WDS 2022: Living Sacrifices

Amen. Our God is awesome. I got an extra dose of that this morning on the way here. Something had never happened to me before. I think God really wanted to encourage me. I was driving down Curry Ford at a good Christian speed in my Toyota Corolla and all of a sudden I’m just going along and there’s this man on the sidewalk and he starts cheering me on. He’s like, yeah. Go, go, go!

I’ve had that happen cycling before and jogging before, never before in my car. So I was like, yeah, my car is pretty cool, huh? It’s not even a convertible. Man, this is hard work right here. Thank you. Thank you for the encouragement. He gave me what I needed. I was like, God is awesome here. That was a great way to start the day. I do want to thank for everyone that was here in the last service that are still laughing at the same jokes, I appreciate you as well. I don’t have new material. I will say one week from today, just 15 miles from here, the World Discipleship Summit will begin. Yes. In Old Testament times, all of God’s people, they would save up. They would put their lives on hold for weeks. They would travel hundreds of miles by land and sea for their own conferences. These were international religious festivals such as Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles and Pentecost, just to name a few. These were not just two hour Sunday services. These were week long gatherings, not including the travel. A feast of fellowship to celebrate together and most of all, to remember together their extraordinary identity as God’s treasured possession.

In the same way, 15,000 disciples from around the world will travel to Orlando for one week. Your brothers and sisters in Christ will flood our city from far away places such as South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia. Disciples will find a way to get here from war torn countries in the Middle East and the Ukraine. They will step off the plane at the Orlando International Airport full of joy, with a huge smile on their faces because they’re excited to see you. For one special moment in time we are Jerusalem. We’re the host city. We’re the host church for thousands of God’s people. And it’s not an exaggeration to say you and I are in the middle of a historic moment. Don’t get distracted. Don’t blink. You could miss it. One week from tonight, it officially begins. I think this begs the question of all of us, what’s the best way to prepare now for the World Discipleship Summit? Let’s search for answers together in Romans chapter twelve. What’s the best way to prepare? It’s almost here. Romans chapter twelve. And I know many of you have prepared for this for years. You’ve saved your money.

You’ve asked for time off. Many of you have downloaded the app already and you started picking your classes. You can’t wait. You know when early check in is at the hotel. You’re ready to go. Your heart is there. Your heart is ready. Some of you started serving the WDS long ago. You’ve been praying for this event since long before we even knew that covid 19 was a thing before it even existed. You signed up to volunteer for hours at the conference. So many were here yesterday for the workshop that we had in the morning. Some of you, I know, have even secretly donated hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars so that people you don’t even know can experience this conference. Your heart is ready. I know some of you are new to the church or you’ve recently joined the church. This is new for you. But I commend you. I’ve seen so many of you just hey, what is this? Okay, how do I get on board? And you’ve been able to get on board and make every effort to participate in the summit. And I thank you for that. Then I’m sure there’s a handful of us, you’ve heard the announcements the last seven years, but for whatever reason, you’re not prepared. You mean single tickets cost money? The expectation to serve, to give, or even to pay for anything, including parking, comes as a complete surprise. And I get it. I’m the same way. When I’m distracted and the worries of life and other things come right in front of me, my heart can drift to a funky place too. But no matter where you’re at this morning, today is a new day. From this moment forward, what’s the best way to prepare your heart for the WDS? Let’s read. Romans, chapter twelve, verse one. This will help us with the conference and really so much more. Romans twelve, verse one. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual or rational act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will. So, chapter twelve starts verse one with therefore.

So what’s it there for? Well, in the first eleven chapters, paul writes this masterpiece on God’s mercy given to broken sinners just like us. The death of Jesus on the cross. This proves that God is a mercy millionaire and that’s the motivation for the Christian life. That’s why we’re here today. God’s mercy in Jesus, that’s the engine of gratitude that propels us to do what we do. In view of God’s mercy, God’s word then commands us to do two things here. Number one, offer your body as a living sacrifice. On the heels of our Hebrew study, you’ll notice this is temple terminology. Back in the day for public worship at the temple, you would never, ever dare to show up empty handed. You would come with a burnt offering. That was the expectation from God, the best, most expensive animal from your flock. And what this would do, this would demonstrate that all you had, your very best was completely at God’s disposal. Then you fast forward to us as followers of Jesus today. Our bodies have now become the new sacrifice. Instead of an animal, we now bring to God the very best of ourselves.

And to be a sacrifice means, like the animal, we’re now fully at God’s disposal, and we would not show up to anything empty handed. In view of God’s mercy, we now offer our bodies to God and everything that we do. Not only that, we’re a living sacrifice, a living killing, if you will, a paradox. This means our sacrifice is an ongoing thing. This is what is holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. The literal translation here is logical. This is only logical. This is the only logical way to worship, the only reasonable way to worship in view of God’s mercy. It means you’re thinking clearly, not just emotionally. In other words, once you grasp God’s mercy in your life, anything less than a total sacrifice of yourself to God is completely irrational. Would the people that know you best, describe your life as a living sacrifice. And sometimes we can ask such and such, is this person still a Christian? Are they a Christian? I think they’ve been baptized. Okay, that’s a great start. But here’s how you truly know. Is this person a living sacrifice? That’s it. Number two, in view of God’s mercy, god’s word also commands us, do not conform, but instead be transformed.

So when it comes to being a living sacrifice, this is where the rubber meets the road. And we’re given two patterns here: the way our culture thinks and the way God thinks. And transform here in the Greek, is the same word we use in science for metamorphosis, right? You may remember that back in the day, okay, it’s the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. That’s metamorphosis. That’s the word here. That’s the miracle that’s happening. So in view of God’s mercy, the way we think must undergo a metamorphosis, a metamorphosis of how we respond to our circumstances and our suffering. It’s a metamorphosis in how we navigate our relationships in this world. It’s how we respond to what triggers us in our culture, on social media and in the news. Your body belongs to you. No one can tell you what to do with your body. And that’s absolutely true if you conform to the pattern of this world. But the transformed mind says this as for me and my body, it belongs to God as a living sacrifice. So, in the context of our sexual desires, do you not know that your body is now a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. That’s one, corinthians 6:19 and 20. Guard your itching years. Do not conform to the pattern of our culture, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So what does this all have to do with the summit? I don’t really know. Okay, we’ll get there. We’ll get there. We’ll get there. We’re going somewhere, but let’s keep reading. Here, in verse three here, we find practical instructions on how to be a living sacrifice. Romans twelve, verse three. For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you, do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not have all the same function, so in Christ we who are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a person’s gift is prophesying, let him or her use it in proportion to their faith.

If it is serving, let him or her serve. If it’s teaching, let that person teach. If it’s encouraging, let him or her encourage. If it’s contributing to the needs of others, let them give generously. If it’s leadership, let that person govern diligently. If it’s showing mercy, let him or her do it cheerfully. Verse three. It tells us to be a living sacrifice. We must have a sober judgment of ourselves. Let’s face it, you and I are not naturally self aware. If that’s news to you, I just prove the point. It’s much easier for me to judge someone else and get it right 95% of the time than to correctly judge myself. So in context here in this scripture, to be sober about yourself, it means you’re not too high on all the different skills that you bring to the table. But it also means that you’re not too low on your skill set either, right? It’s a balance. It’s sobriety. Right? So you’re in touch with reality about your talents, not to serve yourself, but to serve others and to build the church. So if you ever played this game, would you rather? Who’s played this game before?

All right. Shame on you. It’s terrible. It’s a fun game. It’s a good game. Let’s play now for just a moment. Would you rather Gil Hidalgo take pictures at your wedding or me? I’ve got a great or Gabriel. I could ask Gabriel as well. Would you rather have Gabriel or Gil take pictures at your wedding, or would you rather have me take pictures at your wedding? I have a newer iPhone. It will do the job. Yeah. I still say things like, I got to get my pictures developed. Where’s Eckers. On Sundays, and be careful how you answer this. I am very sensitive. On Sundays, would you rather have me preach, or would you rather me be in charge of the baby’s class? Or have me in charge of security? I’ve been working out. I’m huge.

All right? Would you rather right. Here we go. All right. And the next one, I’ll do it again. Would you rather have Jessica Jolly as one of your lead singers up here on stage or would you rather have me? Why are you so quick to say yes? Give me a chance, man. I’m not very sober right now. I’m saying Jessica or me. Right. As a singer, I felt like in the last service, my audition was not very good. I feel like I need a second chance. A second chance before you just say yes, jessica, give me a shot here.

Thanks, I mean, there’s an open spot with Chandler moving away, so I was going to go for it, right?

All right. So if I’m sober minded, really my ceiling is maybe I could lead a song at a small baptism that’s probably I have been redeemed that’s all I can do but that’s sobriety and not being so sober. But to summarize verses four and five, we’re all in the same standing with the gospel all the same at the foot of the cross. But God has gifted each one of us with distinct personalities, experiences and abilities to serve. Not serve ourselves, but to serve one another. So we see in verses six through eight a sampling of these gifts that God has given to our church. Now, keep in mind as we look through some of these, your role, your mindset is this summit is about to start. I’m just going to highlight a few of these. Verse seven starts with serving. Now, we’re all supposed to serve. Many of these you see on this list, we all can do. But God has gifted us for those reasons I mentioned, personality, experiences, abilities to really be able to serve the church in a great way in these areas. Now, here it starts with serving of verse seven.

In the Greek, this is narrowing it down to practical service. This person is very good at practical tasks. This is what you would call the ultimate team player. They bring that chemistry to the team. And this is the person that actually does not need the spotlight and kind of does better in the background to make things happen. We all need to aspire to that. But that’s really a God given gift as well. In verse eight, it highlights the gifts of encouragement and giving. This Greek word for encouragement literally means to come alongside someone. That’s encouragement. You’re coming alongside someone. And some of you are incredibly gifted in this area. You make other people feel around you that you’re right there with them. And we need people like that. I need people like that. You’re invaluable because you serve the people around you as a supporter, a greeter or welcomer. And then if you have the special talent of giving, of course, again, we’re all supposed to give. But this specialized talent here, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to be wealthy. Amen. But rather, you’re wise and you’re considerate in your generosity. You’re anticipating needs several bounces down the road ahead of the rest of us, right?

And I think about last Saturday when we had Don Mcgillips memorial. All the different people that shared who not all of them really knew each other that well. And they were somewhere from different cities. They all were telling stories about how Don had contributed to their needs, specifically and even anticipated needs well in advance. And he took care of people with food, with money, with encouragement, with time. That was Don, right? So that’s a special talent of giving. And all these build up the church. We all need this. So this takes me back to the original question. What’s the best way to prepare myself for the WDS? Here’s the mindset. This is it, right here. Here’s how we prepare our hearts. The World Discipleship Summit is worship. All of it. Not just the singing. All of it. And it’s already started. The worship has already begun. It’s been going on for years. All of it is worship. The preparation you saving your pennies to go, giving your time, your resources, that’s worship. That’s what the Bible defines as worship. We just read it. The keynotes, the classes, the music, the singing, all of it. All of it is worship.

A life giving conversation over lunch, hugging someone that you just met in the elevator, that’s worship. It’s giving of yourself. It’s standing on the corner directing traffic, volunteering with kindness and a smile on your face. All of it. That is worship. Meeting needs in the moment, paying the parking fee for the car behind you, slipping a $20 bill in the pocket of a missionary, that’s a living sacrifice. That’s your worship. And at the WDS, we have this unique opportunity to see this on display with 15,000 people and their collective gifts. All of it is worship. The World Discipleship Summit will be worship.

So maybe you’re late to the party with this conference, and I would just appeal to you please don’t be the older brother in the prodigal son story. Please don’t be grumpy now and refuse to come. Join the party. Some way, somehow, get involved, find a way to serve. It’s not too late. Don’t miss your opportunity to worship. In view of God’s mercy, the logical response, the rational response to this conference is this you and I must offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. It’s a golden opportunity for us to love our brothers and sisters from around the world, to show them the love of the Orlando Church of Christ.

Look at verse nine. It tells us about love. It says, Love must be sincere, hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted, be committed, be all in for one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Many other translations say it this way outdo one another and showing them honor. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need and practice hospitality. Bottom line love one another as if you were related by blood, which of course you are in Christ. And Paul challenges us here. Honor one another above yourselves. And that’s my appeal to us. Next week, let’s outdo one another and showing honor to our guests. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Do whatever it takes. That’s a living sacrifice. Sacrifice your time, your resources, your own needs and emotions, all to provide for someone else in need. Do whatever it takes. That’s a living sacrifice. That’s how the Bible defines true worship. I do think you need to start visualizing it. Imagine the victory if we all do this.

Just imagine that. Imagine what it will feel like. 15,000 souls together in one place for one week. One moment in time as a living sacrifice. A few weeks ago, your sister in Christ, Brenda Hale, painted a vivid picture of this scene for us, and I’m going to borrow it today. This comes from a Facebook thread on how to be thrifty at the summit. Very good thread. There is some good stuff on Facebook occasionally. One in 1000, especially if it comes from Brenda. But she painted a vivid picture of the scene and she’s speaking on how to really be able to use your money and your resources wisely at the conference. And Brenda writes: great ideas I read. The conference has been in the plans for over five years, seven, giving us plenty of time to put some money aside. But I also know unexpected things happen along the way that can take a toll on many financially. With all respect to my fellow brothers and sisters, we have spent money on vacations or other things, but in my eyes, this time together will be the greatest vacation of all. It is a treasure, a kingdom banquet on earth, where angels and the spiritual presence of God will be among his children.

I’m not asking us to be unwise, but sacrificial. We should have been preparing for this, like the virgins in Matthew 25 and their oil, and they have plenty of it. Right now, it’s all about our hearts and what we value and what we treasure. Our children will get to experience a piece of heaven on earth. They will get to see God’s work and the unity of believers, which is of great value. God will do amazing things as we come together. He will strengthen us, encourage us, increase our faith, give us dreams and visions, and a greater passion for his mission and the hope we have in Jesus Christ. I and my family look forward to being there with you all. I am thankful for this opportunity the Lord has blessed us with and we will make the best of each day. On another note, we are bringing our own snacks, we are bringing our NutriBullet for smoothies, bringing our own water. And we’ve been saving our money so we can have a meal with other disciples once every day. Be encouraged. You’re going to be filled in ways that words can’t even describe. The Lord smiles from heaven and when he sees his children gather, he smiles on us.

Hasta la vista, baby. My fellow warriors, stay faithful. Brenda Hale. Thank you so much for Brenda. I think she was at our first service. But that really captures the spirit and paints the vivid picture of what we’re talking about. Brothers and sisters, you and I are in the middle of a historic moment. Don’t get distracted by the worries of life. Don’t blink or you could miss it. One week from tonight, the World Discipleship Summit officially begins. In view of God’s mercy, let’s offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Please now join me in prayer as we remember the sacrifice of Jesus and the mercy of God on each one of our souls. Let’s pray. Father in heaven, words fall short and expressing our gratitude to you. Father, help us to be living sacrifices in view of Your mercy and view of Your plan to give up and watch your son suffer and die for us, that the Creator would die for his creation, that the Judge would take the judgment that should come on us. Thank you God, so much for Your incredible mercy. Thank you so much for Jesus. I pray that you just work on our hearts.

Take us to a new level of gratitude. Help us, God, just to just be those living sacrifices that our body is willing and able to serve you and to serve others and use the gifts you’ve given to us. We do pray for the upcoming weeks that your spirit will move in a powerful way and we can look back on this time and say God was truly with us. Thank you for Jesus. We thank you for the cup that we take now that we remember the blood and what he gave up for us. We take the bread and remember his body as well. Thank you God. We don’t deserve this, but You’ve given it to us. Help us to respond in gratitude and celebration and as living sacrifices. We love you and we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

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.

May God Equip You

Hi, my name is Tyler, if you guys don’t know. But I’m here and I lead the singles ministry with my wife Molly. Yeah, but today is a really special day. So if this is your first time time and welcome. I want to introduce you to the conclusion of a series we’ve been doing. And when I say the conclusion, this is a longawaited conclusion. Since January, have been working on the book of Hebrews. So you can open your Bibles to Hebrews last time. It’s a little bittersweet, but I just want to say congratulations. You have done it. It’s an accomplishment, really, and it’s something to be proud of. It’s a lot of focus to stay just with your attention fixed on what God is saying to you in Hebrew says, pay attention and I hope you have. And today is the last time for that. But it has been an incredible journey and I hope you are better for it. Amen. But we’ve milked it as far as we can. And the author, he calls it in our text, we’re in chapter 13, and if you look here in the last section, he does call it quite brief.

And those are two funny, funny words when you even compare this book to the rest of the New Testament. This is a chunky kind of book. And what he means is he could have said a lot more. And I do want to say we could have gone on a lot longer. We could have done this series for two years easily. And I don’t know that would have been the best choice for us. But it’s cool that it comes at the end and we got the conference ahead and it’s just going to be a new way forward. But for us today we conclude and congratulations, reason to celebrate. But if today is your introduction, I also want to cater to you too. So for just a second, yeah, we’ve come a long way and this is just an outline of the book. This is where we’ve been and where we are today. So in case your memory is a little hazy, just for a second here, does anyone know or does everyone know the theme of the book yet? What is it? Jesus is better. This is 13 great chapters that just gush about Jesus and his greatness and his awesomeness.

And the author in the first section, he does a lot to just kind of compare Jesus to everyone you can imagine. The priests, the angels, the prophets, you name it. And then he goes into what Jesus does is better, right? The priesthood, he offers the New Covenant versus the Old Covenant, just all of that stuff. He intercedes for us. And then the last section here is about the life that Jesus calls us to follow his footsteps in. The better life. His ways are better, a better man has a better way. And today we’ve come all the way to the end of the journey. And just to wrap it up, I actually want to give you guys an opportunity to share with each other. So I’m going to open a discussion up for a few minutes here, and I’ll put the question up as I share this, but I want to hear what you guys have gotten from this book, like your takeaway. And so for our time in Hebrews, what something that has stuck with you that you’re going to carry out of these times? And I gave a few people a heads up. I know this is on the spot and this is a little irregular, but if you would like to share, would you mind just standing up so we could at least see you and maybe hear you better?

But what would be your takeaway? And I’ll try to reiterate if you guys can’t hear. So. Yeah, go ahead, Brian. To be clear, maybe in like 20 seconds or less. Okay?

Thank you guys for everyone who shared and on the spot too. But I do hope that with all the sermons and all the lessons and the deep dives really, that we’ve done, that you feel like you know Jesus better, that you know at least who he is and that you’re more amazed with him. I do think someone actually it was a younger person. I think it was like a preteen that said, I like what I’m learning, but they’re very philosophical and it’s like, okay. I hear what you’re saying, right? It’s like you got to stay with it. There’s a heady kind of part to who he’s telling you who Jesus is. But there’s more than that too. And as theologically lofty as this is, I just want to remind you guys here as we get in now to the next part, that this is actually a letter. You kind of lose that, right? Because the beginning has no introduction that’s at least personal.

It’s kind of just boom, Jesus, blah blah, blah, blah, all about Jesus. And there’s not a lot of introduction. But here at the end of the letter, which is where we’re at today, you’re going to see that this is indeed super heartsy. And you’ll see the personal touch. And if you glance at verse 19 right before our section here, you’re going to see him ask for prayer. He has a prayer request, right? Like, please, I want to be with you. I long to be with you, so pray that God makes that happen. It’s a really heartsy turn to this letter. He clearly loves them and he longs to for a blessing on these people. And so today we’re going to end with his benediction. Benediction, huh? Have you ever heard that word? Maybe not. Do you even know what it means? It’s a fancy word because it’s a fancy benediction. I thought I’d say but it’s basically a blessing. It’s a blessing for his people and a blessing basically meaning, like, as I conclude, I pray and I want to know that God would do these things in your life.

And this is also it’s just so appropriate for us. But benedictions are common in the Bible, like God in Numbers, chapter six, he actually taught the priest how to give a benediction, how to give a blessing to his people. And when they would part from meeting together, they would usually give a blessing to their people. Numbers 6:22, God says, May the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace. First Thessalonians all the letters tend to have a benediction. Verse five, verse 23. May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, body and soul be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. And sometimes they come in the middle of a letter, right? Like Ephesians 320. This is a common one we’ve heard. Now, to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

So what is the benediction? After all this stuff about Jesus, what’s he gonna say? What is there more to say? Let’s just read here and we’ll read our text today. It says, now may the God of peace, through the blood of the eternal covenant, brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. So here we are. And he starts with the word now, right? It’s a signal word. He means get your landing gear out. We’re about to land this plane. Now, okay long gush about Jesus. Here we go. Let me just gush about Jesus one more time in this long sentence. But it’s a long and beautiful sentence and there’s a lot packed in there and it might kind of look a little confusing. I wonder if you just said it in one breath. But yes, that’s just one sentence. Yeah, but it’s a lot, and you might have to come up for air at the end. But it really is just a sentence.

There’s nothing intimidating about a sentence. It’s got a subject, a verb, maybe a noun. So if I could just help you out here and boil the sentence down to the simplest message. What he’s really saying here in the sentence’s skeleton is simply this: may God equip you. That is his blessing, that is his prayer. May God equip you. May God equip you the church. And so he decorates it with a lot of beautiful words, right? He talks about the who equips, why, how for what? Why does he equip? All these things. God and the amazingness that he is, he fits it all in somehow. But ultimately, at the core is a plea and prayer that God is going to equip his church. He wants to leave them empowered. Like, you guys, I’m leaving a prayer with you. And I know I’m ending this letter, but this is my prayer as I end my letter. With all that the first century church was going on, I mean, consider that in a few years, the temple would be destroyed. The Jews were definitely under Roman oppression. There was a lot of persecution. They really needed encouragement. And I’ve got a few of you do here today.

I don’t want to compare whatever hardships, even from pew to pew, but I do think that all of us need encouragement. We’ve all had challenging things, and we will have them in the future. But it’s cool to see that God has already done what he’s done in Christ to equip us and to provide for anything we’re going to go through, to sit with us through the storm and walk us through it. So he has a calling for us and a purpose for our life. And when he says equip, that word really, he wants to make you fit for something. He wants to complete you or prepare you, kind of bend you into shape, kind of like a chiropractor. One of the definition is to readjust you and to your full potential that God is doing for his calling in your life. And as he offers his blessing, he’s also reminding them of a lot of things about the greatness of our God. So I don’t want to skip these reminders, but I want to take a closer look. And this will be where we land here. But we’ll just kind of zoom through here, and the first reminder we come to is he says, now, may the God of peace. Let me pause. That He wants them to remember that they’re being equipped by a God of peace. That’s an identity. That’s his title. But that’s the essence of our God. He’s filled with peace. That’s his whole nature, and that’s also what he offers people. We need peace. No one can pretend we don’t. I bet if your AC went out the second you sat in your car, you’d lose a little peace. There’s all kinds of things that we’re just craving and crying out for peace. We need it every day. Even this week. I have two small kids in my house. My house can feel like this. I call this a screaming, poopy, pukey war zone. At any instant, that’s what my house can become. It doesn’t smell peaceful. There’s nothing peaceful on some moments in my house. And we gather it back together, but it’s fragile and I think even my phone, my phone is not peace inducing sometimes. I bet you look at your phone and you’re like, why did I look at that? It’s gone. And you’re like, where’s the peace go? And the news? Whatever. We need to stay in touch with the world. But if we are, we realize the world needs peace.

The world can’t find it. There’s war, there’s famine, there’s so many things going on. But peace only comes from the God of peace, the kind that you want, at least. The kind that lasts. God who is peace is also the giver of peace. And we get peace, the scriptures say, through Jesus. He gives it through Jesus. Romans five one. It says, therefore, since we’ve been justified through faith, we have peace through God, with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Ultimately, we can trust that this God of peace is going to bring us into his rest.

Hebrews four talks about how don’t miss out on God’s rest. That’s like a summary of the gospel. I want you to know my rest. The God of peace wants that for us, and he wants to give it away. The second reminder you come to, he says, now may the God of peace who through the blood of the eternal covenant, we have a God of peace, but we have a God of promise. That we have a God who he has bound himself to us in a covenant, a promise. It’s like an eternal pinky promise. Unbreakable, forever binding. It’s eternal. We’ve heard about the covenant, but this word eternal here is inserted at the end of the book. It’s forever and it’s sealed by the blood of Jesus. It’s an expensive covenant, and it’s about our freedom. So we have a covenant saying we are his forever more. Forever more we are his. And this is really a great time to remind them of a faithful God, a God who promises them faithfully, and he wants to be joined with his people. And so when you think about a God who’s done all this, he spent that much, why would he not equip his people?

That’s what he wants to do. And so may God do it. May God do what he set in motion from the moment Jesus came to die equip you. And so essentially he’s saying, may God equip a covenant people, but not just the covenant people, covenant people that have this kind of power in their corner. We have a God of power. Third reminder. Now, may God who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus. Here he reminds them of the power of God above and beyond even death. In Hebrews two, he alludes to the resurrection, and that sure gives peace, right? But here he makes a direct aim at the resurrection directly saying, look, you have a man who raised from the dead, and that’s who’s in your corner. This is a foundational reminder. This is more than a reminder this is foundational to our faith. Because of Jesus’victory over death, that’s why we can have peace. And because of his victory over death, that’s why we can even trust his covenant, that it meant something that was good, that the check won’t bounce. He can back up his claim that we are in a covenant with Him.

We can trust the resurrection. The good news that we who would otherwise die are now those who have been rescued from the grip of death. Consider that the resurrection power. If God is going to equip us and give us the power for something, if he can resurrect a man, he’s giving us that kind of power. That’s high voltage. You don’t realize what you got in you, and you have it by God’s spirit. And that’s an awe-inspiring power. I don’t know how to really wrap my mind around that, but that’s what we would be equipped with. Other reminder here is that we have a wonderful shepherd. The scripture says a great shepherd. Now, may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant, brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep. This is a recurring theme, biblically. You’ve probably heard that God’s people are like sheep. Have you heard that? Everyone say “baah”. Yes, it’s true, you guys are like sheep. But you know why we’re called sheep? It’s because we’re dumb and we’re helpless and we’re prone to wander away from God. You should know that firsthand.

And you should realize we need our shepherd. We need Him. He says, Jesus is our great shepherd. That’s a wonderful adjective. Ever since we’ve wandered away in the garden with Adam and Eve man, since the beginning, our shepherd Jesus has been pursuing us to bring us back into his fold. I want you back. Come on. He’s in the business of finding lost sheep. He is our shepherd. In John ten, Jesus says I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. So as the good shepherd has died in our place, past tense, he has tasted death so we can taste peace with God and escape death. He’s already done that in the past. He’s a good shepherd who did that. But present tense the scripture says he’s a great shepherd because he hasn’t left us since then. He’s still guiding us. He’s still in us. He wants to lead us by his Spirit in a life that he wants to make only he could create in us. And if he did in the past, and he’s doing it today, you better believe he’s going to be shepherding us in the future.

First. Peter 5:4 says, when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. So we have a wonderful, great, good and chief shepherd. And so these four reminders, you can really see who this God is that wants to equip us. The author would pray, please equip them. But these are wonderful things to keep in mind of. Who is equipping us?

He’s a God of peace, of promise, of provision, of power. You can count on this great God to equip you. It’s a small thing.

Or to complete you. Or it might get more uncomfortable, to prepare you for something or to readjust you for his purpose. I don’t like the chiropractor I’ve been once, I’m scared to death to go back. But when he’s like, all right, just stay still. I need to crack you back into shape. God is doing something in your life too. He’s pushing you towards something because he has something prepared for you. And Scripture clearly shows that our growth as a disciple of Jesus though, it happens by his power, by Him working in us. Working in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ. As Andrew Murray, a great Christian from centuries past, he said this really well. He said, as little as you can reach to heaven with your hands, can you of yourself live such a heavenly life. You don’t have the kind of power you need to live this life, but it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. We’re talking about deeds right now. But doing the Christian life on your own, it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t. You need God’s power inside of you to do this. Even Jesus knew this.

Like he was dependent on God. John 15:19 the son can do nothing by himself. Those are Jesus’ words. He’s like, I can’t do it by myself. And if Jesus knew this to be true, then let me rest my case by saying Jesus is better than you. So you would do well to depend on God the way he depends on God. But if there is any part of this at all for you to do, it really looks something sort of like this surrendering yourself, trusting Him, yielding yourself, emptying yourself of your will so that he ultimately can work in your life. It’s a really passive thing, but it’s important. That’s what you need to do to be equipped to be ready to have God’s power work in your life. Because God has much to do thtrough you. He has so many great plans for you. I can’t imagine how the world would be changed. Every one of you guys would let God work his fullest potential in all of his power that he wants to through you. It’s Ephesians 3:20, like mind boggling what God can do through you. But we get in the way a lot.

We strive to kind of do things on our own and just have our own standards or ideas of what’s best, not what God has in mind here. He has a plan and he has a call on your life. He has a purpose for you. And Scripture shows that he is in the business here of working in you what is pleasing to him. It’s not about a superhero power, it’s not about finding out that you can shoot webs out of your ears or what does Spiderman do. But there are so many things that we could think this is about us doing something and it’s not about us. The emphasis here is on what God can do, not you. He’s doing the equipping by his Holy Spirit. It’s the highlight of his power for his progress and his purpose in your life.

That’s what he wants to do. And that might sound kind of selfish, right? Like the scripture here equipping you with everything good for doing his will. What about me, God? It might sound I don’t know. Are you consumed with yourself? I don’t know. That’s something to grapple with. But think about it. He just spent 13 chapters elaborating on how if anyone deserves glory at all, it is only God and not us. He’s the only one that deserves glory, every bit. It all belongs to him. And for you to know that our amazing God wants to do amazing things through you should humble you to the core. Humility, just awe like whoa. All you should be left to say those thoughts are really inappropriate. You should be like, here I am, Lord. Like Samuel said, right? Here I am, Lord. Do your will. What you want to do is what I am ready to do. And at the end of this book he’s laid out we come to the last line here, but he’s laid out in our site all the amazing things that God has done and is still yet to do in us.

And then he kind of ends this benediction with the phrase, Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

He’s at the end, what’s he going to do? And so here he is and I feel kind of like he’s just overwhelmed by the greatness of Jesus at this point. He’s made a massive case at every angle he could come at. Jesus is better and it feels like it’s like a submarine at ocean depth, just being crushed by the weight of the glory of Jesus. And he’s running out of time and he’s desperate and his heart swells with joy and bursting out and he says to Jesus Christ, be glory forever and ever. Amen. He finds relief in his cry, like what more can be said? Is anything more fitting than saying to Jesus, be glory forever and ever. And I think if you’re not convinced, read the end of Revelation and you’ll see that that’s all that happens in heaven. Maybe more, maybe God changes the subject. But if he doesn’t, all we can do is say Holy, holy. It’s all that’s fitting here. So I just ask where your heart is at this morning, does it say the same? Because the more you gaze at Jesus, his greatness, his power, his covenant, his kingship, his priesthood, his blood poured out for you.

It should always drive you just to your knees to worship and fall down before God. And so that’s how he ends. And as if he forgets he has something more to say, he closes also with a PS. The last section is a postscript. It’s a PS. And so we’ll read this too. It says, brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact, I’ve written to you quite briefly. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. Grace be with you all.

So he calls this letter he characterizes it as an exhortation, right? An encouragement. I just wrote you a big encouragement. It’s a call. I want to encourage you to do something. Go all in for Jesus. Case rested. And we know that it is indeed giving it its readers a lot of encouragement. If you’re on the fence, this book is for you. If you’re just getting in, read Hebrews. It will make the case that Jesus is no one to be on the fence for. It’s funny that he calls this letter brief, though. I mean, we’ve done 20 weeks of sermons. He’s done around 10,000 words. I wonder what his full, unabbreviated thoughts would have been if you would have let this man go. All right. How long would he have gone on? I don’t know. If someone got a cramp in their hand and they’re like, hold on, buddy, I can’t write anymore. Or maybe it’s like I’m out of paper and papyrus is gone. We’ve used all the papyrus in the town, who knows? But the truth is, we don’t know why he ended here. But we do know that he could have gone on and on and on and on.

And that’s clear, because truth be told, it really is a small and ridiculously brief letter. This is the smallest letter there could be compared to the infinite truths that this letter contains. Do you remember what the Apostle John said at the end of his Gospel? The last sentence he said was, Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that could have been written. And that’s really it. You can never, ever fully express the greatness of God. The greatness of Jesus Christ is inexpressible. You can give your best shot, but you’re not going to do it justice. That’s why holy, holy, holy goes on forever and ever like there’s more to be said, but are you, church, are you guys giving it your best shot? Our call is to show the world that Jesus is better, not just to know for ourselves, but to give it a shot, just like he did, and tell the greatness of the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s worth every breath we breathe. It’s worth every word we speak.

It’s really the call for us going forward. May God equip us to do that. So, friends, this is all we have. This is the end of the day. I don’t know what to say. I’m a little sad. It’s bittersweet. I’ve had a great time. But we’re going to land the plane here, and you land the plane. You go to baggage claim. You get your bags and you take with you what you can for the journey ahead. And I really ask you to consider your takeaway. But here’s your homework. It’s not over for you. It’s over for us here together. But I want you to read Hebrews one more time. I want you to get alone. If you can read it out loud, even better. Go into nature. Read this letter of Hebrews, spend a date with Jesus and read it and ask yourself this question are you making it the one aim of your life to glorify Jesus? That’s what it’s all about. So although this ends, I’m sure this writer kept speaking about Jesus and writing about Jesus in his own time, right? What more will we say about Jesus? There’s so many more stories about how he’s worked in our lives.

And as we remember Jesus, we’re going to take communion right now. It’s a time to remember Jesus, and I want our meditation to be today let’s just let it be how Jesus is better than anything that could compete with Him in our lives. Just ponder the greatness of Jesus together. Amen.

All right, we’re going to pray. Dear God, thank you so much for this morning. It’s been a long time to really hear the fullness, but we can talk about Jesus and listen about Jesus forever. And we look forward, God, in our walk with you, to getting to know Him deeper and deeper and deeper. May you equip this church, God and all of its people, with the ability to do what’s pleasing to you, to do the work you have set out for them. May you equip us God, god of peace and of power, our great shepherd. May you really just help us to be what you wanted us to be. All for the name of Jesus, and all for his glory. It’s in his name we pray. Amen.