In this message, we learn to stop focusing on what is in front of us and start focusing on who (Jesus) is with us, because with Jesus there is always more to come!
Alright, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you are here with us today. We want to give a big welcome to all our campuses, wherever you are, whether you’re in Denton Venue, Flower Mound, online. Let’s all welcome each other together. Wherever you are in the world, we are so glad that you are here with us today. And we’re currently in a sermon series called “With”. And we’re talking about the presence of God in our lives because you were never meant to be alone. And we are one week into our twenty-one days of prayer and fasting, so you made it through week one. You’re still alive. Life is still moving forward. You’re creating some space in your life for God to fill. And if you haven’t jumped in and joined us with that, man, it’s okay. Start this week. Don’t worry about last week or if then, you made all these commitments, you’re going to do all these things and it didn’t happen, don’t worry. His mercies are new today. Let’s start today and move forward for the next 14 days of this thing that we’ve got together. Because what we’re just doing is creating space in our life for God to fill.
And what we’ve said about this fast in particular is that we’re more concerned with adding things into our lives than we are with giving things up this year. That this is not about doing something for God, this is about receiving everything that God has done for you. And every day for these 21 days together, we’re praying one simple prayer as a church. We’re just praying this, “Lord, help me be aware that you are with me.” It’s one of the most profound prayers you can pray, because if we’re honest, at the end of the day, it often feels like God is not with us. If we look at the realities, the situations, the circumstances of our lives, we often feel like God is not with us. And like I think a lot of us can understand what Gideon is saying in Judges Chapter Six, he says, “If the Lord is with us, then why does all this happen to us? Where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.” Has anybody ever feel like that? Like, come one, if the Lord is with us, then why is all this happening to us? If God is really here, where are the signs and wonders? Where is the supernatural? If God is with me, why am I sick? Why is this happening? Why aren’t things changing?
But you have to remember the circumstances are not a determiner of whether or not God is with you. I mean, just think about Joseph for a moment. You remember Joseph? He’s one of Jacob’s twelve sons. He’s the favorite son. He gets the robe of many colors. And because he’s the favored son, his brothers hate him. And so, one day they take Joseph, they rip off his robe, they throw him into a hole and slave traders come by and they sell their brother to slave traders. And Joseph ends up as a slave in Egypt. He works in some guy named Potiphar’s house. He serves him well. And then one day, Potiphar’s wife makes an advance on Joseph. Joseph stops her, but she spins the story and says Joseph made an advance on her. So he finds himself in prison. He’s in prison, he helps out these guys. Just promise you’ll remember me when you get out. They get out, they don’t remember him.
And if you look at Joseph’s life, you’re like there’s no way God is with that dude. Not possible. And then yet you read Genesis 39 and it says, “But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him.” The number one thing it says about Joseph over and over again through the story of Joseph is the Lord was with him and he showed him kindness, and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. God is with you even when you are in prison and he will show you kindness and favor. Or how about Paul? Remember Paul, who writes most of the New Testament, amazing guy, and yet, you look at Paul’s life. He’s beaten, he’s persecuted, he’s stoned, he’s shipwrecked, he’s rejected by his friends, he’s taken advantage of by people. You read about Paul and you’re like there’s no way God is with that dude Paul. And we read about Paul in 2nd Corinthians 12 and what he says is – he says, “I’ve got this thorn in the flesh.” Well, we don’t know exactly what it is, but some type of physical ailment. And he cries out to God three times for God to take it away. This is Paul, who goes around the known world healing people, raising people from the dead, and he can’t heal himself.
And he cries out to God, “God, take this thorn away from me,” and God says back to him in 2nd Corinthians 12, he says, “Paul, my grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness.” And what you have to remember is when God says that to him, grace is not a concept, grace is a person and his name is Jesus. What He is saying is, “Paul, I am with you. And that is sufficient.” Or how about David, the man after God’s own heart? Come on, David. David is so looked down on by his own father that when Samuel comes to anoint a new King of Israel, David is not even invited into the party with his other brothers. And yet he gets picked as the new King of Israel. And so, the current king is so jealous he wants to kill David. David spends 10 years of his life living in the wilderness, the desert, hiding in caves and holes, and running for his very life. You read the story of David and you’re like, there’s no way God is with that dude. And yet, it’s David who writes Psalm 23:4; “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.” It was in the valley of death that David learned that God was with him.
And I love the very next verse that he penned, he says, “You will prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.” It’s in the face of our enemies that we have the most intimacy with God. It’s in the circumstances you are desperate to get out of, where God pulls up a seat for you at the table and says, “Sit down and just fellowship with me.” Only those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death know the Good Shepherd is with them. Until then, it’s just theory. It’s actually in the darkness you figure out He’s there. Or how about Jesus? Jesus, they want to throw Him off a cliff, they want to stone Him. They want to get rid of Him, send Him back to heaven, right? And we read about Jesus and we read the story of He goes in the boat with the disciples out into the storm, this big squall comes up and it’s about to sink the boat. It says Jesus is sleeping. And what you have to remember is that we know Jesus says, “I only go where I see the Father going and do what I see the Father doing.” So if he got into the boat and went out into that sea into that storm, it means the Father was leading Him into a circumstance most of us would avoid. But because the Father was with Him, Jesus was able to sleep in the boat. Because the truth is, you’ll sleep through every storm when you understand God is with you.
Circumstances are not a determiner of whether or not God is with you. The presence of a problem does not mean the absence of God. Okay? In fact, what it is, is a problem and simply an invitation to become aware that God is with you. I mean let’s be honest with each other for a moment. Very few of us passionately seek God when life is good. Can we just agree with that? Like when your bank account is full and your relationships are awesome and you’ve got everything that you want, it’s pretty easy to drift. The great danger or the great temptation of a comfortable life is to live self-sufficient instead of God-dependent. That’s the danger. The comfort that you and I seek with every breath of our life, the great danger of it is you become self-sufficient instead of God-dependent. And yet it’s amazing how when a storm shows up in your life, all the sudden you start crying out for God. Right?
Read the Bible. Look at the people around you. Look at your own life. That’s when we seek Him. I mean do you really think Joseph would have been all about seeking after the heart of God had he not gone through those hardships? Would he have ever really been prepared to go from the pasture to the palace? I’m not sure. Do you really think Paul would have stayed humble and broken and desperate for the presence of God if he didn’t have that thorn in his flesh? I mean, do you really think David would have passionately been the worshipper that we read about in the Bible had he not gone through the desert? In fact, David makes his worst decisions when his life is perceivably the best. When he’s hanging out in his palace that he’s now built for himself and it’s amazing, and he’s got peace and his kingdom is the largest it’s ever been that’s when he has his Bathsheba moment. That’s why the author of Proverbs says, “God, please don’t make me rich. Because I’m terrified if I am, I will disown you.” When was the last time you prayed that prayer?
Come on. Right? Think about you, that’s when you seek Him. So listen to me. If you’re in a hardship, God is not mad at you. You haven’t done anything wrong. God is positioning you, he’s preparing you and he’s inviting you to be with Him. Hebrews 4:16, “Let us boldly approach the throne of grace in our time of need that we may find mercy.” It’s our need that draws us to the merciful presence of God. And so, maybe we need to stop trying to change our circumstances and start letting His presence change us. Maybe we need to stop being so focused on what is in front of us and start being focused on who is with us. Maybe we need to stop being such — in such a hurry to get out of the current season that we’re in. Because when you’re in a rush, you will miss what matters most. Life is not about having the perfect circumstances, it’s about living in the presence of His perfect love. Okay? Are you with me on that? I mean, if I’m honest with you, last year, 2016, 2016 was probably one of the hardest years of my life personally. It was an incredibly difficult year for me. I was defeated and discouraged. There were a whole lot of days where it was hard to even get up in the morning and start writing the next message and get up here and preach to you. And it was our year of breakthrough. And as I’m trying to lead all of us into the breakthroughs that God has for us, the more breakthroughs I watched come in your life, the more it felt like there was resistance for the breakthroughs that I needed in my life. And so, I was defeated in a whole lot of ways. To the point where I had to get to this place, it was no longer this big theory of God is with me.
And oh, God’s going to be with me this month. It wasn’t even good enough to have God with me this week, not even God with me this day. God, I need to be with and you need to be with me like moment by moment. And there was something about in my desperation that I made an incredible discovery where I learned to tap in to my awareness of the presence of God being with me more than I probably ever have in my life. In fact, listen to this, Act 17 says, “From one man, He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth,” ready? “And He determined the times set for them in the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him though he is not far from each one of us.” So catch this, he says God determines the exact time and places where you would live. Out of all the thousands of years of history and the billions of people on earth, God determined that you would be alive in 2017, living in this state, in this place, as a part of this church, with your situations and circumstances and relationships and jobs and activities.
He designed it in such a way. Why? So that you may reach out for Him even though He is not far away from you. Your life is perfectly designed to make you desperate for the presence of God. That pain, that brokenness, that discontent, that situation, it’s designed to say, “God, you are here and you are with me.” And what you’ll have to remember is that He wants to be with you more than you want to be with Him. Like remember, it cost Jesus everything to be with you. He had to pour himself out. He came and was born in a manger. He took on the nature of a humble servant, He lived among our pain. He went to the cross and when He hung on the cross, He cries out, “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” Now, if you read the Gospel straight through and you read those words coming out of Jesus’s mouth, they’re shocking. Because all throughout the gospels, Jesus never refers to the Father as God. He only refers to him as the Father. And so, in this moment on the cross when He cries out. “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” What is he doing? In that moment, when all of your sin and my sin was placed on Jesus, Jesus became an orphan, so you and I could become beloved sons and daughters.
In that moment, God the Father became a distant God to Jesus so He could become a loving and present father to you. In that moment, Jesus was forsaken, so you will never have to be. God forsook Jesus, so He no longer can ever forsake you. Because He already forsook Jesus for your sin, so He cannot for sake you for your sin. That would make Him unjust. That would make Him unrighteous. So Jesus was literally rejected by the Father, so that you can live in His presence forever. That’s why Hebrews 13, he says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” That’s a promise guaranteed. Take it to the bank. Why? Because the Father became a distant God to Jesus, so He could become a loving and present Father for you forever. I mean, that’s why Jesus says to His disciples, “Guys, it’s good if I go. It’s for your good if I go. Because if I go, the Spirit will come.” John 14; “I’ll ask the Father and he’ll give you another counselor the, Holy Spirit, to be with you forever.” The Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him because they neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him for he lives with you and will be in you. He says he will be with you forever. He can’t forsake – he can’t forsake himself. Or how about Romans 8 when Paul says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor the present, nor the future, nor any power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” He says nothing will separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Catch it, people. Love is not a feeling, love is a person. 1 John 4:16; “God is love.” Paul is saying there is nothing that can separate you from the presence of God. You can’t out sin, you can’t outrun it, you can’t out fail it.
He is with you, and we become most aware of that in our most desperate situations. You see, the presence of God is always meant to be the centerpiece of our lives. And what I think we need to learn how to do is to learn to make it the center and camp around God’s presence the way the Israelites did. And like if you remember the story, there was the Ark of the Covenant and then the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. And that was the picture of the presence of God among them. And the Ark of the Covenant would be there. And when it was time for them to move, the cloud would lift, it would start moving forward and they would walk ahead and follow this thing. And at night that the cloud would come down and rest on top of the Ark of the Covenant, and it says literally, Israel encamped in a 360 degree circle all the way around the presence of God as this picture that he was the centerpiece of their life. I think today’s church, if we’re honest, were often more camped around a program than we are around his presence. The modern-day church, we’re so consumed with our programs, our preferences, the things we love that we’ve kind of forgotten about the presence of God.
In fact, I think a lot of us, we would be more upset if there wasn’t a sermon in church than if there wasn’t the presence of God in church. A lot of us would be more upset if our program was gone than if the presence of God was gone. Like do you catch me on that? I have yet to have someone get angry at me for saying there’s no presence of God in this church. I have had lots of people get angry at me when a program changes, which just shows you what you’re actually camping around and what you’re actually following. I mean, listen to this — are you with me on that? Come on. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Moses — Exodus 33, Moses. Here what is says, Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me lead these people, but you have not let know whom you will send with me. You have said I know you by name and I found favor with me. If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you and will give you rest.” Pause. It’s the presence of God that gives us rest among great trials. That’s why in John 14, Jesus says to you, “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” What is he saying? He’s not giving you a concept or a thing, he’s giving you himself. He’s saying, “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.” Peace is not a concept, it’s a person. That’s why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. That’s why the fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. That’s why the Bible says the God of Peace will soon crush Satan under, not his feet, your feet. What? The God of Peace who is in me and with me promises that he will crush Satan under my feet, that I will walk in victory and in a posture of rest over those trials and circumstances in my life because he is with me. That’s the source of rest.
We’re kind of excited about that. That’s okay. Verse 15, then Moses said to Him, “If your presence does not go with us, then don’t send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very things you ask because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Oh, my goodness. He says the presence of God is the great distinguisher of our lives, that the thing that makes you different from everyone else in this world is not your circumstances, your finances, it’s not fame and fortune, it’s His presence. God has declared your reputation as the people of His presence. The great privilege of your life is that you get to steward and carry the presence of the Living God inside you everywhere you go.
Ephesians 3:19 says that, “We would be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” What? That you would be filled to the fullness of God, that you would be so full of God Himself that you would be filled up and overflowing with a constant and continual desire for more. And what he says to Moses is, “Moses, because I am with you, you now know forever you have my favor and I am pleased with you, not because of what you do but because of what Jesus has done.” The Holy Spirit inside of you is a continual declaration that it is finished. Why? Because God can only live in holy places and you are now considered holy because of the finished work of Jesus. That’s why you are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Does that make sense? You have to change your thinking about who you are. I mean, I love what Moses is saying. He’s saying — Moses would rather have the desert with God than the promised land without God.
It’s really what he’s saying. Because they’re in the desert and they’re supposed to go to the promised land, he’s saying, “Don’t take me there if you’re not going with me.” He said, “I don’t care what my circumstances are, I just want to know that I’m with you.” Because Moses got that life wasn’t about doing something or going somewhere, it was about being with someone. And so you know what Moses is really praying here” He’s saying, “God, give me whatever circumstance in my life that is going to make me the most desperate for you.” When was the last time you prayed that prayer? And the big difference between Moses and the Israelites, Moses wanted God for who He was, the Israelites wanted God for what he could do. And if we’re honest, come on, we’re like the Israelites. We want the blessings of God more than we want God. Okay. Hear me on this. That’s okay. James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of heavenly lights.” Good gifts reveal the goodness of the Father. It’s okay that you want the blessing of God more than God himself, because in his blessings it’s so good that it reveals the goodness of Him.
Romans 2:4, “Kindness leads you to repentance” So His deeds will always lead you to His ways. His hands will always lead you to His heart. And what I love about Moses in this moment is the moment God says, “I will be with you.” Moses cries out, “Great. Then show me your glory.” verse 18. The moment God says, I will be with you, Moses says, great. I know you’re here. But now I want even more. Now show me your glory. And God responds by rebuking Moses. No. God responds and saying, “Moses, you want more of me. You got it. I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” A genuine encounter with the presence of God will always leave you completely satisfied and yet hungry for more. It’s what we see. He just had an encounter with God, he’s completely satisfied, but boy, he’s hungry for more. Now, show me your glory. Psalm 16:11, “In your presence is fullness of joy, completely satisfied.” And at Psalm 84:2, “And yet heart and my flesh cry out for you, the living God.” You will always have as much of God as you want. How much of him do you want? I mean, I remember when Colleen and I first started dating, some of you know the story, her dad set us up on a blind date. And so whenever she’s annoyed at me, I just remind that her dad handpicked me for her. So if she’s mad, call him not me, you know. And we went out like on a 7-hour blind date. We literally didn’t want it to end. We just kept going to the next like coffee shop to just hang out. And I remember as we started dating, I just started to fall in love with her. I just wanted to be around her. So we were in Colorado in graduate school, and I would show up at her house. And we both live in Colorado Springs, but graduate school is in Denver. And so, I would show up at like 5:00 in the morning just to bring her coffee and breakfast to just spend like 15 minutes with her before I had to go.
And then I would be in Denver and I’d have like a 2-hour break, and it’s an hour drive each way. But I would figure out how I could drive down there to just spend five minutes with her at work to go back to the class for the rest of the day. I would stay in her house as late as her parents would let me hang out with her. You know, I wanted to call her all the time, I wanted to be with her. Everywhere she was I wanted to show up. Because the more I got to know her, the more I wanted to be around her. That’s what the presence of God really does in our lives. The more you taste, the more you see, the more you desire to come and the more of Him you start to want. But see, I’m convinced that part of our problem is that we don’t actually expect to meet with God. Like just for example, when you came here today, like what do you expect? Like subconsciously, just break it down for a moment. Like you walk in this place, what are you really expecting? I think some of us, we’re just expecting good music, a good experience, you know, a decent sermon, hopefully that relevant and funny.
You know, we — sorry for that one for you. You know, we’re thinking we’re going to learn something about God and maybe leave a little bit encouraged. But I don’t actually think we walk in here expecting to meet with God on most days. I think we need to learn to start honoring his presence. Like, okay, let me try to explain it to you like this. Imagine if I told you next weekend, Dak and Zeke we’re going to be here. They’ve got some time on their hands now. Hey, I’m a Buffalo Bills fan, 17 years. So that’s fine. Okay? They got some time on their hands. And imagine if I told you Dak and Zeke we’re going to be here, would that change how you showed up to service next week? Oh, boy, you would. You would tell everybody in your circle of friends, you would be blasting out on Facebook. Dak and Zeke, they’re going to be in church that next week. Come with me. Oh, we could be dreaming about it. You’d be thinking about it, you’d show up early, you’d stay late, you’d come in with your Cowboys gear on, you’d have your autograph pen, your football, your little Bobblehead dolls.
You would come in here, you would get their attention. Woo, you’d scream, you’d wait in line for hours to get a selfie, like, “Me and Dak” you know. All that kind of stuff right? That’s what we would do. Oh, don’t even pretend, you could cowboy people. Like, no, bro. I wouldn’t even show up next week if he was here. Okay. Why don’t we do anything like that for God? Does your passion attract His presence? And you say, wait a second. I thought you said God was already here? He is. But God can come where he already is. God can show up where He already is. That’s how big he is. Isaiah 6 when Isaiah was taken to the throne room of heaven, it says he sees God seated and sees the — or the train of his robe filling the temple, Like it was already full and it continued to fill. That was there, but there was more of it to come.
Or how about Jesus’ baptism? Here is Jesus, God the Son standing there. And heaven tears open and God the Spirit comes and God the Father shows up and starts to speak. God came where he already was. Or how about when Jesus comes back from the dead? The resurrected Jesus breeze on the disciples, says receive the Holy Spirit, God came where he already was, they now have the Holy Spirit. Acts 2, it says, they’re filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 4 says they’re filled with the Holy Spirit again. All throughout the book of Acts, they keep getting refilled. Why? Because God can come where He already is. He’s here, but there’s more of Him to come. That’s how big He is. And it’s our presence, it’s our passion, and our honor that invites more of the presence of God into our life. I mean, maybe the best example I could give to you is — let’s take my two kids for second. I love both of my kids the same. And I love being around my kids, they both have my favor, they both live in my house, I take care of them. Okay. Now, imagine if one of my kids always wanted to be around me and the other one just tolerated me.
Imagine every time I came home, one of my kids was always like in the driveway waiting for about the hour that they knew I was going to be home. And as soon as I pull in and get out of my car, “Daddy’s home.” And then I walk inside and they follow me from room to room because they just want to be around me. And they listen to what I have to say and then they tell me things back about how much they love me. And then when I’m working on something, they want to come and be right there working on whatever it is I’m working on. If that child operated that way, they would have a totally unique encounter with me. They would get my favor, they would get my presence, they would experience things about me that no one else would know. Now, compare that to the child that when I get home isn’t waiting in the driveway, is up in the room and the door is locked. And they don’t even want to come sit at the family meal. And when there’s a family chore that everyone’s going to work on, they’re grumpy and they’re grumbling about it. They would still be my child. I would still love them. I would still knock on the door all the time and say, “Come hang out with us.”
Like, “Come, let’s have some fun. I got some things I want to show you.” But there would be a drastic difference between the encounters. Between those kids and me. If we would choose to wait on God, walk with God, worship God, and work with God, we will have an encounter with His presence that most other people never have. If you will wait for Him to come as a posture of honor, if you will walk with Him and just be obedient to follow wherever He asks you to go, if you will worship Him, raise your hands and your voices even when you don’t want to, and you’ll work with Him. Not your work, His work. What’s His work? Making disciples. So if you really want the presence of God, you actually got engage in some level of disciple-making, and you’ll experience a unique measure of His presence because God can come where He already is. He’s there with you. But even more wants to come. Does that make sense to you? He’s here, but it’s your faith that reaches out and takes ahold of him. That’s why Hebrews 11:6; “As for without faith, it’s impossible to please God. For anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists. Must believe He is here, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. And that there’s even more of Him to come.
Take the – take the woman with the flow of blood. Twelve years, she can’t stop the sickness in her body. Jesus is passing through town, she hears about it. This huge crowd is around Jesus. They’re watching him walk by and yet, she is the only one who steps forward and says if I just grab a hold of the helm of His garment. If I can grab His presence, I’ll be healed. Jesus had no intent of healing her that day. And yet the moment she grabbed Him, her faith grabbed ahold of His presence and there’s power flows through Jesus into her body and she’s healed. “Go in peace woman. Your faith has healed you.” Or how about the dad with the dying daughter? Jesus is on a mission and he’s going somewhere and the dad shows up and hits his knees, “My daughter is dying. Please come and heal her.” And he takes ahold of the presence of God.
And the daughter is healed. Or the blind man on the side of the road? As Jesus is going by, Jesus is passing them. He’s not planning on stopping to heal them that day. He’s going by and they start crying out, “Jesus son of David. Have mercy on me.” And it was their faith that reached out to the presence of God and He came over to them and healed them. Now, compare that to the thousands of unrecorded religious stoic prideful people that lived in Jesus’s day and watch Jesus walk in and out of their life a thousand times. And they never had the faith to take ahold of his presence. I do not want that for you. Your willingness to engage with the presence of God is everything. The reason I encourage you and honestly sometimes just flat out challenge you to worship and raise your hands and your voices and your hearts to when we’re preaching, to literally use your faith to agree verbally, to reach out and say “amen”. To respond, to say I receive that, I’m in agreement with that. Part of all of what that is, is I’m trying to get you to take ahold of the presence of God for you. Like John 6:63; Jesus says, “The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life.”
When we preach the Word of God, the Word of God is no longer a thing, it’s actually his presence being released in the atmosphere. So He’s here, and there’s more of him to come. And as it’s preached, you get a choice. Do I want to go in my room and lock the door and stay there by myself, or do I want to say, “Daddy’s here.” And I got it. And this one’s for me. And I’m bringing this one down. I don’t feel it, I don’t know it, I’m not even sure what He’s saying, but I’m going to grab ahold of this thing and bring it down for me. Okay. Come on. That’s faith, people. You guys say to me all the time, here’s a comment I get,” You’re so passionate up there.” Okay. I want you to be passionate out there. I’m grabbing ahold of God for me. But I can’t grab ahold of him for you. All I can do is say, hey, he’s here and more of him wants to come. So I don’t know what that means, but let’s have some faith and let it ride.
Let me close it with this. Luke Chapter 7 is probably one of my favorite stories in the gospel. It’s the story of the sinful woman and Jesus at the Pharisee’s house. He goes to this man named Simon the Pharisee’s house, for a meal. And while Jesus is there, it says, “The sinful woman comes. And she comes with her alabaster jar and she — a jar of perfume that would have been about everything she had that was of value. And she breaks it at Jesus’ feet. She starts weeping. She washes his feet with her hair and her tears and she’s kissing His feet and the fragrance of her — of her perfume now it is transcending and going throughout the whole room. And as she’s doing that, Simon has a thought and he says, if Jesus was a prophet he would know what kind of woman this is, and he would not let her touch Him. And Jesus is sitting there and he read Simon’s heart. And He looks at Simon and he says, “Simon, do you – do you see this woman?” He says, “I came into your house. I’m in your house, Simon. You didn’t give me any water for my feet, you didn’t give me a kiss on the cheek, and you didn’t even put any oil on my head. And here is this woman. And from the time she has walked in, she has not stopped washing my feet with her tears. She has not stopped kissing me with her affection and her passion. And she has anointed me with everything she had of worth.” In other words, Jesus looks at Simon and said Simon, I came to your house, man. And you didn’t serve me, worship me, or honor me. But she did.
And so, Jesus looks at her and he says, “Take heart, woman. Your faith has saved you. He who has been forgiven much, loves much. Now go in peace.” Here’s my question for you, who left changed after that dinner party? Not Simon. This woman, she had to go back to those broken circumstances she came out of. Her circumstances didn’t change, but she did. Because there was something in her that had this faith to reach out and take ahold of him when everyone else was just stoically standing around. And because she took a hold of him, she got more of him. And it started to change her. And when I read that story, one of the things that honestly frightens me, like, it literally shakes me when I read it, is when Jesus says, “Simon, I came to your house.” Which means you can be right next to the presence of God and be totally unaware of it.
You can be in the midst of Jesus Himself and not reach out and take a hold of what He offers. And I think about that statement because here’s the deal, I don’t want Jesus to come to my house, to my family, to my work, to my school, I don’t want Jesus to come to my church and not have the faith to reach out and take a hold of him. I would rather be the one that serves and worships and honors even if I’m humiliated in front of everyone else around me. Because the only person that left that party changed was that woman. And I love that he says, “He who has been forgiven much, loves much.” In other words, your revelation of how much you have been forgiven will determine your willingness to take hold of the presence of God in your life. Simon didn’t think he needed much forgiveness, so Jesus wasn’t all that valuable to him. But the woman who was desperate in a broken situation and who knew she needed forgiveness, man, she knew how much she had been forgiven, so she had a lot of love to give. And so, she got a lot of Jesus to experience. That’s how it works. Your willingness to engage with the presence of God is everything. I don’t know about you, but as I go through life I don’t want to get harder and more resistance — resistant. I want to get softer and hungrier. God is here. And there is more of him to come.
And my prayer for us as a people is we will say, God, we want all of you. I want the desert with you. I don’t want the promised land without you. So show us your glory, Jesus. So okay, close your eyes. And let me just ask you, hey, what do you — what do you think the Holy Spirit is saying to you? God is in this place. And yet there’s even more of him that wants to come. And so maybe you’re here and you’re in a certain circumstance, a situation, a life reality where you haven’t felt like God’s been with you for a long time. Even though you walk through that valley of death, He is with you. And it’s in the face of your enemies where he is preparing a table of fellowship to be with you. Some of you, you’re here and let’s just say it what it is, is the Holy Spirit’s tugging on your heart because you’re like Simon. I’m often like Simon.
And I let Jesus walk in and walk out. But I want that to change. I want to be the one that serves him, that worships him, that honors him. Maybe the Holy Spirit is stirring in your heart to say like, man, let your passion attract my presence. So Jesus, I just pray right now that you would stir up a hunger within us for more of you. Lord I declare that really, as the pastor of this church, I am unable to create a passion within our hearts for you. I declare that we don’t want to be a hype-motivated church. That we don’t want to rah-rah and yell and hoop and holler out of our minds, but we want to choose to be Spirit-inspired, Spirit-led, Spirit-sustained with a life of passion for the goodness and the glory of God. Lord, I pray that as we become aware that you are with us, the cry of our hearts will be enough. Show us your glory. And that you would cause all of your goodness to pass in front of us. The Israelites received good things from God’s hand, but Moses experienced the goodness of God Himself. Jesus, we want to experience your goodness. Now, you come to where you already are. Don’t send us without You. In Your name we pray. Amen.