Stones to Bread

Everyone here on earth are being tempted by something…






Journey of Stones - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

We're glad to have you here. We're glad to have you in person in the room that feels so unfamiliar. We're excited in a couple of weeks, we're gonna have a kid service where they all get to do stuff together. So it's a great opportunity to just invest into our families. And actually today I have some other exciting news that most of you don't know about or pay attention to, but it's just one of those things that happen in life. Today's actually our birthday today, North, he is 30 years old, literally within a couple of days. So our 29th year was rough. We have testimony about it and we'll be able to tell our kids, you know, down the road, 29 was hard. So we're going to turn the corner with 30. Let's bring it on. So today we are starting a conversation about stones rocks, and this was a lot of actually pastor Kayla's idea from a San Francisco campus.

She was like, what if as we walk up to Easter, we talk about rocks, okay. How are you doing? I know that the 29th year was hard. She was like, no. And then, you know, it goes off to like, you know, ending with Easter of the stone, a big rock being rolled away, which is why we meet every week. And so I was like, yeah, that sounds great. And you know, we looked and there's all these different stories about stones or rocks throughout the new Testament. And throughout scripture that have clear representation of things and said, let's have a conversation about that. So it was a great if you want to set up like which weeks is what? So this week, or last week she sent me and she goes, okay, here you go. I think this is the first one do this one.

And it was when Jesus turns stones into bread. And I literally responded back, I think in a text message and said what you come in and talk for 30 minutes about Jesus turning stones into bread. So that's what we're going to do today. And we're going to, we're going to do it a little differently. We're gonna do, what's called an exegetical message where I'm literally going to talk about every word in a small amount of verses of scripture. We're going to break that down and see what we learned from this. So I will give you the end of the story. Now, Jesus, doesn't turn stones into bread. There you go. But I know I'm like the movie spoiler. So this, this, this comes from Matthew four and this is a really important text. And this is where I want to start out with. Be real.

We all are tempted by something right now, you are attempted by something. There is things that are extra tempting to you that you have identified as other things that kind of sneak up on you. And we live in this world that is geared towards temptation, like creating tempt of moments and making you think you need something, our hearts and our minds. And here's the deal is that we need to realize as we get into this and Matthew chapter four, that Satan is real. Sin is real and we are all prone to wonder towards sin or temptation. And that temptation is just part of our life. For some of you it's sexual or money or reputation or family. And some of you, it's a very, a thing that's very quiet. That's not like one of these big name things. That's just kind of hiding underneath the surface.

And so today, as we look in Matthew four, I want to look where this is being set up from. And that starts in Matthew three. And this is as Jesus is actually starting his ministry. He is being baptized. And it says in Matthew three 17, that a voice from heaven. This has God said, this is my son. Son is Jesus. This is my son whom I love whom I am. Well-Pleased. Now, this is really important because we're going to wrap back to this, but this is the setup to the scene in Matthew four. This is my son whom I love whom I'm well, pleased God saying to Jesus. So then Matthew four one starts like this, then Jesus, then Jesus. So let's talk about Jesus for a minute. This is a beautiful thing that Matthew is doing and does from the very beginning of this book and the new Testament where he is declaring and making sure it is really clear.

The hero of all of these stories is Jesus. That what we're reading about when we read scriptures is about Jesus and his story. Oftentimes we can find ourselves trying to relate to it and making it about us and putting ourselves in there. And he's saying, no, no, no. Jesus is the hero. Jesus is the reason we meet here. Jesus is the reason we're going to have a conversation about a big gigantic stone and a couple of weeks. And we read things like it's about us, but it's about Jesus. And that's exactly where he starts. Then Jesus was led by the spirit. If I miss verse one of the most fascinating verses in the new Testament, then Jesus was led by the spirit, the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil, to which we say what? This doesn't even make sense. Like this is really happening.

We think something bad happens to us. We often go like some evils at work, but this is crazy. You took this out. Jesus was led by who the spirit, the spirit led Jesus. There, God put him there. Now some of us were pitched as the version of Christianity where it was like, Hey, if you believe Jesus, everything's going to go really, really well in your life. It's going to go great. Your marriage is going to be good. Your kids are going to be wonderful. Your job, your bank account, it's all going to look good. And for some of us, this is the Christianity that we were pitched in, in these things that we do. Like everything that we touch is just going to prosper, right? We hang on to old Testament values too, of Jeremiah 29 11. Like we're just going to prosper. That's who we are.

It's all going to be good. All the time. I saw recently a famous prosperity preacher. Some of you guys have seen these on TV was asking people to give a gift of generosity so he could buy a $54 million private jet, right? $54 million private jet and is asking for this because he needs to go and bring the gospel to other reasonable places in an instant, right? You look at his website and it says, you need to sow a love gift into his ministry. Now here's what happens with prosperity. In sewing conversation, sewing language is, is this thing where we sew something into the ground and we put some water on it and we feed it and some gets there and it starts to grow. And at this point, this, this sewing language causes us to expect a what a return, right? We so something, we want to get something back.

So if I give money, then God owes me something. This whole prosperity thing. If I'm a Christian, I'm never going to get sick. And if I do it's my fault or it's something that I did, but God's always going to heal me every time. God's going to make sure that you have everything that you need, all the money that you need in. This is how it's pitched to us, right? This is how we get comfortable in this is why. When we find a Rocky place, we like that. I did that Stony place, right? It rattled that rattles us. And it starts to throw us off kilter because we're just used to this. Like lovey-dovey comfortable snuggle blanket, right? A weighted blanket. And it's just Jesus. But look at what Matthew does with Jesus. Look where it starts. And if you choose to follow him, we as followers, this is what happens.

The father is first in Matthew, three 17. He's going to Claire that you are good. He's going to say, you're good. You're his son that he loves you. And he's going to kick you out into the wilderness. Baptize kicked you out into the wilderness, where you are going to be tempted where your life's going to be wrecked by Satan, the devil, right? That's what he's saying. This is what you're signing up for. You're going to throw you out into aloneness, out into the wilderness to be really hungry. And then we're going to see if Satan can actually destroy your life. Who's signing up, right? That's what we look at. Like sign the dotted line. That's what you're signing up for when you're saying yes to following Jesus. And this is where we see Jesus actually leading. He doesn't go, Hey, you follow me. And everything's going to be all better. He doesn't start with that. He talks about how it can be and what needs to happen. But Matthew starts with this different setup. He says, Hey, if you're going to follow me, I'm going to put you out into loneliness in wilderness and hunger. When that happens in, Satan's going to come out to you. And here's the first principle I want us to grab out of this is that God has a wonderful and difficult plan for your life.

Been there.

God has a wonderful, a beautiful and difficult plan for your life. So the first question, when I look at this test that I would want to ask is why, why would the spirit lead Jesus out to be tempted where Satan was going to be allowed to just come at him? So, first of all, I'm going to look at this word tempted right here. This word tempted in the Greek has two meanings. The first is temptation. This is what the devil is going to be doing. Or the accuser, when the other word is testing, it's a double meaning. This word is testing is actually how God uses things and how we gain character and perseverance and endurance is through testing and difficult things and going deeper in having nowhere else to look but up to him and to him, for him to take care of everything in our weakness.

And the devil uses this stuff in our life as well. That's going on? So what does God want to do in this situation? Really in great here, we're seeing, and it said, God wants to test Jesus. He let them out there to be tested in James chapter one. It says that God does not tempt us, but he will test us. So he's doing the thing, this thing to Jesus. So we'd ask why is he testing Jesus? Like, why is this happening? Why are you making it difficult for him? And Jesus is about to go on the craziest mission. And the question is, does he have the character to withstand? Is he strong enough to do this? You look at other analogies in situations, you know, the Navy seals could come along and someone can be like, I want to be a Navy seal. And you're like, awesome.

Say this creed. And they're like, okay, I'm a Navy seal now. And they're like, yeah, that doesn't, that's not how it works. Right? They're like, you want to be a Navy seal. We're going to lead you into the wilderness buddy. Right. We're going to do some testing. Right. And see what characters built up there. We're going to get half of you to quit. We're going to tear you down to nothing. We're going to see if you have what it takes to become stronger, to have the character, to get through the mission at hand, you're going to hold each other's arms. And it was drowned in the ocean and just crazy stuff. Right? You're going to put yourself through that. And out of that comes something different. So for your kids in the room, or you adult kids in the room, same thing with Batman, right?

That man was like a little teeny rich kid, right? And got them. He's a scrawny guy. You know, a situation happened his life. He went off and trained for years and became a Ninja, trained to be a Ninja. And then he was tested there over years and years and years. And so when he was able to come back and fight crime and handle stuff, he was ready for the mission at hand, because he had been tested. This is what God is doing with Jesus in the beginning of his ministry, this is right off the bat. And this is what he does. Romans five says this, we know that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance character, character. That's what he's trying to do. He's trying to produce a character in the person of Jesus. And that's what we actually want to do with you. That's what we need to be doing to ourselves is to produce this character.

And honestly, friends, this is causing me, especially in this season to rethink how we do discipleship here. That's a big word, but it's a process of actually following and doing some testing, which creates endurance and character in a person. Usually though how we do it, honestly, as we soft sell it, we want to be a comfortable place. And we're a people and process and people come in here and we're like, Oh yeah, just be comfortable. Just kind of feel it out. You know, you don't have to really engage in anything and say hi to people and give it a couple years. Maybe you'll take a next step. We know we know what you're doing at home and at the job. And we see what you say in public. If you know, no big deal, right. You're not changing. It's all good. You be you. Right.

We soft sell it. And we say, well, you're in like the Jesus cuddle snuggle area, right. You come to church and you wash it off. And then you get to do one of these right? In a couple of years, we'll take a next step. But God's like messing this whole thing up right now, right off the bat. There is no soft sell. There's no soft start. He's saying we're going to front-load this thing in the very beginning. So when reality hits, when everything gets Rocky, right? When everything feels uncomfortable, we have been tested already and we're able to get through it. We find ourselves in a place like so many have found themselves over the last 12 months where we're trying to see can this suffering that we've gone through in this shift of things actually produce character in me.

When I was in, I was younger. I had a buddy had like a two year old and I was, we were hanging out in the kitchen area and his kid was walking over towards the cabinet. His kid was about to smash his finger in the, in the little, like the drawer thing, the sliding door for like silverware. And so like a good person. I'm like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. Right. And my buddy was like, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's okay. And he walks over there and goes and smashes the kid's finger. And I was like, are you a psychic?

Where am I? Who are you? Right. What is wrong with you? And he's like, no, no, he won't do that again. And I'm like, what do you mean? It's a baby raise. I got to teach him like, how's he going to know that you shouldn't, that it's going to crunch her fingers. You crunch her fingers. That's what happened. I was like, you are a sick person, but there is an analogy here to making it into a message. What this guy is saying is I don't want to be around to always make sure you don't crunch your fingers. I don't want to wait until in college and looking over and being like, how are we not going to crunch our fingers today? You making sure you're comfortable. Don't do that. Right? He's saying I'm not going to be all around you. The point is I can't baby.

You your whole life. I have to prep you and prepare you in front load you to be strong enough to not only survive, but to accomplish the mission that I have you on. And a lot of us are experiencing what types of training we have done and how prepared we really are in these moments. What feels like we can still hang onto it instead of working and getting to a point we've, we've flipped things upside down in our process where we're like, Hey, you've been around here or you're doing this Jesus saying, you know what? Down the road where you're really arrive is a missions trip. I know crazy. You go somewhere and you actually serve people who don't look like you. Who don't smell like you. The downcast of the area, you can go at two in the morning. This is a big deal.

I mean, this is really making it. We're talking two years on the road show, but two in the morning at the Sparrow project and do a feed on Friday night, where are you going to get all the unwanted people of the community? Where nobody loves them, go there and that's like making it right. We need to front load it. If you've ever been on a missions trip, you've had this experience where you went somewhere and you're like, Whoa, God is here. A lot of you that have traveled into other countries even, or down into Mexico or on some of our Uganda trips, you're blown away. Cause you're like, wow. Like I just feel the presence of God here. And that's because that's where he's abiding. Right? He's here too. But he is doing work out there in constantly inviting us that this is where the work is. You need to front load it and see, and then go the other direction. I'm going to start with a missions trip. I'm going to start with beating this and then I'm going to go backwards. And I'm an understand what grace and mercy and love actually looks like. So I have a question.

Are you still asking God to baby? You, are you still asking God to baby? You that's the whole point. I think God will drive us into the wilderness at times. And you're there. And Satan's going to see this as an opportunity to break us down in order and to make as the person that he wants us to be. But we tend to think, why would he do that? I don't understand. And that's why I want to say this again. God has a wonderful and difficult plan for your life. So the next thing then Jesus was led by the spirit into the world. And that's to be tempted by the devil again, why is this here? Why is this happening? Is he being tempted to be tempted by the devil? This, this word devil right here means it's dial bolus. It literally means accuser. It's used three or four times in the old Testament that that specific verbiage, this person is called the devil.

And he's an accuser. He accuses people, things you see in the book of job. He's like in the figure of a lawyer in constantly accusing, accusing, accusing, accusing. And here's why this is important for us to understand who this person is. And at this temptation happens. And that this is real. Let me read to you from revelations, chapter 12, about what the accuser is about. One thing that we typically do when we see this word devil, we like think of it like a cartoon, right? And like Pitchfork and big horns and super muscly and just kind of funny, right? It's kind of a fun thing to joke around with. And we do this, but here's what it says in revelations. This great dragon, the ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world. Right? So right off the bat, we get this picture that the devil or Satan, he's a deceiver deceiving the whole world.

You've maybe heard this, that the greatest trick that the devil could ever play was making the world think he doesn't right? Yeah. That's what he does to you. That's what he does to me is to make us think that he doesn't exist to deceive you, did. They receive me so that we let our guard down. He wants to see you into thinking that there's no such thing as God, that there's no such thing as heaven. That there's no such thing as spirituality. It's just you, you're the center. You're the main thing. You're the main event. And he's the deceiver making us think that way. So the great dragon that ancient serpent called that called the devil or Satan. The one deceiving the whole world was thrown down to the earth with all of his angels. When the dragon realized, now this is apocalyptic literature real quick, it's a full of a ton of imagery.

We're not going to get deep into it, but it's to paint a point. When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down into the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. Now this was a picture, an image that was very messianic, that this is where Jesus came out of, or this was Israel coming in, fulfilling these things. And so the dragon, the devil now is pursuing this male child. And the dragon tried to drown the woman with a flood of water that flowed from his mouth. But the earth helped her by opening its mouth and swallowing the river, that gushed from the mouth of the dragon and the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children, all who keep God's commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus Christ. So here's what we get.

This is us. Oh, funny, funny, funny, Satan devil thing. Let's play around. You know, it's kind of fun to dabble in, right? Listen, he is at war. We need to grasp that. He is at war with us. He's a deceiver that, that war with you, he hates you. He hates your family. He hates your kids. He hates this church, right? He doesn't want any of it. He wants a bad for you. And this is why we have to have a clear vision of what Jesus is dealing with. He is at war right now. So back to Matthew four, we see that he is tempted. One of us needs to realize that we are tempted and it's not always one of the big things that you can grasp onto. There's more subtle stuff in the ways that we're tempted. He's a deceiver. CS Lewis says this in this way, in his Screwtape letters that he authored. This is indeed. The safest road to hell is a gradual one, a gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turns without milestones, without signposts. When you say to yourself in a moment of weakness of temptation, and you say, I'm not weak, I'm not tempted. I'm really strong. This is where you can actually be destroyed because it's subtle. It's smooth. It's calm.

The way I can give you a really intense example is this. Cause I feel like we need it a couple years ago, they changed the way they slaughter livestock. So they used to, you know, we, we burgers and stuff. A lot of people do. They would, livestock was a very like aggressive thing. The way that they slaughtered and processed livestock, it was like electric prods. And oftentimes the livestock would trip and fall herself. And it was a very anxious moment. And so a lot of people really pushed forward to have a humane act put in when it came to processing livestock. And so they did that. So now what happens is when they're processing livestock is cow comes in and he gets to walk off into a shoot and there's food and it's soft at his feet. So they're comfortable. And then the gate that they're going in gets tighter to feel more snugly and comfortable, you know, that weighted blanket thing. Right? So they're just having a fantastic time. It came out, it's soft under foot there's food. E I get a little snuggle. Then all of a sudden they wondered down, nothing too sharp turn, no big noise coming on. And they go, and then they get their neck caught in the shoot right there. And then they knock them out. And then they chop it up. That was really aggressive. They didn't see it coming. And here's why I wanted to say, you're the cow.

He wants to chop you up. He wants you to get out and be soft under foot. I have some food and wonder, and all of a sudden you're getting chopped up. There's big stuff that we can see, but we can get into like the subtle things where the devil will just let you waste your life or get really comfortable. Right. And we say, well, that can never happen to me. That that never would happen to me. It's where it starts. It's soft. It's deceiving. And you have to keep your eyes out for it. You have to, you have to see it coming up and be watching for it. Because if you're not watching for these things, that's when they sneak up on you. If you're not preparing for, if you're not protecting yourself, okay. Moving forward. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights, he was, what do you think he was hungry?

I would be too right. He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He was hungry. I'm sure he was tired. He was weak. An interesting thing for you to know is what is this? Why, why 40 days? Why didn't he fast for 40 days out of the kick of this? It was actually a recognition in a process of a double pro prophecy piece where Jesus was actually reenacting the 40 years in the wilderness of wondering around that Israel did then come into new thing. And this is him being successful. This is him setting it up for the future. As this new Israel has God's person to make this relationship with God, a righteous one into a new covenant, because the old covenant was so broken and messy. And it was, it was all over the place. And so he right here is representing, Hey, here's the 40 days in the new Israel.

I'm going to come in here. The men going to be successful. So look at what the devil does. He came to him after fasting when he's at his weakest. And my question for you right now would be for you to process. When are you the weakest? I asked him in this, it's more comfortable to ask men as a man. And oftentimes men will tell me I'm the weakest most tempted when I travel or when things at home aren't good or when I'm distracted or when I'm busy or when I'm tired, right? The tempter came to him and he said, Hey, I'm going to get you at your weakest. If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread. If you're the son of God, you're exhausted right now, tell these stone to become bread. I want to pause real quick in this son of God conversation, because just moments ago, we looked back in Matthew, three 17 as he began this journey.

And we saw how God spoke to him. At first, I think it has two meanings here. One, I think this is a direct inversion of what he did. Satan did to Adam and Eve in the garden, in the garden. He was saying to them, don't you want to be God, don't you think you could be God, don't. You want to have all the knowledge. You could be a God, look at what you could do in this direct version that we're seeing here in this moment is, is him saying, do you really think you could be human? Do you really think you could put the God thing aside to go through this? Your God, your can I float around and do these cool things, right? He shows up to where God says, you can't adjust to be human. Look at you. You're weak. You're going to have to resist the temptation to be God when you're hurt and feeling the human things that you're going to be feeling.

You're not going to get followers by week, who gains followers by being weak, beaten, and then put up on a cross. That is not a winning way. I need to do this. Jesus. Right? So turn stones into bread. You're hungry. If you are the son of God now, what did God say about Jesus moments ago? He said, you are, my son said that he declared your, my son. See what? He just did? What the deceiver just did. He just took what God said about him, his identity. And he is questioning him about it. He's making him question. It really you're the son of God. Do you really think, you really believe if you are after God just said, you are mine. I declared you. You are loved. I am proud of you and friends. We deal with this every day, we deal with this identity piece every single day that because of the gospel, it says that Jesus has done.

When you repent and you give your life to him, you become a beloved son, a beloved daughter, that God is pleased with you. And you bring him joy that you are a new creation that you're forgiven. That you're forgiven because we sit there and we just have this thing rolling over us, where Satan's kind of poking in and being like, you're not a new creation. I know what you did last night. I know who you are walking in here right now. I know what have been rolling in your head. Oh, you think you're forgiving? You're a mess. You're a mess. You're not strong. You're weak. You're not, you're old. And there's this constant tension in our lives, right? To believe what God has actually said, us and this identity that he's given us. So now Jesus is saying now, images, are you really going to believe that God said about you? I'm not even sure that you're the son of God, but three seconds ago, God said, you're my son. And so it says the temper came to him and said, if you're the son of God, tell these stones to become bread. So what does this mean? Stones to bread. I'm finally getting there. Sorry. We're finally getting to the stones to bread.

He's saying right here, stones. I want to take this Morally neutral every day.

The thing, where did it go? It was right there. Stones. We go back. I was pointing at stones. There you go. That thing,

This morally neutral everyday thing.

I want you to make it more important than God. This stones to God is actually idolatry. This is our everyday life. I want you to take money and make it more important than God. Think about it more than God to seek after it. More than God sexual relationships, more than got reputation. More than God. All of your idolatry moments in life. What is your stones to bread? That's you're being tempted about that. Just thing that's right in front of you. Right? For me, sometimes, honestly it could be my kids for some of you that have had kids where sometimes you feel like you can love them more than God. Right? You put them up and you a dollar try the ties on you. You don't, you know, you have time for certain things that are comfortable. What we don't invest into eternal things and prepare them when life hits it.

Right? There's this common thing. Maybe you've even experienced it where you're one of those that you hung around and you did the church thing. It was soft. It was comfortable. And then later in life, life hits you. Right? And then he started questioning the Bible and what's this look like? And it kind of get notched down as authority down a couple of rings. Cause you're looking at it going like, ah, I'm more into like what my feelings are and that has authority or my experiences. Right? And then you wonder off and you find yourself not really, even part of the faith community. And then life hits you weird or you have kids and it's like a wake-up call. And you're like, Oh, I'm going back to church. You've seen this. Some of you you've experienced this. And you're like, I need to get this root in me.

Right. But in the midst of that, it's because we are idolatry, rising other things. I think that was the right word. Yeah. We're making an idol out of all kinds of other things where we're taking stones and making into bread because we're not really interested in that mission at hand for our lives where we're interested in pleasing ourselves, right. Making that better. And actually, if you look at it, it actually destroys us and can destroy the people around us. Especially when we put our kids up on a pedestal, right? Or other people or other things up on a pedestal, that's more work becoming more important than family or your relationship with Jesus in that investment. When you treat people or things like God and putting on a suit, you begin to actually destroy them because we compete. We sacrifice

Anything for them. You know, you find yourself, these other things you're like, yeah, that now has become more important than a corporate worship experience. Right? Jammies watching at home right now, it's just gotten a little bit more comfortable and experiencing biblical community and figuring that out or doing hard work and finding how to do that from a distance. The tempter came to him and said, if you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread and cheese, Jesus answered. And this is so powerful. Jesus answers. It is written that in here might not be written on here.

Okay. I'll tell you what it is. It's written. It's written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God, he's actually speaking from Deuteronomy when all this stuff happens. And what we see here is in the midst of temptation, what does he use in the midst of temptation? Not a feeling, not experienced. He uses scripture. He uses the word of God. That's where he goes. When things get rattled and things come around and where do you go, friends when you're rattled and things come up and you're in the midst of a weakness or temptation go to the scriptures. He's showing us right here that this is where the power is. The powers into the scriptures. Not, not a sermon, not a podcast, not a church. It's the scriptures. And that this is the authority. This is the power.

And that's why it's so important that you're in them. So when you found yourself in this really weak place or where you're tempted and you're just at your end, right, you've got to dig into where the power is and that's in the scriptures so that you can be tested and refined and God can speak to you. And even talks about how the word is like a sword to fight against those things that are coming up against you. In many, many, many of us have experienced that. And many, many, many of us have been staring at a bunch of stones, starving, hungry, tired, standing out. It looks really tempting to just turn that in to bread. But man shall not live on bread alone. But on every word that comes from the mouth of God, the devil is always focusing friends on the temporal. And Jesus was like this way, bigger things than what's right in front of me.

There's things that are big, real bigger. It's not so temporal as feeding myself this spread or changing it into something that I could eternal things, not just bread. Here's the crazy part is you could be fed. You could be well fed your entire life and still go to hell. And as a spiritual eternal things at stake, that is why man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. So here's what matters to me. Here's what matters to you is here's what should matter to you? What God says about you, that you are the son, that you are a daughter that you are loved and that you bring him joy.

But what the devil constantly says is just care about the next 60 seconds. Just care about the next 12 days, the next three months, just to focus on that, just care about that. Just make sure that you're comfortable. And you've got to say, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. We've got way bigger plans than that. So some conversations where you can knock out your phone right now and pull out your phone and take a picture of this. If you're with us, wherever you are, if you're with us here in the room, here's some followup questions to kind of continue this conversation with this. What do you really think God says about you? What'd you to ask that like really? Have you ever, have you ever even just sat in silence and thought, what does God really think about me? And have a conversation? Maybe actually imagine that he's sitting there right next to you in a room right next to you on the chair and say, what do you really think about me? I'm sitting here with just vulnerable. I mean, what are you, God, what do you think about me right now? And ask yourself, are you tired? Are you feeling weak? Where are you tired? What's causing you to be tired. Are you recognizing that? So you can be on guard and see that coming. And then finally, what's your, why? What's your eternal focus?

Why are you a follower of Jesus? Why are you willing to sacrifice and give up everything? Why is it worth working at it? Why is it worth making time to be in community? Why is it worth making time to go on a mission trip? Why is it worth making time to go serve someone else? Why is it making time to go sit down with my kids and have eternal conversations with my children? What's your why? So as you process these questions, I think a really valuable thing to do in these moments. And I think as we get into the word and we understand some of these things is to respond and worship, which is in song, which is an action, which is a physical thing that we're doing. And you can do this really from wherever you are, whether you're in the room right here, you're at home in your room, you know, with your family or in your car, your, your work, you can still respond to this moment. I'm going to ask all of you to stand. We're going to sing a, the response to who God is, what he's done for us, how great he is. And then I want to come out here and I want to send us off of the blessing. And then we'll call that a wrap. So would you just respond and worship.




House on the Rock

What do you build your life on… the sand of self and emotion and, proximity to Jesus without right motives or Jesus himself.






Journey of Stones - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Well, Hey friends, welcome. If you're online with us, I'm so thankful that you are joining us today. I'm so glad to be a part of your Sunday, or if you're watching this during the week, whatever day that is. So just part of your day, we'll go with that. As some of you guys can see, we have started regathering in person slowly. So it's exciting. We have some people in the room today. And so when you're ready, we're ready for you to be a part of what's happening here. And next March 7th, we have two cool things you saw that are coming up. One is drive through communion and communion in person at our campuses. And then also we are going to start our kids service and our family building for kindergarten through fifth grade, really excited about that. It's going to be more themed around like our summer Rama feels so big room worship stuff, really spread out. And the safest we can be when it comes to that. So if you have families and you're just like, I don't want to bring my kids into this room yet. And I'm just, you know, that's stressing me out.

We've got an answer for you coming up. So we're going to walk through that as we go.

Well, the other thing that we're walking through as we walk to Easter is we've been having a conversation that we started last week called the journey of stones, where we're grabbing some different stories throughout the scriptures that stones tell a story or rocks, tell a story, and then kind of ending all of that with Easter and how the tomb was rolled away. And we started that series last week and I had a really difficult one. It was bread stones to bread, and we unpack that. And the fun part was, I think I talked about stones to bread for like three minutes of the entire message you guys are just waiting. You're like, when are you going to get there?

Today's going to be similar. So just hang with me really weird thing. I'm just going to tell you it was funny. And we thought it was this weird message. I don't usually share this stuff. Someone came on Thursday night or something like that, or Saturday and Friday night. And they came here and someone dumped a bunch of stuff on, in front of our property. And it was this really weird setup and everything was filled with rocks. Like there was a suitcase full of rocks and like a bag full of rocks. And then there was like different things strategically set up and then like a bowl of rocks. And like, this is weird, a turtle eating out of the rocks. Like it was the weirdest thing ever. When I found out about this, we were like trying to figure out, I was like, this is some sort of symbolism of like this stone thing we're talking about. And I think it was really just something dumping their garbage. And so that's, that's so interesting. Like people are really attaching themselves to this journey and they created their own symbolism journey. So if that's you out there, I would love to know one more just to give me some more information, let's have a conversation.

So today we are going to have a conversation and a discussion around a stone in Matthew chapter seven in Matthew chapter seven, there is a very common story that many of you have heard before that many of you have. If you've grown up in church, you sing a song about it. And the premise that we get to, or we're going to end with of the stone is that a wise builder builds his house on rock. Another builder builds his house on sand. And when the storm comes and the water raises up, you know, it blows away the one on sand and the one on rock and the firm foundation. And we like to think it's all cheery and good. Well, what we're going to see today as we walk to that is that this was actually at the end of a sermon. It's called the sermon on the Mount.

This is Jesus. His first big sermon, he's up on a mountain. He's giving this entire sermon. And this is actually how he ends. He ends with that story. And what we do is oftentimes when we're reading scripture or in the Bible, we like break it up into chapters. And it was much later that people put, you know, like headings for sections. And what we do is we miss the opportunity to read through as it was, it was one continuous story. We've just kind of stopped. And we're like, Oh, now it's time for the wise builders. Let's hear about that. And we don't pay attention to what happened just before, because it's an entire, it's a connection. There's not really a break to it. So we're going to start with, what's adding up to this story. This is what Martin Lloyd Jones called, maybe the scariest, most solemn texts and the entire Bible scared yet. All right, we're gonna walk through and see if we can get you to sweat a little bit. As we work through this, this Texas, about a bunch of people here. It is that think there.

And they're not all right, here we go. He's going to, we're going to see what Jesus is going to come up. People who've grown up in the church and their whole life. They know the language, they know the vernacular, the lingo, they know the game. They know how things go, and he's going to destruct them right now. He's going to say that there's a problem. And if you look at the heading of this, it actually says the heading is the false disciples. And he's going to say that here's the problem with false disciples. People who think they're Christians, but they're actually not. That are deceiving themselves. And it's keeping them from the narrow gate and they're going to get in front of Jesus. And I'm Alaska day. He never actually knew them. We're going to find out that he says, I don't actually know you. And they didn't really love and treasure Jesus at the core of their heart in the dark. Like when no one was watching, right. When no one was paying attention, when they couldn't play the religious game and be like, Oh yeah, I go to church. Right? But then live life. However they want to, or, you know, say that they're affiliated like, yeah, you know, I know Jesus, but Jesus doesn't really no them when no one's watching.

When they're trying to impress other people and put on a show where they can just pull this, you know, this arm of God and say like, just give me what I want. And what they did is they elevated the gift above giver. They elevated experiences above discipleship. And then in Jesus actually says depart from me. I never knew you. And they go to the place of destruction. And so this is how he ends the sermon on the Mount is we're going to read the entirety.

Well, the story. And then we're going to kind of walk through it. This is in Matthew starts in chapter seven, verse 21, not everyone who says to me, this is Jesus. Again, giving a sermon says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father, who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we prophesied in your name? And in your name, drive out demons. And in your name perform miracle, then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you away from me. You evil doers. It doesn't end there. This is where we have to continue. Right. Then it says, therefore, that's what the therefore is there for everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams Rose, the winds blew and beat against that house. Yet it did not fall because it had a foundation of the rock.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who builds his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams Rose and the winds blew and beat against the house. And it fell with a great crash. So let's look back at verse 21. It says, not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. I just want to stop right here. And we could actually spin the entire conversation we're going to have today, just on that. But we're going to try to do a little bit more. There's a couple of problems with this. And so I'm gonna start with the first problem. The first problem that we have to stand about these people, and this is what's terrifying is the first problem is that they have good theology. They call Jesus Lord.

They have good theology. They call Jesus Lord. These guys aren't heretics. They're not completely outside of the realm of orthodoxy or the pale. They have theology that says that Jesus is actually, you are divine and you are Lord, right? This, this word, Lord, that you're the son of God. I'm calling the Cristos. This is the word for Kairos. For Lord, that was given to Moses that they understood that this is who God was. God was a Lord. Jesus is now the Lord. And Moses is in this situation where he finds himself being called by God. And I was like this burning Bush moment. And he tells him, Hey, go see Pharaoh and save my people. And he was like, I don't even know who you are. And God responds. I am who I am. What we see throughout the new Testament where Jesus was actually saying, I am.

I am just this as with Moses, I'm Kairos, this, this Lord, it's the Lord, this divine name that we see all throughout the Bible. And these people stand in front of Jesus with this good DLG understanding who they am. And they call him Lord, their theology is proper in regards to Jesus. So, so they don't have this messed up theology. And some of us, we get caught up in thinking if we just have right theology, then we'll avoid destruction at the end. Well going to hell and just going to work out our theology and that if we have better theology and you have this good systematic theology that you are good, that you just read the Bible more and it makes things better. And the problem is is that you don't do what Carl Brooks said. He's a famous old Swiss theologian. And people say some of the best theology that has ever been written down.

He said, you have to know the word, but when you have, but then you have to know the word beyond the word. That there's a difference. You can read the Bible, but you have to understand what's underneath that, that you can have this bibliography or Bibliolatry of things where your life, where you say, Hey, I read the Bible and your heart. And then your heart just stops at the words that are written. And we don't actually see and push through with the texts are underneath that, to see that the big w of Jesus, the logos, which is who Jesus is. He's the word that John tells us about this. So the word behind the word, we just stopped at this written text. And some of us just think that theology is the answer that we can just walk through life and be like, yeah, no, I know who Jesus is.

I, I believe in Jesus. That's good. And there's a problem with this is that we can have that theology to be like, yeah, I know Jesus is Lord. It's all great. So there's our first problem that we see with these people that often we find ourselves in the second problem that gives us this nervousness is that these people are invested. They're emotionally invested. So first of all, they have good theology. Then they're emotionally invested. They call him and they say to them, not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, right, this right here, this Lord Lord in the, the way that language works back then this Semitic language is that when you wanted to emphasize something, you'd say it twice. So if I was going to say to somebody who, who am I going to say to you right now? Let me look around. It's hard to see everything under here, Angie.

And I was going to be like, Angie, no big deal. But if it was like Angie, Angie, right? Like then it's emphasized, like I'm emotionally invested. I'm either emotionally invested because I'm upset. You know, like the Martha, Martha, right. Or if it's just like Martha and it's not emotionally invested, right? So this was what they would say. They said, Lord, Lord, they're emotionally invested this. They said it twice. They're emotionally invested. They, they they're, they're people who, you know, really cry over their sin. They raise their hands and worship. They really made sure that they attended all the services. They make sure that that they're in. And the Bible says that, you know, they really care about this. That they're really jacked up about church and about Jesus. Cause it said that they did these things and they're sincere emotionally connected and invested to Jesus. They have zeal, right? Some of you are very zealous. You say, Hey, problems not theology. The problem. And the solution to bad discipleship is not the LG. It's just to have more zeal, I'm gonna have more zeal, more passionate about this and get more experiences under my belt. And then you realize that that's not exactly how it works. That you can be theology, Theo, theologically, astute. You can be emotionally invested in still not. This is the scary part be known by Jesus.

I'm going to ask you to lean in really hard right here. Cause this has been a convicting for me all week. It's frankly been scary as, as I've been talking about this, the third problem that we see here is that these people serve. So these people who showed up in front of God and said, Lord, Lord. And then he said, I never knew you get away from me. They have good theology. They're emotionally invested. And they serve they're active in ministry.

It's as many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesied in your name and in your name, drive out demons. And in your name perform many miracles. See they're saying we didn't do any of this in our name for ourselves. We did this all in your name for your name's sake. Now some theologians say they didn't actually do this. Go back real quick. Some theologians say that they didn't actually do these things. If they didn't prophesied that they didn't drive out demons, that they didn't perform many miracles, that they were just sort of lying. Right. They came to him and just said what he wanted to hear. Right? And frankly, I think that they actually did this, but let's say that they didn't, that they were actually lying to Jesus. Then there's a lot of things that we can pull out of that because here's, here's the deal friends. The problem is that you and I, whether you believe it or not lie to God all the time, gorgeous like that. We lied to God all the time. How many times have you found your self saying like, God, I will never do that again. But you know, deep down inside you that you will and that you want to, right.

We lie to God all the time. We say, I'm never going to do that again. You sit here maybe on a Sunday at home and church or here in person. And you say these services and you get convicted about something. And you're like, that's it this week, I'm going to go reconcile. I'm going to go have a conversation with this person. I'm going to, I'm going to turn away. I'm going to repent from this thing. And I'm going to go see that family member. And then the next week comes along and guess what? You never did. You said, God, I'm going to do this. And then you didn't do it. You haven't done it. You're a liar. And people lie. This is one of the dangers, honestly, of pushing so many of you into active ministry where you're serving all the time. Because what happens is, is people can tend to exchange or trade that for a deep, personal relationship of faith.

So you say, look, it I'm active in ministry. I'm serving kids or I'm on the production team. Or I'm making sure that I'm there for three services, three Sundays a month, like I'm all involved. And this is this tray that we make this tray that we actually make for actual faith in Jesus, where we know him and we love him. And we treasure him even in the dark when we come and we say to him, and he says, you didn't really even follow me. And we say, but look, I served at summer camp. Look, I came over and I worked in this area or I served in this spot or I was on the prayer team or I did some cafe stuff or I was a greeter or welcomer, or I did stuff with kids. That should be good. Right. I went and did a missions trip or I went to the community and I served food to the homeless.

We say, that should be good. Right? And this is the problem. This is what we tend to do. We tend to put forward our service or our moral record. Right? In hope that at the end, God's going to say, okay, you can come in. You're good. But see, here's the scary part. And the problem is is that everything in the gospel actually pushes up against that. Everything in the gospel goes against that when you stand in front of Jesus at the end, and he says, why should I let you into heaven? Don't say it's because I did a bunch of really good things for you. That's not how it works. It ain't gonna work. You didn't do enough. You can't do enough.

This is what you should say. So remember this, when that day comes, why should I let you in? Because based on not my work, but your work, but what you did for me, when, when, and I found that I was just nothing and I was at my end and I couldn't do this anymore. And I needed to surrender everything. When I recognized that that's who I was, I came to you and you did this work for me. And I got to put on your righteousness because you're the one who can save me. That's going to be the answer, not what I did for you. But what did God for me, my, a buddy that I coached football with really great guy, a really smart guy. And we would have long conversations about this. And yeah, he didn't really do the church thing. And he was kind of frustrated with the God thing. He was like, yeah, no, no, no. I believe in God. He says, I believe in God too. He said, I'm working through some of the spiritual stuff, but I really know that if you're a good person, then you're going to get to heaven when you die. And I just felt like I'm going to have a straight up conversation with you. So I basically said, yeah, it's kind of not that way at all.

That's just actually not how it works because you can sit around all day and you can believe fundamentally flawed ideas. And we let people believe these fundamentally flawed ideas about humankind and God and salvation. If you could lose your salvation, I'm going to tell you that you could lose it. You'll fumble it. I know that if I wanted to, I could lose this thing. And so I explained to this guy, it's not based on being a good person. It's based on Jesus, being a good person for you. It's not based on you being a good person for someone else. It's based on Jesus, his death for you. It's based on Jesus has resurrection for you. The fundamental distinction, see Jesus as he preaches. He's, he's trying to get underneath right here and challenge this entire philosophy on what we do, because what really matters is not what you do, but what's underneath. This is why he gives us this illustration about what's underneath in verse 24. And this is the stone story.

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock that's what's underneath the rain, came down, the streams, Rose the wind blew and beat against the house. Yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn't put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. Then like the song says, the rain came down, the street rose up and the winds blew and beat against that house. And it all fell with a great crash.

There was this destruction for people who built their house on sand, but you couldn't tell what the foundation was from the outside. You drive around and you see houses that are built or structures that are built. Do you know what the foundation looks like? You can't see it from nothing. It could be beautiful on the outside, but you can't see what's under neath. So we have to get underneath before we have a storm that hits before the storm actually reveals what we've actually built our life on. And here's the really tough part is it's not obvious. It's not obvious what's underneath. We really have to dig down and start to think to ourselves, is my faith. Just some theological doctrine. Is that what my face built on? Is it just some emotional investment? Is my faith just about serving and doing about serving and doing things and being active or here's the deal? Do I really trust Tim and know him? Do I really trust him and know him? And it's not immediately obvious. And that's why it's so scary. And these people are false disciples and they haven't been deceived by others. Here's the deal friends they've been deceived by themselves. How many of us find that? We're actually the ones who are deceiving ourselves about who we are in the dark. What are they should really look like? Because it looks really nice. We've put a lot of investment into the outside of that house and why?

Because we, because they are looking for wrong, the wrong things. They're looking for the external things. Only. They're thinking about how they look in some of you know, this, you were raised in a church where you were raised on these ideas of a relationship with God is simply about a list of things that you do do, or you don't do. How many have been there? That that's what you were raised on, or you have a family member that you knew you grew up in church. And their parents had a list of rules about things that they couldn't watch, or they couldn't do, or places that they couldn't go. And we all think, you know, because we don't have sex before we're married and we don't spend money like this. And we don't watch this.

We don't say that word in front of other people that would judge me. Right? And Jesus went, that's not how it works at all. Your faith is underneath. It's about who you are in the dark. And that begins when we see who we are and the darker, what is underneath. It begins to filter out what our sexuality looks like. He begins to filter out what we do with our money. It begins to filter out what we do with our time that these things are active, that your theology can be right, but the problem can be with what's underneath. And often we find the problem is, as you know, you'll get this, like, don't do this, don't do this, don't do this. You know how many times I got in trouble growing up and I got dragged into somebody's office. And they were like, you don't do this. And you don't say that you don't joke about this and you respect this. Right. I will tell you a story. I was early in student ministry. I was working with students. I was in Northern Arizona. And it was at a church plant and it was really great. It was fine. We had a couple hundred people that came to our church and there was only a couple of schools in the area. My wife, Michelle, she was working at the high school as an athletic trainer. I was coaching some sports there. And then I did youth ministry in the area and it was killer. We blew up. It was like the thing to do. We ended up having to use the fairgrounds to meet. So on Sundays we had a couple hundred dollars. And then during the week we'd have like almost a thousand kids show up. And it was everything that it should have been. I mean, it was, it was like real. I mean, there was kids and they were doing donuts in the fairgrounds there and they were holding hands. They were trying to make out with a girlfriend in the corner and you know, all that stuff where they come up to you.

I remember they come up to me and be like, Hey, Larry, we going to go pick up Emiliano. He's over with his buddy's house. They didn't want to come today. Cause they're going to smoke some weed. And I was like, well, hop in the truck. Let's go pick them up. Let me pull up and go get in the truck. Let's go. We're going to youth group. Right. And it was killer. Man. Kids were like figuring out their identity and they had a safe place to come where they could belong before they believed and understood as they're building this foundation, right. Building their foundation. We're working on what's underneath, but giving them a place, just like we do here to go through this process. And I, we had a moment and I'm going to slam it a little bit, but it's just this reality. We had a moment where church became a list of do's and don'ts the, my, my pastor that I worked with was really frustrated because kids were like French.

Cause they were like trying to hold hands and they were making other girlfriends and you know, they were doing stupid, silly stuff and they were using language. And then they would come in and hear something about the word and get into these small groups. And so he just didn't like, that felt like it was district. You don't do that in church. You don't do that. You don't do that. Right. And so in the middle of a youth group meeting, he showed up and he didn't know. And he walked out and I said, Hey, let me talk to him real quick and what am I going to do? Oh, okay. So I did this and it came up and that's exactly what he did. He said, you let go of that. Girl's hand, I'll call the cops. Right. You can't do that. You're under age. You don't talk, you respect me.

I'm a pastor. And this is a church. You don't, you don't, you don't, you don't, you don't. Right. Instead of having a conversation about these biblical principles of what's underneath and what we're building our life on and walking to. Right. And, and understanding why it's not a good idea to do that and why there's a better way to do these things. Why Jesus makes your life better and you better at life. Right. And so have you, you grew up in a place like that, where it was like, you don't, you don't, you don't, you don't. And this is you do. And it just kind of threw you off because you were like, I don't know what to build my life on it. It's a bunch of don'ts it's not principles that I can build my life on. And so my question to you is what's underneath you.

What does your foundation look like right now? What does your foundation look like? Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesied in your name and dry out demons in your name perform many miracles. Then he says, I will tell them, plainly I never new. You Oh, away from me. You evil doers. He says to them, I never knew you it's about that. They, it wasn't about that. They had lost salvation or they're backsliding. He's saying I never actually knew you. Like I never actually knew you. I don't know you. It's not like I knew you at one time. And I just suddenly stopped knowing you. Right? Because of distance. That's a fascinating phrase. I never knew you recognize the distinction. He doesn't say you don't know me. They do know,

Okay, gosh, this is scary.

He didn't say you don't know me. You can know him. And he can say to you, I never knew you. They knew him in the sense where they could use his name. They could prophesize, his name has demons out in his name and the problem wasn't they didn't know them. It was what the, he didn't know them. And that's the direction. That's where the distinction in the Bible and see here's, here's the goal of life ready for this? You've always thought this. I know what's the goal of life. The goal of life is not simply that, you know, God, here's the goal. It's that God knows you, that he knows you. And before you think I'm crazy for saying that, let me tell you what Galatians nine says, this is Paul writing. He says, but now that you know, God, or rather you are known by God, how is it that you keep turning back to those weak and miserable principles? The, the, the things that doesn't build a strong foundation, do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? His distinction is you gotta be known by God.

You gotta let God know you. You know, we say like, I want to know you more and yeah, I'm going to give you my life. But, but when have we sat there and says, I want to be, I want to be known when you didn't know all of me. I want you to know the deepest parts of me. I want you to know what it looks like in the dark. I want you to come alongside of me. It's not whether you simply use his name and it's beneficial for you.

And you started like loving the gifts that he gave you. And the blessings that he gave it's this motive of the heart towards these surface level distinctions is, does God really know who you are? Here's the scary part of the text. It's not obvious if these people are in or out, it's obvious on the outside, what they look like. An illustration that can give you is, I dunno. I mean, you guys grew up listening to like screamo music or you heard it, right? Some of you older folks were mad about the screamo music. Screamo music sounds like this.

Right? Right. And you're like, Oh, that's the devil music. What are you doing? Where my grandma used to be like that music's from the devil. That's like Metallica and all these things. And in right. That's devil music. Well, here's, here's the deal on the outside. We say it on the outside that they have owned music. Right. But then we come walking inside, we throw on a television show, you know, they've been doing, they did just recently re throw a friends. A lot of you guys did friends. Yeah. Friends. And we'll go in there and we'll like, yuck it up. Right. And we'll like, be there like this. Isn't the devil. So this is funny. Right? Well, postman said our culture is amusing ourselves to death. We're doing literally the same thing. The principles that we're laughing about and are part of, but we're like, that's like the outside devil stuff.

But then outside, you know, like the things that we're watching or listening to, or pudding into us where, where we create this problem, we can, we can like literally laugh ourselves into a state of soul death because the worldview that's being pummeled by friends to our culture is just as destructive as screen, maybe more. And we laugh our way through it. These things aren't obvious. That's the scary part. You have to look underneath and holistically at what that is. So here's the problem with these guys. These guys are emotionally into it. They love this stuff, right? They're like having experiences there. They're loving the retreats where they get this mile high mountain top. And they went to this special group in this meeting. And they love how it makes them feel. Right. I feel really good. They love being a part of a community. They love hanging out with people.

They love having traditions. They love these things, but they don't know him. That is like doing those things that feed him. They don't know him in the end. And that is the terrifying part. Here's the scariest part is he's not right now. Jesus is not contrasting Christians versus non-Christians. We get this loss all the times. This isn't people who are close to God and far from God, Christians versus non-Christians, he's actually contrasting Christians versus real Christians. People who follow Jesus in are known by him and people who just say that they know him, but he doesn't know them. And the question is, this is the hard one hard one. Which category are you in? What's underneath. I mean, I've been digging at it all week. I was laying there in bed last night, going, Oh my gosh, I'm about to have this conversation. I'm sitting here like scared, like what's underneath.

Like, what am I, what am I building? What am I doing in the dark? What's underneath two issues. I see. For those of you still sweating right now saying like, give me the answer. Like, what do I do about that? It's like, how do we know? Like know me, God, I'm right here. My name is Larry, right? I'm gonna walk out of here some quiet time. This is how verse 24, everyone. He says, therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and what does it say, puts them into practice, puts them into practice. Therefore, anyone who hears these words of mine, this is what you need to do. This is what you need to underline. Here's the distinction of real Christians versus Christians, right? Just people would say like, yeah, I know Jesus. I know God. Right? They put them into practice. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, this is it. We jump back to verse 21.

I think. Yeah, go one more.

Yeah. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. But only the one who does the will of my father puts it into practice. Does the will. This is a Lordship issue. Here's the question. Any question I keep saying, here's the, it's a question. There's a lot of questions in this one. Have you made Jesus? Not just your saver savior, not just your treasure, but the Lord over your will. Like, do you sit there and say like, God, is this your will that I do this? How should I have this conversation? What does this mean? This has meaning, like, have you put the Lord? Not, not just as your savior and understands your treasure, but the Lord over your will. That means over your dating life, your sex life, your money, the way that you do your job, the way that you hang out with your spouse, the way that you raise your kids.

Often with those things, we say, well, those things are mine. Like I'm gonna deal with those. But everything in like the spiritual sphere, the faith spear, Jesus, you can have that. Like you can deal with that. But all of those other things are mine. This is about our will being submitted to his will. And this is when things get really hard. This is when the Bible starts pushing up against us. The difference between people who he says depart from get away from me and the ones who have submitted their will to him. When he says, come on in, are you the kind of person who's naturally going to go down, go around on your own productivity all the time. Like, it's your thing. Like, it's going to be all about you. The whole point of life friends

Is that it's not okay.

The first major issue, like I said, is that it's a Lordship issue. The other issue is an issue of motive. A lot of times we tend to applaud those who show up and are interested in Jesus at all. Like we're like, that's awesome.

The Bible pushes hard against this and says interest in Jesus is not enough just because you're interested. It's not enough. So I would ask someone that says like, Oh, I'm interested in Jesus. I would ask why? Like, why are you, why are you even interested? You read Mark 10. And there's a story in there in Mark 10, where two of Jesus's really close friends is James and John they're these brothers, they have this proximity to Jesus and walking along and they talk to Jesus. And they're like, Hey, when you get into the kingdom, when you're here at your kingdom, can we sit at your right and left? And he looked at him and said, you don't get it. Like, you're just intro. It sounds like you're just interested in me.

And your motives are wrong because what's, you're interested is in power. And they, the gifts that you receive. And there's people in this room right now, there's people at home right now and you have a great interest.

And Jesus, the problem is, is your motive is wrong. We just want to get stuff. We want to look good with. We want to call on him. Like when things are different, difficult, the gospel comes and says, it's really plainly that you get God, like, that's just the end of it. And if that's not enough for you, then what he's going to say, his department for me, you get God, it'll get all these other things. And we really struggle with that. We really, really struggled. I really, really struggled with that because I just want to get things from God. I want people to get better when people would be back around. I went every prayer on that prayer wall, out in the lobby to be answered.

He doesn't say we get that. That's a really, really difficult. Even today I'm struggling with a good friend of mine. She's been here before. She's communicated. She's done a couple of our women's conferences and she's come here and done some Sunday services. Megan fate. Marshman good friend of mine. I've known her for, I don't know, 12, 14 years. And the last time she was here just before COVID her and her husband and her two young kids came and we got to hang out for the weekend. She was here all the weekend and just last week her husband suddenly died, passed away and you know, it was like mid thirties. Their youngest just turned two a month ago. And I have to sit there and wrestle with that and be like, that's not the gifts that you're supposed to give God.

That's why I'm in this. I'm in this because you're supposed to do what I want you to do. You're supposed to give me what I need and what I want. This is a need one wish thing.


And Jesus is just sitting here and the gospel just comes in and says, you know what? You get, you get, God, that's not enough for you. Then. I never knew you, you, you must've been in this game for something else for secondary or a third issue. Maybe, maybe the applause of people, these guys, what they love is they're like, look at us. We cast out demons. We prophesied, look at us. These are the, all the things, external things. Or they could get applause for. Oh, there's that guy look at how religious he is. Look how good he looks on the outside. Right? Some of you, that's why we're here. We want applause. Look, mom, I went to church, look, I'm better than you brother. Look at you neighbor. Like I'm doing the Jesus thing. That's for this applause to show like I've got all my stuff together. And Jesus goes, the only thing you should be worried about is that I get applause that I get glory and you humble yourself under me. And my will. You submit to me, says, and then he said to them, plainly, I never knew you away from me. You evil doers. You know what? The greatest nightmare is that you don't get Jesus Christ.

Now that that will keep you awake at night. The greatest nightmare and eternity, even for those who sit here and go, I'm not even interested in Jesus. This is a nightmare. Here's what he said. There will come a day where you're going to recognize that every grace that you have in this life, theologians call this common grace that every grace that you have in life, every grace, that you had, everything that you enjoy about your life, the gift of sex music, good wine art. It was all from him to point to him. It was pointing towards him and he missed it and he rejected it. And hell is the place where it all gets taken away. He says away from me a nightmare that you don't get that we don't get Jesus. So whether you recognize it or not, there's gonna come a day. There's gonna come a day. When we're going to come to this moment where we have to decide, we're going to submit our will underneath everything about us, to his will, and believe in what he's done for you and me.

What have we built our life on? You have to look underneath. Is it the, the sand and the emotion and the proximity of Jesus that motivates us to be close to him because there's going to be a storm that comes and it's going to reveal what's underneath. Whether that's in this life or death itself, when a prayer does get answered on that wall, it will reveal what your foundation is. What's under me. So let me give you these questions to, to sit on because you're like, Oh man, I really need more of today's message. And you're like, this is awesome, right? So here's, here's some discussion questions. Grab your phone and take a picture of this. Have a conversation about this

Today, throughout this week, kind of next steps. What'd you like really sit there and ask yourself maybe a quiet space and ask, what am I building my life on? Like, what is the, what is, what does my house look like? What's underneath. And what's underneath that. I need to tear up and start putting some stones and some rocks on. Or what about your life needs to be surrendered to his will. What about your life needs to be surrendered to his? Will, are you are you allowing God to really know you? What things do you need to surrender? You're going to ask yourself that this week you can ask. If you want to be really brave, you can ask the person that you're around the most. Hey, what do you think it is that I need to surrender?

And they'll tell you if you let them, they'll be like, yeah, you re you, this is, you really need to give this up. You really need to let this one go. And are you allowing God to really know you? Not just God. I want to know you more. We're going to sing a song in just a minute and response to worship that, to set a fire that can't contain that I can't control. I want more of you, God. Right? I want more of you God, but ask yourself, are you allowing God to really know you? That even in the midst of, I want more of you. God is God. I want you to know more of me. All of me. I don't want to, I don't want to sit here in a season where, you know, I'm just, I'm just faking it to make it. I want to build a foundation. So when the storms come, when the prayers don't get answered, when there's an epidemic that rocks my world, or there's a sudden loss that I just do not understand at all that, that God can know that you're like hurting an angry cause you allow him.

But you're like, I want you to know all of me so I can build my life on this rock and this firm foundation. So when the storm comes, there's a place to rebuild. You see you know, when places get hit by hurricanes or tornadoes, they don't just take a, I mean, they clear up on the debris, but it's not like they just pick up and move somewhere else. They rebuild on top of that. Sturdy, strong foundation has left. You see it, you'll see it wiped out. You'll see foundations everywhere. There's a place to rebuild. Think that's where community comes in. And that's where the Lord comes in and gives us the strength when we're weak and the support when we need it to build on that foundation. So are you really allowing God to know you? What are you building your life on? What do you need to surrender and give up?

So you can do that work. It's going to ask all of you right now in this room. If you would stand at those of you at home, if you would just prepare your heart and maybe this is going to be sung over you, maybe this is going to be a crime. Is it just going to be intimate moment of response to what God says through his word? Cause that's what we just heard this isn't Larry talking. This is scripture. This is his word out to you. So as you take this, respond in worship, and then I'm gonna come back up here and I'm gonna give you a blessing and some next steps.




On This Rock, I Will Build My Church

What happens when people mistake ekklesia for an institution, a power structure, or a building?






Journey of Stones - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

It's so good to be with you this morning. And to be together, I have missed you. This has just been a really long year, and I'm hoping that I don't do anything to screw this up. It's just so glad to be together and gathered together and community. And for those of you who are joining us online, we understand that some people you're still kind of a little hesitant and all of this, and, and we just welcome you and glad that you're joining us as well. I wish when I was a kid, there was a program called romper room. Anybody. Remember it said, miss Nancy, at the end, she had a magic mirror. Do you remember her magic mirror? So she could speak, she could actually see through the magic mirror to people on TV, semi me in my living room, watching her. And she say, Oh, I see Ken. And I see Harley, good morning, Becky. You know? And he said, it's like, I wish I had that magic mirror. So I could say to all of you online, I see you in your jammies, in that bathrobe cover up where you've got pastor Larry actually mentioned. Yeah, it was exactly a year ago. It was the last time I preached here. And that you don't know. And Maxie, he mentioned a couple of weeks ago that actually it was our 30th birthday together.


So today's a special day, but it's more than just that it's because most of you don't know this, but it was exactly 11 years ago. The pastor Larry first joined our pastoral staff and became a member here. So, so that makes this a special day as well. And let me just say how personally grateful I am to pastor Larry through all the years that he was on staff in such a support personally to me, and did so much to, to invest into the life of this church. And to be able to hand over the reins, if you will, to someone that's just so capable and so caring and so loving, I tell you, I pray for him every single day, because you have no idea. The weight that rests on your shoulders, pastoring a church. You have no idea. In fact, he told not too long ago, he says, you know what? I was a staff member. I had no idea. I said, yeah, now you do pray for him. This has been a incredibly difficult year. And to have to talk about finances in the way in which he did a great job at.

And I hope you pray for him every single day. And I hope you write him words. I mean, and thankfulness anyway. Yes,

Please do that. Please do that. Pray for him all the time. One other thing about this date two weeks ago was 30th anniversary of our church being together when we went public, but it was actually 31 years ago. This month that a group of 12 adults and five kids and myself met together for the very first time in the living room to talk about being the church that became Northgate Christian fellowship. So this is a really special time of year. It's a very, very special day. And a lot has happened. A lot has happened in this last year. A lot has happened in the past 31 years that we've been together at church. A lot has happened in the 2000 years that the church has been in existence. And it's kind of what I want to talk to you about today. We've been going through this series called journey of stones and how so often in scripture, there are these images of stones and rocks being used to teach spiritual truths and Jesus himself did that.

Pastor Larry talked last week about the story that Jesus told about a man who built his house on a rock. And he challenged us to look at our own foundations and how we are building our lives and what we are building it on that unseen part, the foundation. And he said, if you, if you are not building your life on Jesus Christ, it is not going to withstand the storms of life. And we have had storms of life this last year, you need that solid foundation. And today we're going to talk about another time that Jesus talked about rocks and it's actually found in Matthew's gospel. For those of you who are unfamiliar with scripture, the new Testament begins with the life and teachings of Jesus. And then the expansion of the church and letters written to the church and the first four books of the new Testament.

Matthew Mark, Luke, and John are four different accounts for different versions of the life and ministry of Jesus. Two of them were written by two, who were actually the original 12 group that Jesus called Matthew and John. They were eyewitnesses. They were firsthand eye witnesses to the things that Jesus taught. And that's important because the section we're going to look at today is from Matthew's gospel. And he's given us some insight and permission because this is a private conversation that he had just with those 12 followers. He had just been spending a number of days in Capernum and around the sea of Galilee and doing ministry and healing and teaching all the things. And then he took his disciples. It's about a two day journey up to a city called Cesarea Philippi, far away from the crowds, far away from everybody else, because he was going to give them something here that was going to change human history.

It's found in Matthew's gospel beginning in chapter 16, verse 13. It says when Jesus came to the region of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, who do people say the son of man is? They replied some, say John, the Baptist, others say Elijah, some others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. But what about you? He asked, who do you say that I am? So I'm a peer answered. You are the Messiah, the son of the living, God, Jesus replied blessed. Are you Simon son of Jonah for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock, I will build my church. This rock. That's the word we're looking at today. I will build my church and the Gates of Hades will not overcome it. And I tell you, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Wherever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. And whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Many ordered his disciples, not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Why first of all, why did he take them aside and ask him these questions?

And then why did he say, okay, now that I've told you this, don't tell anybody.

That it was a matter of timing, but there was something that he wanted his disciples to understand. And by extension for us to understand that anyone who becomes a follower of his, it's not just a personal relation, it's a personal relationship, but it's not a private relationship. And when you unite yourself with Christ, you become a part of his new community. And what he wanted them to understand and us to understand is that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. He was saying to his 12 disciples, listen, it's just 12 of us here, but you gotta understand. This is much, much bigger than you can possibly fathom. And he started by asking them this question, who do people say the son of man is? And they replied some, say John, the Baptist, others say Elijah and still others, Jeremiah, one of the profits.

In other words, there's a lot of different opinions about you. Jesus, same is still true today. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about who Jesus is and who Jesus was. Well, he was a rabbi, something, he was, he was a radical others, that he was a philosopher, a great moral teacher. There's a ton of ton of different opinions about who Jesus is, but then he brings it down and he brings it home. And he says, but what about you? Who do you say that I am? And that's the key question. Everyone has to answer that question for themselves. Nobody else can answer it for you. Who do you say that I am? A lot of people avoid that question. A lot of people just talked about this historical figure, but don't want to come to grips with who he really was a lot of different opinions, but you said, but you, who do you say that I am? And it says, Simon, Peter said, you are the Messiah, the son of the living, God. Now notice he didn't just give another opinion. This was a conviction. He didn't say, well, you know, I was talking to John over there and he thinks, and you know, and I was talking to Matthew and he thought, but this is my opinion. No, he didn't even, he didn't even hesitate. He didn't even say, we think he just said, you are, you are the Messiah. The son of God, everything hand hinges for you. And for me, when we answer that question, now, Messiah is an important word there. And this is why he took him two days away from everybody else. And this is why he asked him in private and said, don't say anything because Messiah was a loaded turn.

A lot of people that came claiming to be Messiah and the perception of Messiah, the expectation of Messiah, particularly for the Jews at this time was someone who had come over, throw the Roman rule. And re-establish God's kingdom here on earth, of course, which we are a part of and Jesus is the Messiah, but not in the way that they thought, because he didn't come with armies to overthrow another army. In fact, he didn't come to kill anybody else around him. He came and gave his own life up for them because this kingdom is a lot bigger than you think it is. In fact, it took Peter years after Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection to realize this is not just for Jews. This is for the whole world. He wanted to understand this little ragtag group of 12 people. You're a part of something much, much bigger than you can imagine. When you become a follower of Jesus, you become a part of his new community. And that new community is something far bigger than you can possibly imagine. You're a part of something bigger than yourself. Now that must have fought. That must have seem to them to be pretty audacious. I mean, who are we? I mean, look around, you know, when you've got a couple of fishermen, you got a tax collector over there, you know, you've got these a bunch of no-names. Nobody even knows who they were. We got no political power. We got no financial backing. We have no influence. What in the world are you talking about?

Jesus said, this is, this was revealed to you. This isn't your own idea. This isn't that you guys about. He said, next time are you Simon son of Jonah for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but my father in heaven. And then he goes on and I tell you, you are Peter. Peter's name means rock. You are Peter. And on this rock, I will build my church. And the Gates of Hades will not overcome. What I mean, Jesus. I mean, it's great to be a part of your club, but changing the world. And I am sure when Jesus was arrested and they were all scattered and they thought back to this revelation and they thought, I don't know what he was talking about. And then even after his resurrection, they were still in hiding afraid of, of what might happen to them. Gates of Hades, overcoming guys, I just want to be safe.

And then the church was birthed. And on one day, 3000 people, 50 days after the resurrection 3000 people became part to go here. Well, now this is something which only brought about Roman persecution. First Jewish persecution, then Roman persecution. And I'm sure the early church thought overcoming this, standing up against the Gates of hell. I mean, we're still hiding. We're being arrested. We're being thrown in jail, were being put to death. All these people scattered throughout the Roman empire and then the Roman persecution started and they were arrested and dragged off and thrown to jail and put to death torn apart by life in Rome, I'll tell you, I had an opportunity a number of years ago. Now my first time to visit Rome, my son was in school there. And so we went to visit him for his graduation. We actually went and saw the sites in Rome, in Rome. There's this thing. You've probably seen it before. It's called the Coliseum. It's an incredible structure that something, this huge could be built by manual labor, pretty much. It is one Testament to the grand juror of Rome. It's an a whole area. That's surrounded by Palatine Hill, where there all kinds of rooms where the Senate used to meet. Then all of these, it's just an incredible place to go visit. And then you go inside and this is what it looks like on the inside. This is the floor it's been part of. It's been filled in again now, but this was the catacombs underneath there with the lions and the gladiators would all get ready for battle. And then they would come up onto the stage and thousands of people surrounding all around and they watch, and it was in this place. The Christians were put to death. It was in Rome, under the persecution of Nero, particularly we're Christians. We're tied to steaks covered with oil and set a flame to light the streets at night because of their faith in Christ. They were put to death in this very Coliseum.

And if you go there today, it's right over here in this corner, I got a closeup of it. Knuck shot. There's a cross in this place where Christians were weren't apart because of their faith. Christians probably thought this is overcoming the Gates of hell today. There's a cross. And you know where the cross sits right above it. Here is the emperor's box. Repor Nero used to sit and watch all this stuff happen. But today there's a cross into the Christians who lost their lives in that arena. If you had told them some 2000 years ago, Sunday, there's going to be a cross here and it's not going to be an instrument of death. It's going to be a Testament to the power of Jesus Christ and his church who was advancing against the Gates of hell. I love the way that Andy Stanley puts it. Andy Stanley says it. And today the Roman empire is in ruins and the scrape structures are crumbling. And today people are naming their dogs, Caesar and Nero, but the church of Jesus Christ continues to advance. The church has advanced all throughout these years, it has outlasted, a juror, Jewish persecution, outlasted, the Roman persecution. It has outlasted, communist oppression. It is outlasts and imprisonments and Wars and famines and epidemics and pandemics, by the way.

The church has even outlasted its own failures, like the crusades and the inquisition and the Salem witch hunts. But the church today continues to advance and thrives because it's God's church and you're a part of it. And it is something much, much bigger than yourself. But what you got to understand about it though, each of us individually are a vital component in it. That it's a personal relationship. I said, but it's not private. This Saint Peter years later wrote to churches who were scattered all throughout. Now, the Roman empire, he wrote them serious three letters. We have them all in our new Testament towards the back end of their Bible. And in his first letter to these churches, people scattered all around. He wrote these words as you come to him, the living stone rejected by humans, but chosen by God and precious to him. You also like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a Holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. He says that while you're learning to build your life on that foundation, Jesus, there's another building project going on. And it's what God is doing with all of these individual stones, bringing them together. And this is why gathering is so vital for us. And again, let me address those of you who are online and watching at home. I understand if you're not comfortable yet and you've got medical conditions. I understand, but let me also say if you're just staying at home because it's comfortable and you can stay in your jammies till noon, that's not acceptable because the church gathers together as living stones that we are meant to be in community and a stone all by itself, out in a field is useless. It is only when the church comes together. That truly the work of God can happen. If you've taken the membership class back when I used to teach it years and years and years ago, you just use an example because my dad was a building contractor. So I grew up in the trade and learned a lot of things about construction, but there's something about notice. He says, you are living stones. You are not living bricks because bricks look like this.

There you go.

They are all the exact same size and shape, little clones, cookie cutter laid out and they all fit nicely together in nice, neat rows and straight lines. That's not how you work with stones. If you watch a stone Mason at work, it looks more like this. You got to fit those stones together. Cause they're not all the same size type Sage shape and size. And neither are we. We're not all the same. And that's good. That's how God designed the church. By the way, if you watch a stone Mason, sometimes he has to chip off some of the rough edges to make it fit into the wall. Sometimes he has to scrape at it. Sometimes he actually has to take the two rocks and just kind of mash them together for a while to get them to fit. That's what God does in the church. That's what, that's what, that's why not everybody in this church is going to agree with you on everything because God is shaping them. And you know what he's doing. He's shaping you too. And he's going to specifically put you with a group of people that are not like you. And he's even going to put you together with some people in your church that are a little bit difficult.

Show of hands. How many have encountered at least one difficult person in your church? How many have found a few more difficult people during COVID-19 shutdown?

God's designed for his church was not that we would all fit this nice, neat form and all look up pretty a nice, it was to take all this ragtag group of people and put them together. And in. So doing while God is building his church, he is building you and I at the same time. And that's why it happens in community because only there will be yet together. And what happened with the early church was that all of a sudden, when people came to faith in Christ and they came together, they were not all alike, just like we aren't. And they didn't all agree on everything. In fact, they had a lot of different councils to come together to some resolution on some of the things, some serious theological things that need to be resolved, but he did it to build them as individuals and to build them together as the church, it's important to understand, by the way that the church is still under construction. I know people say, you know, hide your Gigamon up on the church because it's just a mess. But yeah, because it's still under construction. You go to a job site, it's a mess because it's under construction and it's made up of all kinds of different people with all kinds of different backgrounds and all kinds of different faults and weaknesses and failures of the Groucho Marx line. I would never become a group, a member of a group that would accept me as a member. Well, that's the church and he's working in all of us. And when we talk about being a grace-filled community, it's because we are all in desperate need of grace. Peter went on to write this once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy and mercy and grace is what every one of us need. And so we need to treat each other with mercy and grace. And we talk around here very often about that. We were not, not just that we are a grace-filled community, but we are all people in process. Now what's implied in that is that there is a process and that we are all making progress in the process. People in process and Gracefield community is not an excuse to say, well, this is who I am taking on to leave it. And if you leave it, no, we are here being fit together as living stones. And you're going to be disappointed in the church. I've been disappointed in the church. I've been disappointed in myself, but we are built together and being built together. And we are still under construction and mercy and grace are the key to making it fit. And there's one more thing. That's the reason this is so vital is that together. We have something to offer the world because it's not just about that group of 12 that Jesus started with. And it's not just about this group that gathers together on a Sunday morning. It's about the world that God is doing something in the world and what he's doing in us. He also wants to do through us. So after affirming, Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah, he goes back and he finishes with this. He says, I tell you, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Now this you right here in the original language, it's plural.

So Peter says you are the Messiah, the son of the living God. And he says on that rock, I'm going to build my church. And then he turns to the other 12 and to all of us in this room and all of you joining us online and says, I'm giving you the keys. Then now you've got a mission and it's plural. I'm giving y'all the keys to the kingdom of heaven that we have a responsibility. It's Jesus building, but we are not idle bystanders. He has given to us the keys of the kingdom and what we do with those Kings, those keys will either open the kingdom up to other people, or it will shut it down because we refuse to open the door. We have a mandate, we have a mission. We have been given the keys. It's still his ownership, but we are the stewards. We are responsible for maintaining and expanding and growing. Those of you who have had teenage kids. Do you remember the very first time you turned the keys of your car over to the 16 year old new driver? It's a scary thought.

You just felt that way. When he said it to the 12th, I'm giving you the keys, but you better take care of it. See, Jesus never taught that the kingdom of God was buying by pie in the sky. When I die, he always taught as the kingdom come to this. And in fact, he taught us to pray your kingdom, come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That is our job. We are here to offer the world. The one thing they cannot get anywhere else, this message of grace and hope and forgiveness and redemption. This Messiah who gave his own life to establish the kingdom of God on this earth so that we could expand it to other people. That's what he came to do. And he came to make it available to everyone. Now, let me give you, cause what is the kingdom of God? I'm going to give you my definition as best I could do it. Okay, here it is. And the kingdom of God is wherever the grace of God and the will of God and the power of God is brought to bear in this world. Any time the grace of God breaks through in this world, the kingdom is advancing the will of God being done. The kingdom of God is advancing and the power of God is being unleashed. The kingdom of God is advancing to make it available to everyone by this simple act of faith. And anytime someone acknowledges their own inadequacies and failures and sin, and turns to Jesus for forgiveness and redemption, the kingdom of God advances.

Anytime I surrender my control over situations and let God take control the kingdom of God advances. And when I recognize my own weaknesses and failures, and I turn to him for strength and hope, the kingdom of God advances, it's a life-changing message. And it has to be delivered with more than words. And that's why Peter wrote to the early church. He said, lifts, good such it's coming is live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong. They may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day that he visits us. Now, pagans, that's not a pejorative there. That's just simply anybody. Who's an unbeliever. What he's saying is you should live such good lives along the people around you. That don't believe in Jesus, that even though they would accuse you of doing wrong, they'll see your good deeds and glorify God. And they will see there's something different in you. You're not perfect by a long shot, but there's something different dare.

God's gotta be doing something in your life. And you know, under the Roman persecution was a guy named plenty of the younger, the guy the beer was named after, by the way, for those of you who are beer fans, he was a governor in what is modern day Turkey. And he was, he was put in charge of arresting these Christians and he was trying to figure out, well, what can I arrest them for? I mean, what are they doing wrong? And so he actually sent investigators in an infiltrated, the Christian Church to find out what are these people doing and why are they up against the Roman government and all these things? So we would have some reason to arrest him. And this is what he wrote. He wrote back to emperor Trajan he says the summits substance of their fault and error had been, they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before Dawn and sing responsibly to a hymn to Christ.

Worst thing they did is they got together and they sang as to God and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime. And there was, they weren't saying, okay, we got a conspiracy here. We're going to, he said, no, not to some crime, but to not to commit fraud or theft or adultery or not falsified their trust. They'll refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. In other words, he said, I wanted to find something to rest them for. But all I could find is that they get together on the first day of the week, they sing some songs and they promise to be good people.

If only that's all we could be accused of the kingdom of God advances, but not just in words, it advances through our actions. And whenever the church has remembered our mission and stayed on mission, the kingdom of God has advances. And when the church has got into trouble is when it's gotten too much power, too much influence and too much money. And that's why Jesus said to 12 people who had no influence, no power and no money. There's a bigger rock. We're going to build this thing on and nothing's going to stop it. John orphan, most of you know, one of my favorite authors wrote a book called the eternity is now in session advancing the kingdom of God. This is what he writes. We are not in charge, but we are not idle. We are engaged. We become a part of God's project. Every time we bring a slice of up their life down here, the kingdom of God breaks into this messed up Kings kingdoms of this world.

Every time you're in conflict with someone, when you want to hurt them and gossip about them, avoid them. But instead you go to them, seek reconciliation and forgiveness. That kingdom is breaking into this world. Every time you have a chunk of money and you decide to give sacrificially. So somebody who is hungry or homeless or poor, that the kingdom of God is breaking into this world. Every time somebody who has an addiction wants to partner with God so badly that they're willing to stop hiding, acknowledge the truth and get help from a loving community. That kingdom of God is breaking into this world. Every time a workaholic parent decides to stop idolizing their job and rearranges their light to begin to love and care for those little children and trust it to them. The kingdom of God is breaking into this world. This good news happens through Jesus, Jesus himself through his incarnation is literally up there coming down here. The good news is not that we're called to do these things on our own. And so we've been given a longer to-do list. The good news is that the power has become available to increasingly turn us into the kinds of people who naturally and recreationally do such things so that the kingdom of God may break into this world. So I'll leave you with three questions for you to consider this week. Put them up here on the screen. First question for you is this does my level of involvement in my church, Devon,

Straight love and commitment to the community.

This is my personal involvement. My engagement with my church demonstrate any kind of love and dedication to the space community. Another question, one thing I can do this week to strengthen my engagement with another Christ follower might be a phone call, maybe a meeting in your backyard, maybe a letter, but somehow engaging this week with another Christ follower because we're living stones being built together. And then the last one are my words, my actions and my life making God's kingdom more or less accessible and inviting for those around me. Questions for us to think about, take them home with you. Think about them this week, but think about them now, as we stand together in this reflection on where we're building our life, as we sing it.




Matthew 7

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.






Journey of Stones - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Well, good morning friends. And I just want to say, I see you spring for people at home right now. You have been seen in your Jammies and your slow wake up nine o'clock 11 o'clock. I see you. I see you in the room. You hardcore people you're ready to get here and lean in during the worship. And again, those of you who aren't ready, I completely understand. I'm not shaming. You, you were up, you were ready to come here. So I'm so thankful to just be in wherever you are just to be in your space. And just for us to share collectively together, I wanted to give you just a little bit of a heads up about Easter, Easter. Isn't just a couple of weeks. It's crazy. I know it feels like, at least for me, time is fine, but I love seeing spring spring right now.

And for Easter, just as a heads up, that's a whole weekend that we get to have some experiences. And here at Northgate and San Francisco and our Benicia campus, we typically like to have some sort of good Friday experience. That's much more contemplated. It's something that you get to walk through on your own and your own time. And we do kind of a stations of the cross and just some experience like that. So we've been working really hard at making sure that this is safe also, that it's comfortable when it comes to just the things that we're going to experience together. So good Friday, we're going to have spaces available between four and six. You can come at any time. You don't need to register for either campus and you can come through and experience just a time with Jesus and what that Friday looked like and ultimately meant for all of us.

And then on Sunday, April 4th, we get to experience the celebration of a resurrection Sunday, just like we do every Sunday. And for that weekend, we're going to be expanding our children's services. We're going to have two services at nine and 11, because we got to go there. We get to go to two services. For those of you are comfortable to make space for that. And then we're going to have nursery our young ins through fifth grade available for you to bring your entire family and experience at either nine or 11. So those tickets are live today. You can go ahead and you can start reserving tickets for that stuff right now. And especially you, people who are early birds get after that 11 o'clock service, it's going to be great. So there's Easter excited about it. Looking forward to just what this new season is going to be bringing, and then got some exciting things that we're going to be doing after Easter.

We'll talk about that in a couple of weeks. So now today in the conversation we've been having, we've been going through a series called journey of stones, where we've taken different stories out of scripture and the Jew Testament when it has to do with stones or what they've meant. And we've had different people sharing this last week, we had pastor Ken, he got to got to continue on this journey with us of stones. Ultimately, where we're going to end up is the stone that was rolled away on resurrection Sunday. And for today, I wanted to tell you that there's this thing that you've had before of sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. And we say nonsense. In reality, we, we teach our kids that when they're young, when they're sad or they've been hurt by someone, and here's the deal is people literally throw stones, right?

Not as people let's just say it. We literally throw stones at people. And the way that we act in one of those specific ways, we act as I believe that it's judgment and judgment from a distance. And so today we're gonna talk about the stone of judgment. We, a couple of weeks ago, even got to unpack the story of the woman caught in adultery and where Jesus said, those who have no sin pick up your stone and throw it first. And they all dropped their stone. I asked my family, or this week, I said, Hey, we're talking about judgment. You got anything about judgment? Like, what do you think? And like, immediately my 13 year old said this right here, judgment. It's a bad habit that everyone has. And I was like, well, there's the old man I'm done. That's great. You're 13. You get it.

It's a bad habit that everyone has. Amen. Like for reals, we have this habit and everyone has a judgment issue. I got when I was 18, I was waiting and I was young and doing my own thing. And I decided, you know, I'm going to get a tattoo. And it was my 18th birthday. I remember I left early from school or I got out early. Cause there was a senior went and waited and got my first tattoo. And it was like this really silly saying. Right. But it was like the thing that it was only God can judge me. Right. That's right. But let me tell you this. We do a good job at a too, and we even cover it up. And I'll talk about this in a little bit. I'm one of the infamous covers of this. I say, you know, we're not allowed to judge people, but we can certainly evaluate.

Right. And we do a lot of evaluating and that's what we call it. No, no, no, no. I'm not judging you. I'm just telling you you're wrong. Just evaluating the situation. Right. So let's hop in. We are going to be in the sermon on the Mount. Again, I've been just sitting in this stuff because really this is like the sum of everything Jesus had to say to us, it was the best message ever given in. There's so much to pull out of this. And what happens is he gives this sermon on the mountain and then he just gets to play it out and live it out and show us how to live all the things he said and talked about out. So this is again towards the end of the sermon on the Mount. And he pops in right here and Matthew seven one and he starts this part out with do not judge.

We could just sit in that one for a whole long time. Right? And for some people who are new to church or there's a lot of people out in this culture, they're like, yeah, this is the golden rule used to be treat others as you would like them to treat you. Right. But this is, what's kind of become the new thing is we're just going to culturally be comfortable and we're not going to judge anyone and you're just going to do you. And you're just going to be who you are. And however you are, and I don't want conflict, right? We're going to give distance to that. And this is like a pretty big thing right here that we're sitting in. It's a pretty good thing, especially in regards to all of us, because this is something in our natural state that we have to deal with in our heart, that we're born into this sense in which we have this natural inclination to judge people, to look at them and judge them based on either the way that they live, their lifestyle, their money, of course, in the church.

You know, we do this as a lot of conversation about that, but we judge them based on what they believe or don't believe or how they do the right things or how we see it as the wrong things. We judge them. If they don't dress the right way, if they don't say the right things, or if they don't act the right way. And this tends to be our heart's natural inclination, you can probably go through the rest of your day. And if you're aware of it, you will find yourself quickly judging just the thinking, right? Looking at that person, putting an evaluation on that person from a distance. And I know I'm right, honest with you right now. I can struggle with this too. I can start with this in a real way, judging from a distance. You know, I have people often come to me in my office and counseling and there's marital relationship issues.

And you know, maybe someone has infidelity in there or just dramatic things. And I can find myself sitting across my desk, like looking and thinking, Oh my gosh, what are you doing? Like judgment? Like, this is, this is crazy. I can't believe that you would do this. Or you can even be like, wow, I don't even know how you get there. I would never do that. Right. This is the human nature. Or we can start evaluating ourselves. Like, you know, whether or not our actions are appropriate and good. And I can feel in those moments that God's saying like, Hey, this isn't my people. There's a new thing that I've done in you. And so therefore I'm saying, do not judge. You're not to judge. Cause I need you to see people and I can there. And I say, God like, okay, help me see this woman, help me see this man, help me see this person as a human that is hurting, that has come here and wants to fix these things.

And so I can find myself in it too. I'm just saying, I'm not, I'm not resolved from it. Like I have to deal with the same things that we all deal with walking around, seeing someone. And I have to say, God, give me eyes to see people as you see them. So I don't find myself as my heart naturally wants to go to judging. So he continues on and he says, do not judge. When we kind of hung out there or you too will be judged for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged with the measure you use. It will be used to measure you. And so right now, some of us hit the panic budget, right? Because we don't like that part. We like the I'm just evaluating, judging continues on. And he says, why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank or some versions say log or in Greek plank to your own eye.

How can you say to your brother, let me take this speck out of your eye. When all of the time there is a giant plank in your own eye, right? Here's the deal. When it comes to this, we know exactly all of the issues your spouse has. I know all my wives issues, she knows all of my issues. What's wrong. And we think I know exactly what's wrong with you. Maybe we can do a couple of counseling sessions and have a talk and you can just work and do a few tweaks and those things, and then we'll be good, right? But they're thinking the same thing about you. Maybe you need to do a few little tweaks and some different things, and I know exactly what you need to do and then we'll be good, right? We, we find ourselves all the time. You know, you've seen those crazy images of, you know, this giant log that you're carrying around and you're pointing and you're judging.

And I think that this whole conversation is actually leading itself into a really interesting space or some accountability. But specifically right here, we've seen, now that Jesus is saying, don't judge, don't judge. Don't judge. Don't judge don't judge somebody else, because then you're going to be judged worse. Don't trust somebody else because you've got really big problems too. And you're wanting to just take care of their problems. And you're not really wanting to take care of the problems. You're just wanting to throw it out there and what their problems are. And I know you guys know this is true because I see it on social media all the time, or, you know, just, this is the way we are, but this is leading to a place of accountability because we need people that are going to look at us and lovingly tell us, and have a conversation with us about the log or the plank that is hanging out of our eye, not in a judgment way, but it's the whole, like I got a log, guess what?

You got a log, right? This is actually the beauty of a lot of recovery groups. And even the recovery group that we have here that meets every Monday, rain or shine weekly, and you go into recovery group. And a lot of people just assume that recovery group is for like these raging issues in massive problems. In specifically, they'll kind of single it out until I get some sort of substance abuse, not realizing that logs are representative of many things. And there's beauty when you get into a space around other people and you get to say, Hey, my name's Larry, I'm in recovery. And let's talk about my log. And then you can talk about your log and we're going to work on our logs together and do a little logging. Right? Right. We're going to, we're going to make a fire right here and throw the stuff in there.

So there's this accountability aspect. And I believe that we see this actually, there's a really great example. I wanted to share with you. It's in second Samuel, which is in the old Testament, 12 one through seven. I read to this real quick with you in just a second. This is a situation where David King David, a lot of you maybe are familiar with hearing this story, whether you've grown up in church or not, but there's a story of a woman named Beth Sheba, right? And David solar on this patio and she was bathing. And then he sent someone to go get her. He ended up sleeping with her. Well, Uriah was best was husband who was actually fighting for David on his army and Shiva had become pregnant. And so David King David sent for her. I'd had him come back, tried to like, have him hook up with his wife or I could cover this whole thing up, ends up not doing it because he felt like bad.

Cause he wasn't out in the army. He wasn't fighting. And so ultimately what happened is David ended up sending a note out and having him killed. So it just escalated. It was like a cover up, cover up, cover up. Well, what happened later is David had a really good friend. I call him an accountability partner, right? That God's sent to him and had a message for him. It says this. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him that now he gave, this gives a story. He said, let me tell you about a story, David. There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. And the rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle. But the poor man had nothing except a little EELAM that he had bought. He raised it and he grew up with him and his children had shared his food drink from his cup and even slept in his arms.

It was like a daughter to him. It's like you crazy people with your dogs, right? I know you, you got, you got them in like a little outfits and like a little cop at the table for them, half of a meat better than you eat. It's crazy dog people. Alright, you're going now. A traveler came to the Richmond, but rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or his cattle to prepare a meal for the travel who had come to him instead, he took a little Ulum that was belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come. Now, this is what happens, David, like many of us would, he burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die. He must pay the price that he must pay for that land four times over because he did such a thing and had no pity, right?

This is ridiculous. He took that little baby, that daughter to that man. It wasn't even his, he slaughtered it threat. He had all of these cattles. Why would he did it? Do that? And then Nathan's said, you are the man, not like you, the man, but like, you're that guy, like, here's some accountability. This isn't just coming with this judging and condemning from a distance. But your, that guy, I get asked this question and I asked this question a ton, anywhere specifically, anytime I'm around men and then kind of relationship, I will ask, what's your accountability? Like, how do you have accountability? And, and I know that a lot of you maybe have seen a lot of things over the news over the last couple of years. And even recently in specifically with a lot of pastors, because it's like great news. For some reason, you'll see all of these things where there's been misconduct and, and these like scandals going on.

And a lot of that has a do with a lack of accountability. And so I get asked that question too, of like, what's your accountability. I ask other men, what's your accountability. And I'm speaking from a male's point of view. So understanding I'm not going to be able to go as deep in this with women. You need it as well. But with men, you know, like I've gotten some, I'll just say like some ridiculous answers before. And it's like, Hey, what do you do to keep yourself accountable? Like when you're traveling or when things just aren't going right, or you're stressed or you're going through these different seasons. And I remember one of the silliest answers I got that we had to walk through was like, well, I mean, have you seen my wife? And it was like, what? I guess what I got, that's not accountability.

Right? That's a beautiful relationship that you have, but that's not actually going to be like a Nathan in your life. We jumped ahead a little bit. So the question is really, so I'm getting to, what kind of accountability do you have in your life? Who's your Nathan? I know for me, I have a group of here, a board that I get to be accountable to and I get to talk about my life and what's going on. And I get to talk about my relationships or the things that I'm struggling with and things that I'm dealing with and the things that I'm doing to try to make sure that I become better and healthy and that I don't become judgmental. And I don't find myself in a weird spot. I also have a couple of the really good buddies that I share everything with it's. Everything is out in the open.

This is literally what I'm dealing with. I have, and I had talked about this a couple of months ago. I have a buddy that I call, we call five days a week, every morning at 7:50 AM. So like, people are trying to get ahold of me from like seven 50 to like eight 30, eight, 45, or somewhere around there. You can't get a hold of me. Cause we're talking in a lot of that has to do. And this is the crazy part. Here's like my, my sins from yesterday or this weekend are the things that I struggled with or me and a dumb thing. I said, you know, like this is it men not just talking about it, but the accountability piece of like, and here's an a do about it. Here's what I'm working on doing about it. And that's the kind of counterbalance that we need to have friends because we don't want to find ourselves in a situation where we're making these mistakes and we just, and people are distant and no one's helping us because we're just like, I don't want to judge.

I don't want to judge. I don't want to judge. I don't want to judge and no one will come alongside of you and say, Hey, my name's Larry, I'm recovery. Here's my log. Right? I don't want to talk about just the speck in your eye. Now. Here's a really interesting thing that happens because we're going through kind of exegetically, Ms. Versus we started Matthew seven verse one and we went through five and it's all about don't judge. Don't judge. Don't judge. Don't talk about the speck in someone else's I wouldn't have got a log in your own eye. And then he makes this crazy shift that I really had to chew on. That almost feels like it's contradictory to what he had just said. I'm gonna read it to you. We'll we'll hop into it. And then we'll go all of a sudden he's like, don't do the log plank thing.

Now we jump into do not give dogs. What is sacred and do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet in turn and tear you into pieces. So, first off I do this, like you would do, what does that even mean? Like all of a sudden we're talking about dogs and pigs and throwing pearls out to them. And in this, in this continuation of conversation, I'm like, well, hold on. So don't judge don't judge on. Not sure I got that. And then it's Austin. And he's like, and by the way, there's pigs, there's dogs and make sure you that you don't touch those. Right. Or make sure you do judge those and that also, you never put Holy things in front of those pigs or the dog. So here's the balance that we've just gone through and learned right here.

Never judge. Totally, always judge. I'm like, Whoa, what does this mean now? Now what does this shift he just made? What is this about? And as I kind of walked through this and wrestled with this, we see verse one through five is not this current blond prohibition against critical thinking. And that we should never critically think about things that we should never dismantle and kind of tear things apart or never push back or push against that. We should never confront. It's not that what verse one through five about is not judging people from a distance and condemning. We shouldn't be judging people from a distance because we're walking through the grocery store with logging and out and we're like, no, look at them. Look at that spec. Right? And that's what we're thinking. That's what that is talking about. We don't want to do this from a distance.

Now, verse six says that there's actually a place in life where you actually need to make sure that you're confronting or you're discerning or you're critiquing. And you're calling out in this pushes back against this idea of like, you know, only God can judge me. I'm not going to judge anyone. I'm not going to do this. They're going to do that. And they're gonna make those decisions and whatever, right? That's not how this that's not how this works. And to kind of dive in just a little bit deeper to this, you see things that Paul does in acts 13 or acts 19. You can read through some of those and see, as they kind of dismantle this idea that there's accountability that we need to have, but it's an appropriate accountability and how we treat it. Or we look at something that we kind of really wrestle with.

If you've dug into, through the new Testament in Matthew 18, there's this whole conversation about discipline in the church. Now that leads to my role in the church or the role of elders in the church, which is to protect or take care of the flock as a shepherd and Jesus, you know, people ask Jesus, what can I do for you? And he's like feed my sheep, feed my people, which means like loved them as I have loved you and care for them, not just in all kinds of freedom, but there are times when things happen in situations arise. And in Matthew 18, it talks about this discipline thing where he's saying, Hey, if you see someone struggling or doing something that they shouldn't do, and they are a follower of Jesus that they made this shift where they said, I'm going to live a new life.

I'm going to live a surrendered life to you, Jesus, in a I'm living in this life. But then yet you're still making these decisions in life that it talks about how you need to go to another person and have a conversation with them and call them out and push into that, right? And help them then go on some sort of rehabilitation to fix their marriage or fix their issue or this addiction problem. That's hurting them and hurting other people. And then it talks about how, if, if the, it doesn't happen with the one person that you bring a few people and you have that conversation. And then it gets to like this really crazy picture where it's like, if that doesn't work and they're still not understanding that what this is causing that you actually then go in front of the church, the community of other believers and talk about it and say it and call it out and tear it down.

Now, I don't want a lot of you guys to freak out right now. I'm not going to throw a picture up here right now and be like, now this is the person we're judging. It's not how this works, but there is a place where we need to be held accountable to what we're doing. Not just this hands off all of the time Barney research as a group that does surveys, they went out and they asked a handful of people who are non-Christians that don't do the Jesus thing in the top three things that they hate about church. If they are asking about, and one of the top three things, 87% was that the church is judgmental right now. I think that we have been called as followers of Jesus to lean into that verse one through five, because what people are talking about is judging from a distance.

It's not a relational thing. So we can get caught up and saying, this is my life. This is how good I am. I am changing, transformed. You're not right. Or, or you can just quickly be pointing out in gossiping and saying these things about others targeting their back, which is a form of judgment. And people were far from Jesus. Okay? I don't want to be a part of that. I don't do that. There's a lot of people who've done it. And it's all a reflection of the greatest commandment to love others. As I have loved you, as Jesus loved us, it's not Intel people say, Hey, I'm a part of this community. Now there could be accountability because it's a relational conversation. I get asked all kinds of questions from a distance about opinions or theologic or things, or just our views and where we stand in the statements of faith.

In many of those conversations, aren't had well through an email or a phone call. Why that's like a, yeah. A phone call. That's, that's like a situation where you want to sit down and have a conversation because then you can understand my heart. I can sit there and say, here's my log. Let's talk about the log that you want to talk about. And the hurt that other people's logs have done, right? How they have done damage to others. Now, how do we know what kind of discernment to have and in how we have conversations and approach one another and encourage one another. Again, this is a continuation of a conversation he's having in the Bible. If you reading through that, it has all these little like breakups. That's not how it was originally written. So in this message, it goes right into this says, ask, it will be given to you seek, and you will find knock. And the door will be open to you for everyone who asks, receives the one who seeks and finds into the one who knocks the door will be opened. Now, a lot of people like will shift and be like, Ooh, this means something else. This means this is like, now the Jesus, it's like a slot machine, ask him, he will receive seven, seven, seven baby, right? Jackpot. Remember this is a continuation of this conversation. So it's pointing right back at this.

When you're trying to understand, how will we have these relational conversations ask me, and it will be given to you. I'm going to give you discernment and wisdom knock. And you're going to find it. The door is going to be opened, right? For everyone who asks is receive as the one who finds these things. And the one who knocks the door will be opened. He saying, bring these things to me. And I'm going to partner with you as we walk through this and deal with this. Now this whole conversation that we have had many of the way that Jesus talks is all done in something called a hyperbole. Right. And we get to like the little sections and that's like, the thing we'll take in other sections, we don't take. So we're already, we're going like, eh, I'm not going to do the whole dog pig thing. Right. Or earlier in the his message, just a couple chapters ago, you see where he's saying, Hey, if your eye causes you to lust, pluck it out.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. And we get in, we're like listening. And we're like, yeah, this is good. Yeah, don't judge. This is really great. And then we get to the, like the eye thing and they're like, he's just, over-exaggerating, it is not a thing. Right. We're not going to get our handoff. Right. So why would we stop and think suddenly that all of this wouldn't be in hyperbole, right? This whole ask. And it will be given to you knock. And so we switched and we're like, yeah, don't judge, don't judge. This is so good.

It doesn't mean everything that we ask for everything that we pray for. We're going to get. And most of you know, that's not reality, right? But when we're in situations where we need God's guidance in direction or help in somebody that we can feel can actually come alongside of us and scoop us up and say, here's my log. I'm not judging you. But look, we got some work to do. We have work to do right now, friends. So what work do you need to do?

Ask, seek, knock, and allow God to do a work in you. And then I love how kind of ends this part of the conversation. At least as far as we're going to go today, it says, which of you, which of you, if your son asks for bread will give him a stone. Or if he asks for a fish will give him snake. If you then though, you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children. You know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those who ask him? So in everything do to others, what you would have them do to you for this sums up the law and profits. And this isn't just like a nicey nice conversation right here do to others. Be nice. So everyone's nice to you, right? No, it's like do some hard loving with others because you want people to love you hard back.

And sometimes loving somebody hard is just being there for them and you know, gifts to them and caring and, and coming alongside of them. And other times that hard love doing to others is saying like, Hey, you got my blind spot. You got my blind that you got my six, you got my back. Are you taking care of me? You know, the whole Maverick goose thing, someone else's looking behind you telling you where the bogeys are going to come in and get ya. That's what you want to do to others in a healthy way. Cause you want him to do that to you. She didn't go out there beating people up with your log, but that we can recognize that God laid us for community and this beautiful thing that he's created in us. So do you got your phones? You can bust out your phones. So we're wrapping up today. We're going to do a worship song about how God is, how God has really just our keys. He's he's all for us. But I want to give you a, these questions here, took us up and take a picture with your phone. These are questions to ask. First one is what log do you need to work on? Or plank?

My middle schoolers out there are giggling. And that question, what log do you need to work on? What's that thing that's causing damage. What's that thing that is hurting other people in reality, it's hurting you. And if you need help, remember that whole conversation, your, your spouse or your close friend. You want to know the answer, just ask. They are probably ready and willing. They're probably going to be like, I thought you'd never asked. Right? And then they bust up this list, okay? Where to start, right? What log do you need to work on? And seriously, who's your current ability? Who's your accountability. Who's your recovery group. Who's the person that you can sit there and say, Hey, my name's Larry. I'm in recovery. Let's talk. It's seven 50 in the morning. Right now let's have a conversation about what I'm struggling with or what I did or what I said or how I'm feeling or how I'm going into this day and check it, check me, be my accountability.

And one of my favorite parts of the accountability is it's not, you know, all these things, but it's just like, this is the way I'm feeling I'm running into this day. And there's a heart check. A posture to be like, perspective is a beautiful thing, right? A picture that's given. They're the one who's going to take a picture of you and hand it to it. And you're like, Ugh. Right? So we forget what we look like. It's a mirror who is your accountability? Who's your accountability. And maybe this week, you need to ask, seek, knock, and ask God, will you lead me to someone that can be my accountability, make me new help make me better. Help me walk through this crazy life together.

So that way, since stones, don't just break bones and words. Don't hurt others too, because judgment is a habit that everyone struggles with. For sure. So let's stand. We're going to respond in worship.

So my name is Larry I'm in recovery Sunday. Today, you're sitting here and you just need to say, my name is Larry. Jesus. I need to recovery. Then you're ready to say, I want to let you be the King of my heart. I just want to sit and let you do a new thing in me, do work on me because I can't do it on my own. And you get invited in and you get adopted in as a son or daughter into his family for attorney and on this earth into a faith community that will sit with you and say, Hey, I'm going to recovery to where a people in process taking new steps towards Jesus. So welcome to a grace-filled community. And if you're wondering like, okay, so how do I do that? What's the next step. We just got an easy step for you.

That's going to help you in this process. It's a little journal you wrote. It's called this changes everything. Because when you get, when you are adopted as a son or daughter into his family, into this family, it changes everything truly. And I want you to experience that. He wants you to experience this as a free gift. And so this is a free gift to you. We'll mail it to you. You can text TC E one to nine four zero zero zero. Or if you're here in the room today, there's a little spot. You, as you leave, you can go stop like there. We're going to give this to you and follow up with you as a next step. And so once you have this, if you're new with us today, or maybe this is one of your first times, or maybe you just want to let us know, Hey, I'm ready to tell you who I am.

I've been here a couple of times. We would love the opportunity to get to know who you are online or here in person. We have a gift for you want to give you just some information about what's going on, answer questions and just get you in wrapped into community. And like you heard early starting point is a great place to start when you're going to go. Like, so where do I start? Like, where do I learn? How do I get involved with things starting point right there? Just start there. We have it every week. You can hop in whenever you want. So man, maybe allow Jesus to be the King of our heart. I want to send you off with a blessing. We have this posture of giving up and receiving and so made you may. You just enjoy the presence of Jesus as you eat. As you ask, as you seek, as you knock the man, he comfort you. And may he do hard work on you and I this week? I love your friends. I'll see you next week.



MARCH 21ST, 2021 // JOHN 11:1-48 // PASTOR KAYLA HURST

Remove the Stone

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.






Journey of Stones - Pastor Kayla Hurst

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Well, good morning, Northgate. How are we? You guys get there already nervous back there because I don't have a table. And I warned them that if I don't have a table, I don't promise not to leave the stage entirely so online. I apologize already if I just disappeared because there's no table to put me down here, guys. I'm so excited to be with you. My name is Kayla. I'm one of the pastors here at North gate, where we envisioned transforming our homes, communities, and world by pursuing God, building community and unleashing compassion. I am so glad that you chose to come and worship with us today. And hopefully we together can learn from God's word today. Like Vanessa said, we are in the middle right in the middle of our series called journey with stones where we're taking a journey. Since it says that we're taking a journey through Jesus' life, using these stories about stones all throughout, kind of like as mile markers for us.

And today we're going to be in the book of John. John is actually in the second half of the Bible. We call that the new Testament. It's one of the first four books of the new Testament. The fourth, actually in those first four books are called the gospels, which means good news. They are four books from four different perspectives, all about Jesus' life, his birth, his, his ministry, his death, and his resurrection. And so we're kind of getting to move all throughout the gospels during this series to talk about these stories of stones. And today I get to tell you one of my favorites, which I think I say every time. So I apologize. I'm not lying. It's just that every time I read one, I'm like, man, no, this one's my favorite. So this week, this one is my favorite. And I'm really excited to share that with you today.

We're going to be in John chapter 11. You will be here on the screen. We're going to start in verse one now, sorry. At this point, Jesus, in his ministry, he's been in the public for a while. In fact, he's been in the public long enough that the Pharisees are already kind of ticked. Like they don't like them. They're always trying to trap him. They've got their eye on him. And so that will play into our story today, starting in verse one, John chapter 11, verse one. Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister, Martha, this Mary whose brother Lazarus. Now lay sick was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick. Now see that parentheses is actually John's.

That's not mine. He's reminding us that this Mary, the Mary in this story, sister of Martha, big sister of Lazarus is the same Mary that they tell the story of when she came to Jesus and in worship poured perfume on his feet and wiped his feet with her tears and her hair. It was an amazing act of worship. And in fact, in that story, it says, Jesus says, we will tell the story of you. So John's keeping Jesus' word right here and saying, this is the lady. This was the one we were talking about. Now Jesus had really close friends outside of the disciples. Sometimes when I read the new Testament and read the story of Jesus and his 12 apostles, I think of it as like Jesus and his 12 buddies. And that's it. And then there was the crowd, but just like all of our lives, we have more friends than the ones that people would point out for us. Jesus has really dear, dear friends and this family, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus is one of those families. In fact, you can see it whenever John says, the one you love is sick. That's how they referred to their brother. Now, cool note on that, John, the author of this book actually refers to himself as the one Jesus loves. And so he's sharing that title with Lazarus today. They have a long history, Jesus, and this family, and after Jesus gets this message,

You hear Jesus bold response.

Now it's bold because he's saying it in front of the messenger and in front of his disciples, verse four, when he heard this, Jesus said, this sickness will not end in death. And then he quickly adds no, it is for God's glory. So that God's son may be glorified through it. Now this is really important because Jesus, from the very beginning is setting himself up to show off. Like he is setting himself up to say, listen, this isn't about what you think it's about. God's going to show off his glory and power. And so you just wait. So from the very first thing Jesus says about his friend Lazarus already, knowing what he's going to do. He says God's glory is going to be shown to you. I'm going to be glorified through it. Verse five. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days. And then he said to his disciples, let us go back to Judea. Now, I don't know if you caught that or not, but this one doesn't make a ton of sense to me. It says Jesus loved them. So he stayed for two more days. This is usually how those stories go. Like if someone I love is sick, my first response is to run, right? Like you just get there. How many of you guys have friends like that? There are friends that you don't even have to tell your partner, your kids, that you got to go. If you got a phone call from them, you'd just be gone. But you just go to them. Every piece of evidence suggests that Jesus is like that with Lazarus, but here it says Jesus loved them. So he stayed where he was for two more days.

And then you see His disciples response. They say, but rabbi short while ago, the Jews there tried to stone. You and yet you're going back. Now. I like to give the disciples voices when I talk about them in the Bible, because you know, this is like a real story that really happened. And so often we read the Bible in like a monotone voice, but rabbi, they said a short while ago, the Jews there tried to stone. You and yet you are going back. No, no, no. I'm pretty sure. And it doesn't say it here, but I'm pretty sure it says, but rabbi a short while ago, the Jews there

Tried to stone. You, why are you going back? That's how I think they said it.

Not a great idea. They're like, listen, boss, maybe we avoid that area for now. But Jesus answered. Are there not 12 hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble for they see by this world flight it's when a person walks at night that they stumble for. They have no light.

Jesus speaks in a little bit of a riddle there, which I think is a perfect response to such a sassy attitude, right? Jesus saying things happen when they need to happen. When it's supposed to be light outside, it's light outside. When it's supposed to be dark outside, it'll be dark outside. And just a couple chapters back. He refers to this same idea. Jesus says, as long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me night coming when no one can work while I am in the world, I am the light of the day world. So he's already told them, listen, guys, I kind of know what's happening. I feel pretty good about it. We can go where I need to go. I'm the light of the world. Let's, let's walk in that light. He still has more daylight left. Jesus has his eye on what God is asking him to do. And in obedience, he'll walk wherever he's supposed to go. So he has no fear of what will come because he knows his time hasn't come yet. Can you imagine living with that kind of purpose with that kind of confidence, keeping our eyes on what God is asking us to do, knowing for sure that we are a son or daughter of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the creator of the universe. When we really internalize that kind of truth, we just walk a little different. We can walk more confidently knowing that we are walking in step with God. Let's go back to our passage here. Verse 11. It says, after Jesus had said this, he went on to tell them our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I'm going there to wake him up.

Okay? Catch this falling off sleep is, was often used in scripture to talk about people that had died had had physical death. So what we're saying here is that Jesus knew already at this point, Lazarus had died. He hadn't been given that message yet, but he knew, he knew that Lazarus had already died. His disciples replied Lord. If he sleeps, he's going to get better. See that sassy attitude again. I know you can just read it in there. Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. I love that. So John was one of the apostles that was there and it's like, he's not sure if you get it either. So he's like he wasn't talking about natural sleep. Super fun.

I like getting this, like behind the scenes. Look, Seibles totally didn't get it. So then he told them, plainly Lazarus is dead. And for your sake, I'm glad I was not there so that you may believe, but let us go to him. He finally gives up on them, getting it all together and he just tells them the plan. Lazarus is dead. We're going okay. And then he does this like silver lining attempt here where he says, but it's good for you. It's good for you that we weren't there because something's going to happen. That you may believe he's reminding them once again, reminding them before they knew God is going to show off his power here. So get ready laying the foundation. So there is no question about why he is doing what he is about to do. Jesus wasn't cold. He just had his eyes on a bigger picture. Verse 16. Then Thomas also known, as Didymus said to the rest of the disciples, let it, okay. Here's the voice for this guy. You're ready. Let us also go. So we may die with him. You know the guy, right? Except that Thomas, interestingly enough is the guy we'll find out later is doubting Thomas. After Jesus has died, has been risen from the dead and, and shows himself to the disciples. They tell this guy, khaki pants right here. They tell him, we saw Jesus he's risen. And Thomas is like, nah, I'll believe it. When I see it. In fact, I don't just need to see it. I need to put my hand in his, I need to feel the hole in his hands.

This guy has a bit of an attitude, but I do applaud for like zealous team player. All right. Verse 17 on his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Now. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem. And many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them. And the loss of their brother. A couple of really important things in this passage. First, the four days thing. Now four days to us, like one day dead would be a really big deal. If somebody raised somebody from the dead, right? Like one day dead is big. But after three days, Jewish culture really considered them dead. Dead.

I'm really not sure what the difference is. We're just like, it's dead. But the Jews were like, well, there's dead. And then there's dead dead. And that was three days, three days later. Okay. I know it's silly, but you need to know that. Okay.

And then we see that Bethany was two miles from Jerusalem. Now they're giving us a geography lesson because they wanted us to understand just how many people were probably there with Mary and Martha, because in Jewish culture, it was a whole community that came around to mourn with a family. It wasn't just their close family and friends. It wasn't just their acquaintances. When someone lost their life, the whole community came and mourned. And so being just two miles away from Jerusalem meant that there was a lot of Jews that likely came to Bethany to be with Mary and Martha verse 20. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him. But Mary stayed at home. Lord Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Now we'll see her sister say the same thing in just a minute. But Martha actually goes on and says, but I know that even now, God will give you whatever you ask. And Jesus said to her, your brother will rise again. And Martha answered. I know he'll rise again in the resurrection at the last day, Jesus is telling her Lazarus about to walk out that tomb. And she's like, I know that he'll resurrect on the last day. Like she's being the good Sunday school. I believe in you. This was a, this was a statement of real faith and a statement that a lot of the people around her probably would not have agreed with. But she in faith says, I know that you will resurrect him on the last day. I know that that's what's going to happen, but we hear Jesus gentle response. As he starts to shift her focus a little bit. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me live, even though they die. And whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

Even in this moment, Jesus has his mind on the kingdom of heaven, but he's reframing, everyone's view of the kingdom of heaven. And I think some of us in this room, I know I did need to have a reframe of it as well. When I think of the kingdom of heaven, I think about one day when I get to escape this place and go and see the pearly Gates, the golden streets, the crystal sea. Yeah. And maybe like little babies running around with just diapers on and wings and stuff. Okay. We all know that's not real. Right? I hope so. Now I've always said that the very best thing about heaven is that Jesus is there. That we are 100% in his presence and that's true, but we need to shift our vision even more. What Jesus is saying here

As a, you don't have to wait. You don't have to wait for heaven. You don't have to for this resurrection one day. At the end of time, I am the resurrection and the life Jesus is saying, I am. It's one of those, one of those beautiful. I am statements. Just like we heard him say, I am the light of the world. We heard him say, I am the living water. And right here, we see, hear him saying, I am the resurrection and the life. She doesn't have to trust in some far off vague one day kind of resurrection. She can trust in the person of Jesus, someone that she knows and trusts and loves and who is right there.

And that's a lesson for each one of us as well, resurrection and life. And Jesus. Those things can not be separated. There is no resurrection of anybody without Jesus. It's just not there. And then I love how he puts it back in her court. Do you believe this? Do you believe it? And she responds. Yes, Lord.

I believe that you are the Messiah. The son of God, who is to come into the world. Now, I don't know if you remember pastor Ken sermon a couple of weeks ago where he talked about Peter's good confession. The one we always quote where he says, I believe that you are the Christ, the Messiah. Well, just so you know a lady that at first Martha said at first, I know it's good. Right?

I remember that part. You don't remember anything else, but you're gonna remember that. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Messiah, that is a big word. Then it's one we use in church, especially around Easter, but she is saying it back to Jesus. She's like, no, no, no, no, no, no. I know who you are. You are the Messiah. You are the one who has come to save. She uses the title Lord there at the beginning. Yes, Lord Lord is a title of boss, right? Lord is who's in charge. So she's acknowledging you are in charge and you are the one that we have been waiting for. I believe in you, you are in control. And then she goes and gets her sister verse 28. After she had said this, she went back and called her sister, Mary aside, the teacher is here. She said, and he's asking for you, no one Mary heard this. So she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. And when the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her notice how quickly she got up and went out. They followed her supposing. She was going to the tomb to mourn there. Now, again, this is one of those ancient Jewish mourning traditions. All of those people would be at the tomb as the immediate family placed the body in the tomb. And they would say words, they would sing songs. They would weep loudly all alongside the family. And then once that stone was rolled away, once the funeral was over and the stone was rolled to seal the tomb, the family would go back to the home and the crowd would go with them and they would stay there for days.

For days, this whole community would stay in this home to be with the family. In fact, they would stay so close to home that anytime one of the family members got up to leave, they just assumed, Oh, they must be going back. They must be back to the grave site. They must go back to mourn. So we need to go with them so we can mourn with them. That's our whole job. It's our whole job as the community is to go back and mourn with them. And so they didn't go cause they were nosy. They went because they thought they were doing their job. And that's why there was a crowd. When Mary talked to Jesus, verse 32, when Mary reached the place where Jay, sorry. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, you fell at his feet, she's at his feet again.

Remember this is the same Mary who fell at his feet in worship and poured expensive perfume on him and cried on his feet and washed them with her hair. And here she, he is again at his feet, likely crying. She fell at his speed. And we see, we see this posture that I think is so important because it's the same posture in worship as it is in lament. When she is at her most sorrowful, her darkest day, ever likely she falls at Jesus' feet and worship that teaches us something about how we can lament about what we can do with our sadness around Jesus and her posture. And both occasions, both in sorrow and worse is appropriate. She said, when she fell at His feet, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

We can't read tone of voice. I told you that. And there's really no indication of how she said it. She could have said it in sadness. She could have said it and frustration or anger. I mean, can you hear it? She would. If she knew, if she knew that if Jesus had been there, then her brother wouldn't have died. Don't you think there would be some frustration there mixed with sadness, mixed with confusion, mixed with I'm so glad you're here right now, whatever voice she used. It certainly included desperation, but friends. This is a takeaway for us, whether it's sadness, frustration, disappointment, mint, anger. We go straight to Jesus' feet.

That's what we do in our darkest day. We go straight to Jesus' feet. But listen to what she says. She said, if you had been here, do you hear the faith in that? If you had been here, Jesus, my brother wouldn't have died. I'm not sure that all the Jews standing around her could say such a thing. If you had been here, Jesus, I know that you would have stopped this from happening.

Maybe you've been in a similar place. Maybe, maybe you've asked a similar thing. Maybe you've said out loud, Jesus, if you had been here for you to shown up, my family member wouldn't have died. Jesus. If you would have shown up, I wouldn't have lost my job. Jesus. If you had been here, I would be pregnant by now. Jesus. If you had been here and maybe you have been made to feel guilty, or maybe there's a nagging shame in there. And I want you to know, you can lay that down because this frustration and this anger, this deep sorrow and sadness with Jesus, because if you had just been here is such a statement of faith and it was acceptable to Jesus here from Mary and Martha. And it is acceptable to God's ears from, from us. It is, it is a statement of worship. It is a statement full of faith.

You are saying, I believe you can do something. I believe there is power in you. And here we see Jesus' response. Verse 33, when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping. He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. And he said, where have you laid him?

Come and see Lord. They replied Jesus wept more than the verse that every kid hopes that they get assigned in Sunday school. Cause that's the smallest one ever more than that. That's a profound statement. Jesus wept. When he saw his friend weeping, when he saw the community around her weeping, alongside her, it moved him so deeply that Jesus wept. And then he asked the question. He already knew the answer to where have you laid him? Where have you laid him? Friends? When you lament, when you come to Jesus in your sorrow, he is present. He is present with you and he's inviting us. He's inviting us to say Jesus, come and see, come and see my pain. Can I show you where it hurts really bad? Can I show you what happened? He already knows, but he wants you to tell him where have you laid him through tears? He says, where have you made him? We can know this about Jesus. We can know that when Jesus weeps, he is weeping with them and he is weeping with us. When we wait, when we weep, we can know that about him and it brings us great comfort, but friends, it is also, we can learn from him. It's an important thing we can learn from him. It's how we sit with others in their grief. Jesus already knew what he was about to do. He knew there was no reason for their tears. He was about to go raise the man from the dead that they were crying over. And instead of rushing to fix it, he stopped. And he, I don't do that. Well, I don't know it's personality. It's, it's something. And I don't know about some of you, but I think that in general, we all have this. Let me fix it right. Let me at least go make you dinner. Let me go do something. I got to fix it. I got to say something. I got to do something when Jesus is modeling for us right here, be present, weep with them. I remember it when I was a brand new pastor, I was a children's pastor, but at the church, I was out as a small little church. And we each had to take a day of hospital calls every week. And I was super nervous about it because I hadn't ever done it before. And there was this string of times that I would go, and this is not funny when it's kind of funny.

Every time I would go and pray with someone the next day they would die. Thank you. It was horrible. But there's another thing that would happen every time I would go, I would cry. And after a couple of weeks of this, I went to my boss and I said, listen, I don't think you want me to go anymore for several reasons. Right? I don't think you want me to go because all I ever do is cry and I couldn't picture him going in and crying. I pictured him going in and being like Jesus wept and then like lay hands and pray on them. But when I went in, I saw the sorrow of other people and I couldn't, I hope it. I just cried. And so lucky that I had the boss that I did because he looked at me and he was like right. That's why you're going. That's why you'll be good at this. That's what they need is someone to come weep with them, to be sad with them, someone to be confused and be frustrated with them. You're not there to answer their questions. Kayla, you're there to be present with them. You're there to weep with them. I wonder if there isn't something we can learn as a community, a community of faith who walks in the steps of Jesus, right? I wonder if there isn't something we can learn. Even this week, this season, we have brothers and sisters who are weeping.

We have Asian-American friends who are scared and they're weeping. And maybe instead of giving them a reason, not to maybe of giving them reason to reason it all away explanation that they'll be fine. Maybe instead we're present. Maybe instead, weep, maybe instead we say, show me, show me the pain. Let me walk with you. There. I'll stand with you there.

Maybe you have a friend who lost their job. And man, what you really want to do is just take dinners over to them. Also do that and gift cards. But maybe what you can do is weep with them and be present. Don't be afraid of the discomfort. Maybe a friend of yours just lost a baby. They were so excited to be pregnant. And now they have lost their baby. The thing that they had hoped for so much, and frankly, it makes you a little uncomfortable because they're so sad and you're never really sure what's going to trigger it.

And so gift cards, dinner, but maybe your presence, maybe your tears

Is the very best gift that you can give. Then we see their reactions. We see these Jews reactions to Jesus behavior, verse 36. Then the Jews said, see how he loved him. But some of them said could not. He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying. They really need a new font for that.

See some saw the tenderness of Jesus. Some saw how he reacted and was like, man, he must really loved that guy. But the other one said, you know, I suspected this guy wasn't as good as he said he was. In fact, I bet that's why he didn't come earlier because he knew he couldn't keep him from dying. So now he's just crying and make it okay. Verse 38, Jesus. Once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance, take away the stone. Some versions say remove the stone. And then Martha pipes up always the good housekeeper, always worried about everybody else. She says, by this time there is a bad odor for he's been in there for days.

She wasn't wrong. Like four days, they didn't have the modern technology we do. That was not a good smell. And it had been closed up for four days. So you can use your imagination, but this wasn't going to be pleasant. It wasn't gonna be pleasant for anybody within well, and it's going to be bad, but Martha didn't know that Jesus was about to raise her brother from the dead. She might've thought he just wanted to walk in and get some closure and see his friends.

And, and she's like, no, maybe we don't do that. But Jesus responds this way. Did I not tell you that? If you believe you will see the glory of God, he asks her, do you want to hide the stink? Or do you want to see God's power?

Do you want to keep all that closed up and hidden? Or do you want to see God show off here? I told you, I told you it's coming. How often do we do that? We shut her away. Our stink. I want to hide all of the dead things in our lives, away from Jesus. We don't want anyone else to get a whiff of it. We don't even want him to get a whiff of it. So we hide it away. We close it up. We seal it up. And I wonder if Jesus isn't saying, do you want to avoid stink? Or do you want to see? God's sorry, maybe you were moved the stone and the stink won't matter so much because there's something good coming. Sometimes we would rather mask the stench of our sin than open ourselves up to God and the work he wants to do and why we're embarrassed, right?

We don't think Jesus can do something with it. We don't want anybody else to see it. We will. We want to hide it away. Those, those, those reasons make sense. But it is a part of our theology here, right? We can't hide from our theology that says there is nothing so dead that God cannot resurrect it. But friends, resurrection starts out stinky. There wouldn't be much to resurrect if there wasn't stinky, but this is Jesus. He is the resurrection. He is the life.

He's the light of the world that makes light from darkness. He brings beauty from ashes and life from death. No matter how far we've buried ourselves in our sin, Jesus is saying, remove the stone, remove the stone. Not only would resurrection become Jesus' greatest achievement when he Rose his own self up from the dead. But resurrection is what he does. And each one of us every day, it's what he's going to do for some of you. The very first time today, resurrection is Jesus' business and it's what he did for Lazarus to verse 41. They took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me. You want to hear me do the Jesus voice. Here we go, father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here. When he said this, Jesus called out in a loud voice. Lazarus come out. The dead man came out. His hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. And Jesus said to them, take off the grave clothes and let go friends. He is calling you out of your grave. He is calling me out of my grave. He's calling you out of your loneliness. He's calling you out of your self-loathing. He's calling you out of your rebellion, your arrogance, your greed. He's calling you out of your anger. He's calling you out of your sadness. He's calling you out of your fears. He's calling you out of your need for control. He's calling you out of your addictions, your religious pride, your selfish ways, your nose turning up to everybody else. He is calling you out of your shame. And I don't know what you think he's calling you out of, but I assure you. He is saying, remove the stone. Come out of your grave. I am the resurrection. I am the life. There is nothing so dead that Jesus cannot resurrect it. There's nothing you have dug your, your Tim's so deep with that. He isn't ready to call you out of it.

He wants you to take off those grave clothes and live. You know, those grave clothes. They probably stunk. They'd been on a dead man for 40. Yes. And I think some of us are walking around like that too. We're walking around a dead man's clothes. We're walking around as if Jesus had not called us out of the stink and what Jesus says, take off those clothes and let I can go because it's just like, Jesus loved Lazarus. He loves you. He loves. And he is calling to all of us, come out of your grave and live. If your heart is hearing that call right now, I want to know about it. I want to know about it. I want to hear what it is that Jesus is saying to you, friends, that it's your first time. If you have, if you've never allowed Jesus to bring you up out of something, today is the day we want to walk alongside you with it. We, we do friends of your online. You can text TCE one, two nine, four zero zero, zero, or you can call it out in the chat room. There's a team of people that want to walk alongside you. As you make this decision. As you walk out of the grave and live in the room, friends, we have a spot for you. There are couches and everything, right?

Get out there in the lobby. There's a, this changes everything area. And there is a team of people ready to show you that Jesus is calling you out. We have a gift for you. There. Something that'll help you take those first steps out of the grave to show you how to take those grave clothes off and truly live and friends. Maybe you have.

I have made that decision a long time ago, but you're a resurrected person walking around with dead man's clothes. Today is your day to let those clothes go to walk out of the grave and live like a person who is alive. Don't say another moment in the grave friends, don't do it. Jesus is calling to you. Every one of you, he's calling to you come out of your grave and the live we stand with me as we worship and that Jesus.



MARCH 28TH, 2021 // LUKE 19:28-44 // PASTOR LARRY DAVIS

The Rocks Will Cry Out

Jesus asked his disciples and the colt owners to follow his request, even though they don't understand the purpose. How have you ever faced obedience without fully understanding God's plan or purpose?






Journey of Stones - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Hey friends, happy Palm Sunday. I think you say it like that when he was Larry and one of the pastors here, I want to welcome you. If you're with us online today, I'm so thankful that you are welcoming us into the space where you're at and you're doing the hard work of just continually connecting. And when you're ready, we are ready there. We have space here and both of our buildings in San Francisco, they're an orange now and they can sing inside. That's a big deal. We, we actually, haven't been able to sing inside in San Francisco, do their regulations for a year now. So today it's a big day for them because they're singing inside and there's something about corporate worship together. Yeah. So I am really excited for their day there. And if you're with us from the San Francisco campus, there's space for you when you're ready again, we're doing our best to keep you guys feeling comfortable.

And with our kids service opening up at the Benicia campus, like Vanessa said, for Easter, really looking forward to just seeing what's next and gathering again, and being intentional about what we're doing and what we are experiencing. So we have been doing this series. We call it or conversation called journey of stones, where we have been on a journey, just grabbing different stories throughout the scriptures and the new Testament. And then even in the life of Jesus or in reflection of the life of Jesus, from some of the disciples that wrote letters that involve stones or rocks, and I've really enjoyed the different kinds of conversations we've had. And today we're kind of leading up to the end, ultimately, we're next week, we're going to talk about a stone that was rolled away, which is the resurrection. But today we get to talk about how even the stones will cry out.

And this is a Palm Sunday message. Some of you guys may be familiar that this is Palm Sunday. You might even not know why it's called Palm Sunday. And so we're going to walk through what Palm Sunday is from Luke 19, and we're going to unpack it as we go. So hopefully you all leave here with a better understanding of what we're walking into this week. As we lead to Easter, this is called Holy week now. And we're ramping up towards good Friday and this Easter service. And there's different experiences as those who practice lint, you know, see kind of the end of that and this deep connection where we get to have with God and commune him. So I'm going to dive right in. I'm going to read you a ton of stuff right now, and then we're going to unpack it. So this is Luke 19 after Jesus had said this really quickly.

What it's saying right here is after Jesus had said, this is he had just finished telling a parable. It was interesting. We're not going to talk about today, but he finished this parable. He's kind of done having this conversation and now we're moving on. So he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As they approached Bethpage and Bethany at the Hill called the Mount of olives. He sent two of his disciples saying to them, go to the village ahead of you. And as you enter, you will find a Colt tied there, which no one has ever written on. Tie it, bring it here. And if anyone asks you, why are you on tying it? Say the Lord needs it. Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as Jesus had told them. And as they were untying, the Colt, its owners asked them, why are you on time? The Colt may said the Lord needs it. So they brought it to Jesus. They threw their cloaks on the Colt and they put Jesus on it. And as he went along, people spread their cloaks out on, okay.

They came near the place where the road goes down to the Mount of olives. The whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God and the loud voices for all the miracles that they had seen blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest, some of the Pharisees in the crowd, they saw this and they said to Jesus teacher rebuke your disciples. And he said, I tell you, he replied. If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. As he approached Jerusalem and he saw the city, he wept over it and said, if you even, you had only known on this day, what would bring you peace? But now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you. When your enemies will build an embankment against you and in circle, you and him, you in on every side, they will dash you to the ground. You and the children within your walls.

They will not leave one stone on another because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you in a minute. We'll go a little bit further, but we'll kind of start there. I think it's fascinating. Isn't it?

Did you catch that? That Jesus is weeping.

He's talking about this time of God's visitation to his people. The time of Jesus is a visitation. There's a lot for us to unpack in this Texas. We dive in, but dive in. But you know, like if Jesus is weeping and he's showing us who God is that this visitation of God, to his people, God's time of coming. That the first thing that he does is burst into tears. I think that this really gives us a glimpse into who God is the heart of God. In times of crisis. This was a future crisis that was going to take place. It says in John 1245, the one who looks at me, this is Jesus talking is seeing the one who sent me that if you want to know what God looks like, acts like, thinks about says, look at me. That's what I was saying. If you want looking at me that you're seeing God is very clear about this.

And I think that this is a beautifully clear glimpse of God, riding into Jerusalem at the time of this crisis and their case, that coming crisis, catastrophe, that's going to take place for Israel. There's going to be a significant crisis in the history of Israel. That's just around the corner that we're going to talk about in just a few moments. But what we see that in light of this situation, that Jesus bursts into tears, that this is God's heart for us, actually right now in this moment where God's not sitting back looking at us and pointing at our sin. But it's to mourn with those who mourn, you know, that sometimes people say like, Hey, you know, at North gate or Larry, or when Ken's here or Kayla, they're just kind of like painting this picture of God. That's just way too loving. It's just all like woo, happy all the time.

And I want to tell you that that is impossible. It's impossible to paint a picture that God's too loving because God is love. God is love. You can say, well, you can't just make them kind and nice all of the time. That's ridiculous. Well, kindness, kindness is literally one of the fruits of the spirit that this is actually something that is who God is in, what he is trying to do in us to implant in us, through his spirit. That's given to us. It's not just this foreign idea to God. He's trying to get into us, giving us his own character when it comes to kindness. That's what kindness is. You can say, Oh, well, I think you're just making God too gentle. Like he's just too soft. You know, he's crying. Well, actually gentleness is literally one of the fruits of the spirit. This is who God is.

This is the response that he has right now in a time of crisis. We're getting to see God's own character, the character in which he's trying to implant in us. There's this great quote from John Stott. He says, I could never myself believe in God. If it were not for the cross in the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? This is from his book, the cross of Christ. This, this idea of suffering the suffering of Jesus. This is doesn't answer all of our [inaudible] about why the origin of evil or why these so come from, or why do things happen that we actually have even cry about it. Rather, you look in John nine and Jesus says, we're asking the wrong questions. Like why do you even have to be gentle and kind, and loving and mournful sorrowful and this when, when you could just fix it, right? And Jesus says in John nine, rather look at this in turn suffering into an opportunity to actually have a field trickle discussion about this. So let's ask this question, how is God wanting to partner with us right now

To make a difference? Can we weep

Along with God and then move forward to help others in the midst of their own crisis? So through that, the cross of Christ as we head into Holy week, this week, and we head into the week, we're ramping up to good Friday and Easter Sunday. We need to think about God entering into our suffering itself. That's the center point. That's actually the centerpiece of the Christian faith is the cross that God shows us his solidarity with us and actually suffers with us. That's his heart, that's his heart. So let's dive in a little bit further. I think this idea of Jesus crying is so important. I think it's funny because some people just don't like the idea of a God who cries. Right? You get that too. Like for some reason, that's like a dude, like dudes don't cry, right? Like we're not criers. And we get this idea of, you know, God shouldn't be moved emotionally.

He's God, he's big and powerful. And I think that, that couldn't be further from the truth. He's so holistically involved in our lives that I don't know why it would want to be the goal of any of us that God is somehow distant and doesn't have any emotion. I know that even our songs in the humidity of like Christmas carols, right. You guys have maybe saying, or heard the song away in a manger, verse two, it says the cat Lowy and baby wigs, but little Lord Jesus, no crying. He makes right. So right off the bat, we're like, Oh yeah, it's like a tough baby too. He doesn't fuss his Dooney thing. You know, it gets woken up. And he was like, nah, I'm cool. I'm God, I'm Jesus. Right from the beginning, we just know that Jesus doesn't cry and somehow have emotion, but that's our own mythology.

It's not Bible. Kayla talked about last week that when Jesus cries, when Lazarus dies, even though Jesus, that he's actually going to raise him back from the dead he's entering into the sorrow of others being present, where here we see Jesus for a future catastrophe, he knows Israel is going to experience is crying after Jesus. It says in verse 28, after Jesus said this, he went on up ahead, going to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethpage in Bethany at the Hill that he, of the Mount of olives. So if you were to look at a map, this is kind of what this looks like. It always talks about going up to Jerusalem. Well, Jesus and most of his followers were in an area called Galilee. It's actually up above and Jerusalem is down, right? But there's this whole idea of you always go up to Jerusalem.

And at the time John's actually telling us that Jesus is actually right now around Efrin, which is in this also up above Jerusalem, off to the side and Providence of Judea. So there's this whole idea of, they always talked about going up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was on a Hill. So what had happened is that they're actually coming down, then there's the Mount of olives and you would go up the Mount of olives. And once you Crested the Mount of olives, you could then see across the Valley of Kidron that goes down up to where you see this Holy city through some as a bit of a mountain of a bit of a Hill where just above the Kidron Valley up on the other side of the Mount of olives. So that's kind of the scene that we see. So as pilgrims are the people that work their way down from Galilee and through Judea in that area, they would head up the mountain of olives, the Mount of olives.

And as you head over the top, you have these two little towns there, Beth page Bethany, and you would get your first glimpse across this Valley and where you're catching the action right now, that's where this is taking place. So then it says he sent two of his disciples. I think I have this new two of his disciples saying to them, go to the village ahead of you. And as you enter it, you're going to find a Colt tied there, which no one has ever written on. Tie it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, why are you on tying it? Say the Lord needs it. Now, what we see here is apparently Jesus had done some preparing for this cult that someone had left it out for his people. The followers of Jesus. And what's interesting here is Jesus is known as the Lord within circles of his followers.

Now Jesus would also know people in Bethany. That's where Lazarus and Mary and Martha lived, who were his friends. And so he spent time there. He has friends in Bethany. And so he's made arrangements ahead of time. So he's not actually stealing this cult, but just in case anyone wonders or anyone asks, if they're a part of the Jesus following group, just say the Lord is in need of it. And then you'll see, even later in the gospel of Luke, as we go further into this Holy week, that we're in, it's the last supper and Jesus is making arrangements for this. And he tells him to go in and say, the teacher is in need of this room, this upper room, where they used for the last supper. These are the two titles that we see that the followers of Jesus use. And he's most known for the Lord and teacher, the teacher, and both of them actually come together in John's gospel, where Jesus, you remember the scene or you've heard of the scene where Jesus has actually washing the feet of his disciples.

And he says, if I, your Lord and teacher washed your feet, you should gosh, one another's feet. The most disgusting thing he ever said, Jesus is Lord and Jesus is teacher. Now what's interesting is Lord was a term that was used of like regular folks as a term of respect, similar to the middle ages where you had Lords and ladies, right? You could also call someone of Lords or a Lord, you know, or my Lord, it was this term of respect, but Jesus takes this term though, when he refers to himself, not as a Lord, but the Lord, in other words, the master of all masters and when Jewish people use this term in this way, they're usually referring to God as the Lord of all Lords. And that's how Jesus actually uses it for himself throughout the scriptures. So in verse 32, those who were sent ahead and they found it just as he had told them, this is the cold as they're untying, the Colt, its owners asked them, why are you on tying the Colt?

We want to make sure that you're the right people, like say the special password, right? And there's this. We wanted to make sure that this whole thing happening. And by the way, right here in the scene, when it's talking about the owners of the Colts, it's actually the same word that's used there in the Greek for Lord's again, just translated differently for English. So the Lord of the Lords of the donkey said, as they're on-time and cold, its owners asked them, why are you on time in the cold? And they replied, the Lord needs it. And so it all worked out. It's interesting. Jesus is actually intentionally fulfilling a prophecy from Zachariah nine nine. This is an old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah. Zachary nine nine says this rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion shout daughter Jerusalem. See your key comes to you, righteous and victorious lowly and riding on a donkey on a Colt, the foal of a donkey.

So Jesus is intentionally doing this. Jesus is intentional and saying, now I'm going to make a statement right now and fulfill this prophecy on purpose. And this is one of those situations where he knows, you know, about rumored prophecies, that when the Messiah comes in, he's going to come riding in on a donkey, not on a war horse. And what's interesting about a donkey is a donkey is actually a symbolism of peace where normally the King would ride on an animal of conquests. This massive, the tallest horse that you could find and come riding in on this massive animal and declare his authority. And instead, Jesus, we find is a King on a donkey. He's intentionally making a statement here with everything that he does. So in verse 35, they brought it to Jesus. Then they threw their cloaks on the Colt and they put Jesus on it.

And as he went along, people spread their cloaks on the ground. Other gospels tell us that branches were put on the ground. It's actually John who tells us that Palm branches hints Palm Sunday. This is high honor that they would lay these things in front of him. As he's making his way down into the kitchen Valley, over on his way, up to the Holy land the high place of God in Jerusalem. It says when they came near to the place where the road goes down, the Mount of olives, the whole crowd of his disciples began joyfully, praising God and loud voices for all because of the miracles that they had seen blessed is the name of the King who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest. Now he's about to head down from the Mount of olives right here in the Valley of Kidron, towards Jerusalem.

And there's already this large crowd that has gathered around him. Now the crowd is that it's originally with them. You know, he has, and now there's other pilgrims that have heard, Hey, the Messiah is coming to Jerusalem. He's going there. And that's what the Messiah supposed to do. He says, Jesus says, I'm on my way into Jerusalem. And they said, well, we're, we're showing up. We're going to make a pilgrimage down there with you because that's what the Messiah is supposed to do right now. They all knew this, that the Messiah was actually supposed to travel into Jerusalem. And you think of Warhorse instead of a donkey, but there's a prophecy, so, okay, that's fine. And then he gets into Jerusalem and he's probably expected to do two things. One would be to show up to the temple and bless it. And the other would be to go to the seat of the Roman authority and curse it and say, I'm here in town to lead a revolt against the Romans, bless the temple, curse the enemy.

And we're going to see how that works out. So when he came near this place where the road goes down to the mountain, all of this whole crowd of began joyfully. We see they're joyfully, praising God with loud voices about the miracles that you've seen. So you really have to keep these groups of people in mind. You have the disciples, these pilgrims that have watched him following these miracles that are taking place. They're following him. They're following his, his journey. As he travels this way, then you have this next group of people that we're going to see. You have the religious leaders. So you have this pro Christ movement. And really then you have this anti Jesus movement, the religious leaders in Jerusalem, who, who were like, Whoa, who is this guy? He's gaining all kinds of notoriety. And people are now praising him and high honor.

And then you have the crowds of people in Jerusalem who are already there. They're watching this stuff kind of make its way. You know, this is getting a lot of chatter and they haven't seen all the miracles yet. They've heard about this stuff. They haven't been exposed personally to the teachings of Jesus. The people like the people from up in Galilee and those regions had been exposed to for years now. And they see this crowd coming down and working its way, believing that this is the Messiah. And they know that their own religious leaders that are a part of Jerusalem. They don't really like him. And so they understand that there's already like a force going against him and over the next week while Jesus teaches in Jerusalem, cause that's what he's going to do. The people that use them are going to have to make up their mind. They're gonna have to make up their mind. I wonder right now, where do you see yourself? Which people group would you be? Do you see yourself right now as the skeptic?

Maybe one like the religious leaders or maybe you're not religious and you're just being set skeptic saying doubt, this whole thing. I got doubt it, Jesus. Like he really did this. And then we get further on into the resurrection. I'm not sure. Or are you the convinced where, you know, and you're like, this is the Messiah right here. This is the one we've been made for. And we love him. And we're filled with joy over it. Or are you like the crowds in Jerusalem? I think any people that we know, or maybe even some people here are in that position right now where you're hearing competing things, voices, pros and cons versus you're in this position of, I feel like I need to make a decision and I'm exploring this and I want to understand, I want to make up my mind and I'm investigating more.

And so they're heading down the mountain of all of them, the Valley of Kidron and into Jerusalem. And they start to shout out. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest. And you remember, you remember when Jesus first came was just Christmas. And the angels showed up to the shepherds. I said, glory to God in the highest on earth and peace, good world towards all people. I think this is a way that Luke is kind of book ending. This, the story that we're seeing and that we've been a part of where you have the angels declaring to the shepherds. And now you have the people themselves declaring these things, their book ending this whole journey with praise. They're also quoting from Psalm one 18, where this was their worship towards God. Psalm one 18 is called a Psalm of sense, which means a Psalm that you seeing on your way into worship. It's the way you start your worship. And it begins with this worship to your way. And you hear the crowd declaring this to Jesus. It has got to create some problems right now because they're declaring huge things in these religious leaders are watching and this is causing chaos. And so some Pharisees now have kind of gotten to the crowd and they said to Jesus teacher rebuke your disciples. Now Jesus responds. I tell you, he replied. If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. What does that mean?

In other words, what he's saying right now is I'm not just the Messiah because they think I am. I'm the Messiah cosmically.

It will be acknowledged whether they acknowledge it or you acknowledge it. It will be acknowledged because I'm the Messiah on a cosmic creation level. This is God in human flesh. If, if you try to keep them quiet, even those things that were created that is part of creation will cry out this beautiful imagery of this poem right here. And as he approached Jerusalem, he saw the city in his next thing he did is he wept, he wet over it. Now this isn't just like Jesus pausing and having a quiet moment alone in reflection, right? He's in the middle of this. What's been called that triumphal entry. I don't know how many of you guys have heard it called that this triumphal entry here in comms. There's Palm branches down. It's often been called that. I think it probably should have been called the tearful entry.

This is his emotions. He doesn't come in and being like, Whoa, let's go. We're going. We're going to take the Hill. Right? He's sitting on a donkey. And I don't know if the donkey just stops for a moment in front of the people or just keeps going. And he's just weeping and crying breaks his heart because he knows there's this thing that's going to happen. And now he begins to talk about it here. He kind of as a pronouncement over Jerusalem. So he wept over it. And he said, if you even, you, you had only known on this day, what would bring you peace? But now it's hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you. When your enemies will build an embankment against you in every circle, you and him, you in on every side, they'll dash into the ground, your children with the walls, they will not leave one stone on another because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you. It's literally the time of your visitation. The visitation was a Jewish short-term for the coming of God. They've been waiting for the coming of God. And he is sitting there. We being saying, you're missing it. You missed it. You didn't recognize that this was the visitation, your visitation of God. So here's the thing. I mean, Jesus has been spending three years trying to teach Israel the way of peace, the way of absolute renunciation of violence and love of enemy.

It's not just this idea about being non-violent, but an opening up of a space and removing the violence to fill it with love, active love for your enemy in the hopes that some of you may become friends. They may become family that were all adopted into this, this, this group together. And these were real flesh and blood enemies, Rome and Israel, Rome had occupied Israel and Jesus is teaching Israel how not to fight, but how to love, how not to fight, how to love. And at the time there was a zealot movement, even taking place where they were trying to whip up interest and launched this war against the Romans and Jesus for three years has been teaching an alternate path. Jesus, Israel needs to choose because if they fight against the Romans going to lose and he's prophesying it right here ahead of time that if you do this and you continue to walk down this path, you are going to lose.

And ultimately we see in 73 or 70, there is actually all of these things took place. The destruction happened and a few chapters later in Luke and in all of this and optic gospels, which has Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they all tell where Jesus explains in detail and walks through a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. If you fight against the Romans, you will lose. They won't, they will not only destroy Jerusalem, but they're going to destroy the temple, this temple, this place where God lives, where you get to go and meet him and it will be shut down for good. And this is what Jesus is actually saying here in this moment. That's why, that's what he has in mind. In these three years that he's spending with his people. He's been offering them a way of peace and they're not accepting it.

They're literally waiting for him to rip open his cloak, look for the big S or this would be the big M this Messiah that would go up and he would bless the temple and curse the Romans. They wanted a revolt. They wanted a war King Yeshua with a sword coming hard and mighty. And Jesus has been saying, no, it's different. I am the Messiah, but it's a different kind of kingdom. And so Jesus says, you haven't listened to me. And now I find myself saying is it's too late. And Jesus cries over this, this coming catastrophe upon Israel, verse 45. When Jesus entered him, he didn't get into Jerusalem. He entered the temple courts and he began to drive up. Those who are selling it is written. He said to them, my house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.

So he goes into the temple not to bless it, but he chastises the people who are in it now understand that these people who are selling things in here, we're actually doing a service people. The pilgrims would come in and they would actually do annum. This was during the sacrificial system and they needed to sell them the animals that they were going to sacrifice. And they may have been price, gouging and charging too much and being dishonest. But their service was actually a necessary service to make the temple function as it did it. But Jesus, just a whole temple process down and drives out the sellers. The animal says in John's gospel for at least a day or a few hours, Jesus seems to actually shut down the temple sacrificial system. It's a prophetic act. It's a time of animal sacrifices, his passing, and there's a new covenant that's actually coming.

He said it is written. My house will be a house of prayer in Matthew. It actually says a house of all nations. It's an original quote from scripture host of a place for all nations to gather and to come together and be in communion with God. He says, but you have made it a den of robbers. So is it in of robbers? It's a place, you know where robbers go to hang out? It's the robbers, hang out. It's the cave, right? It's where they go to hang out to be safe after they've done the robbing. So he's not saying, Hey, you guys are doing robbing here. He's saying this is like, you're hanging out your safe place after you've done the robbing. In other words, after you go out and live the way you want to live after you go out and live in sin, you're then showing up here to hang out and to make yourself feel better about it.

All right? So you can grab some of that. Some of us have done or do the same thing. We're like, Oh man, I gotta get my church in. It's like vitamin on the weekend, right? For the things that we've done. And he's saying, don't treat this like a den of robbers. Where are you just going to come in this place? And you're going to put on a face, right? Or an eye, a wink. He's saying, don't, don't do this. This kind of religion is rebuked. This whole system is going to get shut down. Verse 47 every day that he was teaching in the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law, the leaders among them, the people were trying to kill him. There's something that Jesus was doing here. As he taught every day. Now, as we've gotten into this week, that they're actually trying to kill him.

That's so offensive that the religious leaders actually want him dead. They recognize this threat of him claiming to be God followers are worshiping him. He's teaching people to love their enemies. Who does that? The men, he is pronouncing judgment against the temple. He saying the temple is coming down. Whose side is this guy on? Especially if the movement is growing in popularity and he is now becoming public enemy, number one, and they're saying he needs to be gone yet. They couldn't find a way to do it because all of the people hung on his words. That's the third group. You have the disciples, you have the religious, you have the pro, you have the auntie. Yeah. The people who are engaged with Jesus, we're leaning in, they hung on his words. They still haven't made a decision yet, but they are in. Or are they out there listening?

They're grasping this thing. I might not even fully understand what's going on, but they know something it's happening. And they're pressing in. I want to again, welcome all of you who are here. And specifically those of you who are at home right now, pressing in, in the season, those who are joining us online experience. I'm so glad that you're taking this time in your life to just lean into the most important things in life. The spiritual things that can have a practical application in our lives. But for all of us, when I ask you this, are we hanging on the words? Are we hanging on Jesus's words?

May we become awake this week? And hang on to the words of Jesus, the gravity do we, when we hear him speak, when we open up the word, which is him speaking to us in the scriptures, are we just sitting there hanging onto the words, just waiting and wanting for more. And some of them it'd be like, Oh my gosh, I yearned for that. How do I even, what do I even do? And also I'm just, I'm so confused or frustrated. Why did this even have to happen? Like if we see you just talked about how God is good and he's loving and he's gentle and why did he not just stop the destruction of the temple? Why does he stop our suffering here today? If he's weeping, why doesn't he act and stop our pain? Why doesn't he heal that person? Who's literally dying right now that a watching and how does he let bad stuff happen?

If God is so loving? Why does he intervene? In every situation of suffering? Every situation of sin, every lie that's told that causes hurt every physical pain that we might have her or disability. Why doesn't God just make everything perfect. Really? I think the fullness of this question is actually two things. Number one, God says that there's a time for that. It will come when there's new heavens and new earth in his perfected. But in the meantime, God has chosen to run this world in a way that allows for actual human agency. He made us in his image and his likeness and he doesn't override or puppet us along to make things good all of the time. Instead he wounds us. He woos us and gives us an example through his scripture and our conscious in his spirit, filling us to lead us in the right direction to help one another. That's how he's chosen to do things for now. And I know sometimes we want to say, well, no, God is in control of everything. That's my mother's infamous line. Well, God's in control of everything. And I often find myself telling my mom, I think it's more appropriate to say that God is in charge of everything. Then that God is in control.

Think about that. The God was in control. Everything. We'd be pretty upset and confused and be like, you, you don't, you don't see me. You don't weep with me. You don't mourn with those who are more. If you're in control, you would control things. This way. God is in charge. God is in charge is in the one who is in charge. He's actually chosen to let his image bearers you and I be a light to this world to make free choices. And over time, we've messed things up with our free choices and that affects other people's lives and even affects creation. The Bible even talks about it, that our sin can spiritually pollute creation in the things. And they all get kind of thrown out of whack. You see in it.

So God has chosen at this time, not to intervene with, but to call us. So the real question is if God has chosen to work through his people, to bring more love into the world, what can we do about it? What can we do about it? I have to wrap things up right now. We have more to talk about with Easter, but I want to leave you. If you want to take out your phone or you want to write this down and we have some discussion questions, so you can follow up with it this week and have a conversation yourself or families and friends. So he's, how can we, how can we live in such a way that God, how can we, we live in such a way that spreads the light and the love of God today? How can we, how can you, how can I live in such a way that spreads light and love today? What are you weeping over? What are you seeing that you're weeping over? Who is in your sphere? That's right there, that is in their own suffering, or you can see a catastrophe about to take place, or that is not yet. They're just in the crowd. Are you weeping over those who are just in the crowd or the skeptic that's far away. And finally, who can you invite into community for Easter?

Who can you say, Hey, make it a little Pilgrim just with me right now. And let's have a conversation about this and then just learn who Jesus is, what he's doing. And this resurrection that changes everything. I talked to a couple years ago about this, and I think it's still really relevant, but you know what a donkey's called, right? There's kids in the room. I'm not going to say it because I don't get in trouble with parents, but you know what a donkey is called, right? And that donkey carried Jesus into a community that didn't know Jesus yet. So we can teach them and they can experience the transformative power of him. He friends. Why don't you be that donkey that can carry someone to Jesus. So this week, who can you invite into a conversation who can invite into an experience for Easter as we enter into this Holy week? I think that I want to pray right now. And if you join me in praying with me, God, heavenly father, I want to thank you for giving Jesus as an example of this beautiful ear, religious counter institutional form of faith.

Thank you for us into his way of love his way of life. The way of universal global connectedness. We're connected everywhere. Thank you.

I'd only sent us this person of Jesus, but Jesus, you have sent us your spirit so that we can experience your consciousness, your love, your grace, your character growing within us. I think you that we are connected this way today. God, and I pray that this week we will become increasingly more alive, awake, aware of your presence with us and that you will shape us into the loving people you want us to be. I pray in Jesus's name.

Oh, she's going to come out here and I want you to just to stay seated as we come into the season where we're going to good Friday. May we just sit and experience who he is? Let this song the song over you so you can close your eyes and reflection right now. You can just relax and rest and just be present.




Happy Easter

Jesus is alive.
Jesus is with us.
Jesus is bringing peace.
Jesus is bringing forgiveness.
Jesus is bringing freedom.
Jesus is bringing renewal
Jesus is inviting us to receive the divine breath of love.






Journey of Stones - Pastor Larry Davis

Reading Time: words
Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Well, I have to tell you, I love that I've had the opportunity to watch John's transformation story and just what Jesus has done in his home and his life. And I love that I'm going to get to continue to fall that you guys got to see that story, but he also wrote his song is a lot longer. So later today we're going to actually post that up on social media. If you wanna check it out, they think it's just a beautiful testimony to his story and what God is doing in there. So, but for today, this is Easter Sunday. And so we say he is risen. All right. Some of you guys got it. This is an old churchy thing. Well you're supposed to say, I don't know why you're supposed to it just what you do. They always a miss, as you say he is risen. Indeed. That's your response. So I got to say he is risen.

Amen. Yeah, that's what's up. So, Hey, what an honor it is to be with you to be with you and your home. If you're with us in San Francisco, wherever you're coming from, as we celebrate the Epic event of Easter, this is the death and resurrection that literally unhinges us from our limited capacity. Our limited human capacity from fear, from all kinds of things, from sin, from death and all the things that have oppressed humanity forever. The events that we're celebrating this weekend, friends literally changed everything everywhere for everyone, including you, but how I love how Napoleon puts it. He says he didn't say that part. He said, I know men. And I tell you that Jesus Christ was no mere man between him and every other person in the world. There is no possible term of comparison, Alexander Caesar Charlemagne, and I founded empires, but on what did we rest on, but what did we rest the creations of our genius upon force?

Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love. And at this hour, millions of people would die for him. I love that. I love that empire of love or Jesus. His preferred term would be kingdom of love. And what can that kingdom of love do I want to just briefly talk this about the death and the resurrection of Jesus and what it means in our real lives today, particularly in this situation that we've found ourselves over this last year, right now, for all of us around the world, there are two snapshots that I want to kind of lean into. We're going to a snapshot of the death and the resurrection of Jesus. And we're going to zoom in on this a little bit so we can contemplate so we can figure this out together to celebrate, but also walk into participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus this weekend in John's gospel

Chapter 19 Verse 38. There's this curious little story that just kind of sandwiched right in the middle of it. All right after Jesus's death, it says this in verse 38 says later, Joseph of asked pilot for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders with pilot's permission, he came in, he took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus. The man who earlier had visited Jesus at night, Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes about 75 pounds taking Jesus' body. The two of them wrapped it with the spices and strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs at the place where Jesus was crucified. There was a garden and in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid because it was the Jewish day of preparation. And since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Now this is a fascinating little tiny snapshot of what the death of Jesus might possibly mean in terms of liberating power. Here's what I mean, of course, we just saw that Joseph and Nicodemus had spelled out there in scripture that they were secret disciples. They had been motivated by fear that kept them stuck in this oppressive state, in this cycle, in their own life. But they are also participants in the body of these religious leaders that actually crucified Jesus. They were a part of this whole thing, whether they were complicit personally or not, they were part of the system of oppression that ended up with Jesus on the cross. And they could deem is particularly, I love that John's gospel actually adds Nicodemus to this story. It's a throwback. This is supposed to remind us of John chapter three. So if you go back to John chapter three, you'll see this conversation that was had that Jesus had with Nicodemus.

Who's a Pharisee, a religious leader, and he comes to Jesus in the middle of the night for fear of what the community would think. If they saw them communing together with the religious leaders would think about this meeting and he's dominated by this spirit of fear. And he asked, Jesus has all these questions. I just love this whole chapter. You also see the most famous verse in the Bible, at least in our time in this chapter, which is John three 16 for God. So loved the world that he gave. His only son that whoever believes in Jesus would have eternal life. This one, if you don't even go to church or you've never really been to church, you've probably seen it at a football game, or if you've ever been in and out, you can just look at the bottom of the cup. You can read it.

There it's the most famous verse. But you know, this is also in this chapter where there's this fascinating conversation with Jesus and Nicodemus where Nick Demas is saying, look it, I'm watching you. Just, how, how do you live this way? How do you lead this way? He notices that Jesus, isn't just a teacher, but there's something actually going on there. Something other worldly, there's something divine about him. He's not afraid. He's free to love. He's absolutely free to do what it is that he knows his best self would do. He's been liberated and Nicodemus is saying, what is that? Tell me the secret to that. How do I get there? And Jesus says to him, we know you gotta be born again. And that's another Christian term it's really, really popular. Are you born again? And Nicodemus is like, what are you talking about born again?

And Jesus says, no, no, no, no, not humanly born again. But divinely born again spiritually, born again. You need to be born of the spirit. You need to live a new way. There needs to be a regeneration. Something that happens inside of you, that liberates you from your own human condition and Nicodemus is still scratching his head. And then just before the most famous verse in John three 16, you get John three 14. If you have your Bibles, you can look at that. Or you can open that up in your app. You can read the whole chapter. I recommend it. It's fascinating, but Nicodemus is scratching his head saying like, what's going on here? I just still don't understand this. And Jesus kind of throws him a bone, like kind of throws them as precursor to the crucifixion. And he says this in John three 14 says justice, Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness.

So the son of man must be lifted up. Now when you're reading us, most of you just, and most of us just kind of go like, okay, what does that? I don't know. And we just move on, right? But what is that to a Jewish leader, to a Pharisee, to someone who has studied the scriptures and considers themselves a disciple of Moses. What that is is this little story in numbers, chapter 21, or if you go back in the Hebrew scripture, it was called in the desert. This was a time in the old, the Israelites were wondering around the desert and they're being bitten by these poisonous snakes. And actually they think that this is punishment from God. And so they cry out. They say to Moses, will you please help us figure out what to do about the suffering and the death that we're in right now in this moment?

And God, and then some Moses says to God, please help your people who are suffering from the result of these poisonous States snakes. So Moses says to God, help them. And so God tells Moses, here's what you do. I want you to actually make a bronze statue, like a bronze image of a snake, and then put it on a pole and then hold it up. And so when all the Israelites see it, they would be healed. And it's like, what, what is happening right now? This is such an obscure story. And just a couple verses in numbers, 21, that Jesus has referencing where it says, make a bronze statue of a snake and then hold it up. And you're like, out of all the things you would make a statue or like an image of right. Especially a snake. I don't know about you guys, but I like snakes are bad.

Right? I don't do snakes. I'm like a big guy, but you want to see me scream and run. I'll tell you one little quick example, people here bullies, right? I got some bullies on my staff. If you have never been to our campus, we're surrounded by open space. And there's all kinds of critters, including snakes that wonder in this space. And I remember a couple of years back, there was a woman who had come to my office and she was having a conversation with me and there's a couch in there. And my back was to the window I was sitting there. And then all of a sudden she's like, Oh my gosh. Right? And that makes you go like, what, what, like, what are you talking about? And you could tell it was something right behind me in the window. So I proceeded to turn around and someone thought I was really funny. They're holding this huge, like snake that they had caught right at next to the window. So I scream, jump up, grab she's up now, standing up. And I literally took her and used her as a human shield and for the thing, oh gosh, right now you were inside of a building with a window there's furniture. And now a woman in front of me to protect me from the snake.

So I would like to think that you would want something else represented in this image, like some sort of hope or crown or alpha mega or Yahweh or something. Wouldn't you want it to be something else. But Jesus is trying to tell Nicodemus that there's something that needs to be done to be liberated. You need to actually find to be, you need to be willing to, to see the source of your suffering and see what I think that number is 21 is about, as God is trying to communicate that even then, that he's not the source of our suffering of their suffering. That actually it's the snake. That's the source of the suffering suffering. And just like that, you could, I could can imagine nicotine is sort of going over in his mind, the words that he shared with Jesus and the truth that Jesus taught him.

And then He wasn't still yet getting it. But he, he now he sees Jesus lifted up on a cross and he sees what the cross and Jesus on the cross represents. He sees a mirror, he sees truth. He sees this insight that the cause of our suffering, the cause of her pain, the cause of Jesus's death is not God, God it's us. It's me. I help the males.

It's me. It's the thing that the cross represents. The death of Jesus is so liberating because it's the truth, but it's the truth and love. So when Jesus was lifted up on the cross, it's like two things happen to corresponding truths at the same time happened here. The first thing that we see is we see our own human capacity. It leads to a great evil, our own human capacity. At least the human brokenness. It leads to our own human selfishness, to our grasping, for power, for our taking of charge, our wanting to control things. And all of that stuff actually leads to the crucifixion, at least the death. But when at the same time, Jesus demonstrates this incredible power. This is love that actually can overcome evil with good on the cross. Jesus utters the words on the cross. Forgive them. Even as he's being crucified, father, forgive them. A Nicodemus has all of a sudden realize it's like the penny drops. And he goes, Oh, I don't know exactly what happens. But all I know is that when Nicodemus sees this, something changes, Nicodemus is liberated. He's set free from his fear in so many ways. It's unbelievable. If there was a list of things that you shouldn't do, if you were afraid, if you were afraid of your reputation or you were afraid of your future, your peers, like it's like Nicodemus just started doing all of those things. If he was afraid of the religious leaders, he here comes now out in broad daylight. When it's at the epicenter, when everyone literally is watching, what's going on and now Nicodemus has like a scorecard and it's an incident. You go check. He's no longer afraid of his peers because he has to go to pilot. If you're afraid of Rome and you're afraid of the governor and you're afraid of political implications of being associated with Jesus check, he's now shown up with Joseph for permission to take his body.

Now, it's really fascinating about this is that nobody really collected bodies of crucified people. They were thrown in this one area like this mass grave, because nobody wanted to be associated with crucified people for all kinds of reasons. One often they were criminals. So they were already dislocated from things, but often there was political descendants. And if you were connected to them, then you would be implicated. And you're not gonna want to be a part of that bad reputation. And not only that, but you would have to Wade and crawl through and walk through this terrible scene of like suffering and death and walking over bodies and going through all sorts of stuff. That's what that would require. So if Nicodemus was afraid of suffering, if he was afraid of death, if he was afraid of being associated with Jesus, he's checking off the scorecard. Can I ask you this one question, friends, what would you do if you weren't afraid? So we see this transition formation happened and Nicodemus, and we're not even at the resurrection yet. We're just at the death of Jesus, but there's something so liberating about seeing the source of your suffering. So let's be clear. God is not the source of your suffering. God is not the source of punishment. He's not mad at you. God loves you.

And actually as soon as you can come to see the result of your own human capacity for evil, you can also see in Jesus on a cross, a demonstration of how power greater than you, a power greater than any other force that would try to keep death at the center of our conversation. It's a force of life. It's a force of love. When you see that, when you give in to that, when you absorb that, when you see the demonstration of no greater love than this liberated from a life of fear, I love reading this story. It was a hard story to read father Gesepe. He was a priest in Italy when everything got real bad. This last year in Italy and his parishioners, they had raised that money to buy him a ventilator. He had ended up getting COVID. He was 72 years old because there was just not ventilators available there. And he's now in the hospital and he sees a young man suffering and going through this disease that didn't have a ventilator. And it says they watched and without hesitation, he took his ventilator and gave it to this young man, which ultimately then led to his death. But life for this young man, and you sit there and go, why? Like how many are, Oh, there's power greater than fear. There's power. There's a

Love that can manifest itself.

Even in suffering father Gesepe, who was a father, was not afraid. Fear wasn't driving him. It wasn't afraid of death. He wasn't afraid of suffering. He wasn't afraid anymore. He was liberated

Because he knows the power of love. And that's what love is friends, and can do that. The death of Jesus.

So I hope you can look at the cross Jesus on the cross as a reflection of the end of yourself. I know that anyone who's ever done any recovery work knows that the way into a new life is first by acknowledging the limitations of your own power, right? Because left to your own devices. What I end up with is crucifixion. What I end up with is the violence. What I end up with is fear. What I end up with is death, but thanks be to God that there is a power greater than me in his,

My name is Jesus. That's love.

And that's the power that Jesus displays in the cross. A power that I can actually give into that will liberate me from a life of fear. Several years ago, my oldest daughter, she was about six or so at the time. And we had been starting to do these good Friday experiences where it's like a really gruesome service. Like it's very dark, it's very death. It's very remember the, the stations kind of, of the cross. And even before we started doing that for the congregation, why I was doing that actually with students beforehand. And so I had dragged her with me one night she's like six and she's super well behaved, but she was not that night. Right? And so like, I'm even trying to experience this and this, you know, good Friday moment and just be present in all of this. And honestly, it was just frustrating.

I couldn't kind of get, it was just one of those nights. And so I had to leave early and I remember I was buckling her in the car and I was like, Hey girlfriend, what's her problem. Right? And I remember Maddie looking at me in the face and she goes, my problem, my problem. She said, what's your guys's problem. Doesn't anybody realize that Jesus isn't dead. That he's alive. And I said, well, that leads to this resurrection Sunday. So here we go. So we have now talked about the death, which is important, but now let's take a peak into a little snapshot of the resurrection of Jesus, the death and resurrection of Jesus matters so much to the way that you live your life and the way that I live my life in John chapter, just the next chapter, a couple paragraphs later, there's this appearance where Jesus appears to his disciples.

Now, can I just say that the first appearance in the resurrection is to Mary is to a woman, Jesus instructing a female disciple to go tell the good news. And I love that we at North gate are keeping the tradition that Jesus established that on that first resurrection to allow women to preach the good news everywhere. But in verse 19 chapter 20, it says this on that Sunday evening, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear, the joy of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, peace, be with you. After he said this, he showed them his hands and aside his disciples were overjoyed and they saw the Lord again. Jesus said, peace. Be with you. As the father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that, he breathed on them and said, receive the Holy spirit.

You know, I think that we can all relate like the disciples to be in stuck inside of a room. I think we can all relate to even being stuck inside because of fear, even being stuck inside of ourselves, even the disciples of Jesus in the moment find themselves and mobilized in the spot. And Jesus suddenly is a man among them. He is among them. In other words, friends, Jesus is with us, the resurrection that makes it possible for Jesus to actually show up for Jesus, to be in places that we just don't think that maybe he's just not for Jesus to show up inside of our Holmes. He's resurrected he's life. He has no more boundaries. There's no physical limitations to the, his presence anymore. And he's suddenly among them. And I pray. I pray that in your homes and in this room and your space, wherever you find yourself or you're feeling locked up or places where you're feeling stuck, or just in a mess, the relationships that you would know that Jesus is with you.

And what Jesus says is so key. He says, peace, be with you. He says it two times, and I really don't want to miss this peace be with you. The last thing that Jesus actually said to his disciples in John 14, when he was talking to them about the Vince that we're going to take place, he was trying to explain this to them and they can't really comprehend it. And they saying, it's going to be hard. You're going to be confused. Don't be afraid. And he says, take courage. Cause I'm going to give you peace. And he tells his disciples in John 14, 27. Peace. I leave with you. My peace I give to you do not give, I do not give it as the world gives, do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. The peace of my presence is with you.

Of course, it comes down to peace. You know, we're, we're so used to peace being the absence of conflict. Aren't we, when everything is fine, then everything will be fine. That's what peace look like. But let me tell you, it doesn't matter. The circumstance, even in the presence of great suffering in great difficulty in great fear, Jesus is among us. He is saying peace. Let me tell you peace friends is not the absence of conflict. It's the presence of him. It's the presence of love. Somebody needed to hear that when you're sitting there going, I just need peace. Please pray for peace. It doesn't mean the conflict is going to go away. It means he's there. He's going to show up and you need to recognize that he's there because he is love. That's what love can do. It can bring peace in the midst of suffering in the midst of pain.

It can bring peace. Even when we're afraid and stuck. It can bring priests when we're suffering and friends, we don't know what the future holds. I don't know what the future holds, what your future holds. What's going to happen tomorrow the next month. But peace be with you. And then Jesus does something kind of awkward. He breathed on them. I was like reading this story. And I was like, this is weird. Like you just breezed on them. Like, I don't understand. I immediately went to this scene. I don't know many of you. I saw this, but when Lance Stephenson blew and LeBron James ear in the middle of a basketball game, right? I don't know how many you guys have seen this.

Yeah. Like what's even happening right now. Right?

Greediness. And I was like, Oh my gosh, Jesus breathed on. I was like,

What do we do with that

Peace be with you. So it's actually what Jesus says. And with that, he breathed on them and said, receive the Holy spirit. Now let's pay attention. Friends,


The breath of God. You remember the way that humans were created, not by some sort of cosmic accident, but actually designed by God himself. You were designed as a human by God to actually Stuart the world. As part of imaging to God, the order in Genesis chapter one, you see this, it gives the story of the human creation account that when God himself, it says in scriptures, breathes his spirit into humanity and they come alive. And here we are in this room, the disciples are like locked up and Jesus says, don't be afraid.

Peace. The presence of God is with you.

The presence of love that can liberate you now receive

My spirit,

Creating a new humanity. He's restoring us to what he originally designed us to be, where we're no longer limited by fear. We're no longer limited by our own human capacity. There is a power greater than us in Jesus to fill us

With breath, to fit.

Tell us with the newness of life. And here's, what's interesting friends. I, I have so many friends that are counselors. Let me tell you, they have been busy this last year. You know, like we're just all dealing with just things we never thought we would deal with before when it comes to just our mental health and our emotional health and even things that I've experienced and shared before that I never imagined I would experience it. And I think it's so fascinating to ask them like, Hey, how are you dealing with this? And they told me, you know what, the number one thing that we're telling people to do,

You breathe to take a deep breath,

Slow down into breathe. And it's because that, that we've been in the season when we're facing crisis of our own or just all together. And there's just so many things coming at us faster than we can respond to it in this life. And we get in this kind of panic, survival mode, and there's this reptilian part of our brain. That's actually in the back that like neurologically creates this shallow breathing in us. And it triggers our brain and our body into this survival mentality mode where it's like fight or freeze or fight flight get away. And we get into these defensive modes. I don't know about you, but it seems like maybe some of us have like a little bit of a shorter temper. We don't even know why this year. And I've, I've called it with my youngest daughter. We called it like the lava explosions of like where that come from. Right. And just, and you're like, Whoa, slow it down, breathe.


And so they said, I've just been instructing people to, to just deeply take deep breaths.

What do you need to be breathing today?

The resurrection of Jesus tells us to breathe

Peace. So this week,

As I've been just preparing and walking through this Holy week, I even got away to Dillon beach for a little bit, just like walked miles. It felt like, and just breathing peace, be with you, peace, be with you, Jesus breeze on his disciples who are in this survivor mode. They're like stuck in that part of their brain, even neurologically. And Jesus is the creator of humanity. He knows how our body works. He knows how our emotions are wired and he knows what we need when we need it. He says, receive the breath of God. And he breathes on them, reminding them that this was always his plan to have humanity. That would image him to the world for us to be the kind of humans that he was. You see, Jesus isn't meant to be this like far off thing leader that we admire, but his presence of love in our lives that enabled us to be in the types of humans that we are always designed to be free, loved whole peace. Be with you. All of us are dealing with some kind of crisis or a crisis is on the way. I wonder if we could just take a couple of moments and invite Jesus into our space. Some of you are watching with us right now. Maybe with relatives, you got this link or you don't even know why you're watching this. Or maybe you're one of the CEOs that are here, the Christmas and Easter, only people I see you

Welcome. I am glad you're here,

But you don't even know if you like believe or understand this whole Easter thing or this thing that people are celebrating literally around the world today. I want to speak to you. I want to speak to you. You don't have to live in a life that is dominated by fear. You don't have to live a life where your own human capacity is on display by all the things that are messed up by all the relationships that are messed up in this life. The crucified Jesus was the end to your own human capacity. Now you get to live a life as liberated from a fear you can live and tap into the power. That's even greater than you. The power of the love that Jesus demonstrated by his death and more specifically his resurrection, you can allow the love to bring peace, right where you are and breathe life into you. John chapter three, it's all coming back full circle. Nick is, James is like, so how can I be born again? That doesn't make any sense. And Jesus says, Oh no, no, not of human capacity, but of the spirit. Let the spirit of Christ. The breath of God, the divine breath of love,

Phil you, and then you, you, you as disciples go on and demonstrate life of love

No longer marked with fear. There's no locking them into rooms and more. They have become liberated to live love and spread love and let love transform everything

Everywhere. Friends. I want to live a life that's transformed. And if you do too,

Why are we remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus? We're not remembering just some historical event today. We are entering into present day reality friends, where Jesus is alive, where Jesus is with us, where Jesus is bringing peace, where he's bringing forgiveness, where he's bringing freedom, where he's bringing renewal. Jesus is inviting us to receive the divine breath of love.

The love, peace with you.

And the thing about this is you don't have to be qualified. You don't have to be some kind of like special person right now, even in your own living room on your laptop, your car, wherever you are, you're sitting in here and you're kind of waking up right now. This is accessible. This is accessible to every single human. You just have to receive the breath of life because of the resurrection to life. You just have to look at the truth and get to the end of yourself. With that being said, I want to walk us into communion right now where you can take this out at home or you've got this. And this is the example where Jesus got to the end of himself,

Literally for love,

Where you sat in a room with his disciples any, and he took this piece of bread and you can open that up. He took this piece of bread and he says, this bread, this is represents my body. That's going to be broken

Then for you, for your brokenness, to the end of you, I will break fully and completely for love.

So, as we remember today, the sacrifice Jesus made before the resurrection happened, would you take the bread?

He then sat around in this room with those whom he beloved. And he took this cup. And for them it was probably wine. This is juice technically. And he took this and he said, this is going to represent my blood. That's going to be shed for you. And this is really going to be the end of the sacrificial system, but there has to be blood that is shed to sanctify, to reconcile, to redeem. And so it's my bloody said that I'm going to shed for you because I've love you. I'm going to suffer for you and then friends. You don't get any air right now, but I'm going to come back. I'm going to breathe and give you my spirit and be with you because I love you. And so today, as you take this, would you remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for you? He is resin. Hey friends, we'll, let's stand up and respond in our communion to worship to God.


Northgate is a non-denominational church located in beautiful Benicia, CA. Our staff and volunteers can't wait to meet and pray with you.

Friends & Partners
Address & Info

2201 Lake Herman Road
Benicia, CA 94510

Phone: (707) 747-5855
Email: office@ngate.org
Web: https://thisis.church

In-Person Services: Sunday
9:00 AM & 11:00 AM

Online Services: Sunday
9:00 & 11:00 AM

Office Hours: Monday - Thursday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Quick Contact

Copyright © 2022 All Rights Reserved by Northgate