. So Jesus tries to break away, get some time alone. But the crowd found him, and he wound up serving 5000 people. He fed 5000 people. He fed them with five loaves of bread and two fish, little boys lunch box.

And then they took up enough pieces that all the single brothers had something to eat. I mean, it was pretty amazing. Then Jesus finally goes off by himself and he prays. That’s what he talks about in verse 23 and worships God. And then he walks on the water and he comes to the disciples.

He teaches them an incredible lesson about faith. I mean, what a day in the life of Jesus. This is incredible stuff. Don’t just let it wash over you. This is amazing stuff.

What an incredible day. And so in verse 33, what does it say? Then those who are in the boat, excuse me, worshiped him, saying, Truly, you are the Son of God. We have to praise Jesus everywhere. We have to worship him everywhere.

Have you worshiped Jesus in your boat? How about in your car? How about in your home or your workplace? How about when you’re mowing the grass? Or if you’re Carlos Gallejo or you’re painting the building?

How about when you’re doing the cooking or you’re doing the dishes? That’s my job at my place. You worship God then? Or you’re doing your homework. Students, if there are that many among us, or you’re just walking down the street, or maybe you’re jogging.

Have you worshiped God while you’re jogging and maybe why you’re involved in your exercise? Have you worshiped God when you’re stuck in traffic? And if there’s any time you need to worship the Lord is when you’re stuck in traffic because that Satan will mess with you there in a great way. How do we worship God when we’re doing all these things? You can just whisper words of praise to God.

You can just whisper words, God, I thank you for this lawn. I thank you for this lawn mower. I thank you that I have this house to mow this lawn in. I thank you for even giving me something at all.

There are times, guys, when I’ll go jogging and almost without fail, I’ll start that job just thanking God that I can still get out there and do it. Oh, my goodness gracious. And then I usually have to apologize to God because I’ll get out there and I’ll get started and something is aching that didn’t ache before I got up. And I think, Why? This is hard.

And I said, God, please forgive me. I’m sorry. I’m grateful. I can run. I don’t know about you.

And this is very serious. I know people who have never walked, they’ve been in a wheelchair all of their life. They didn’t have the privilege of being able to go jogging. So I said, God, please forgive me. I remember for a long time I struggled when Lepatic and I got immediately pregnant after marriage.

I’m talking a month and a half, and she starts telling me things about women and how your females work. And I said, what does that mean? And all this stuff. I mean, I was struggling. A brother was struggling.

And I used to say like, yeah, we had our first kid nine months and two days after we said, I do.

But you know what’s happened since then, I have talked to so many people who would love to have a family, who would love to be pregnant. And I said, God, please forgive me for not being grateful for the blessings that I have. Guys, there’s so much that we can praise God for with sports and athletics. As I said, I love sports. I enjoy.

I have a great time. Even now, if I go to YMCA and I’ll have a little workout, I’m on the treadmill, do a couple of weights. I know you can’t tell, but I may do that. And then I’ll go to the front desk. I said, Give me a basketball.

I just go to the gym and shoot a few Hoops. And I’ve reminisced about the good old days. I remember the good old days. Going to Freddie Bryant’s, groom honoring and from a standing position under the basket, I jumped up and slammed dunk. I had a serious vertical back then, but now I have a serious three inches and I’m grateful for that three inches. That’s all I have and I’m good with that. The main point I want to help you to understand is that God, we need to praise God, period. If you’re fishing and you haven’t caught any fish, praise God anyway. So what if you can’t dunk anymore?

Praise God anyway. We got a lot to praise him for. We need to praise God even despite the backlash that we sometimes get from others. And I thought about that because there was a situation where a preacher went to a restaurant, he’s going to have a meal. And the restaurant was particularly crowded.

It was kind of full that day. And he goes there and he sits down, he’s ready to eat. A guy comes over to him because the restaurant was crowded and said, hey, can I join you? And he says, sure, grab a seat. Then, as was his custom, the preacher bowed his head to pray for his meal.

And when he opened his eyes, the man looks at him and says, well, do you have a headache? And he says, no, I don’t. And the guy says again, well, there’s something wrong with your food. He said, no, I was simply thanking God for my meal, as I always do before I eat. And the man said, oh, you’re one of those.

Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow, and I don’t give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in. And the preacher looks at him and says, yes, you’re like my dog. That’s what he does, too.

Guys, we need to praise God. Even if there’s a backlash from others, we need to praise God, period. Psalm 150, verse one says, Praise the Lord, praise God in his sanctuary. Praise him in his mighty heavens. You know how big the heavens are.

It just simply means, Praise him, period. Praise him here, praise him there. Praise him everywhere. So not only are we to worship God only, we’re to praise him everywhere. But the third thought, and the last thought I want to leave with you before Communion is that we need to worship God sincerely.

Tyler brought up why we are here, and that’s the question that I wanted to pose for you. Why are you here? Why do you come? Why do you give when he talks about the offering, why do we do? Do you do what you do because you want to worship the Lord?

Or is there some kind of pressure that you’re putting on yourself, either internally or some pressure you feel externally? When I was young, I used to go to Church with my mom, mainly because she took the four of us younger ones with her, because I have a big family. There are eight siblings total, but she took us to Church, and Church was never really a bad experience for me. I kind of like going. We’d have Sunday school and all those memory scriptures, and my mom will always give us money to put in the collection plate.

And sometimes I think maybe that’s why I’m as consistent as I am today. Maybe it’s because of my mom’s example, I don’t know. But she will give us money to put in the collection plate. But the part I really liked is that she would give us extra money to go to the corner store after Church. And that was something I really look forward to, and I’m grateful that my mom did that for us.

My dad’s attitude was, if those kids want to go to Church with you, fine. But if they don’t want to go, you are not going to make them go. And so there was conflict in my house about that. But I’m grateful my mom took us anyway. Because I tell you what, guys, if we don’t give our high schoolers and middle schoolers at least a taste of righteousness, they ain’t getting none of it at school.

They’re not getting any. I know what little boys talked about on the back of the bus when I would go to basketball games. It was always about girls and sex and alcohol. It was nothing good. It was nothing pleasant.

So I am grateful that my mom exposed us to those things. And then as I got older and as I got older, I thought a lot about heaven and hell, and I thought about sin. And I knew I wasn’t right with God. I knew I was not right with God.

And yet at the same time I had a lot of pride. There was a lot of self reliance. I was a decent student in high school. I was not valedictorian or anything like that. But I was a decent student.

I was an honors student and that kind of thing. I was also on the basketball team and track team. I actually got a scholarship to go play ball at Stetson University. So I wasn’t the best athlete in the world. But I was decent.

I was okay. But those things made me self reliant. I really felt like and some of you may laugh, but when I got ready to go to College, I thought, I am worried about two things. The first one was food. I was used to my mom’s cooking.

I didn’t Cook. My grandmother said, Just go get some Spam and bread and you’re good to go. And I’m thinking, Spam, is that as good as it’s going to be for the next four years? So I was worried about food, and that was a big worry. But the other big worry was academic.

I really believed that I could major in anything. And I said, There are too many majors. I don’t know how to choose. How do I decide what I’m going to major in? And that’s how self reliant I was.

That’s how much I was prideful about myself. But then when I got to the University of Florida and I got with some of the brothers and spent some time and they shared with me, they studied the Bible with me. They helped me to see that despite how reliant I felt on myself, I could not deal with sin. I remember them talking about purity to me and understanding that lust was wrong. And I thought, how do I change how I view women?

I mean, come on. And then one brother shared Philippians 413 with me. And that verse simply talks about how we can do all things through Christ. And that really just relieved my soul. I said, okay, sign me up.

I got baptized into Christ. And in Galatians three, verse 26, it says, you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who are baptized in the Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

If you belong to Christ and you are Abraham seed and heirs according to the promise. Then after being baptized, then I started learning about sincere worship and what that’s all about to do what I do because I want to please God. I want God to be pleased with me because I love God. And so again I asked you, Why are you here? Why are you here?

Are you here because you want to worship Jesus? The women fell at Jesus feet, clasped his feet and worshiped. When Jesus got back into the boat after walking on water and allowing Peter to walk on water, the Bible says they worshiped Him. Our response to God has to be worship. The alternative, if we don’t worship Him sincerely, is scary.

Matthew 15, verse eight. These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain. Their teachings are but rules taught by men. We all need to examine our hearts when it comes to worship.

Our worship to God can be in vain, which means it’s futile. It’s useless. It’s not helpful at all. It’s hopeless. It’s pointless.

We need to worship Him sincerely. Two Corinthians 13, verse five. Another great passage. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you? Unless, of course, you failed the test. This is a test that we simply cannot fail. Brothers and sisters, we must not fail this test. Let me conclude with the passage here in Psalm 95, verse 6-8.

It says, Come, let us bow down in worship. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not Harden your hearts.

Jesus told the woman at the well. He says, if you knew the gift of God and who it is who is speaking to you, you would have asked Him and he would have given you living water. I really believe sometimes that’s how God looks at us. And man, if you understood who you were talking to when you pray, if you understood what I have done, if you understood how incredible my love is for you, if you really understood this, then you would be falling on your knees before me in praise. He is our Maker.

He is our Waymaker, our miracle worker, our promise keeper, our light in the darkness. That’s who he is. We need to praise Him. He mends the broken hearts. Heals the broken hearts.

He is our living water. And so right now as we get ready to take Communion, I pray that you’ll embark with me on a journey this year to worship God like you never have before to really be aware of his goodness and his greatness and his Holiness. I mean every person who met Jesus fell in worship before him. That was the reaction he always had. So let’s go ahead and we’ll pray for the Communion and take that together now.

So pray with me please.