Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24
It’s that time of the week when I get a little more lazy that usual. Tomorrow is my last day of work…unless they decide at the last minute to run a route Thanksgiving Day, and I’ve worked the for the last week without much rest. I’ve had some various aches keeping me awake, but I believe that for the most part they are starting to go away…and I’m thankful for that because I haven’t been in the spirit very much…but that’s just me being honest. I get in the flesh…and some times…I even stay there for a while. I’ve said time and again that I’m not perfect, and if you’re expecting someone who is flawless…then you’re following the wrong ministry. I’m not perfect…I’ve a sin nature just like anyone else, but it’s what I do with it that makes a difference. Some times…I give in, and I have to repent and ask forgiveness. Other times…I’m able to resist the devil. It’s not by my power or might, but His…and some times I still rely upon Bryan power instead of God’s.
Anyways…today we look at one of the verses in what we really ought to call the Lord’s Prayer. This is basically Jesus making His last requests because we know not too long after this prayer…Jesus is captured, and we all know what happened next…He was crucified.
So…while we label the prayer Jesus taught the disciples as “The Lord’s Prayer”…the prayer that we read here in John 17…this is the real Lord’s Prayer…and there’s a lot of good stuff that He prays for us…and it’s one of those chapters that’s highly recommended reading. How many of you know…that if Jesus prayed it for us…we might want to take some time to read what He prayed…Amen!?! I mean, Paul’s prayers are great, David’s worship is awesome, but I don’t know about you…but since I know that Jesus is God…I love reading what God prayed over me…Amen.
So…let’s see what we’re gonna talk about today…in today’s message on Finding Real Happiness.
Today’s Message: “Why Are You Thrilled to Be Love by Jesus?”
So, yesterday…we basically took up the entire message talking about how if we can’t think of anything else…when it comes to be our turn to give something we’re thankful at the dinner table…those of us that are whosoever’s who have called upon the name of Jesus for salvation…all of us have at least one thing that we can be thankful…and for more than just Thanksgiving…Amen!?! I mean we should be thankful for the Cross 365 days a year…and 366 days when we have leap year…right!?!
So…another thing that we can be thankful for is God’s love. We can call in the love of Jesus or the love of God. It doesn’t matter because they’re both the same person…Amen. Jesus is the Son, and God is the Father. So…either way…when we talk about the love of God…we can call it God’s love or Jesus’…because the proof of that love…is the Cross.
Friends…think about something for a moment. If you want to know how passionate Jesus loves us…think about what He endured to prove it. How many of you would take the punishment Jesus took for millions and billions of people? Keep in mind that out of these billions of people…He is well aware that possibly millions are going to die rejecting Him.
It kind of puts into perspective those high school heartaches doesn’t it? I mean, when I think of what Jesus went through, and He went through it knowing people would still reject Him…and He did it out of love…knowing He’d be rejected. That’s pretty heavy and deep, friends. Seriously! We think that girl or guy that dumped us before the senior prom broke our hearts…try having millions of people reject the greatest sacrifice one could make to prove their love for someone.
Do I really need to pull out John 15:13 (KJV)? “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Can I tell you that’s why as a veteran it breaks my heart to see people protest the very people who willingly lay down their lives for the sake of defending America’s freedoms? I can’t tell you how many times I burst in tears at the end of Rambo II as he replies to a question by Colonel Trautman. It’s one of my favorite movie lines ever…because if you talked to any member of the military…we would probably all give this answer.
For those of you who may not know the story, but basically it’s a movie about a man who is sent to find out if there are still concentration camps for American POW’s following the Vietnam war. That was a sad time in our history…I’m glad I didn’t serve back then because it breaks my heart to watch the protests on the movie’s…I couldn’t imagine what it felt like to see them in person.
So…the exchange goes something like this. Trautman says something to Rambo about not hating his country for what happened in Vietnam…and Rambo says: “I don’t hate it, I’d die for it.” Then Trautman asks Rambo what it is he wants, and Rambo says this: “I want what they want, and each and every person who went over there and spilled their guts and gave all they had wants. It’s for our country to love us…as much as we love it.”
Friends…can I tell you that the Holy Ghost is saying that to us every day of our lives? He constantly points to the Cross to remind us that Jesus loved us so much that He died to prove it. All Jesus wants from us is for us to love Him as much as He loves us. He laid down His life for us, and we think of it as an inconvenience to lay down Burger King Whopper’s for 21 days for Him when He asks us to fast.
I’m sorry for the Rambo reference, but hopefully you’ll understand the illustration. I know I’m way off topic, but some times…it’s necessary to go off topic…Amen!?!
Okay…let’s get back to the message at hand…
Believers in Jesus are precious to God (we’re his bride!). And he loves us so much that he will not allow our preciousness to become our god.
Isn’t that a definition of pride? When we allow our preciousness to become our god? When we feel like we don’t need God? When we allow ourselves to become our god? It’s hard to have things thrown in our faces like that isn’t it? Can I ask you who the god of your life is? Have you allowed your preciousness to God to lead you to a place of pride or does it leave you in a place of being humble knowing that we don’t deserve His love, mercy or grace? Can I tell you that there’s a fine line between boldness and pride? Boldness comes from being confident in God…Pride comes from being confident in us. So…I ask again…are you confident in your ability or are you confident in God? Okay…I’m done poking at you…I love y’all, and if I didn’t…I wouldn’t write what’s on my heart…I’d just give you sweet and rosy stuff like one Joel Osteen…in fact…Joel Osteen’s a good example of someone who has allowed their preciousness to God to turn them into a god. Now…he’s changed the gospel to suit his preaching style…and to sell books…such a powerful and popular minister…and he cares more about his reputation than the true gospel…that’s pride…and we all know that God hates that.
God does indeed make much of us (adoption!), but he does so in a way that draws us out of ourselves to enjoy his greatness.
Oh boy. Apparently this is one of those messages where I meddle with you for a while. This next point leads me to what I usually talk about when it comes to worshipping God. Now, I’m not trying to be judgmental or anything, and I’m not one that jumps and shouts and stuff…but I’m also one that cannot stand or sit in church and not be moved by the praise and worship of my King. For the life of me, I cannot understand how someone can stand or sit in church with their arms crossed, checking their watches, and hoping that the worship team would sit down so the pastor can preach his message so that we won’t miss too much of the football game.
Now, I live in SEC country, and there’s a lot of Arkansas Razorback fans here. They get all excited and have this “Woo Pig Suey” whenever the Razorback football team scores. To me it sounds a whole lot more like “Whoopty Doo”, but what do I know I’m a Badger fan from Big 10 country. However, these same people who will whoop and shout for the Razorbacks are some of the same people who can barely speak out an “Amen” or “Praise the Lord” or “Hallelujah” during praise and worship of the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Excuse me, but did the Arkansas Razorbacks (or whatever team you root for) lay down their lives so that you could receive eternal life? Did any of the football players shed their blood so that your sins would be forgiven, and you could have access to God? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cheering for favorite sports teams…that’s not what I’m driving at. However, what I am getting at is why is it that you can get that excited about a football team that’s there merely for your entertainment…and you can’t muster up a “Hallelujah” for the One who gave you eternal life?
When is the last time that you allowed God to draw you out of yourself to enjoy His greatness, His presence, or His love? Can I tell you that if you’re not encountering God when your going to church…it’s a waste of your time? You would be better off staying home and watching that football game your so worried your going to miss…than missing out on an encounter with God because football is more important to you than God.
I love football, but no where near as much as I love God. If church goes a little long on Sunday because we encounter God during worship…then who am I to complain. In fact, I don’t complain…I enjoy it…and for those of you who have followed along with me for any length of time…you know that in addition to loving football…I’ve been up all night delivering doughnuts. So, not only would I like to watch football, but I’d like to lay down and go back to bed.
Yes…there are times where I give into the flesh because I’ve had a horrible time resting, and I just need to get to bed. However, when I am in church the last thing I want to do is rush through it because I’m tired and want to watch football…I want to encounter God. I need His touch, I need His love, I need His presence, and that’s when God gets me out of myself to enjoy His greatness, presence, and love.
So…what’s your excuse? How can you stand with your hands in your pockets or arms crossed with that scowl on your face wishing the worship team would just stop singing so we can get on with the church service? I told you…there are times that I’m going to be straight forward, and this is one of those times…if you feel that being in God’s presence is an inconvenience…wait till you’re standing before His throne for real…and He sends you away because He never knew who you were.
If you don’t believe that’s going to happen…read the story of the sheep and the goats. Then read some of the stories…like one of the blind men that Jesus healed. People were trying to silence him, and eventually he’s like: “You don’t know like I know what Jesus has done for me…I can’t help but shout and praise Him.”
When’s the last time you had that feeling that no one knows like you know what Jesus did for you…and you just can’t help but worship Him…even if it does make you look like an idiot. I don’t care…I’m Jesus’ idiot…and I’d rather look like an idiot for Him…then have Him tell me He never knew me…Amen!?!
Test yourself. If Jesus came to spend the day with you, sat down beside you on the couch, and said, “I really love you,” what would you focus on the rest of the day that you spend together?
Man, I don’t know about anyone else, but if Jesus came to sit down with me I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else but Him. I can only hope that I wouldn’t be too awestruck to hear Him say that He really loves me. What would I focus on the rest of the day that I got to spend with Him? Come on, I’m about 99.99% sure that the only thing I’d want to do is sit at His feet…if I could even sit…I think I’d probably find myself on my face before Him ashamed to look upon His beautiful face. In fact, I have a picture of what I’d look like with Jesus. It would probably look something like this:
It seems to me that too many songs and sermons leave us with the wrong answer. They leave the impression that the heights of our joy would be in the recurrent feeling of being loved. “He loves me!” “He loves me!” This is joy indeed. But not the heights and not the focus.
I would have to say that I agree with John’s assessment of songs and sermons here. It is very, very important for us to have a clear understanding that yes…God does love us. He loves us very much, and we are extremely valuable to Him. So valuable that He paid for us with the most precious commodity ever…the Blood of Jesus. Each and everyone of us has been purchase with the Blood of Jesus.
But…this goes back to what I was talking a moment ago with the Rambo reference, and the illustration of us standing in church with our hands in our pockets wishing the service would get on with it. What about OUR adoration for HIM? What about getting out of ourselves, and realizing that this is a TWO-WAY RELATIONSHIP…and that it requires a response from us? I know that there are many of you who chuckled because you know people like that in your church, and some of you got offended because you’re one of those people in church…but I can’t stop asking you when is the last time you realized that your relationship with God isn’t all about you…it’s about Him too!?!
My goodness. I know that God is good all the time and all the time He is God. But, how bout some good old fashioned “Lord, I lift Your Name on High”? How about “Shout to the Lord” because there’s none that compares to Him? How about a song by Brian Johnson that I really like…
How about a song that blesses Him, and worships Him…and speaks of our love for HIM? I’m just saying that maybe it’s a good idea once in a while for us to remind Him that we love Him. It’s not really possible for us to love Him as much as He loves us, but it’s alright to try…Amen!?!
By the way, don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of great worship music, and it’s important to hear sermons that teach us about the love of God. I’m not saying we shouldn’t sing those songs, and perhaps the area I disagree with John is that I don’t believe that sends a wrong message…I just think that it some times puts the focus on Him and His love for us…and there should be room made for us to worship and declare our love for Him…Amen!?!
What are we saying with the words “I am loved”? What do we mean? What is this “being loved”?
Would not the greatest, most Christ-exalting joy be found in watching Jesus all day and bursting with, “You’re amazing!” “You are amazing!”
Again, I don’t know what an encounter with God would go like, and what it would look like. I would have to be thankful for a full day because if I only had a few minutes…I know it would look like the picture I already posted. However, if I had some time to spend with Him…I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have much to utter other than I love You, You’re awesome, and I can’t believe You’re here with me. I think I’d be a lot like Thomas to be honest. Not that I doubt He’s God, but I guess I’d be stunned that He took time to visit with me. How about you?
- He answers the hardest question, and his wisdom is amazing.
- He touches a filthy, oozing sore, and his compassion is amazing.
- He raises a dead lady at the medical examiner’s office, and his power is amazing.
- He predicts the afternoon’s events, and his foreknowledge is amazing.
- He sleeps during an earthquake, and his fearlessness is amazing.
- He says, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” and his words are amazing.
Jesus…He’s just amazing. Everything He does, everything He says, and everything He is. There’s not one thing about Jesus that isn’t amazing or awesome. One of my favorite old time songs is Rich Mullin’s “Awesome God”…because He is awesome. Chris Tomlin has a couple of good songs in this area…like “Indescribable”, and “How Great Is Our God”.
See…that’s true worship. True worship is when the focus is off of us and what He does for us…and it’s on Him. Friends…right now at this very moment there are beings gathered around His throne, and the only thing they sing: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty Who Was, and Is and Is to come.” This is about God…it’s about how holy HE is…how awesome HE is…how amazing HE is…Amen!?!
Is not his love for us his eagerness to do for us all he must do (including die for us) so that we can marvel at him and not be incinerated by him? Redemption, propitiation, forgiveness, justification, reconciliation – all these have to happen. They are the act of love.
Here we are back to yesterday’s point. Everyone of us who calls Jesus Lord has something to be thankful for. The Cross is the very symbol of His love for us, and His awesomeness. His glory is matchless, and there’s none that compares to Him…NONE.
We always have something to be thankful for. We always should have that as our answer. What am I thankful for? I don’t know about you guys. I am grateful for my job, I’m blessed to have a family I love and that loves me, but I just cannot escape the awesomeness of God. His love is so amazing. He is so holy. He is so amazing. He went to the Cross so that I could have a relationship with Him. He washed all of my sins away with His blood so that I could be in right standing with Him. That’s what I’m thankful for…not just today…but every day of my life…I’m thankful that God loves me.
Now…that’s an answer that I hope I can remember this coming Thursday…Amen!?!
But the goal of love that makes those acts loving is that we be with him and see his jaw-dropping glory and be astounded. In those moments we forget ourselves and see and feel him.
Yes…forgetting ourselves and focusing upon HIM. What a concept. Imagine what would happen if we would decide to be like those angels that are around His throne 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year…for all of eternity. What? You don’t believe me? “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8 (KJV). There’s the proof of what I was talking about.
I’m inserting this right now so that I don’t forget it. Okay…I have a challenge that I want all of us to do starting Monday. Here’s the layout of the challenge.
- Take just 10 minutes (and don’t tell me your too busy to take 10 minutes to spend with God) to turn off all noise, phones, computers, televisions, radios…turn it ALL off.
- Go to your quiet place.
- Raise your hands and just spend the next 10 minutes doing nothing but getting all of your focus on you, putting it on God, and doing for just 10 minutes what these four beasts have been doing for all of eternity…”Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who Was, Who Is, and Who Is To Come.”
- I want us all to do it for a minimum of Monday thru Friday…so that’s 10 minutes a day for 5 days where you and God get alone…and you just do nothing but sing or pray: ”Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who Was, Who Is, and Who Is To Come.”
Does this sound like something we can do? If you are really interested in being interactive with this challenge…I would like you to try and take note of what happens. If you have an encounter with God, what happens, and if you’d take it a step further and share your experience…that would be awesome.
I know there are many of you who won’t do this, and that’s your choice. If you really cannot find 10 minutes to spend with God for a week…then I seriously question your commitment to God, and if you really love Him as much as you pretend to. I don’t mean to get too meddlesome here, but if you can’t spend 10 minutes a day with God for a week…then I’m not the only one that’s questioning your commitment to Him…I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit is dealing with your heart too.
So…I’m going to put this challenge out, and leave it to you to accept or reject it.
So I am urging pastors and teachers: Push people through the acts of Christ’s love to the goal of his love. If redemption and propitiation and forgiveness and justification and reconciliation are not taking us to the enjoyment of Jesus himself, they are not love.
Listen, John wrote this to pastors, and I realize that we’re not all pastors…but we are all son’s and daughter’s of the King of kings. I think God really wants us to seclude ourselves, set ourselves apart, and make Him the focus. When you do the challenge…make it about Him for the entire 10 minutes and 5 days. When you’re doing the challenge don’t make that the time to make your requests…make it all about giving Him the praise, glory, and honor He deserves.
I believe that if we can commit to doing this…that not only will it help us to be more in love with God than we already are, but I believe that we won’t want to stop doing it once we start. Friends, I don’t know about you…but there’s nothing I won’t do to have a more intimate relationship with God. Ten minutes a day really isn’t that much time…and I can’t wait to try it. How about you?
Another fantastic message…Amen!?! I am really enjoying this series. I’m so thankful that God lead us to this series, and I hope that you’re being ministered to, encouraged, challenged, and that this series will lead to a deeper and more intimate relationship between you and God.
Thanks for following along, and please come back again…as we close out this series.
“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:2)
Blessing & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA