An Invitation

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In this message, we learn that God invites us to prepare for divine opportunities.

Global warming strikes again. What a crazy week. It started raining last Sunday when we left this service and I don’t think it stopped. It’s been a wild week full of wintery fun. And it’s always fun for me being from Buffalo to watch all the Texans freak out. It’s just a little bit of moisture falling from the sky, people. It’s going to be okay. But it is a crazy week. And so even, I was just thinking, as we were worshiping with the storms and stuff this week, it’s good to gather together to praise Jesus and declare his greatness over the storms of our lives.

That’s really what we do when we gather together. And just to get a little bit of clarity, so because of the weather, we had to postpone our Saturday service last night. So if you’re part of the Saturday community here on Sunday, this is Sunday church. Welcome. We’re glad that you’re here. But here’s what I want to clarify for you, we made a mistake in some of our communication to you. And what was communicated was that we canceled Saturday service.

And here’s what I want you to understand is that while you can postpone a service, you can never cancel church. Because church cannot be canceled because you are the church. So we can postpone a service, we can delay gatherings, we change times and locations. We can do all that stuff but you can’t cancel church because you are the church. And for 2,000 years, Satan has been trying to cancel the church of Jesus Christ. And no matter what he does, he cannot cancel you because Jesus says, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” So you can never be canceled. That’s really what that is. You’re the church, you can never be canceled. And I think it’s on weekends like this when we gather together and it’s a little bit crazy out. And our week is a little bit crazy. That reminds us that church is a family.

It reminds us Hebrews 10:25 that says, Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another even more as the day approaches. That it’s on weeks like this that we’re reminded that it’s the spirit of the living God drawing us together. The Jesus in you calling out to the Jesus in me. And that the wind of our time together is not an amazing message, it’s not incredible music, it’s not your kids being taken care of for an hour, it’s about us being a family and looking each other in the face and encouraging one another and inspiring each other and reminding each other that we’re on this journey together. That’s church. I mean, church is a family. And you hear me say it because I’m trying to, like, condition that within us because we don’t believe it. But I mean the whole bible is a story of a loving father building a family for himself. And that’s church. And it’s on weekends like this that we’re reminded that that’s more important than anything else we do. And so my hope for you is that you’ll never be a stranger in this place that it will be family. That you’ll get to know other people and their names and their stories and what’s going on in their life and share yours as well. So I’m glad that you’re — that’s why you can never just watch online. It’s not enough. The spirit in you is always drawing you to this place because you were made for this. Okay?

So on Friday, when it started getting a little bit crazy and everybody started freaking out around here, I got a call from our worship team. And our worship team was in Florida. And this call informed me that all of the flights were canceled and that none of them were going to be able to be back for services this weekend. None of them. At either campus, not a single person on staff in our worship department was going to be back because they were at a conference and they weren’t going to be able to make it. So let me tell just tell you, that’s a wonderful call as the lead pastor to get on a Friday. And so what do you do at that point? Well, what you do is you invite a couple of your other leaders who have been growing and developing. You tap them on the shoulder and say, “You’re up this weekend. You’re going to lead.” And I think they did a phenomenal job.

Both campuses had leaders lead this weekend. They don’t normally lead. They were ready. They were tapped on the shoulders. They stepped up. They said, “This is my opportunity. Here I go. And what I love about our church is that we are trying to create what we call a developmental culture.” A culture where we’re focused on developing people to become everything that God has called them to be. A developmental culture where we believe more in the success and the growth of others than our own personal preferences. I mean, we say it a lot, that we want to be a reproducing church. That we want to raise up and release new leaders in the Kingdom of God that we don’t celebrate your gift. We celebrate you reproducing that gift in other people. That I don’t care how talented our worship staff is. What I care about is can they reproduce the gift God has put in them in other people’s lives so that they may raise up and become everything God has called them to be. That’s how we advance the Kingdom. That’s how we further the mission and the movement of God.

And one of the dreams that’s been in my heart for a long time and that will continue to be is that I have a dream that we, as a church, will get so good at developing leaders that we will literally be able to raise up so many leaders that we will be able to send them to other churches to resource other churches with life-giving, spirit-filled, Jesus-focused leaders. When other people need help, we’re able to raise them up and say, “Man, we don’t have a place for you here right now. But, man, we can send you somewhere else.” That not only our leaders are going to go for our future campuses and church plans and mission assignments around the world. But to help other churches that are in need. That’s a developmental culture. And that’s what the church is called to do. In fact, 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul says to Timothy, he says, Timothy, the things you have heard me say to you in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. In other words, he says, “Hey, Timothy, the whole point is not for you to be this amazing speaker and pastor. The whole point is for you to develop leaders who will develop other leaders who will develop other leaders so that the mission of God will go forward.”

That’s why the church of Jesus can never be canceled because we’re going to constantly raise up new leaders to advance the Kingdom of God. Okay? And so a few weeks ago, I was sitting in one of our environments and I was listening to one of our guys that’s learning how to communicate. And he was teaching. And as I was sitting there, I just was thinking about this developmental culture. And I pulled out my phone. And I just started jotting some notes. And I just want to encourage you, maybe write this down on your journal or on our notes. These are really simple. Just eight little thoughts I quickly want to give you about a developmental culture and what it looks like. How we have a developmental culture. Really simple. The first thing is this, you just got to be full of faith. We got to be full of faith. Romans 4:17 says, God who gives life to dead things and calls things that are not as though they were. We serve a God who brings dead things to life and calls things that are not as though they were. And if we’re going to develop people. We’re going to develop you into the fullness of what God has in store for them. We need to declare things that are not as though they were. Speak life over people. Call for their potential. Declare who God has destined them to be and speak it over their life by faith. So we need to be full of faith.

The second thing is this, is we need to believe in people. We need to believe in humanity and the greatness of the potential that God has put inside every one of us. That people are made in the image and likeness of God. That Jesus has died to redeem them for the good works he’s prepared in advance for them to do. We need to believe in people. I mean that’s what Jesus did. He’s walking down the road and he sees Matthew, a tax collector. A rejected, full of shame, broken man that nobody wanted. And nobody believed in Matthew. And Matthew didn’t even believe in himself. And yet, Jesus, out of this whole crowd picks Matthew and says, “You come follow me and I will make you fisher of men.” Jesus believed more in Matthew than he believed in himself. We need to believe in people and call forth their potential in the image and likeness of God.

The third thing is this, you got to be patient. We just got to be patient. It takes time for things to grow. You can’t go out and plant a seed and expect to have a bushel of apples the next day. You know that, right? So you and I would be really bad farmers because we would plant the seed and then the next day there’s no apples. We’d be like, “Man, it didn’t work. It didn’t work.” It takes time to develop fruit. And Jesus is patient with us. We want to be patient with others. So that’s the third thing, patience. The fourth thing is this, encouragement. We got to get really good at encouraging each other. Celebrating each other. Championing each other. When the baby takes the next step, everybody, “Oh, yeah.” They get so excited. Mom and dad, they cheer them on. That’s all we need to do. We need to cheer each other on. In fact, when I first started to learn to communicate in this church, I preached some really bad sermons. And it was a whole bunch of you that encouraged me and cheered me on. And it meant the world for me to keep going. And I know some of you are thinking, “Well, what’s changed?” you know. Not much so keep cheering me on is what I’m trying to say, you know.

We got to encourage each other. It takes a lot of courage for people to step forward to become a leader in the Kingdom of God. So we need to celebrate them. Encourage, put courage inside of them is literally what it means. In fact, from time to time, some of you will say to me, like, you know, I’m always trying to get you to talk back to me, right? I’m trying to get — there you go. Yes. Thank you. To respond and engage and sometimes, we’re afraid to do that. And every once and a while, get somebody to write me an e-mail or come up to me after, like, “Man, we were tracking with you. We were just deep in thought.” Or, “That was a revelation. We were thinking about it. So we weren’t thinking of responding. We were just quiet.” Okay. That’s fine. I’m not even trying to get you to respond for me. There’s a whole lot of reasons I want you to respond. Someday, I will do a whole sermon on it. Today is not the day. It’s not even about me. I’m trying to get you to engage with the platform so that when new speakers who are growing and developing are up here, you’re already conditioned to engage with them even if they’re struggling.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. I’m trying to set something in motion in our environment that will be prepared and ready to go when somebody gets up here and is learning to do what God has called them to do, okay? So encouragement. The next one — I got to look at it because I can’t remember — is inconvenience. We got to be inconvenienced, right? You have to be willing to give up your preferences to be inconvenienced to develop people. The next one is intolerance for complacency. We, as a group of people, have to get to this point where we’re literally intolerant of complacency. That we don’t tolerate it in ourselves, we don’t tolerate it in each other. That we want to keep moving forward. And everything God has for us. The seventh one — I know these are a lot, this is quick — is safety. We got to create a safe environment where people think it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to try and not fully succeed. Like my seven-year-old, he’s learning how to spell right now. And so we’re working on his spelling test and his writing and all that stuff. And so I’ll quiz him on his words.

And now, here’s what will happen. I’ll say, “Okay. The word is help. You spell it.” And Trey will say back to me, he’ll say, “H-e — “and he’ll kind of think for a second and he’ll get quiet. And I’ll say, “L.” And he’ll, say, “Yeah. L-p.” And I’ll say, “Yeah, buddy. You got it. Help. You got it.” Now, imagine if he was spelling, I’ll say, “Okay. Spell the word help.” And he says, “H-e–” And imagine if I just look back at him like this. “You don’t know it? It’s very obvious.” In fact, what you’re communicating to me is that you’re not well-prepared for this test. No. He would be terrified. He would never want to do spelling with me again. He would hide, right? Okay. I think sometimes that’s what we do to people. As they’re stepping out into new space, we just kind of look at them like this and be like, “You don’t know that? You don’t know how to do it?” No. We got to encourage them, cheer them on. Make it a safe environment.

And the last thing is this, risk. We got to risk on people because Jesus took a risk on us. And if we’re ever going to be a culture that develops people, developmental culture, it’s up to you. Because I can talk about it. I can cheer us on. I can create that within our staff and in our leaders. But I can’t create it in you. You have to be the ones to say, “We are all for developing people in the Kingdom of God.” You see, at the end of the day, you can be entertained or we can develop people but we can’t do both. Because if we’re going to be entertained, we’ll always use our most talented people in every environment that we have. But if we’re going to develop people, we’re going to give new people a chance. New people an opportunity. And they’re going to make some mistakes. I mean, that’s how Jesus developed the disciples. And what I love about that list of eight things I just read you, part of the reason I wanted you to write it down, is because that’s what Jesus does for you. He’s full of faith towards you. He believes in you. He’s patient with you. He encourages you. He creates a safe place for you. It’s inconvenient for him. Some of the things that you do.

I’m just saying. It might be a little inconvenient for God. He creates a safe environment. He wants us to keep moving forward. It’s not okay with complacency and he risks. And we see development in all different kinds of places in the world like in restaurants, right? You have a server in training. Doctors have residencies. Teachers have student teachers. We’re okay with all of it. We got to be okay with it in the church. In fact, just last night, we went out for dinner and we had one of those waitresses in training. And somehow she spilled catsup all down my side and on my pants. And I wasn’t very happy. I didn’t believe in development right then at that moment. But my wife did and she was so very kind to this nice, little, young girl who was terrified after spilling catsup on me. And it was just this great picture to me. I thought, “That’s what we need to be kind to each other.” As we’re all growing and learning to follow Jesus. It’s just this kindness.

See, at the end of the day as a church, we care more about developing people than we do in accomplishing tasks. Jesus is more interested in your growth than he is in you doing something for him. Read the gospels, you’ll find that he was always more interested in developing disciples than he was in ministering to the crowd. So why he would leave 5,000 people on the side of a mountain and take the 12 in a boat. Because he wanted to go spend time to develop them. And that’s what he’s doing with you and me. That’s who we want to be as a church. And so what I love about this worship leaders this weekend is it’s a lifetime example. As we kind of hit a crisis moment, our entire worship staff is in another state and they can’t get back and they’re tapped on the shoulder. And he said, “Okay. It’s your turn. You’re in the game. You’re number is up.” And they said, “Okay. Here I am. I am ready. And they had been preparing, developing, and growing.” So they stepped into the space. They did an amazing job and God was glorified and we were all blessed.

So the question is, when God brings you a divine opportunity, are you ready? When your number gets called, when you get tapped on the shoulder, when God says, “Okay. You’re up.” And he invites you to a divine opportunity, a new calling, a new job, a new assignment, a ministry position, leading a team, being a next leader, advancing the kingdom, sharing your faith with someone at the marketplace. When God taps you on the shoulders and say, “Okay. It’s you. Your time.” Are you ready? Are you ready to respond to that? So if you got your bibles, look at Luke 14 quick, okay? Luke 14, basically, here’s what we’re doing today. I had a whole message for our underrated series that we were in. But because of this lifetime example and a little bit of the craziness of the weather, I’m just going to say that message and I’ll do it later. And I just want us to talk about this. Stepping into divine opportunity is developing culture for a few moments because we all just experienced it together. So while it’s live in your mind, I want to talk about it. Which means I have no notes, okay? I have no slides. I have no things for you. So you got to follow along. The good news for me is, is I’m not confined by anything that I’ve pre-submitted as notes. So who knows where we will go.

Luke 14, verse 15. This is good for all of us every once in a while. Luke 14 verse 15, it says, When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God. Jesus replied, a certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent a servant to tell those who had be invited, Come for everything is now ready. But they all like begin to make excuses. The first said, I just bought a field and I must go see it. Please excuse me. Another said, I’ve just bought five yoke of oxen and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me. Still another said, I just got married. So I can’t come. The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.

Sir, the servant said, what you have ordered has been done but there is still room. Then the master told the servant, Go out into the roads and country lanes and make them come in so that my house will be full. I tell you not one of those men who are invited will get a taste of my banquet. Okay. This is a profound story that Jesus tells. He said in his dialogue with the people and he tells the story, this parable, this picture. And he basically says, There’s a master who wants to throw a big party. And so there’s two sets of invitations that he gives to all the guests. He gives an invitation to prepare and then an invitation to respond. He sends his servant out to bring an invitation to prepare. And the servant goes out and he tells everybody, my master wants to have a banquet, a party, a feast and you’re invited. And he wanted me to come and tell you that you’re invited so you need to prepare and get ready. And in a little while when the banquet is ready, I will come back and let you know and then it will be time to respond.

So two invitations. An invitation to prepare and an invitation to respond. And they all get the invitation to prepare. But when it’s time to respond and the servant comes and says, “Come. For everything is now ready.” They all begin to make excuses. The first one says, I’ve just bought a field and I must go see it, please excuse me. In other words, I got a bunch of other commitments that are more important than coming to the master’s feast. So I’m not going to be able to come. The second says, I’ve just bought five yoke of oxen and I’m on my way to try them out, please excuse me. In other words, this guy says, I got a whole bunch of stuff. I got stuff that I got to care for and see and use. I got to go and spend time with my stuff, my resources, the things that I have acquired in life. And then the third guy says, I just got married so I can’t come. And honestly, in that moment, we realized he married the wrong person because a healthy spouse would encourage you to go and see the master instead of pulling you away from him.

And so all of them are unable, unwilling, to come to the invitation that has been given to them. So what does the master do? The master says to the servant, “Fine. If they don’t want to come, they don’t have to come. Go get other people because I’m going to have a party whether or not they want to come. And my house will be full whether or not they choose to come.” And so he fills his house with all these other people. And those that were originally invited missed out on the divine opportunity. The feast of the banquet of the Kingdom of God with their master. And when I read that story and I think about the Christian church, I think if we’re honest, that is our story in a lot of ways. That we’re invited to prepare but we just don’t do it. And for a whole lot of different reasons when it’s time to respond to divine opportunities that God brings in our path, we make excuses. We have all these reasons why we can’t do it. And honestly, as a pastor, that’s probably one of those saddest things for me in what I do.

It’s looking people in the face and seeing the missed, the divine opportunities that God has brought into their life because they weren’t willing to prepare. And it’s usually the same three things. It’s usually finances, fear, and friends. It’s usually finances. We either have so much debt that we can’t respond to God or we have such an addiction to and a love of money that we won’t respond. Or it’s fear that we haven’t got rooted in our identity in Jesus. And we’re not living and relying on the love of God. So we’re afraid to step into this divine opportunity because we’re not sure we really trust him or it’s friends. Bad friends that are pulling us in the wrong direction that kind of lead us away from the opportunities and they give us bad counsel and so we miss out. I’m telling you there is nothing sadder than watching people miss divine opportunities. A silly little example, when I was in high school and college, I played Lacrosse, okay? Texas, let me help you understand what Lacrosse is, okay? We don’t wear skirts. That’s field hockey. That’s what women do, okay?

Lacrosse, we have sticks and we whack each other with them. That’s Lacrosse, okay? And when I played, when I first started, I was on the junior varsity team. I was in tenth grade. That was my first year of playing and I loved it. Practice would end and I would say late. I would play catch longer. I would learn the plays. I’d work out even harder. I mean I was constantly preparing, constantly trying to grow and be the best player I could possibly be. And then one day, out of nowhere, one of the players on the varsity team got hurt. And because he was hurt, he couldn’t play in the game. And so the varsity coach took three of us from the JV team, me and two other guys, and brought us up to the varsity squad for that one game because this guy was hurt. And so because I was prepared — I mean, I was nervous. It was going to be a new experience but I was prepared. I had been spending lots of times that I got tossed in the game. And I knew what to do and I played well. And the other two guys that I was with, they got tossed in the game. And they didn’t have a clue what they were doing because they only ever did the bare minimum. Practice would end and they would go home. They go play video games. They do whatever they wanted to do.

But because I had been preparing and spending extra time, I was ready when my opportunity came. And I stepped in and I never went back to junior varsity. And they went back to junior varsity the very next day. And I tell you that silly little story from my life because it’s a picture of physical realities. I want that same truth for my life with spiritual realities. I want to not do the bare minimum. I want to be preparing and developing and growing so that when God shows up with an unexpected divine opportunity, taps me on the shoulder, I am ready to go. And even though I’m nervous, I’m ready to jump in the game and can fulfill the opportunity that he’s put in front of me. I mean think of David for a second, right? David, the man after God’s own heart. And one day, because Saul, you know, does the wrong thing. He loses his kingship and God wants to anoint a new king over Israel. And so Samuel, the prophet, comes to David’s family’s house to look for a new king. And what was amazing is that David had prepared himself for this moment.

He didn’t know that moment was coming but he had prepared himself. How? By being out in the pasture by killing bears and lions with his bare hands and being a good shepherd. Learning how to protect sheep and lead them into green pastures, by worshiping, and the quiet moments all by himself when no one else was around. He had prepared himself. In fact, David learned to be a king by being a faithful shepherd. Now, imagine if every day when David’s dad would’ve sent him out to take care of the sheep, imagine if David would have would have walked out there with his little staff and be like, “Man, I hate sheep.” And got a little grumpy, kind of dragging his feet, sits down on a rock with his little staff, you know, he’s looking at this sheep. And a bear comes over and eats the sheep. Man, that’s a bummer, man. He should have run faster, you know. Just saying, you would still be alive. Okay. And imagine that. Imagine, he would have never been prepared to be the king. He would have missed his divine opportunity when it came.

And I think a lot of us, that’s how we live. That’s how we live. We want to be a king without first being a faithful shepherd. But we kind of just kind of walk through life with our, “Oh, man. I hate my job. I hate my assignment. I hate what I got to do every day.” And we’re just kind of grumpy, gust kind of go through it. It’s like, “Okay. No. “Take your staff and your shepherd and whatever assignment you have even if it’s two sheep, go out there with passion, grow, develop yourself, use the opportunities to improve to become better. So that when the opportunity of a lifetime comes along, you’re ready for it. You prepare for your next assignment by embracing the season that you’re currently in. We reject the season that we’re currently in and expect God to give us the next assignment anyways. It doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work like that. About maybe three weeks ago, my little — is this okay? This is a little bit different today, okay?

See, that’s good, responding. If it was a new communicator, you would have just encouraged his heart. He would have been full of life. He will keep going and bring you anointing and revelation. Okay. It was like two, three weeks ago, my five-year old, Emma, it was just me and her at home. It was a Monday morning. And Monday mornings, I study. I’m kind of in my office at home and I’m just studying and working on the message for the week. And she was coloring and kind of in the other room. And Colleen was out somewhere. And I had finished studying and I had about ten minutes before Colleen was going to come home and I was going to have to leave to go to a meeting. And so at ten minutes, I said, “Emma — ” I said, “Hey, Emma.” I said, “I got about ten minutes, baby. Do you want to just play together for ten minutes?” And she kind of yelled back in the other room, she said, “Yeah, daddy.” She said, “Let’s go outside and try to ride my bike without training wheels.” Now, a little bit of background for you. Five-year-old kid, I’ve been trying for months to get her on the bike without training wheels. She wants none of it. She will ride her bike with the training wheels and loves it. But the bike without training wheels, she wants none of it.

And so all of a sudden, out of nowhere, she said, “Yeah. Let’s ride the bike without training wheels.” And I’m shocked. And I’m thinking in my mind, I said, I go, “Emma, we only have like ten minutes, baby. We don’t have enough time for that.” She goes, “No, daddy. I’m already ready. I got my shoes on, my long pants, and my long shirt. All I need is a helmet. Let’s go.” I’m thinking, “Okay.” Divine opportunity right here both ways. Dads, have you been trying to teach your kid to ride a bike? You know it’s divine when they want to get on the bike by their own choosing. So it’s divine for me because she wants to do it. It’s divine for her because dad’s not usually home like this on Monday morning. And we were both ready. She had her shirt and her shoes and her pants on. And I had already taken the training wheels off the one bike so we were ready. So I kid you not, we literally go out. I put her on the bike. We have ten minutes. And I give her one little push into the grass. And vroom, she just takes off like a rocket. That’s it. Now, I can’t get her off the bike. All she wants to do is ride the bike everywhere she goes.

And I tell you that story because here’s the reality is that divine opportunities always come when we least expect it. When we least expect it. And if you’re not prepared for it, you will miss it. If she didn’t have shoes, pants, and a long shirt on, there was no way we would have had the time. Had I not already taken the training wheels off, there was no way we would add the time. But all of a sudden, here’s this divine opportunity we least expected, we both so want together. And we went out and we made it happen and that’s how opportunities come. Man, you’ll understand, right? Opportunities don’t tell you, like, three months in advance that they’re coming. They won’t send you a note in the mail, like, “Hey, it’s me. Divine opportunity, I’ll be there in three months. I hope you’ll be ready. Because when I come, it’s going to be good. P.S. I’ll send you a text message to make sure you got my note.” No. No. You just wake up one day and there it is. Tap on the shoulder. So in 2 Timothy 4:2 says, Be prepared in season and out of season. Be ready. Be ready for what God wants to bring into your life.

And not only were we ready for this unexpected divine opportunity that Emma and I got to have together but developmental culture, I can ride a bike. But who cares that I can ride a bike. I want to see here ride a bike. I want her to have the same experience that I have so I’m more focused on her riding the bike than of me riding a bike. That’s a developmental culture. That we’re willing to go through that kind of inconvenience and risk and all that different kinds of stuff. Does that make sense?

One of my favorite passages right now is Acts chapter 3. We kind of read through Acts together in our awakening series. And in Acts chapter 3, there’s this really great story. Peter is on his way to the temple gate and there’s a crippled man. And he gets to the temple gate and Peter sees an opportunity that nobody else sees. And the crippled man says, he basically asks Peter and John for help. And Peter looks back at the man and he says, Money and gold I do not have. But what I do have I will give you. In the name of Jesus, get up and walk.

And the man for the first time in his life, he gets up and he walks. This man who has been paralyzed his entire life. And everybody knew this guy because he sat at the temple gates. So everybody starts freaking out. And the crowd develops. People are worshiping God. They can’t believe they’re seeing this guy. The guy they saw sitting every day because he couldn’t walk, they’re watching him walk. And I love what he says. Peter is looking around at all these people freaking out. And this is what Peter says, he says, Why does this surprise you? Why does this surprise you? He says this is normal. This is the normal Christian life. You shouldn’t be surprised by this. Anybody who really walks with Jesus does these kinds of things. Why does this surprise you? And I read that and I think, “That’s a profound statement.” Like Peter saying, “This is the normal experience that everyone who follows Jesus should have. It shouldn’t surprise us.”

And yet we read that and we think, “Okay. Well, that’s pretty far away from my life as a reality, right?” Okay. Well you can’t just look at Acts chapter 3. You have to back it up and understand that in Acts chapter 2, Peter was devoted. He continued to do something with intense effort despite difficulty to the church, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. To gathering together even though it was, you know, a snow day. He was still willing to get in his car and drive to come to the gathering of the church, global warming, you know, whatever it was at the time. Gathering and being devoted to each other. Having everything in common, building each other’s faith. And you have to back it up even further in Acts 2 and realize that he was filled with the spirit of the living God. The spirit came upon him. And then you have to back it up probably a little bit more than that to Acts 1 when Jesus says to them, Men, don’t leave Jerusalem. Wait for the gift that I’m going to give you, the Holy Spirit. So for ten days, Peter waited. And then the spirit came upon them.

But you have to back it up further than that, probably to John 21, when Peter gets restored by Jesus and works through his shame and his brokenness and his failure of betraying Jesus and Jesus fully restores him. But you have to back it up even further than that and you have to look at Luke 9, when Jesus says, Man, go preach the kingdom, heal the sick, cast out demons. And in that very chapter, they fail. They can’t cast out like a little baby demon. And Jesus has to — yeah, there’s this little baby demon sometimes that is as hard as the other ones. And they couldn’t even get the baby demon kind. And so Jesus had to help them understand what it was that they failed they very thing he asked them to do. But you can’t stop there. You got to back it up even further to Matthew 4:19, when Jesus says, Come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men. In other words, Peter always accepted every invitation that Jesus ever gave him. We look at Acts 3 and we think, “Wow, that’s the normal Christian life.” But you can’t start there, you got to back all the way up to the first time that Peter met Jesus. He accepted every invitation that Jesus ever gave him.

And when you accept the invitations that Jesus gives you, he will always extend you even greater invitations. And if you and I would live in a place where we would just accept the invitations, the divine moments that come in our path instead of saying, “I have a commitment. I have stuff that’s holding me. I have relationships that won’t allow it.” We would just accept those commitments. Over time, at some point in time, we will experience what Peter says is the normal Christian life that we see. The super natural power of God moving in our lives. Because Jesus in Mark 16 says, Signs and wonders will follow those who follow him. In other words, those who say yes to his invitations will experience this supernatural miraculous move of God on this earth as heaven comes to earth. Does that make sense?

But you got to say, “Yeah.” You got to be ready for those divine opportunities. And so to wrap it up, you say, “Okay. How do I actually do that? How do I be like this worship people and be ready to go?” Really simple, and I’ll just say this to you quick again.

I don’t have notes. If you want to write this down, I’ll try to say this as slow as possible. I don’t say things slow though. That’s the problem for all of us. You got to be willing and available. The first thing is just willing and available. You got to just choose to say, “Jesus, my answer is yes to whatever it is that you’ll ask me to do.” Sometimes you just need to say it out loud. “Jesus, I say yes to whatever it is that you’re going to ask me to do before I even know what it is. No matter what the cost, how hard it is, no matter where you’re asking me to go, I say yes to you.” That’s willing and available. 2 Chronicle 16:9 says, The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth looking for those whose hearts are fully committed to him that he may strengthen them.” In other words, he’s looking for people who have already said yes, that he may extend them amazing invitations. And you and I say, “Jesus, let us see it first and then we’ll come.” Jesus always says, “No. Come and then you’ll see.” Some of you have been sitting here for a really long time.

It’s time to say yes. It’s time to say, “Yes, Jesus.” to the question, the invitation that he’s been extending to you. “Yes, Jesus.” You got to be willing and available. If you’re not willing and available, it doesn’t matter what happens after that point. Okay? Be willing and available. The second thing is this, you got to be faithful with the little things today. Be faithful with the little things today. You remember the parable of the talents, Matthew 25 or Luke 19, the master gives one guy five, one guy two, one guy one. And he goes away. And the guy with five is faithful. He turns it into ten. The guy that has two is faithful. He turns into four. The guy that has one is afraid so he buries it in the ground. And the master comes back and he says, Okay. Show me what have you done? And the guy steps forward that had five. He says, Master, he is what’s you gave me and I turned it into ten. And the guy with two says, Here’s the two and here’s now four. And he says, Well done, good and faithful servants.

You have been faithful with a few things. I will entrust you with greater things. And what I love is in Luke 19, he gives them a sum of money. And the greater things he gives them is cities. Talk about an exponential increase. You’re faithful with a little bit of money. And he gives you authority over cities. Yeah, that’s what God does. And the guy with one that buried it, he comes to the master and the master says, You wicked and lazy servant. He says take that one from that man and give it to the one who has ten. And everybody starts freaking out because that feels pretty unjust and unfair to us. And they say, He already has ten. Why does he need even more? And I love what Jesus says, he says, the master will say, whoever has will be given even more. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. In other words, whoever says yes, will always increase. Whoever says no, will always decrease. God is going to accomplish his purposes on this earth with or without us. And the more we say yes to the invitations to the divine opportunities, the more we will increase, the more he will entrust us.

The more we say no, the more he will take the very things that we have and give them to someone else that will use it to steward it for his glory and for our benefit. And I think a lot of times, we’re just — hear what I’m trying to say in this, as Christians we can be big talk. We can say, we want to change the world. We want to do all these great things. We want to sign petitions and you know, picket things. And all this that we get so bent out shape about some of the stuff that’s happened in government and in politics. And all these stuff. We want to change the world. But then we won’t just hold open the door for somebody when it’s raining so that they can come in the building. Or we don’t want to just walk two seats over from where we’re sitting to shake somebody’s hand and introduce ourselves to them. And tell them we’re glad that they’re here. Or we don’t want to just be excellent at the job that God has given us in the marketplace and do it for his glory. Not for our boss.

We don’t want to just read the bible. Just a few minutes a day to learn what’s in here and what God has to say to us. We got to be faithful with the little things he’s given you today. Because when you’re faithful with what you have, it’s your way of saying, “I’m prepared for the invitation that you want to give me. I’m prepared to respond.” Okay. The third one, real quick, and I’m just about done. The third one is this, is you got to be relentless about your own growth. Be relentless about your own growth. See everything in your life as an opportunity to develop. Value development over comfort, over accomplishing things, over acquiring resources. It’s all about your development. Say, I want to grow in my skills, in my character, in my faith, in my anointing, in my understanding, in my wisdom. 2 Corinthians 3:18, the more I look at Jesus, the more I become like him.

Or Matthew 5:8, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. The more I say, God I am relentless about growing and knowing more about you and developing the things that you have given to me, the more that that’s going to happen in your life. But I think if we’re honest, we’re pretty casual about our own development. Kind of like, “Yeah.” You know, it will happen. “God is still going to give me a great opportunity, yeah.” Oh, come on. Man, I want this for you so bad that you would just be relentless and intentional about your own development. Read books. Read the bible. We come to our gathering. Show up at the extra things that we have. Getting Godly relationships. Find a mentor. Be relentless about your growth because it positions you for divine opportunities that will blow your mind in the Kingdom of God, okay? You got to be relentless about your growth because no one can make you grow. Oh, man. I wish I had, like, a miracle seed that, like, when I just preach, we just get in, it would just grow. It didn’t work like that.

It’s really hard sometimes as a pastor because it’s like you want people to grow more than they want to grow themselves. And so what I’m trying to always do is inspire you to say Jesus has more for you. It’s worth it. And the last thing is this, be aware of his presence. Be aware of his presence. Probably, almost every divine opportunity in the bible, when God shows up, taps someone on the shoulder and says, “It’s your time. You’re up. Your number has been called.” They freak out and they say, “Lord, I can’t do this. You got the wrong guy. I’m insecure. I don’t have the ability. I don’t have the skill. Wrong guy.” You know what God always says almost every time, his response is, “I will be with you.” He didn’t talk about their lack of ability. He didn’t talk about their insecurity. He didn’t talk about their lack of equipping. He looks at them and says, “I will be with you.” And when you become aware of his presence and you understand that he is with you, all of a sudden you are not afraid of these moments and these opportunities that God brings in your path.

You boldly step in to them because you know in your weakness, you will be strong because he is with you. And what’s so sad to me about the story in Luke 14 that we read is not only did they miss their divine opportunities, they missed the presence of the master. They didn’t get the divine opportunity. They didn’t get to the feast. But worse than that, they didn’t experience the presence of the master. Why? Because they didn’t really value his presence. So it was easy to say no to the opportunity. And if you and I don’t really value his presence, it actually becomes really easy to say no to the opportunities. That’s why I’m trying to always draw us into the presence of God because the more you become drawn to his presence, the more you’re aware of it and desire it. Then all of a sudden, you don’t want to say no to any opportunity because you know you’re going to get to sit at a table with a master.

And hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in my happiness. Come be with me.” Okay? 1 Corinthians 2:9 say, No eye has sinned, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has in store for those who love him. The divine opportunities that God has for you in your life are phenomenal. And not only do we want to be a church that develops other people, we want to be a place where you develop, where you grow, and you have the courage to say, “I’m stepping in.” And you will experience what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived.

So you close your eyes with me. I realize it’s a little bit of a different day today. A little bit of a different message. But I just think the Lord wanted us to talk about this with his lifetime example that we had. And so, man, what’s God saying to you? Right now, in this moment, what’s he saying to you? What invitation has he given you that you need to accept? What opportunity is in your path that you need to step into? My sense would be for some of you, it’s just to choose to put your faith in Jesus today. That’s the invitation that he’s been telling you. It’s time. It’s time to respond to me. It’s time to follow me. It’s time to believe in the finished work of Jesus that he died so that you could live. If that’s you, just tell him that today.

I receive your invitation to come and overtake my life. And for some of you, it’s this invitation to get involved or to be a leader or to step out in something new. A new job, a new school, a new assignment. I don’t know. But I know this, that he will be with you. And that when you’re with him, you can do it. And so, Lord Jesus, I just celebrate that we, as a church, want to be a church with the developmental culture. That we want to believe in the growth of other people more than our own personal preferences. And so Lord, would you solidify that within us. Would you make that true in this culture that we would believe that and we would respond that way and we would get it just in part that into us today, Lord. And I pray for every one of us in here that not only will we celebrate the development of others but they will develop and will grow and will step into new space.

That we will become everything that you’ve called us to be made in the image and likeness of God with good works that you’ve prepared in advance for us to do. So Lord, I pray right now for courage and strength. I pray for faith and boldness. I pray that we will get serious about developing and growing in the Lord Jesus Christ that we will be ready when you tap us on the shoulder with an unexpected opportunity to say, “Here I am, Lord. Send me. I am ready.” Can you feel it? Man, I just have this faith for you that there’s some divine opportunities coming in the days ahead in your life. Be ready for it. This is your advance notice. This is about the most advanced notice you’ll ever get of a divine opportunity. I’m just telling you the note has been sent. One is coming in your life. Be ready to receive it. Give us the faith and the courage for that, Lord Jesus. We love you in this place. In your name we pray, amen. Amen.

Hey, if you need prayer for anything, these people are here to pray for you. For those of you that want to give tithes and offerings, there’s boxes at all the doors as part of our worship. If you’re new, I’d love to meet you. I’ll be over here. I love to introduce myself to you but may you go and look for those incredible moments that God has for you. I love you. Thanks for coming through the weather. Blessings.

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