God’s Grace Restores Our Identity


Following the cloud is living our lives with a willingness to change our plans to respond to what God is asking. Often we hear God, then stop listening instead of being in tune to what God is speaking in the moment. In this message we shift our focus back onto what God is speaking to us right now.

Alright. Hey, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am really glad that you are here with us today. We want to welcome all of our campuses wherever you might be, Denton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, The Venue, watching online, let’s welcome each other together for a moment. We are so glad that you are here and it’s a great time to be a part of Valley Creek Church because we’re currently in a series called Follow the Cloud. And we’ve been talking about living a lifestyle of next steps, hearing God’s voice. So we’ve been talking a lot about the things that we believe and we value and we said that the Cloud is simply a physical picture of a spiritual truth. That after God set the Israelites free after 400 years of Egyptian slavery, He gave them a cloud to follow to lead them into the Promise Land. And we said that today the cloud is not above us, it’s within us, His name is the Holy Spirit. And with every step He is inviting us to take, He is inviting us to live a full life of freedom. And we’ve said that God leads us in small steps not in giant leaps. And then we talked about how each step we take God is inviting us or helping us discover who we are, who He is and what we were created to do.

And we’ve talked about our three circles. And we have said that this is really the journey that God is leading us on. With every next step we take, He wants us to receive His grace, experience His presence and release His kingdom. When I know who I am, I’ll know who He is and I’ll know what I’m created to do. When I believe I am fully forgiven, I will never be afraid of God and I will spend my life with courage and boldness. When I believe I’m a beloved son, I will live with my Father and spend my life building His kingdom. But we’ve said the reverse is also true that if I resist His grace, I will avoid His presence and spend my life building my own kingdom. When I don’t know who I am, I don’t know who He is and I don’t know what I am created to do. If I believe I am not forgiven, I will be afraid of God and I will do a bunch of things to pay for my sin and my shame and my guilt. And we’ve said what a lot of us end up doing in religion is we live in circle three and we try to do a bunch of things to earn our way into God’s presence to pay for the brokenness of our past or we do a bunch of stuff in order to become significant, not realizing that in Jesus we already are significant.

We’ve said we become and then we do. We don’t do in order to become. We are drawn by grace, not driven by expectations. This is the life of freedom. This is called the cycle of performance. And that is an exhausting way to live. And you said, “Do you really need to teach that to us again today?” And the answer to that question is yes. Because we want to make sure you live it, you can teach it, you share it and then every weekend people show up and that’s the first time they’ve just heard it. And what did last week, if you were here with us, is we took circle one and we kind of blew it out. We camped out in circle one and we said the beginning of a life of freedom is all about understanding your identity. But we said that God’s grace restores our identity and that you’re not defined by what you do but by what Jesus has done. And that next steps aren’t expectations to fulfill their discoveries to be made.

And this week what we’re supposed to do is blow out circle two and spend our time camped on that. But instead of talking about circle two today, we’re actually going to follow the cloud together and we’re going to talk about the hurricane. Now, if I’m honest with you, I’ve struggled with this decision this week. And I’m not struggled with it because we don’t have compassion for the brokenness and the devastation that’s happening over there. I’ve struggled with it because if I can — can I just be really honest with you today? Because I want to put something on because we’ve been working on Follow the Cloud for like two years. Two years. Two years, we’ve been working and writing that book, we’ve been working on the series, we’ve been building everything into words, [meeting] [0:03:46.3] and the theology and packaging it all together so that we can all move forward and advance since I’ve been praying for so long about this. And I have had so much energy and effort invested into our team has worked so hard for. And so in my mind, this was going to be the perfect, you know, four-week series and we’re going to be able to put it all together and then you’re going to be able to watch it online whenever you forget the circles.

And we’re all going to take a next step together and our church was going to change because it was going to be this perfect, amazing series. And yet, Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart, a man plans his course and the Lord determines his steps. And so we were sitting in our campus pastors’ meeting just like yesterday. And we were talking about this and we all like just said, “Yeah.” that like God is really leaving us to change what we were doing and spend time talking about the hurricane for a few moments because we can’t miss that opportunity. And what I can say to you is just that following the cloud, right? Like that’s how we live our lives and that’s how we lead this Church. And so maybe by me deviating it at a point in time that literally I’ve spend two years of my life building up to will maybe be the best way of illustrating for you what following the cloud actually looks like.

Maybe in that process, you can understand that sometimes when you follow the cloud, it means you have to give up your preferences, your desires, what you’re hoping is going to happen in order to follow God because you believe that wherever He is leading is better than where you have been even though you don’t always understand the steps He is asking you to take. I mean, if you think about Abraham for a second — remember Abraham? And God says to Abraham one day, He says, “Hey, Abraham, I want you to take your one and only son Isaac and I want you to sacrifice him to me.” You want to talk about big next step. And I love what it says, this is Genesis 22, the very next verse. It says, “Early the next morning, Abraham got up and he set out on that next step.” He heard God speak, he knew what God said. So he got up in the morning and he got all of the things ready. He cut all the firewood and he got his flint knife and he got the torch. And he got all of the things that he needed and he packed up Isaac and went on this three-day journey. He heard what God said and so he set out. He had a plan, he had a purpose, he had a mission, he knew what God was asking him to do, and even though it was the hardest step of his life, he was willing to do it.

And so after three days of going up this mountain, he gets to the point and he puts Isaac there. And the bible says he literally takes the knife and he’s ready to plunge right into Isaac. And in that moment, God says, “Abraham, stop.” Now I know that you love me. And how many of you know it’s a really good thing that Abraham was listening to what God was saying instead of just what God had said? Because if we’re honest most of us, “Boom, we’re done.” Why? Because we heard what God had said so we turn off our ears and just go and make that thing happen instead of being in tune with what God is saying. Matthew 4:4 says, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Present tense, God is speaking. We’re not supposed to live on what God said yesterday. We’re supposed to live on what God is saying today. And you say, “Well, why does has He do that? Why would it be like? Why?” Because He wants us to be desperately dependent upon Him and so sometimes if you feel like, man, I heard God speaking, I feel like God’s saying something else. Well, Abraham has a great place to go to find comfort and courage in that. And I would encourage you don’t build your life on what God said. Build your life on what God is saying.

And what He is saying to you now in the moment as He is leading you ahead and so today, I know what God said, and we made a plan and we cut up some wood and we got all our stuff man. But I think God is saying something different today. And so we’re going to go with that. Are you okay with that? So if you got a bible, Luke Chapter 10 real quick. Luke Chapter familiar story, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and here’s what’s interesting; Jesus is having a conversation with someone about what’s really important to the heart of God. And in verse 30, let me just read it to you. It says, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. When he fell into the hands of robbers, they stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him half dead. In other words, he just experienced the greatest storm of his life. A priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So two, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw, him passed by on the other side

But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine and then he put the man on his own donkey took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the inn keeper, “Look after him, he said. And when I’ll return I will reimburse you for the extra expenses you may have occurred.” “Which of these three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell in the hands of the robbers? Jesus asked.” The expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him go and do likewise. Familiar story this guy gets beat out, he gets jumped, he is broken, he is left on the side of the road half dead and literally it’s like a hurricane hit his life is pretty much what happened, I mean it really doesn’t matter sometimes exactly what the circumstances are. Sometimes it’s just what the end result.

You are left half dead on the side of the road with nothing. And while he is lying there, it’s says, a priest comes walking by and when the priest sees him he kind of goes on the other side and skirts around him and you say, why? Well, because this man had places to go and people to see. And this was very inconvenient so I just got to get around him. And then a few minutes later a Levite came by and he saw the man on the side of the road and he kind of, the same thing, skirted around and you say, why, why? Because he had already made plans for that day and he knew exactly what he needed to do and he need to go and make that thing happen. He had been planning for something for two years, so he needed to go around because that wasn’t the day to stop. And then it says a Samaritan came by. And when the Samaritan saw him, he took pity on him. He had compassion and he went out of his way over to the man, stopped his plans and his activities and the people he needed to meet with, inconvenienced himself, got messy in the man’s brokenness, bandaged him, put oil on him, put him on a donkey, took him to the inn, paid for the man’s expenses. And what I think is so significant about that story, you and I read it and we think it’s about a really nice guy.

The truth is the Good Samaritan is a prophetic picture of Jesus. Do you understand that your soul got hit by the worst storm it could ever be hit with and you are left in this world broken and beat up, half dead? And then Jesus came by and He saw you and He had compassion on you and He went out of his way for you and He bound you and He healed you and He carried you and He paid all the expenses you would ever have to pay. Jesus is the Good Samaritan for you and for me. And He tells us, “Now, go and do likewise.” Like when you understand what I have done for you, now, you go and do that for other people. And so if we can just stop for a moment and acknowledge like Houston is our neighbor. And while there’s always this world crisis that happen all over the world that we often feel like we can’t do much about it because it’s pretty far away, Houston is right here. And so we cannot be the ones that walk around and be scared of it, we actually have to go out of our way and get down and get messy and do what God wants us to do.

I mean how are we going to change the world if we won’t just love our neighbor? I mean that’s really a good question to ask, isn’t it? I mean in church, we are awesome. We are going to change the world. But I don’t like my neighbor. You know, that doesn’t work like that. I mean Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “The Holy Spirit will come on you. You will receive power. You will be my witnesses. You’re going to put my love on display in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth.” In other words, you’re going to put my love on display right where you are, and then in your region, and then to the end of the world. Jesus says, “Hey, don’t worry about over there until you take care of it right here.” And right now, we got it right here. Because this is our neighbor and it’s in our backyard and it’s right here spilling over into our world. And so we kind of got to deal with it. And so here’s what I’d like you to do — are you okay with me so far? Here’s what I’d like you to do with me for a moment. I just want you to think some kingdom thoughts for a second before we get away into some other stuff. I just want you to like think kingdom thoughts with me for a second. Okay? So like pull yourself up, take yourself out of some maybe present tense circumstances and just think kingdom thoughts with me.

Like it’s really interesting when crisis and chaos happens, how everyone gets all stirred up. Isn’t it? Like have you ever noticed that? It’s like where was all the compassion and the concern for the brokenness of people’s lives like two weeks ago? Hey, are you with me? You’re like, no, it’s hurting my feelings. Well, it might for a minute but I need you to come with me, okay? Like seriously, like think about this. It’s amazing how all of a sudden, a crisis happens and everyone is all stirred up and everyone cares and everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to be a part of it but two weeks ago, everyone was just kind of doing their own thing. And what we forget is that the hurricane in and of itself is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. Every day, there is a storm beyond that magnitude in the souls and in the lives of the people all around us. And it’s really interesting, if you will talk to anyone who is really on mission with God, what they’ll you is they’ll tell you there is never enough.

There is never enough people. There’s never enough resources. There’s never enough compassion. There is never enough interest. They feel like there’s always having to carry it by their own even Jesus said in Matthew 9. He says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like a sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.” In other words, Jesus looks out on this big crowd and he says, “Look at that. This is like a storm that ripped through their lives.” A storm that’s ripped through their thinking and through their hearts and their emotions and their relationships and the realities of what they do. A storm has come but there are not a lot of people that actually want to go and do something about it. It’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? And yet it’s interesting when something like this happens and it all gets stirred up, everyone, including the world, everyone is like I want to be a part of this. Okay, why? You’re just like — l mean, come on, you got to see it on Facebook, in the news, it’s like everyone wants to be — okay, why is the question though.

Why? Because we were made in the image and likeness of God. Whether you are currently redeemed or not, it doesn’t matter. You are still made in the image and likeness of God. You are created to rule and reign with God. You are created to be commissioned on a commission with God on this earth to bring forth His purposes. You were created to serve and give and love and help. You were created in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and use your rest resources to accomplish God’s purposes in the lives of men.” That’s what you are actually created to do. So in these moments when crisis happens, what happens in the soul of humanity, whether we follow Jesus or don’t, is there is an awakening into our purpose. There is an awakening that happens when we watch that on the news and we see it all happening. There is something that comes alive within us like I need to do something about it. I should step — I got to be a part of it. Why? Because you were made in the image and likeness of God, the greatest leader of all time, who created you to rule and reign with Him. John 3:16, right? For God so loved the world that He gave. We were made in that image. To love and give and serve and die and help other people find life and hope and the goodness of God. So when chaos happens, there is something within us that awakens and we all want to lean in and step into it. Are you with me on that?

But then here is the interesting question that you have to then ask is when that’s all happening, okay, then what becomes the motive of actually getting involved? We get awakened in a sense to our purpose but then you have to ask yourself this question. Like then, what is the motive of actually getting involved? Like is the motive to relieve something in your own conscience or to actually put the love of God on display. Is the motive about me or is the motive about them? I mean just think of the three circles with me for a second like right, this is what we keep talking about that we become and we do. We don’t do and then become. And so every time I do in order to become is actually about me. It’s about relieving my conscience. It’s about contributing to my salvation. It’s about doing something good in the world so I can feel good about myself because that’s the only reality. The kingdom of God goes this way, the kingdom of darkness goes this way, but I’m created to do these things. So I want to do it but when I go in the wrong order, it’s just like absolute chaos. Does that make sense to you?

Like that’s where you have to start asking yourself the questions like what is the difference between social justice and the gospel? Like social justice is trendy but social justice is really designed to just make us feel better about ourselves. Like think about it. Like social justice says do something and then you’re going to feel really good. Like, hey, like give some money to this thing and we’ll send you a sticker you can put on your car and tell you however you could tell everybody how awesome you are. Or buy a pair of shoes and then we’ll give you your own pair of shoes for someone else in the world and then you can have your own pair, right? Or do this thing and then post it on Facebook and everyone will know how good you are. And we don’t laugh because we know it’s true. That’s what social justice does. Social justice is trendy but putting love on display is Christ-like. And the question we have to ask is like what’s our motive? Why are we doing it? Which way are we trying to go? And what I want you to understand is that social justice without the gospel is no justice at all. Doing good for humanity without the fullness of the gospel is not actually justice. And worldly guilt, worldly guilt will never bring kingdom realities but God’s grace always will.

So if I’m worldly guilty and I need to not do something because I will need to feel better about myself and contribute to my salvation, that won’t bring kingdom realities. But God’s grace, when I know who I am, it always will. We are called to show and tell good deeds and good news but we are called to do it this order, in this direction, in this way. Does that make sense to you? I mean think about it like this, the biggest difference between social justice and the gospel is just order. You can just remember this for yourself. It’s just order. Why? Because the human heart was created for all of this. The human heart needs identity, it needs relationship and it needs purpose. The question is how are you going to choose to pursue it? Because every person on this world is pursuing this right now, it’s just which way are you pursuing it because you were created to need it. It’s hard wired within your DNA. It’s hardwired within your soul to be made in the image and likeness of God. You need to know who you are, you need to have a relationship with God and others and you were created for a significant purpose.

So you are pursuing it. The question is just which way are you pursuing it. In fact, Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he prepared in advance for us to do.” I’m sorry I don’t have that verse for you on the slides. But listen to it again. We were created in Christ Jesus. We are god’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he prepared in advance for us to do. Which means we become a new creation in Christ and then we spend our lives doing good or significant things. That’s the gospel. The social justice movement would say this, do good works so that you can become a good person. That’s the difference. And the social justice movement, I realized I’m hitting that hard but just call it religion. Because it’s the same thing. I mean you have to understand, you can’t release the kingdom through the ways of the world. Only sons and daughters have the keys to the kingdom. Jesus didn’t give the keys to the world. The orphans don’t have the keys. The sons and daughters, to all who believed in Him, who all who received him, verse or John 1:12, “He gave the right to become children of God.” And the children of God — I don’t think we actually have that verse. That’s the wrong one but that’s okay, guys.

He gave those, the keys to the children, and now, we’re the ones who get to release the Kingdom, so you have to understand how this order. In fact, that’s why like after Jesus was resurrected and He shows back up to the disciples, He shows up in a room and they’re all afraid. And He says, “Guys, peace be with you. Look at my hands on my side.” He says, “Look, it’s all done. Now, as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” In other words, before Jesus will ever ask you to do anything, He will always show you He’s already done everything. True love — true love, because this is the conversation that starts happening, what’s love and what’s not. True love always leads people to the resurrected Christ.

If I am doing life this way, I can’t lead people to the resurrected Christ. But when I know who I am, I know He is and now I step into my Kingdom purpose, because that’s what I’m creating, what happens, it keeps going this way. And now, I show other people the resurrected Christ and now they get to step into this reality and live in the fullness of the freedom of the Father’s heart. We have to be led by God’s love and not motivated by human need. Are you all with me so far? Does this feel okay? I realized I — that’s what I told you. We just kind of got to go for it today. We have to be led by God’s love, not motivated by human need. Because if you think about Jesus, like Jesus was always led by God’s love, he wasn’t motivated by human need. And here’s what I mean by that. Jesus is the ultimate cloud follower. If we look at the Israelites, actually stunk at it. It just gives us the illustration, they were really bad cloud followers. I hope we were way better than they are.

Jesus was amazing. He says, “I only do what I see the Father do and I only go where I see the Father and I only say what I hear the Father say.” And in other words, “All I do follow the cloud.” So he’s led by the Father’s love, not motivated by human need. Because think about it, if Jesus would have showed up and would have been motivated by human need, he would have been paralyzed. He couldn’t have done any, He couldn’t have gone anywhere because there’s so much need all the time. I mean, John 5, He walks into the pool of Bethesda and He heals one man, and he leaves. And you’re like, “What about all the other people?” I don’t’ know. He was led by God’s love. And because He was led by God’s love and not motivated by human need, catch it, he was always, peaceful, strategic and effective.

It’s actually really interesting. Because it wasn’t just about the cries of humanity, it was about the love of the Father, and he knew the love of the Father would be the best way to actually alleviate the cries of humanity. If He would do it God’s way, He walked into every situation with peace, with strategy and with effectiveness. When chaos happens, do you know what most people do? They just try to do something. Why do they just try to do something? And it’s like that, something. You’re like, “Bro, take a breath.” “We need to do something now.” “Okay, maybe.” Why? Why are we crazy? Because we want to control it. We feel out of control, we’re awakened to our purpose and usually because we haven’t been living in our purpose. We feel like I got to desperately step into it at least to get my toe wet while this moment is here. And so I got to do it now. But here will be the question. I ask you, when chaos happens, when was the last time you just stop and said, “Holy Spirit, what do you want me to do?” There’s nothing wrong with being in the Calvary and chasing in and changing the world. There is something wrong about getting ahead of God when you feel like he’s not doing what you want him to do. And so the question is it doesn’t have to be about the hurricane. Like this is what I’m saying, think about the Kingdom.

This is about any crisis in life. Instead of going, “Holy Spirit, what do you want me to do?” Because, listen, if we’re motivated by human need, our motivation will wear out. But the love of the Father never runs dry. This is why, in a few months, the world will go back to its life but the Kingdom of God will still be strong and moving forward. The world burns out, the Kingdom of God never will. Your flesh will burn out but you can never quench the Holy Spirit within you. And what I think is so cool, and you say, “So should people not do social justice? Should it be bad that celebrities and athletes and all those stuff are doing all these?” No. Listen. Romans 2:4, “God’s kindness leads you to repentance.” God uses the whole thing to use His kindness to bring people to repentance. And the current of grace is so strong in our lives that no matter how much you want to swim upstream, the current of grace is always pushing you backwards and it’s His kindness that leads you repentance.

God used Pharaoh’s wealth to save all of Israel. You say, “Wait, God uses like ungodly man and money of these people in this world?” Yes, He does, right? Remember Joseph, Joseph, the 7-year thing? And the whole Israel, Jacob, all the sons, who is lineage of Jesus, all got saved through Pharaoh’s finances when drought or the — yeah, when the drought hit. Or how about Zacchaeus? God used Zacchaeus’ desire for significance to set Zacchaeus’ heart free. Zacchaeus, the tax collector who ripped everybody off, wanted to become a dude to become, right? As he’s going this way, the current grace was so strong, Zacchaeus couldn’t even hold up to it. It just like pushed them back down and He was like, “Zacchaeus, I’m going to use the very thing you’re improperly using to be the very thing that sets you free. ” That’s what God does because he’s so gracious. I mean, think of Mary and Martha for a second.

Do you remember that story? Jesus goes to their house and he’s teaching, and Mary’s sitting at His feet, she’s just receiving everything Jesus offers. And Martha is in the other room and she’s making this meal. And the more she’s in the room, she’s getting mad because Mary’s not helping her and, you know, they’ve already got the sister tension thing going on. You know, like, “You got my mom’s pearls. I got one of them.” kind of thing, you know, whatever that deal was. And she’s getting frustrated. And so finally, she kicks down the door and she yells at Jesus, “Jesus, tell her to help me. I’m in here doing all the work by myself. And why does she get to sit at your feet.” And Jesus says, “Martha, you’re worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is needed and Mary has chosen what’s better. It’s not going to be taken away her.” And I think it’s a great reminder for us that — what was Martha doing? Martha was making a meal Jesus never ordered. So she’s doing to become, she’s doing this thing. Jesus says, “[indecipherable] [0:26:58.4]. Just sit down Martha. Just sit down.”

But she didn’t. So she got offended and she started to judge. Now, fast forward it John Chapter 12, Jesus is about to die, before the Passover, they had another meal, and you know what it says? Martha was serving, making another meal and Mary was still sitting at His feet. Only this time, because Mary received so much on the last time, she had her perfume [drawer] [0:27:29.5] that was worth a whole year worth of wages and she put it on Jesus’ feet completely change the atmosphere. Because when you become, you’re able to do. But when you do in order to become, it’s exhausting. Listen, this why, right now in social media, and if you’ve been here with us, you know, like I’ll never talk about this stuff. So you should catch this. This is a big deal because I need you to catch the Kingdom — I need you to. I hope you will catch the Kingdom principles within this. All of the conversations and the yelling and the — this person should do this, and why isn’t this church doing that, and why are these people doing this?

Okay, stop. Why do you care what anyone else is doing? If you’re worried about what they’re doing, it means you’re doing to become. And you’re like Martha, you’re offended that you’re making a meal and she’s not. Remember when Jesus in John 21, Peter, it’s after he restores him at the end of their walk. And Jesus tells Peter, “Peter, you’re going to have to go places you don’t want to go and do things you don’t want to do and you’re going to have to basically die in a way you don’t want to die.” And Peter very quickly points over at John and says, “What about him, Lord? Like I won’t be doing all that if he’s not going to do it.” And I love Jesus’ response. He looks right back at him and says, “Peter, what’s that to you? You follow me.” “You following me has got nothing to do with him.” So we don’t need to worry about what everyone else is doing, we just need to do what God’s asking us to do and not going to crazy control, “Holy Spirit, you’re the cloud, lead me forward, what do you want me to do?”

Remember, who you are determines what you do. Just think about this, right? We are now the light of the world. So what do we do? We bring light to the pitch black darkness. We are the salt of the earth. So what do we do? We bring taste to a flavorless world. We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. What do we do? We make wrong things right. We are now set free in Christ, what do we do? We release the captives. We have been blessed. And so what do we do? We become a blessing to the world around us. Luke 17:21, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” That means divine steps release heavenly life. Every time you follow, when God is asking you to move, it’s like a boat cutting through the water. You release the wake that ripples all the way to people on the shore and it will touch people in the spiritual realm that you have no idea it will actually get to in touch. Once God delivers you, you become a deliverer. He answered your prayers, so now, you become the answer to their prayers. Are you with me on that?

But you don’t have to do good things to become a good person. In Jesus, you have already become. Now, we are free and empowered to do. And that quickening you feel in your soul, that quickening you see the world is jumping on right now is an awakening to the purpose that you were created for. It is more than 9 to 5, it’s more than raising your kids, it’s more than just going to school, it’s more than making money, having a car, doing that thing. You are called to rule and reign with God on this earth to bring heavenly realities into earthly situations and beyond commission with Him to see heaven, overtake the brokenness of this place. And it’s got nothing to do with the hurricane. It’s got everything to do with your calling and your destiny and your purpose, but these moments catalyze something within us if we will step into Him and have a framework of how they actually work. And so you say, “Okay, awesome. What does that then mean?” Well here’s what we’re going to do. When you came in, you got one of these cards, and basically, here’s what we’re going to do. We are going to open our Next Step Center, as a long term, distribution relief place. And you say, what’s a Next Step Center? A few months ago, when we started our Louisville campus, we built a Next Step Center.

And the whole point was to create this ministry center, and a city that would serve the needs of people, and what’s just catch this, the goodness of God. The strategy he gave us, was hey, don’t go in with the strategy, build it, then go and start meeting people in the city, listen, learn, and love. Those are the words we had, listen to what’s going on, learn what they need, and then love them where they are. And so we didn’t come in guns blazing, here’s our strategy, Louisville, you’re lucky we’re here, here’s what we got for you. That’s what the church does, instead, we just went in, and we just been doing little projects serving the city, building relationships, watching what’s happening. So because of that, we don’t have like the full thing built out completely, and we will have activities in there all day, we purposely said that we want to let it kind of sit and figure out go, before we invited them to come. And so here, we have this amazing Next Step Center, that’s built and ready, to be a long term relief, distribution center in Dallas. As all of the brokenness and ripple effects come this way, we’re now strategically positioned to be a key player in what God wants to do in the next season, because we listened — because we listened, and because you gave.

[Audience Applause]

And so here’s what we want to do, we want to basically encourage you, on this, you’ll see all the things that — the challenges, we’re connected now with a bunch — our team has been working really hard this week connecting with strategic organizations, in a bunch of different ways, this is what they actually need. And so our encouragement, I’m basically going to challenge every person in this church, every family in the church, to participate in this in some way. Take what’s needed, and take it to the Louisville Next Step Center, and actually go drop it off there. And the reason I want you to do that, is because here’s the reality, it is often easier to write a check, than it is to get your hands dirty in humanity. I don’t want to be priests and levis that take a couple of coins out of our pocket and throw it to the guy on the side of the road, because we got plans. I want us to be the people that go out of our way and get down on our knee, and say, hey, you’re hurting and broken, I was too, and this is what Jesus did for me.

If you’re anything like me, if you have kids, young kids, you’re always looking for ways to connect your kids to servant-hood in this very entitled city that we live in. Take your kids to the store, and maybe you can only afford one pair of socks, taking that — buy one pair of socks, and pray for them, take it to the Next Step Center, put it in the bin, and then pray for the family that God actually wants to give it to. And if you’re sitting here and you say, yeah, but we really want to give financially, too, then that’s fine, you can do that as well, make your giving out to the Next Step Center relief, if you designate it that way, it will all go to that, but basically, this is the initial phase of what they’re saying they’re needing in the midst of the tragedy, the world is going to fall away, we need to press in — remember, the reality is, the concern of man will fade, the compassion of Jesus never will. We get to be people of compassion for a long time, and the reality is, love is not giving what I want, it’s giving what they need. And this is what happens, we do this thing, and we want to control it, well, I have this, and I want to give that, that’s fine. But this is what they’re asking for. So maybe let’s just do what they’re asking for, to serve our way in, to keep building relationships with strategic worldly organizations, so we can help them understand the fullness of the gospel and what God actually offers people with the establishment of his kingdom and their hearts, and in their lives. Are you with me on that?

And so here’s what I want to say, I don’t want to take a whole weekend, and deviate our entire church to do this, and have us give like 9 pairs of socks. So here’s my challenge, go big. Let’s fill up the entire Next Step Center. We’ve got semis figured out, we’ve got all that stuff. All of it is there for you, all you have to do, is connect your heart to the purpose that God has created you for, in Jesus and actually participate. And if you’re already sitting there, saying, ah, can we just drop it off at service next week? No. And that’s very strategic, because I need you — I don’t need you, I don’t know why I say that, but it’s not true, my hope for you, and the truth is, you need to, get your hands dirty in humanity. And here’s the deal, like, be the church, man, that’s what I’m trying to say. This is not the church, you are. The church is the people of God, united by the Spirit of God, under the lordship of Jesus, sent to change the world. That’s us. And here’s the deal, we are not a resort, we are a training center. Some of you are like, I knew, I didn’t like this place. And we’ve been training you for a long time. We’ve been equipping you. We say we’re more, like Home Depot than Burger King, it’s not have it your way, it’s you can do it, we can help. And I genuinely believe that’s true.

And what happens in these crisis moments, here’s what’s happening, can I just tell you this — have you ever met someone that’s had a heart attack or found out they get cancer, and then beat it? They’ll like come back from that, and they have a totally different outlook on life. They’re like, man, I don’t want to do those things I’ve been doing, I want to live. Okay, this is one of those moments, that you get to choose to be a part of the purposes of God, beyond the crisis. You don’t need a crisis to release the love of God, you just need to receive that Jesus has done, and step into the fullness. And oh by the way, every week, there’s people that walk into this building with spiritual storms, raging, in their hearts. So serving the kids’ ministry, I don’t want to do that, serving the next steps and helping people that can’t get up, I don’t want to do that, be a group leader, I don’t want to do that. Okay, here’s my question, what do you want to do to follow Jesus, because we always have a reason why we can’t, why we don’t want to, my question, though, for you is, at some point in time, you have to reconcile this in your own heart. You have to say, if this is really true of me, I can’t stay here, it propels me forward, so I have to get involved. And guess what, love is costly, inconvenient, and selfless. That’s why social justice feels so good, because we just get to do a little bit that doesn’t cost us anything, we get sticker, we post it on Facebook, and it relieves a little bit of guilt. I don’t want you — you don’t need to relive guilt. Jesus released the whole valve. It’s gone.

What you need is a purpose, and you need to live in the fullness of the freedom that God offers you. Genesis 50:20, “Joseph at the end of it all, he says, what you intended for harm, God is going to be used for good, the saving of many lives.” Listen to this, the saving of many lives, not only is God going to use this to save them, He’s going to use this to save a bunch of you. You say, what does that mean? Biblical salvation means to save, to heal, or to make whole. This is an invitation, and a moment in time, for your heart to become whole, to live in the fullness of what the gospel actually is, and live a life of purpose, as you take a small step, to do something small. Everyone in this church — a church our size with the resources we have, we should be able to blow this thing out of the water, and make a significant impact in the Kingdom of God, and for the compassion, that the people around us and in the cities, on the outskirts, that they need — that’s what God is offering you, that’s what he’s inviting us to. And so I say, let’s do it.

So close your eyes quick. Here’s my question for you. Close your eyes for a second. Can you just take a second, can you just give God, thanks, for His goodness in your life. How about just — let’s not take for granted, the goodness of God, God, thank you for my family, and my finances, and my house, and my car, and my phone, and my food, and my life, and this church, the gospel, Jesus, freedom. Thank you , God. Okay. Second question I want to ask you is, what do you feel like the Holy Spirit is inviting you to do? Maybe he’s going to give you a number in your head to say, hey, we could stretch and we could spend this and go and buy these things for people. Maybe for some of you, you’ve never done anything like this before, and this is that first little baby step. Listen, there’s no reason to be afraid to go buy something for someone that’s hurting, because the love of Jesus is flowing through you, and take it to a place, and drop it off. And then I want you to maybe, just in your own way to say, God, if you wanted to, say, God, help me live a life of purpose, from who I am, not an order to become someone else.

Jesus, I pray that you would take the truth and the depth of the gospel and you would drive it so deep into our hearts, that you’d awaken us to the grace of God, the presence of God, and the purposes of God, that you have called us for. Help us to think differently about this life, about this world, about who you are, about who we are, and about what we were created to do. We love you, Jesus. May your compassion flow through our eyes, our hands, our feet, our finances, our time, our treasures, our talents, and may we put the love of God on display in such a way, that the world, in a moment of brokenness, sees the goodness of our God. May your kindness lead many to repentance, as we partner with you. In your Name, we pray. Amen.

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