Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!
Today’s blog post is a little longer than usual.
Here is the audio for the message I preached on Sunday @ New Hope Community Church in West Covina. I wasn’t able to get the video but here is the audio you can listen to and my sermon transcript. I hope you are blessed by it!
My preaching went well, thanks for the prayers everyone! Glory to God always. I definitely enjoy preparing a sermon and preaching! Hoping to do it more often. 😀
Listen to it online here: Are You Really Living?
ARE YOU REALLY LIVING?
This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
The High Priestly Prayer
17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
John 17:1-3 (ESV)
I would like to begin today by asking you a question. Are you living or existing? You see there is a difference. The vast majority of people on earth today are existing. They are waking up in the morning, going to work or school, keeping house, whatever the case may be. They are going about their business but they have no real sense of purpose in their lives. Their happiness and fulfillment in life depends largely on their circumstances or their achievements. If they were completely honest with themselves they would have to admit that inside they are empty. That is existing.
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”
–Blaise Pascal (French Mathematician, Philosopher and Physicist, 1623-1662)
Saint Augustine in his Confessions states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Christ came however that we might have life and have it more abundant (John 10:10). If we are going to experience this kind of real life we must look to Jesus the source of life.
Jesus said in John 14:6, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In John 17 Jesus is at the end of his life. He is facing the cross. He uttered these words either on his way to Gethsemene or in the upper room. This chapter is known as the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. In this first verse Jesus begins to look to God as he faces his hour of darkness. Jesus is about to suffer. Jesus is the suffering servant of Isa. 53, don’t read it now but make a note and take a look at it later.
In this text we see how Jesus lived.
I asked the question, “are you living or just existing?” The answer to that question can be determined by three questions based on our text.
I. ARE YOU LIVING WITH A DEPENDENCE ON THE FATHER
As Jesus entered his hour of trial the bible says, “He lifted up his eyes to Heaven and said, “Father”. Jesus didn’t look at his outward circumstances and try to figure a way out. He didn’t even look inward for answers, even though he was the Son of God. He looked upward to Heaven, to the one He knew as His Father.
Jesus lived with complete dependence, not on his own person, or his own humanity, but complete trust and dependence on the Father.
One of the most eye opening verses I have ever read is John 5:30. There Jesus says, “I can of myself do nothing”. Every person Jesus ever healed when he was on the earth, every sermon he ever preached, every temptation he ever overcame, he did it not by trusting in who he was as the Son of God, but by depending on the Fathers strength and guidance.
If Jesus who is God’s Son could “Of himself do nothing” how much more can we of ourselves do nothing. Think about that. The problem with many Christians (including myself) today and churches is that we are depending primarily on our own natural abilities, our reasoning abilities, our talents, our education, our financial resources to accomplish God’s work. And we of ourselves are doing nothing. We are existing by and large completely in the natural. But when we live with this dependence upon God that Jesus lived with, the natural begins to give way to the supernatural and God begins to work.
I read all of the texts where the bible says Jesus “lifted up his eyes”. One time he lifted up his eyes to God and he stuck his fingers in a deaf mans ears and the man received his hearing. On another occasion he lifted up his eyes in dependence upon God and thanked God and called Lazarus forth from the grave. On another occasion he lifted up his eyes to God and took two small fishes and five loaves and fed thousands of people.
The life that is lived in dependence upon God experiences the supernatural power of God. Can you say this about your life. I’m not asking if you have healed anyone lately or turned water into wine. I am asking if you can look at your life and say God gave me victory over this temptation, Only God could have done it, God had his hand upon me and touched the lives of others and I know it was God that did it. Can we say this about our church.
We forfeit God’s power when we substitute dependence upon Him with dependence upon ourselves, other people, or other resources. One of the Popes invited a theologian to the Vatican. Sitting amongst all the treasures of the church the Pope said, “the church can no longer say silver and gold have I none”. To that the theologian replied sadly, “yes but neither can she say in the name of Jesus of Nazereth rise and walk.”
We must take our eyes off of the natural, off of that which can be seen, and lift our eyes in faith to Heaven.
Jesus lived with a dependence upon the Father. The second question we might ask to ascertain whether or not we are Living is:
II. DO YOU LIVE WITH A SENSE OF DIVINE DESTINY
Jesus said, “the hour has come”. This is an interesting phrase that Jesus uses in this gospel. At the beginning of his ministry at a wedding feast his mother wanted him to show himself as the Messiah and he said,”my hour has not yet come”. On another occasion his brothers urged him to go to the feast of tabernacles if he was really who he thought he was and show himself as messiah. He said then, “my time is not yet come.” What was Jesus’ time, his hour? It was his hour to be glorified and to glorify God. What Mary and Jesus’ brothers didn’t know was that Jesus would be glorified and would glorify God through a bloody cross and the resurrection. But Jesus knew. He knew that he had come for the purpose of dying for the sins of the world. He had a sense of purpose of destiny, and everything that he did and said led to that moment, that hour. And now the hour had come. Jesus’ life was one of direction, and purpose, and divine destiny.
One of the most miserable ways to live is to live aimlessly without real ultimate purpose, not really knowing ultimately why we are here. One of the greatest things that happened to me when God really began to move in my life was when I was 14 and all of a sudden I began to have purpose in my life. God brought salvation to my life. I started experiencing what it means to have eternal life and know the One True God. Life is more than just getting a good job, trying to achieve, to feel good about yourself, just existing, drifting.
God wants all of us to live with a sense of divine destiny. Why are you here? Why are you a member of this Church? Because you like the children’s program, good. Because your family belongs here, great. But God has a greater purpose for you in the body of Christ. He wants to use you. He has a nitch for you in His body. He has given you a gift, a divine ability to carry out the purpose that He has for your life.
Some people don’t believe they have a spiritual gift, but thats not what the bible says. “Each one has been given a manifestation of the Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:7). I believe that if a person will honestly ask God to show him or her what His purpose is for him or her in the body of Christ, and how He’s gifted them, He will be faithful to reveal that to them. It may require you to step out in faith and try something you’ve never done before. It may stretch you, it may cause you to risk failure. But God will be faithful. He will show you. The truth is, He is more interested in revealing your purpose in His body than you and I are in knowing it.
Jesus lived with a sense of divine destiny. Do you? The third and final question we might ask to determine whether or not we are really living is:
III. ARE YOU LIVING WITH A DESIRE TO GLORIFY GOD
As he faced the cross Jesus prayed, “glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You.” Jesus’ overarching desire in life and in death was to glorify the Father. To “glorify” God means to give glory to Him. The word glory as related to God in the Old Testament bears with it the idea of greatness of splendor. In the New Testament, the word translated “glory” means “dignity, honor, praise and worship.” Putting the two together, we find that glorifying God means to acknowledge His greatness and give Him honor by praising and worshiping Him, primarily because He, and He alone, deserves to be praised, honored and worshipped. God’s glory is the essence of His nature, and we give glory to Him by recognizing that essence. To glorify God is to extol His attributes—His holiness, faithfulness, mercy, grace, love, majesty, sovereignty, power, and omniscience, to name a few—rehearsing them over and over in our minds and telling others about the singular nature of the salvation only He offers. Jesus experienced both. In his life he revealed the presence of God. He was the image of the unseen God. When people saw him they saw the Father. But his desire was that through the glory the Father gave to Him, He might use it to bring praise and honor to the Father. Even in death he sought the glory of the Father, or shall I say especially through death.
I heard a story of a missionary family in China during the Boxer rebellion in 1900. In the Boxer rebellion a group of native Chineese began to murder Christians. This women wrote a letter telling about how terrifying her families life had become. They never knew when the banging on the door would come and they would be taken out and murdered. She prayed that they would only take her daughter first so she wouldn’t have to witness the killing of her parents. At the end of the letter she wrote. I only ask that God’s will be done and no matter what happens that he be glorified.
The desire to glorify God can be costly but it is very liberating. The opposite of the desire to glorify God is selfishness. The selfish life is a miserable life. Things wont always go our way, circumstances of life will assuredly change, people don’t always treat us as we think we should be treated and this make us miserable if we are primarily living for self.
But when we can honestly say,“Lord no matter what happens to me, whether I live or die, whether I am treated fairly or unfairly, whether I endure affliction or comfort, Lord you be glorified in it”, when this is our desire we are free of the misery of selfishness.
This is what Jesus means when he says, “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Are you living or existing? Are you living with a dependence on the Father? Are you Living with a Sense of destiny? Are you living with a desire to glorify the Lord?
In light of the questions above, let’s summarize by looking at the finished work of Jesus–the gospel, in this passage, called “the hour for which he came”, his dying on the cross. My question for you is where do we find the power and motivation to live in dependence on the Father, for his purposes, and with the desire for his glory?
Jesus, he would die to give eternal life, and eternal life means knowing “you the only true God”. Jesus himself demonstrates what it means to know God the father in this way–he addresses God as Father, or “Abba” in the Aramaic, which is, as you know, the intimate term of a child uses to address their father. It means intimacy, trust, acceptance, and love. The Jews never used this term to address God, but Jesus shows us a new way to enjoy the Fatherhood of God, through his work on the cross.
“know and enjoy God this way, and you will delight to live in dependence on him. You will be eager to embrace his purpose for you, which is to make the possibility of this relationship with God known to others. You will increasingly desire his glory to be seen through your life…”
Amen! Let’s pray!
Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!