It’s Time To Celebrate

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In this message, we learn that a life with Jesus is a life full of celebration.

Okay, that was incredible. Our students had an amazing week at Camp, close to 700 students, 100-some leader volunteers that went with them and they had an amazing time encountering the presence of God, worshiping, growing, having a great time and if you’re an adult you know you with you were there.

I mean, come on, that looks like a whole lot of fun, I got to go and hang out with them for a week and it was amazing just to watch their passion and their excitement and their love for Jesus. And I want to tell you, Church, the future is bright because this generation loves Jesus.

It’s amazing, and what I want to celebrate you is I’m so grateful that you’re a church that’s willing to give up your preferences in order to reach this generation. But you realize it’s not about you and what you want that you’re willing to give some of those things up and say, “What do you we need to do to reach them?” Because they are the future and we want them to go further and farther and deeper into the Kingdom of God than we ever have and we’re a church that does that and I’m proud of you for it.” And I really believe that when students are passionate about Jesus the whole earth shakes, our students are shaking the earth. They’re literally shaking the world.

So the future is bright, super excited about what’s going on with that. I hope you and your family have been refreshed this summer. Thank you for letting Colleen and I and the kids take some time to be refreshed ourselves, we had a great break just kind of really doing nothing and just enjoying each other and taking a break and it’s really good for my whole family when I am not preaching messages, I just want to tell you that. It’s just a good break to not have a sermon in my brain, to be fully present with my kids and my wife and the reality is is at the end of the day the greatest gift that you give to other people in your life is the healthiest version of yourself. Which means the greatest gift I can give you is the healthiest version of myself.

So thank you for believing that we want to do this a long time together and letting us have some space to just get refreshed and get recharged and be excited about what God is doing and over these last two weeks I always end my break by really seeking God and just asking him what’s next and what he has in store for us and I can’t wait for the things that are coming that I can’t wait to share with you in the next couple weeks. The fall is going to be amazing, God has some incredible things in store for us and, uh, I think our guys did an amazing job over the past month just bringing the word of God and teaching (applause) with passion and life and I love the team that we’re building, that we believe we’re better together. That when everybody does their part we get to fully advanced the Kingdom of God. We need you to do your part and we need the person sitting next to you to do their part. We all need to do our part and we’re better together.

So, I’m excited to be back, thanks for the break. Are you ready to start a new series?

Okay, we’re going to start a new series today called, “It’s a Party”, okay? It’s a party, who are you inviting? And for the next few weeks what I want to talk about is having the spirit of invitation. An invitational spirit. As the followers of Jesus we should be the most invitational people on the face of the earth. We should constantly be inviting people to church, to our serving teams, our small groups, our home, our lives. I mean, it’s the same Holy Spirit that’s drawing people to Jesus, it’s the same Holy Spirit that lives in us that’s using us as a living invitation to help people here and experience Jesus.

In fact, if you look at the very calling of our lives we’re called to be witnesses, to tell people what we have seen and heard in Jesus. We’re ambassadors, the Bible says, to represent him on this earth, or represent him to the world around us, we’re a light on a hill, a city that cannot be hidden. We shine a light in the direction of Jesus so people in darkness can see him. That’s part of the calling of our lives and I really believe that if you’re a part of Valley Creek Church you want to see people be saved.

Man, I really believe that, if you sit here week in, week out with us and you’re on this journey I believe you want to see people be saved. That you understand the reality of Heaven and hell, that you want to live out your purpose on this earth and partner with God and yet, if we’re honest, somewhere along the way we drift. We kind of lose sight of the goodness of God and we get overwhelmed. We become stressed, afraid, anxious, worried. We become busy, our lives get full and we become consumed with ourselves and mission drifts somewhere to the background. And we lose our passion for God and we forget what it was like when we first got saved and we forget how great the Kingdom really is. And the reason that matters is because you will only ever invite people to things you yourself are enjoying. So if you’re not enjoying the Kingdom of God you will never invite anybody into it. But the truth is there is a lot to be excited about and there is a lot to invite people to.

So, if you got a Bible, John 2 and Luke 15. John 2 and Luke 15, as you’re turning there let me set it up for you. This is the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. He hasn’t done any miracles up to this point, which means he hasn’t revealed his glory to the world around him. He’s just Jesus the man at this point. Nobody understands who he is and what he has come to do.

And so pick it up with me, John, Chapter 2, Verse 1: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone Jesus’s mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing. Each holding from 20 to 30 gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.

He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink. But you have saved the best ‘til now.” This, the first of his miraculous signs Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee he thus revealed his glory and his disciples put their faith in him.

Okay, this is the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, this is the first miracle he ever does in the Bible and he’s at a party and they run out of wine, which you and I would think, really it’s not really that big of a deal, it’s just kind of a little detail. But what it shows you is that God is even concerned with the littlest details of your life. That he’s in tune with the small things. And I think this is probably the most interesting miracle of all the miracles that Jesus does, he does miracles all throughout the Gospels but this is the most interesting one because when you think about it nothing urgent is happening at this point. Like, nobody has leprosy, nobody is sick, nobody’s dying, nobody needs to be raised from the dead, nobody has a demon that needs to be cast out or blind eyes opened or deaf ears loose. It’s really not an urgent miracle, they’ve just run out of wine at this party and yet, for some reason, Jesus steps forward and chooses to do this as his first miracle. Why?

Why does he turn water into wine? I believe it was for no other reason than so the party could go on. Think about it, why else would he have done it? Y’all with me?

So the party could go on. And what Jesus does is he chooses to reveal himself by extending a party; and how you reveal yourself and do your first miracle, it says a whole lot about you. In fact, I love what the master of the banquet does, he comes to him and he says, “Hey” he says, “Everybody usually does the good wine first and then saves the cheap stuff ‘til later.” he said. “But not you,” he says, “With you, you have saved the best ‘til last.” And that’s a prophetic picture of Jesus, with Jesus the best is always yet to come.

I have no idea what’s going on in your life today but I want to tell you this, whether you’re hopeless or in a good place, the best is yet to come. With Jesus your best days are ahead of you. The best days of your marriage? They’re ahead of you. The best days of your ministry? They’re ahead of you. The best days of your walk with God are ahead of you. The best is yet to come. Your glory years are not behind you playing football and being a cheerleader. Your glory days are in the future with Jesus. The best is yet to come with Him, your best days are ahead of you.

I mean, think about it, the Old Covenant was good, the New Covenant is great. The law was good but grace with Jesus is great. The best days are ahead of you. And it’s an incredibly symbolic miracle that Jesus does here. He tells them to take six stone water jars, the kind the Jews used for ceremonial washing and you have to understand the significance of these stone jars. What they would do is they’d have these pots full of water and before they would go into a house or eat they would have to wash themselves. Because they never knew really where they stood with God.

They may have bumped into somebody on the road who has had sin in their life and that would make them unclean so they would have to wash to make sure that was off of them. Or maybe there was some kind of unconfessed sin, they didn’t even realize was in their life and they would have to wash to take care of that. Or maybe there was just some level of brokenness, something they weren’t even in tune of, but they would have to wash themselves because they were constantly worried about their standing with God, they never [inaudible 00:09:02], they’re always washing. And so when Jesus says take those religious jars, fills them up and He turns water into wine in them, what Jesus is saying is the days of religion are over.

No more washing, wondering or worrying. No more washing because he says I will wash you once and for all and you will forever be clean. No more wondering where you stand with God, you can now have a bold assurance of your salvation and boldly approach the throne of grace and no more worrying about where your provision will come from and who will take care of you. He says His perfect love will cast out your fear and he will provide all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. What Jesus is saying is religion is over and it’s time to celebrate, I have come to give you abundant life to make all things new. And so when Jesus does his first miracle what he’s declaring is he’s saying “The Kingdom of God is a party.”

That’s what’s happening. He’s saying the Kingdom of God is a party. He says it’s time to celebrate and have abundance and joy. When Jesus showed up he brought Heaven to earth, the rule and reign of God and he didn’t come to bring religion he came to bring a party. The Kingdom of God is a party. And I realize about half of you don’t believe me right now but … (laughter) By the end you will. I mean, just think about this for a second. Jesus just puts a punctuation mark on what we already can see in the Bible. The Kingdom of God is a party. Think about it, when God creates creation, seventh day of creation it says, “God rested and he saw that everything was very good.” What did God do? He stopped and he had a party. With all of Heaven, they just celebrated. The very beginning of creation, God says, “My Kingdom is one of celebration because things with me are very good.”

Or how about the Israelites? God tells the Israelites that multiple times a year he wants them to have festivals and feasts. He says, “I want you to stop everything, stop work, stop school, stop taking care of your yard.” That’s a good day (laughter). “And I want you to gather and I want you to have sacrifices and singing and dancing and worship and music. I want you to celebrate me and remind yourself who you are and who I am in this Kingdom you live in with me as your God. Have a party.” It’s his idea. Or how about David when David when David brings the arc of the covenant, presence of God into the city of Jerusalem and it says, “David, danced before the Lord with all his might.” In other words in Greek that means David boogied. (Laughter)

He boogied, why? Because Psalm 16:11 says, “In your presence is fullness of joy.” When we’re around him it’s fullness of joy, in his presence it is a party. Or how about the angels? You know what the Bible says about the angels? That all of Heaven all of the angels rejoice, they have a party when one person meets Jesus. That means every time we’re gathered together in a room like this and people are getting saved, they’re meeting Jesus, which is every service, every weekend, the angels are celebrating Heaven’s party. They’re rejoicing.

Or how about Luke 2:10? The angels say, “I bring you good news of great joy.” Apparently there’s news and good news and joy and great joy. And they say, “I bring you good news of great joy.” It’s a party because the king of kings and the lord of lords has just showed up and you’re alive. (Applause) I mean, think about it (chuckles) what’s not to celebrate? You’re a new creation, you’ve been redeemed, forgiven, accepted, wanted, loved. As far as the east is from the west, so far as you’re removed your transgressions from you. He will never leave you nor forsake you, he’s poured out his love into your heart through the Holy Spirit. He is good, his love endures forever and he has defeated, sin, death and the grave. I mean, listen to me, if you’re in Jesus, you were dead, you now are alive. I’m just telling you, you bring me back from the dead, we’re going to party (laughter). For a long time. It’s a party.

I mean, read the Gospels, everywhere Jesus went he brought a party. Just, just read it once with that perspective. Everywhere he went he brought a party. Think about the story of the woman who loses her son, she’s a widow, only son, he’s dead, they’re having a funeral service walking through town and Jesus shows up he’s like, “Hey, everybody, why you so sad?” Obvious, Jesus. He says, “Oh, no problem.” Walks over, raises the boy from the dead and turns a funeral service into a party, right there on the side of the road. Or how about the blind man sitting on the side of the road, he has no vision. Not only does he have no vision with his eyes, he has no vision with his heart and Jesus walks up to the man and heals him, opens his eyes for the first time and it says, “A party breaks out worshiping and praising and celebrating God.” Right there on the side of the road.
Or how about the paralytic who gets lowered through the roof while Jesus is teaching at a house. He says, “Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven. Now pick up your mat and walk.” And it says a party breaks out into the entire neighborhood, everybody starts worshiping and praising God. Everywhere Jesus went he brought a party ‘cause the Kingdom of God is a party. In fact, maybe my favorite example of the whole thing is in Luke 10, the disciples go, Jesus sends them out to take a next step and as they take their next step and come back you know Jesus is going to celebrate them for taking the next step, that’s from Jesus, not from us. And they come back and they say, “Jesus, even the demons submitted to us in your name.” and in Luke 10:21 it says, “Jesus, full of joy in the Holy Spirit.” The words full of joy in the original language, literally referenced to leaping, shouting and dancing. I’m just telling you, Jesus didn’t do this (laughter). That’s about as good as I can dance, that’s all you’re going to get (laughter).

But that’s not what Jesus did. Leaping, shouting, and dancing and for us it’s such a hard mindset ‘cause I think a lot of us think, we think Jesus does this. You only cast out demons, why don’t you raise someone from the dead? That’s what I want to know. No! Come on, he brought a party. Which means when he steps into your life he brings a party into your world. So are you enjoying the party that he’s throwing? That’s the question I want to ask you? Are you enjoying the party that he’s throwing for you? See, for some reason in the Church, the Church at large, we just have such a backwards understanding of this. We have this somber view of God, this, like, “woe is me” heavy oppression kind of thing, like, “Shh, shh, shh, this is church.” (Laughter) Why you smiling? We’re Christians, we don’t smile! We frown, we’re still looking grumpy. Why’s your hand in the air? Do you have a question? You, you have two questions? Put your hands down, I’ll answer your questions. Right?

Why you so happy? Don’t you know it was your sin that put Him on the cross? There’s nothing to be happy about. Okay, where does that come from? That comes from somewhere inside of us that we genuine believe that that somehow pleases God. Somewhere inside of us we believe that is a version of holiness we are trying to obtain for ourselves. And while there is absolutely a time for somber reflection, don’t you think God is more honored when we talk about how victorious we are in Jesus instead of how defeated we are in ourselves? (Applause). Don’t you think that it pleases God more when we celebrate what He did instead of being consumed with what we didn’t? Don’t you think God is more honored when we choose, by faith, to believe we’re beloved sons and daughters instead of constantly referring to ourselves as sinners, as followers of Jesus. Don’t you think God is more honored when we choose to align ourselves with what He has said, regardless of how we feel. I mean, think about it like this, it takes more faith to have joy than it does to be grumpy. Think about that. It takes more faith to have joy than it does to be grumpy. It takes more faith to believe it is finished than to say I’m still working on it.

It takes no faith to have a woe is me mentality. That’s easy, right? Just like, look at yourself, like, “Woe is me, I, I’m broken.” Yeah, I know, that takes no faith, that’s called just look with your eyes and Hebrews 11:6 says without faith it’s impossible to please God. So if it takes no faith to be “woe is me” and without faith it’s impossible to please God then God is not pleased by “woe is me” theology. He’s not pleased by us tearing ourselves down. That is not a version of holiness, it takes no faith to be self-demeaning. It does take faith to have joy in a broken world. It does take faith to believe you’re righteous, even though you’re making mistakes and tripping and falling.

It does take faith to believe He is who He says He is and He has done what he says He has done in the midst of how we feel in the world around us. That’s what takes faith and that’s what pleases God. I mean, listen to me, it honors God to enjoy the party that it cost him everything to throw. (Applause) It dishonors God to reject the party that cost Him everything to throw. That’s why Jesus’s main message was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Repent, change your mind, change your mind, not woe is me. Change your mind, have a different perspective. The Kingdom’s here, the goodness of God has showed up so believe it, receive it and enjoy it. No more washing, no more wondering, no more worrying, receive Him.

See, so many of us were good with joy as a theology, we got to become good with joy as an experience. Grumpy church people are good with joy as a theology, it’s no one in this room, I know (laughter), but … Hey, if you’re laughing you can self-identify yourself, man, I ain’t identifying you. Listen, grumpy church people are good with joy as a theology, it’s in the Bible it must be true. Yep joy is the world we’re supposed to live in but you look at their life, we got to become with good as joy as … We got to become good with joy as an experience. Theology is never meant to make you more intellectual, make you smarter, more Biblically literate, theology is meant to lead you into an experience. So, when you believe that Jesus has released joy into our life, that’s meant to lead us to actually experience what that looks like. So the question is, is are you enjoying the party that He’s throwing?

And some of you got to be thinking, “What on earth does this have to do with the spirit of invitation?” Hey, everything because you only invite people to things you yourself are enjoying. Like, I don’t know about you, I don’t invite people to miserable things (laughter), do you? If you do, I don’t want to be your friend (laughter). Like, I have never invited anybody to the DMV (laughter), not one time. “Hey, man, you want to come hang out with me?” “Yeah, what’re we going to do?” “We’re going to stand in line for hours.” I’ve never invited anybody to jury duty, have you done that? “Want to come hang out with me?” “Yeah, what’s it going to be?” “We’re going to sit in a room all day long, have no idea if our number’s going to get called and at the end of the day they’re probably going to tell us ‘We didn’t get to you, come back tomorrow’. You want to go?” “No.” (Laughter)
I’ve never invited anybody to do dishes with me, unless it’s my kids and I invite them to do it for me so I don’t have to do it (laughter). We invite people to things we’re excited about, ball games and weddings and feasts and celebrations and gatherings, all this kind of stuff. You only invite people to things you yourself are excited about. So if you’re not excited about the Kingdom of God and you don’t believe it’s a party you’ll never invite anybody into it. In fact, we can talk about mission all day long but mission is nullified when we don’t enjoy the very party we are called to invite people to. Because we’re not going to invite people to things we’re not excited about. You can tell how excited you are about God’s Kingdom right now by how passionate you are in inviting other people into it. ‘Cause it’s easy to invite people to things we’re excited about and if we’re not excited about it, you don’t ever think about inviting somebody to the DMV because you’re just not excited about it.

On our, uh, on our break, um, I have no idea where this came from but for some reason my kids, six and eight, they’re really interested in old coins right now. I think it’s the history, maybe that they’re excited about, and so Indian head pennies and buffalo nickels. If you can find a dime from, like, 1910 my kids think you walked on the moon. They’re, like, so into it and so excited, I don’t know where it came from and so, uh, there was a coin show in town, never been to a coin show in my life, my kids were so excited about it. Man, they talked about it for what felt like three months, it was probably just three days, but, man, they just wouldn’t stop talking about this coin show. And so we said, “Okay, we’ll take you to the coin show.”

And so me and Colleen get the kids, we’ve never been, we have no idea what to expect, we get to this little convention center kind of place and we walk in and everybody in the whole place’s eyes, whoop, they lock on us the moment we walk in and I kid you not, Colleen and I were the youngest people in the room by 40 years. (Laughter) And everybody’s looking at us and they were grumpy. They were grumpy, I mean, they were grumpy old people, let me just say it like that (laughter). And it smelled like moth balls and musty (laughter).

Now remember, old is a posture of your heart, it’s not the condition of your age but these were some grumpy old people. And we walk in and my kids, you would’ve literally thought this was the greatest party they’ve ever been to. They run to the first table, I mean run and I’m, like, trying to catch them ‘cause I know these grumpy people don’t want them touching their coins. And my kids are picking up, “Dad, look at this, it’s an 1898 Indian head penny! Oh my goodness! Dad look! It’s a buffalo nickel from 1917, minted in Denver. Denver, Dad! A Denver minted 1917 … “I mean, my kids are going crazy and I’m, like, “Aw, I don’t even know what to do.” I’m trying to pull them back and finally I’m just like, “Forget it.”

And I watched as this thing started happening, every table they went to, every person that was grumpy all of a sudden cheered up with life and was so engaged with my kids, started giving them free coins and free stuff and talking … Following my kids around because my kids brought a party that changed the entire atmosphere of that convention center.

Really, changed the whole thing. (Applause) And we left and I thought about that and I thought, “That is a picture of the Kingdom of God.” We are the children of God in a grumpy world. And there’s something about old grumpy people that are drawn to life-giving joyful children. Again, old is a position of the heart. I know 85-year-old people that are more joyful and childlike than 15 year old kids. It’s a posture of the heart. And we’re children of God in this grumpy world and we’re called to walk through it with joy and bring the party of the Kingdom of God everywhere we go because everybody wants to be invited to a party. Everybody. Greatest invitational thing you can do for the Kingdom of God is just live a life of joy. Live your life in the superior reality of the Kingdom ‘cause everybody wants to be invited to a party. In fact, the question you have to ask yourself is this, does your life look like a party other people would want to be a part of? It’s a hard question, even harder question is do you want to go to your own party?

Right? And when you walk into the grocery store, you go to work, you show up at school, do you show up with joy? Do you bring the party of the Kingdom? I mean, you know why everybody’s so excited about Hub Camp? If you saw it on social media and Twitter that’s all everybody’s talked to me about for the last two weeks is everything that’s been [inaudible 00:24:52] because it’s been a picture of the Kingdom of God embodied. A party, worship, celebration, joy, relationships, laughter, life. The very things that Jesus came to bring and we want that, we’re drawn to it.

When I was at camp I was walking with these two kids in front of me, I don’t even know who they are, never met them before and the one kid was complaining about something and the other kid just looked at him, he goes, “Come on, man.” He goes, “This is Hub Camp, will you just focus on Jesus and enjoy it?” I was like, “That’s good.” (Laughter) Come on, man, it’s the Kingdom of God, focus on Jesus and enjoy it. Are you enjoying the party that he’s throwing for you? Now, flip with me to Luke 15 real quick, you still with me? Are you believing me about a different perspective of the Kingdom? Sort of (laughter). Okay, this one’s going to help. Luke 15 … Somebody from the last service came up to me and they’re like, “Man, why’s that so hard to believe?” and I said, “Here’s why it’s so hard to believe. Because we’ve been conditioned otherwise.” For those of you that grew up in Church, you’ve been in church for years, you’ve been conditioned that it honors God to demean yourself. To live with the “woe is me”, somber reality. This should be a picture of the Kingdom of God and you will not find the Kingdom of God full of demeaning grumpiness, you’ll find it full of joy.

Luke 15, you know the story, we’ve talked about it a lot over the last couple of years, prodigal father and the two sons. Older boy, younger boy, younger son comes and asks for his inheritance, his father gives it to him, he takes it, he blows it, prostitutes, wild living, pig pen, destroys his life. He’s broken, comes back, father redeems him, reconciles him, brings him back into the Kingdom and throws a party. Huge party is happening. So pick it up with me in Verse 25: Meanwhile, while this party is going on the older son was in the field. When he came near the house he heard music and dancing. Okay, pause. This is a picture of the Kingdom of God that means that this is the sound of Heaven. The sound that reverberates out of Heaven is the sound of celebration. It’s the sound of music and dancing. That’s what’s coming forth from God’s throne room in Heaven to this earth. The question is, what is the sound that is reverberating from your life? Because as people of the Kingdom the sound out of our lives should be reflective of the sound of Heaven itself.

So it says he hears the music and dancing so he called one of the servants and asked him what’s going on? “You’re brother has come.” he replied. “And your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.” So right there it’s the father’s idea to throw the party, God the Father wanted a party so he threw it. The older brother became angry and refused to go in so his father went out and pleaded with him but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours … “So offended can’t even call him his brother. “Who has squandered your property with prostitutes, come home you kill the fattened calf ram. “My son” the father said, “You are always with me and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because of this brother of yours was dead and alive again. He was lost, he is now found.”

So picture this, father throws this huge party, picture the Kingdom of God, party, music, dancing, celebration, joy, abundance, a feast. And the older brother hears about it and he comes and the moment he hears it he sits down and he pouts. And the father knows that the older brother isn’t coming in so he goes out to him and he says, “My son, why aren’t you coming in to party with us?” and the boy sits there and he goes into his little speech about why he can’t have any joy in his life. Why he can’t enjoy the party. Like, “I’ve slaved away for you and I’ve done all the right things and I’ve always obeyed and you never even gave me this young goat and everybody else does this and you know my marriage stinks and you know my kids are struggling and you know we didn’t get that job and you know I’m hurting here and you know we need provision there and you know, these are all the reasons why I can’t have joy and enjoy the party.” It’s really easy to have a list of reasons why you can’t have joy in your life. But I love the father’s response, he says, “My son, I am always with you and everything I have is yours.” In other words, all you need for joy is me and what I’ve already given you.

And I think when we read this story, if we’re honest, a lot of Christians are like this older brother. We’re saved, we believe in Jesus, we’re making it to Heaven but we’re not enjoying the party until we get there. We sit outside and we pout because we’re overwhelmed, stressed, angry, afraid, broken, sick, we got something going on in our lives and so, because we’re outside pouting we’ll never invite anybody into the Kingdom because we ourselves aren’t even enjoying it. It’s amazing how easy it is to lose sight of his joy in the midst of your circumstances. To let the circumstantial reality of your life have more authority than his eternal victory. And so like this boy we become enslaved to a job, a circumstance, a situation or religion and we spend our lives washing, wondering and worrying trying to do all these things, obtain holiness so that someday we can be okay with God when Jesus says, “All that’s done.” And like this boy, let’s be honest, when we don’t have joy and someone else does, we get offended. It’s always easier to be offended at someone who has the joy you want than it is to just acknowledge that there’s no fruit of the spirit in your own life.

It’s easier to be offended at someone in this place that’s singing and dancing and shouting and full of life and hope in Jesus than it is to just acknowledge there’s brokenness in your own heart that needs to be addressed. And you say, “Well, yeah, you don’t know my life, man. Like, there’s no way I can have joy or party. You don’t know the sickness I have, you don’t know the provision I need, you don’t know the breakthrough that I need in my life.” I know, I don’t know all that stuff and you say, “Well, how can I enjoy … ?” Here’s how, by believing that your promise comes at the party.

Think about this, my little girl turned six last week and the way we do it in our house, this is kind of Colleen’s family tradition that carried over to us is, we’ll wrap up all your presents, like two weeks in advance of your party and they sit on a table for two weeks. (Laughter) You can call that cruel, we call that fun (laughter). And so for two weeks all [inaudible 00:31:32] presents, they’re all wrapped up and they’re sitting on the table in the dining room and any time you would walk by the dining room if she would be there she’d be like, “Oh, Dad, Daddy come here.” And I’d say, “What?” She be, “You see all these presents, Daddy?” I’d say, “Yes?” “They’re all mine.” (Laughter) “Every one of them, they’re mine I just can’t have them yet. But they’re mine, Daddy, and I’m going to get them at the … “ Party. They were all hers, she just hadn’t received them yet. Can I tell you that every promise in the Bible is yours you just haven’t received them all yet.

Every promise is a present that’s wrapped up for you and it’s sitting there, it is yours, you just haven’t received it yet, it comes at the party. You need healing in your life? That healing is a promise that belongs to you, you’re getting it at the party. You need breakthrough in your life? That breakthrough is a promise that belongs to you, you just haven’t received it yet. It’s coming at the party. You need provision? Provision is a promise that’s for you, you just have not received that present yet but it’s coming at the party. And so there’s something about having faith and I don’t understand it all, I just understand this, that when we have faith to step into the Kingdom of God and say, “You say it’s a party and so I’m going to come and experience this joy you offer.” It’s that faith that sets in motion the father’s hand to pick up the presents, the promises that belongs to us and they get released into our lives because we had the father to come to the party. Does that make sense to you?

Your faith releases his promises in your life but they come at the party by faith embracing the Kingdom. I mean, Psalm 23, 5 and 6 says you prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Know what that means? Prepare a table for me, God is preparing a table full of presents, promises, that belongs to you in the presence of your enemies and he is going to make Satan watch you and him party and you receive all of the promises and the presents that belong to you. That’s what he’s saying.

And what I think is so cool about this story is the father. He goes out to the boy, meets him where he’s at, invites him in, draws him by grace but then goes back to the party. He lets it be the boy’s choice whether or not he’s going to come in. he doesn’t demand him to come in, it’s his choice. And that’s what he does for us. He comes to you, meets you where you’re at, invites you in, draws you by grace and then he goes back to the party. He says, “I want you to come.” And that’s what we’re called to do to the world around us, meet them where they’re at, invite them in, draw them by grace but then we go back and we enjoy the party.

You see, I’ve been really convicted by Luke 15 this week in my own life and here’s what I’ve realized. I think sometimes unintentionally in our gatherings sometimes I’ve tried to drive you by expectations instead of draw you by grace to come to the party and so I want to apologize to you and ask for your forgiveness for that because it’s ineffective leadership and it’s never going to move us from sitting outside to coming inside. Sometimes on days I’m here and I’m like, “Man, I know how good the party is and I know what God wants for you and I know what he wants for us and I want to see you come in and celebrate, worship with a passion and abandonment. Engage in the message, have faith for each other, receive the prayer and the miracles that God wants to do in your life, to engage and live this place like it’s the Kingdom of Heaven but sometimes unintentionally I’ve tried to drive you with an expectation instead of just drawing you by grace. I mean, I love that the father doesn’t go out to the boy and say to the boy, like, “Hey, do you know how much this party is costing me right now? You’re coming inside.” (Laughter)

Since we’re all growing in Jesus together can I be honest with you? Some weekends that’s how I can feel. Say, “Do you know what it costs to put all this on together? Not money, time and effort and sacrifice and preparation and prayer and volunteers and all … Come to the party please. I love that the father doesn’t pick him up and throw him over his shoulder and just say, “You’re coming in whether you like it or not.” He just goes back in and it’s the boy’s choice. But I love what he says, he says, “We have to celebrate because what was dead is alive, what was lost is now found.” And so it’s just this reality that we are going to celebrate and live in the joy of the Kingdom of God but it’s okay if you’re not ready to come. It’s okay if you’re not ready to come inside and enjoy, you can sit here. We want to draw you by grace instead of drive you by expectations ‘cause I promise you it’s much better inside at the feast than it is outside in the field. In fact, if you think about it, is the Kingdom of God, it’s the people of the Kingdom, every time we’re together it should be a reflection of the Kingdom, in everything.

You have two or three people in your Godly relationships, a small group, children’s ministry, Hub, our worship services, serving team, small groups in homes, whatever it is. When the people of God gather together it should always be a reflection of the Kingdom ‘cause we’re people of the Kingdom. So our time together should always look like righteousness, peace and joy. Faith, hope and love. Celebration, abundance and joy.
The party of the Kingdom, okay?

In fact, it’s like my hope for our city is that, I don’t care if our city every talks about our buildings, ever talks about ministries we do. Here’s what my hope, I hope our city says every time, every time I see those Valley Creek people or I’m around them or I engage with them or I drive by their place, it’s like they’re always having a party. Those people are so full of life, they celebrate and they have joy and they have hope of which I have none. I want what they have, I want to go to the party that they’re throwing. The greatest thing you and I can do is just enjoy the party of the Kingdom of God, that’s what draws the world. And you say, “Yeah, but, dude, my life, I’m telling you, I don’t feel like [inaudible 00:37:47]”

Okay, this is for you then, Psalm 5112, even David had to pray it, Restore to me the joy of your salvation. It means that sometimes just stop and say, “God, my marriage is a mess, my kids are falling apart, we have not money, we’re in debt up to our eyeballs, there’s sickness in our life, there’s brokenness here. Okay, God, I choose to put all that aside, restore to me the joy of your salvation.” The very foundational thing, the only thing that matters that I was dead, I’m now alive, that I was lost, I am now found. May I have joy in that reality and come to that party?

Or you pray Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again, I say rejoice. Listen, you want joy in your life? Choose to rejoice. You say, “Well, isn’t that fake if I don’t feel like it?” No, that’s called faith, it’s called choosing to believe what he says more than how you feel. Start rejoicing over what he has done and who he is, you’ll find joy in your life. Or one more, just to show you that the word party’s in the Bible for those of you that are stressed about it (laughs). Psalm 40, 7 and 8, “So I answered ‘I’m coming.’ I read in your letter what you wrote about me and I’m coming to the party you are throwing for me.” Are you coming? Are you coming? Because listen to me, Luke 15 ends with a world of tension, we never know if the boy comes in and it’s intentional. ‘Cause it’s not a story about a boy, it’s a story about you and me. Will we come to the party? No more washing, no more wondering, no more worrying. He is always with you and everything he has is yours. The Kingdom of God is a party and the spirit of invitation starts by just enjoying the party we’re called to invite other people to. Okay?

So close your eyes to me and let me just ask you, what does God want to say to you today in this place? What does the Holy Spirit want to whisper in your heart or speak to you? Here would be my sense for a lot of us, it’s just Jesus’s message, repent, not woe is me, not tear yourself down, repent. Change your mind, the Kingdom of God is here and it doesn’t look like this religious oppression that maybe you’ve believed or been conditioned to, it looks like righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It’s a party because we were dead and we now are alive. We were lost, we are now found. And my sense is that some of you are here and you’ve never come to the party and so today’s your day, today’s your day to just acknowledge, “Jesus, I am lost and I am dead and I want you to find me and bring me to life.” And if you will simply cry out to him, say, “Jesus, I receive who you are and what you did for me. I believe that you died and rose again for me to release a party into my life. That you’ve taken all of my sin and given me all of your righteousness and I choose to walk with you, Jesus, in a superior reality. You came to bring joy and peace and life and I receive it in Jesus’s name. No more washing, no more wondering if God’s mad at me, and no more worrying about this life.” All things are fulfilled and completed in Jesus and I believe it.

And then, maybe, for some of the rest of us, maybe you just need to say, “Lord, restore to me the joy of salvation. Release in my that excitement and that life that only comes from you.” Maybe let go of your circumstances and situations, even just for a moment and look to Jesus and what he has done. Joy comes from Him and His presence and the party He’s throwing that you are invited to. Will you come in?

So, Lord Jesus we celebrate what you did and the Kingdom of God. We celebrate that you came so that the party could go on in Jesus’s name. We celebrate that the best days are ahead of us, that with you the best is yet to come. Lord I prophetically even believe that over people in this room today. Some of you just needed to hear the best days of your marriage are coming, the best days of your kids are coming, the best days of your ministry, it’s coming. The best days of your heart being alive and free, it’s coming. You think it’s behind you but it’s coming because with Jesus the best is yet to come. And so Holy Spirit I just pray that you would stir up in this place a joy level that would rise to a new place. That we would live like it’s a party, that we would worship and celebrate and sing and laugh and have hope and life. That we would be a reflection of the Kingdom of God, not a reflection of the religious system of this world. That we would rise to a new level to believe that you are who you say you are and you have done what you said you have done and we ask for faith to have joy.
Man, that’s it right there, that’s the vein. Ask the Lord for faith to have joy, because that’s all it takes. So Holy Spirit, will you produce that in our lives? We love you, Lord, in this place. In your name we pray. Amen.

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