Relationship Over Rules

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You are holy! Not because of what you do, but because of your relationship with God. He wants relationship, not rules!

Oh, come on Valley Creek, come on. Welcome, welcome. So glad you’re here with us today. I love that video. And if that doesn’t inspire you I’ve got nothing for you for the next 30 minutes. Welcome to Valley Creek. I’m glad you’re here. If you missed last week, we rolled out our theme for 2020, and it is Set Apart. You see, every year as a church we have a theme, a big idea, a revelation from God, a vision within a vision if you will, that we believe is from God for our church family. And we grab a hold of it and we go after it with everything that we’ve got.

And what I love about that is it’s an invitation for you to reach out by faith and grab it and say, “I want this for me and my family.” See, when God gives us a word, there’s a favor, there’s an anointing, there’s an authority on that word for our church family for that season. And so if you will lean in to it and grab a hold of it, you’re saying, “I want to be a part of the authority and the anointing that’s on this family, and by faith, I’m going to reach out and activate it and bring it into my own life for me and my family.”

And so 2020, we believe the Lord is inviting our church to really around the term “set apart”. Set apart, you have been set apart by grace for the good of others and the glory of God. We’re going to say this about a thousand times this year. You have been set apart. You’re special, you’re unique, you’re chosen, you’re different, and you’ve been set apart by grace, which means you didn’t earn it, you didn’t deserve it, you didn’t achieve it, you didn’t perform for it, so it’s not exclusive and it’s not elite.

It’s not about what you have to do, it’s about what Jesus has done. And if you’ve received it by grace, it means there’s nothing you did to earn it, which means there’s nothing you can do to lose it. You’re set apart whether you want to be or not. You can’t give that gift back to God. You are set apart by grace for the good of others and the glory of God.

There’s a very defined purpose for why He has set you apart. You’ve been set apart by God for God. You’ve been set apart from this world, for this world. You have been set apart to think differently, talk differently, act differently, live differently, and most differently believe differently. And that’s our theme for this year. And what I love about that word is it has incredible opportunity to challenge you and yet change you.

This word more than any word we’ve ever had, it’s going to challenge you. I’m telling you that right up front, so halfway through the year you’re not caught off guard, like, “this is challenging”. Yes, it is. And I’m telling you right out of the gate, but man, it has the opportunity to change you. This is the year that we’re going to believe the best about each other and hold each other to our best. We want to awake and arise to the life that we have in Jesus.

In fact, I love this, Ephesians 4 says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. See, every one of us in this room, we want to live a big, purposeful, significant life. And what I love is that God is saying, great, I’ve called you, I’ve set you apart to live a big, purposeful, significant life, so live a life worthy of that calling. I mean aren’t you glad that God doesn’t say, hey, live a small, insignificant, mediocre, mundane, routine, boring life? Come on, he says, live a life worthy of the calling you have received. You say, what does it mean to be worthy of that life? It means to live like you believe the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus actually happened. Live like you believe the Spirit of the living God is inside of you. Live like you believe God has given you the kingdom of heaven.

If God has called you to set apart, it’s time to stop fitting in. Live a life worthy of your calling. And our theme verse, we’re kind of excited about that, we’re like, yeah, I wish he would have said small, insignificant, boring life. No, you don’t. Our theme verse for this year is Jeremiah 1:5. Jeremiah, a prophet who lived in a time just like ours, a world that was dark and broken and lost. And God says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Before you are born, I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. I love it.

God says to Jeremiah, hey, Jeremiah, I just want you to know, I formed you, I knew you, I set you apart and I appointed you. In other words, before you were even born, God was the one who was putting you together. He decided your skin color, and your eye color, and the freckles on your face. And He gave you your personality and your talents and your skills and your abilities.

And before you were even born, before you took your first breath or made your first move, or let out your first cry, He says, He set you apart. He knew everything about you and yet He still chose you apart in Jesus’ name, which means you didn’t earn it, you didn’t deserve it, you didn’t achieve it. It’s not about what you have to do, it’s about what Jesus has done. And he has empowered you to live a life that’s for the good of others and the glory of God. You are set apart.

In fact, I could say too in a different way with some different words. In Jesus, you are holy. In Jesus, you are holy. You say, whoa, time out. You were hanging out with me last night, you would know that’s not so much. Okay, hang on a second. The word holy literally means set apart.

You may not feel like it, you may not look like it, you may not be living like it. And the people around you may not think it’s true, but in Jesus you are holy or set apart. Look at this, 1 Corinthians 6 says, “It is true that some of you once lived in those lifestyles. You used to be people of the world. But now you have been, past tense, finished, you have been purified from sin, made holy, set apart. And given a perfect standing with God all because of the power of the name of the Lord Jesus.” You have been set apart by God, not because of what you have done, but because of what Jesus has done.

And so what we have to do is we have to have our faith built into this truth that we are set apart in Jesus’ name. And if you were here last week, you’re like, you said this last week. I know. But hundreds of people at all of our campuses weren’t here last week that need to hear it now.

And not only do they need to hear it, you need to hear it because faith comes by hearing. We need to hear over and over and over and over again that in Jesus we have been made holy, that we are set apart because let’s be honest, we don’t believe it. We don’t believe it because it’s easy to look at our lives and see our failures and our missteps and our misgivings. But once we start to transform our thinking, it starts to change how we live.

Like 1 Peter says, “So you must live as God’s obedient children.” Like live a life worthy of your calling. You’ve been adopted into the family of God. And the king is now your father. So don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. Don’t live down to the world when you didn’t know any better then. But now, you must be holy, set apart, a life worthy of the calling that you have received in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy, for the Scripture say, you must be holy because I am holy.

And here is where we freak out. We don’t have a good definition of holiness. For a lot of reasons, we’ve got all this baggage around the word holy so when the word holy comes out, we start backing away from it. Because here’s what we think, when we think of the word holy, we think of things like this, holier than thou. We think of elitist. We think of people who are exclusive. We think of people who are judgmental, who are harsh, who are telling everyone else what’s wrong with them. And we think of people who have separated themselves from life, and honestly, are miserable and have no fun. So we think about holiness.

The problem is if that’s your definition of holiness and you hear that God is holy, you apply it to God. So you start to back away from Him. But that’s not holiness. Holiness is kindness. Holiness is strength.

Holiness is security. Holiness is faith, hope and love. Holiness is Jesus-focused, Spirit-filled, life-giving. Holiness is righteousness, peace and joy. Holiness is the fruit of Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Holiness is freedom. It’s purpose. And that’s what God is saying. He’s saying, don’t live down to the world. Live up to the kingdom of God. This isn’t about the life you’re leaving behind. This is the life you are inviting into. Holiness is not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you’re empowered to do.

I mean just think of Jesus for a second. He say — the Bible tells us, he is the Holy One, which means Jesus is the definition of holiness. I would just submit to you, if you read the gospels, you never find Jesus elitist, exclusive, holier than thou, harsh, angry, miserable, grumpy, no.

Jesus was the freest, most joyful, peaceful, purposeful person that ever walked the earth. So maybe we need to change our definition of holiness. I mean jump all the way back to the Garden of Eden with me, when God first made Adam and Eve and they were in the Garden of Eden, here’s my question for you, would you say that they were holy? Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, were they holy? Come on. Yeah. Why? Because there was no sin, there was no rebellion, there was no darkness. So they had personal holiness.

So then here’s my follow up question, would you say they were free? Yeah. Personal holiness and personal freedom. And it wasn’t about all the things they couldn’t do, it was about they were empowered to eat from the tree of life. They were invited by God to walk with God and be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.

They were invited by God to live a life that was for the good of others and the glory of God. Personal holiness, personal freedom, all about the tree of life. But what happened? They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the one thing God said not to do and they died. Catch it, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of right and wrong, the tree of good and bad, the tree of can and can’t, the tree of should and shouldn’t, all of a sudden, all of those can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, do, don’t got released into their life which tells us that that’s not about holiness, that’s about religion. That’s about law. That’s about this world is all about, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Holiness is all about freedom and being empowered to enjoy the life that God offers us. Are you with me on that?

See, holiness is not telling you what you can’t do. Holiness is not saying, don’t think like the world. Holiness is saying you don’t have to think like the world.

You don’t have to think anxiety, stress, fear, overwhelming, doubt, discouraged. Why? Because you’ve been empowered by grace to think righteousness, peace and joy. Holiness is not telling you, don’t talk like the world. Holiness is saying, you don’t have to talk like the world anymore. You don’t have to use your mouth to curse, to tear down, to gossip or slander because you’ve been empowered by grace to use your mouth to prophesy and encourage and build up and strengthen. Holiness is not telling you not to act like the world. It’s saying you don’t have to act like the world. You don’t have to live a life of self-condemnation and selfishness because grace has empowered you to live a life of strength and servanthood and security. Holiness is not telling you, don’t live like the world. It’s saying, you don’t have to look at, listen to, and grab a hold of things of darkness and bring them into your heart because you’ve been empowered by God to look at, listen to, and grab a hold of things that will bring light into your heart. And holiness is not telling you that you can’t believe like the world.

It’s saying you don’t have to believe the lies that steal, kill and destroy because you’ve been empowered to believe truth that will set you free. It’s totally different.

It’s totally different. And we got to keep hearing that holiness is not about what you can’t do, it’s about the life you’re empowered to live in Jesus’ name. Are you with me on that? Okay. The problem is we have the wrong standard. The problem is we look at everyone else’s life and we use them as the standard for how we should live. And I told you this last week, we said we look at people and if everyone else is doing it, we just decide we should do it too.

Come on, how many of you have done something in your life because everyone else was doing it and in the end it had major consequences and you regretted it? Everybody that’s more than 10 years old in this room can piece that together. Everybody else jumped off the bridge, you did too. And it hurt when you hit the bottom, right? Because it’s the wrong standard.

We talked about that last week. But let me swing over here because we swing the pendulum to this side too, and we look at other people’s lives and we say things like this, well, I’m better than them, so I’m good. Like since when did them, whoever them are, becomes the standard? And we look at other people and we start saying things like this, well, at least the Netflix series I watch isn’t as bad as the Netflix series they watch. And that becomes the standard. But as the world continues to slide deeper into darkness, then if they’re the standard, guess what? Your standard is going down too, so we become desensitized. We’ve started to justify and rationalize by looking at the world and saying, well, at least it’s not as bad as that. But since when is that the standard? Come on.

And some of you, you’re like waiting for me in this series — some of you are like hoping and some of you are terrified that we’re going to sit here and start talking about all the things you can and can’t do.

All the things you should and shouldn’t do. You can’t watch this and you can’t drink that. And you can’t go here. Some of you are like, please do it. And some of you are like, please don’t do it. Okay. I’m not going to do it. Some of you just had a tear and some of you are like, yes, thank you Jesus. Why? Because you’re supposed to wrestle that out with the Holy Spirit. You’re supposed to wrestle with the Holy Spirit and ask Him questions like, is this good for others and does this glorify You?

Come on, look at these two verses. “You must be holy because I am holy.” That’s a verse you’re going to have to wrestle within your life. I’m trying to empower you with it. I’m trying to help you change the definition of it. I’m trying to help you see it as freedom. But at some point in time on your journey with Jesus, wherever that is, wherever you are, you’re going to have to wrestle that God gives you this command, “must be holy, set apart, because I am holy.”

So then combine that with this verse, “Let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” In other words, God tells us to be holy but then he gives us the way to do it. He says, I’m giving you the Holy Spirit and He will be your guide, your counselor and your comforter in every area of your life.

Come on, when was the last time you asked the Holy Spirit, is this good for me and others and does this glorify You? Does the way I’m thinking, the way I’m talking, the way I’m acting, the way I’m living, the way I’m believing, is this good for others and does this glorify You? See, holiness flows from relationship. It flows from relationship with the Holy Spirit when we start listening to His voice in our lives. The problem is this, if we’re honest, we want rules over relationship. We want rules. We want this little set box that either we can judge people for getting out of, or we can rebel against then say they’re too harsh and we don’t like them in our own life.

But God wants relationship over rules. Because what you have to understand is rules are about what you can’t do, relationship is what you’re empowered to do. God is not sitting here trying to give you this list of rules of all the ways you have to follow. That’s what religion is done, that’s the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, right wrong, good bad, can can’t, should shouldn’t. He wants you to eat from the tree of life, the tree of empowerment. The tree that says, would you just invite me into that area of your life and ask me the question, is that good for others and does that glorify me? And then just listen to what I have to say. Come on, are you with me on this?

See, here’s our problem, we want to know what the line is. We want to know how far we can go, like what’s the line? And if I get to that point, beyond that it’s sin and it’s bad. Like what — like what’s the line? Like how far can I go with my girlfriend? How gray can I be on my taxes?

How much time or money do I actually have to give to God for it to count? We want to know what the line is and how close we could get. That’s the wrong question, man. If you’ve been in church any period of time, you know people, they want to like load up this, they want to load up, they’re like, tshk, tshk, and they want to know what’s the line. And if you give them an answer, they don’t like, boom, boom, boom. Haha, that’s funny if you’ve been in church. It’s the wrong question.

The wrong question is not how far can I go. The right question is how can I go farther with Jesus. How can I go deeper into the kingdom of God? See, this whole thing, holiness, set apartness, this is not about sin management, it’s about kingdom empowerment. This is not about what you can’t do, it’s about the life you’re empowered to do.

And I want you to understand, it’s like the world is over here, lost, lonely, broken and on its way to hell. And we’re over here arguing about our Netflix series is not as bad as their Netflix series.

We’re over here saying, it’s not — it doesn’t have that much nudity in it, as if that’s the standard. And God’s over here with these lost, lonely and broken people saying, hey, hey, awake, arise, I’ve empowered you to disciple nations, to bring the kingdom to this earth, to bring heaven to earth, to do the impossible, move mountains, walk on water and fight giants. Maybe let’s not be so concerned if you’re better than the world, and awake and live a life worthy of the calling for which you are created. Come on, are you with me on that?

It’s a different way of thinking, man. Religion is about can, can’t, do, don’t. Relationship with God is, man, let me have a conversation, is this good for others, and will this glorify God in every part of our life?

Come on, you’ve been set apart by grace for the good of others and the glory of God. And we all know there is a massive difference between being set apart and living set apart. So I’m trying to build your faith in the beginning that you are set apart. But then we look at this living set apart and we know our life doesn’t align with it, and so we’re kind of unsure what to do. Why does it feel like some parts of our life we live set apart and other parts of our life we know we’re fitting in with the world? The problem is our heart.

I mean do you remember the Parable of the Soils? It’s the story Jesus tells us in Mark 4, you can read it on your own if you want. And Jesus is telling a story to this big crowd just like this, and he says, hey, a farmer goes out and he sows the seed. And as he was sowing the seed, some fell on the hard ground and the birds quickly came and snatched it away. Some fell on the shallow ground, it quickly grew up and they had this little shoot but because the soil wasn’t deep enough, there are rocks in it, they quickly withered and died.

Some seed fell on the divided soil or the thorny ground. It grew up but it was all wrapped around these other plants, so it was leafy but not fruitful. It looked good on the outside, but had no fruitfulness on the inside. He says, and then some seed fell on the good soil and grew up and produced a thirty, sixty, hundredfold fruitful return.

The disciples didn’t really understand the story or what Jesus was teaching. So after, they pulled Jesus aside and say, Jesus, like we didn’t understand it. Explain that to us. And Jesus says, the farmer is the Word, God. The farmer is like God going out to sow the Word, to sow truth. And as God speaks truth into different people’s lives, sometimes it lands on the hard heart. And the moment God speaks truth, something quickly comes and snatches it because the heart is hard and it doesn’t want to receive or the heart is hard and doesn’t want to receive it.

He says, some lands on that shallow soil. Some people receive it at once, they’re really excited, they cheer, yey.

But the moment there’s any level of resistance to walking that truth out, it quickly withers and dies. He says, some people’s hearts are like the divided, the thorny heart, it lands, it grows up but it’s so divided by all these other distraction in life that it’s leafy but not fruitful. He says, and then sometimes God speaks truth on the good heart and it produces, thirty, sixty, a hundredfold fruitful return.

Let me show you, it just looks like this. The hard heart, shallow heart, divided heart, the fruitful heart. So here’s my question for you, which heart is yours? When God speaks truth to you in your life, is it hard, resistant? Is it shallow? Does it cheer and get excited? But the moment there’s any resistance, it withers and dies. Is it divided? Is there so many other things you’re cramming in your life that its’ leafy, but not fruitful. Or is your heart fruitful and flourishing when God speaks truth to you? Which of these is your heart?

If you just had to be honest and said, the answer is this, your hear is all of them. Your heart and my heart is all of them. Because there are areas where we receive what God says with joy. And it’s fruitful in our lives. And then there are other areas where he speaks to us where we’re resistant and hard, where we’re shallow and we quickly wither or we’re divided in it and never becomes fruitful.

The truth is this, your heart has all of these soils in it. Like you might be really excited when God speaks to you about salvation or compassion or kindness. You receive it and it’s fruitful, and you love it. And then you might be hard, shallow or divided when we speaks to you about finances, when he speaks to you about sexuality, when he speaks to you about mission or servanthood or unity or gossip or purpose or the kingdom life. The truths I you have all four of these soils in your heart.

And here’s the deal, I don’t even need to convince you of it because you know it. You know there’s parts of the Word of God that you love and you can’t wait. Yey, beloved sons and daughters. But then all of a sudden it’s like, give, boo, that was a bad message to you.

You know it. You know, there’s parts of your Bible you don’t want to read. Why? Because it’s challenging this. So there’s parts you gravitate toward, there’s passages you love, there’s sermon series you love, and then there’s the ones that you strategically disappear on. We all have all of these in our heart. And the journey of set apart is about cultivating this, so every area of our heart becomes this. So every area of our heart is under the submission and the surrender or the lordship of Jesus. And how does this process work? Grace. The grace of Jesus can soften the hard heart. He can deepen the shallow heart. He can remove the debris and the divided heart to give a singular focus in him.

And he is the one that gives us this deep soil where we become fruitful. And the question is simply this, this soil, here’s the question — or here’s the answer, is Jesus is lord and he defines truth, regardless of how I feel about it. If you want your heart to have good soil and fruitful living, Jesus is lord, he defines truth regardless of how I feel about it. John 14:6, Jesus says he is the way, the truth and the life. If he is the way, he leads you to truth. And when you start to receive his truth, it ultimately will bring you life.

So the question is in every area of your life, are you receiving God’s truth, the world’s opinions or your feelings? Because your feelings and your opinions will not lead to fruitfulness. God’s truth is what leads to fruitfulness. Are you with me on this? So you say, what does this have to do with set apart? Everything.

Because there’s areas of your heart where you’re living set apart. It’s a place where you’re receiving God’s truth. And then there are areas of your life that are not set apart, you’re not living set apart. And it’s why? Because you’re resistant, you’re shallow or you’re divided.

Even right now, you can feel your own spirit. You’re either pushing back on something or in Jesus’ name, you’re taking it in. Good soil opens itself up and says, come on. Hard soil says, don’t think so. And we know it. And God wants to free us from it. And how does he do it? By grace. Are you still with me? By grace.

See Titus 2, Titus 2, if you want to memorize a verse in this season, memorize this. “It, grace, teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-control, upright and godly lives in this present age. Jesus, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

I love it. It says grace teaches us. Grace literally a teacher. If we will teach you grace, grace will teach you how to say no to the world and yes to God. Grace will teach you how to live a set apart life in a fit-in world. Why? Because Jesus came, he purified us, he transformed our identity. And because our identity has changed, our behavior is now different. And now he says, grace literally brings us to a place where we are eager to do what is good. Come on, man, if you’ve been in this church for the last bunch of years, you understand the last five years all we’ve talked about is grace. Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace.

Come on, one more time with me. Say it with me. Grace. That’s all we’ve talked about. And we’ve talked about the side of grace that’s all about forgiveness. The side of grace that’s all about cleansing. We’ve talked about the side of grace that’s all about undeserved favor. But now it’s time to move past that and move on to grace doesn’t just forgive, it frees. Grace doesn’t just cleanse, it changes.

Grace isn’t just undeserved favor, it empowers. A completely different way of living. So now, all the grace that we’ve been being taught in this church by God over the years and the years and the years, are now the foundation that we rise upon because grace is the cornerstone for a set apart life. And at some point in time you have to start realizing, if I am not changing, I’m actually not receiving grace because grace says, it’s teaching me to live a set apart life in a fit-in world with an eagerness to do what is good and glorifies God. It’s time to reach out and grab a hold of that grace that we’ve been talking about and say, this is now my foundation, not to just cleanse me but to change me. And empower me to live a life that’s for the good of others and the glory of God. To stir up that soil that’s in here.

Are you with me on that? That’s why Jesus says to the woman, John 8, Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Grace, when you actually get it, it forgives you and it frees you. It cleanses you and it changes you. It’s undeserved favor and supernatural empowerment to live a totally different life.

One more big one for you, Ezekiel 36. Here’s what God says, anyone who believes in Jesus, he says, “I will give you a new heart.” Anybody want a new heart? “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in new and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” This is beyond profound. It says the moment you put your faith in Jesus, you’re born again. You’re a new creation. God literally says, he gives you a new heart and a new spirit and a he, his grace and his Spirit are the active ingredient inside of you that moves you to follow His decrees and keep His Laws.

In other words, the Holy Spirit in you doesn’t want to fit in this world. The Holy Spirit in you wants to be set apart in the kingdom of God and that Spirit within you is always drawing you in that direction. Like migrating birds that instinctively know the way home. Like a compass needle that always points north. Like gravity that’s always drawing things to the center of the earth. The Spirit of the living God inside of you is always drawing you to follow after Jesus.

We have literally spent all our life in church thinking we have to tell everybody to stop sinning so much. When you catch that the Spirit inside of you is leading you towards the goodness of God, nobody needs to tell you that anymore because the Spirit is pulling you this way at all times. My job is not to tell you what you can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, right, wrong, good, bad, it’s not my job. My job is to call out the Spirit that’s already within you, that’s buried beneath your own junk.

So it comes to the surface and you realize, this is who I am in Jesus. The Spirit within me is stronger than the flesh that’s pulling me, and I can live a new life.

Come on. And if this is true, then this isn’t a message of try harder, behave better, strive more, this is a message of trust more, surrender more. Come on, you get the choice. Do you want to have more faith in your flesh or in his Spirit? Do you want to have more faith in the influence of the world or the power of the kingdom of God? Do you want to have more faith in the old that is gone that you’re familiar with or the new that is coming and has come and offers you freedom? You get the choice. It’s grace.

See, the beauty of set apart, holiness, all of that stuff, it’s not on you.

It’s on Him. I. I. I. I don’t see any you shalls in this verse, do you? I see a lot of I wills. I will. I will. I will. So maybe, just maybe we got to stop fighting the Spirit and start saying, Holy Spirit, is this good for others and does this glorify You? He will quickly point the compass needle in the direction it needs to go. You just have to decide, are you willing to trust Him and follow Him off the map of what you’re familiar with? That’s where we struggle. We’re so used to watching these Netflix things and all that stuff. And hear me, I don’t really care about Netflix. It’s completely besides the point. Some of you are like, why are you begging on Netflix? Because it’s easy. But it’s not the point. The point is not about Netflix. It’s about every area of our life. Not living down to the world, living up to the kingdom of God and saying the Spirit is drawing me in that direction.

Are you with me on that? Come on. You’ve been set apart by grace for the good of others and the glory of God. And I get it, it’s hard to receive it. It’s hard to hear the word holiness and apply it to yourself and not feel like, oh my goodness, I don’t know how I’m going to — I hear you all that. So what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to change the way we think. We’re trying to invite the spirit of God to be our guide and our leader. We’re trying to have the faith to just follow Jesus.

See, let me close this with this. Here’s a prophetic word that I feel like God has given me for our church this week. Just think it’s a little picture that might help you. God showed me this picture and I just think it’s really a prophetic word for where we are. I want you to think about a father who is taking his son out to play catch for the first time. The little boy doesn’t know how to play catch. He’s not sure how the catch works. The father takes the boy out on the front yard and set them there and has the ball. And the boy has never played catch before. So he doesn’t know how to do it.

So when the father throws the ball to the son, he’s probably going to drop it. The boy might be afraid of it. The boy maybe get hit by it and start crying and be mad or offended at the father. The boy may say, I don’t want to do this, and runs back in the house. Or sees his friends playing over here and runs over to hang out with them. But the father is a good father, so he’s just going to keep bringing his boy back out day after day and throwing him the ball. And the boy may drop it, the boy maybe get hit by hit. The boy may not understand it. The boy may run back in the house a million times. But the father is just going to keep throwing him the ball, throwing him the ball. And eventually the boy is going to catch it.

And when he catches, he’s going to go, haah, I caught it. And the father is going to say, yeah. And the boy is going to throw it back and the father will throw it back to him. He’ll catch it the second time. And before long, all of a sudden, the boy knows how to play catch, he can catch it and he can throw it. That’s a picture of set apart living in you and me. We don’t really know how to live set apart if we’re honest in a broken and lost world.

And yet the good father is going to keep bringing this out and he’s going to keep standing us there, even if we don’t want to be there, even if we don’t like it, even if we’re not interested in it, and he’s going to throw it to us and he’s going to say, are you ready? Catch this. Set apart. Come on, catch this. And he’s going to throw it. And you might drop it, it might hit you, it might hurt you at first, you might get offended at Him, you might run inside and just disappear from church and God for like two years because you didn’t like it. But the father is going to keep bringing you back, he’s going to keep putting you there and say, okay, come on, you can catch this this time. Come on. Set apart.

You’ve been set apart. You’ve been set apart. You’ve been set apart. You’ve been set apart. And eventually you’re going to catch it. Haah, I got it. I understand. The father is going to say, yeah, now throw it back. And you’ll throw it back to him. He’s going to throw it to you, you’ll catch it again. Haah. Set apart. And I’m learning how to live set apart. And before you know it, all of a sudden you and the Father, you and the Holy Spirit, you’re going to be having this conversation in this life where you know how to catch the set apart life that he has given to you, and you’re going to love it and you’re going to crave it and you’re going to be begging Him, let’s go out and play.

Let’s go out and learn some more set apart. Let’s go out and live a little bit differently. Why? Because now you know how to do it. You didn’t get it at first. You may have dropped it a thousand times. It may fall on your toe. You may cry. You may get offended. But the father won’t give up on you. And He will keep throwing you this truth, and it’s your job to simply receive it. It’s your job to catch it. And guess what? You can drop it today. It’s okay. He’ll throw at you again tomorrow. You can be mad about it today. That’s okay. He’ll throw at you again tomorrow.

You can want to go hang out with your friends and do what they’re doing. That’s okay. He’ll throw at you again tomorrow. That’s the grace of Jesus. Set apart. Set apart. Set apart. Why?

Because he wants you to awaken and rise to a totally different life. He doesn’t want you to live in a world of can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, do, don’t, all of that stuff. He’s saying, come on, I’ve got more for you. Come on, you can do this. You have more capacity and capability than you’ll ever realize in the kingdom of God. And on this side of heaven, the father will never stop stretching you into understanding who you are because of who he is and what he has done.

Come on, Valley Creek, catch it. Catch it. Catch it. Whatever part of your heart that’s resistant, whatever part of your heart that’s avoiding it, that’s the part that he’s saying, come on, catch it. Catch it. Catch it. You’ve been set apart by grace for the good of others and the glory of God.

Rise to a bigger life in Jesus because this life is not about sin management, it’s about kingdom empowerment. Let’s believe Jesus for the life that he offers us. So close your eyes with me. Here’s the question, what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? Come on, if you’ve never put your faith in Jesus, today is the day to catch that truth and say, Lord, open my eye, open my heart. I receive the forgiveness of my sins that I have a new life in you.

And there’s a lot of us, we’re sitting in this room and we’re coming to grips with the reality maybe of where our life is versus the life that God is calling us to. Here’s what I love about Jesus, he does it so graciously and so kind there’s no condemnation. “Neither do I condemn you,” he says.

“But now go and sin no more.” Start going in a new direction. Catch the truth that I have tossed to you and let it set you free, in Jesus’ name. Jesus, I pray that you would dig up the hard parts of our hearts, that you would remove the shallow parts where we don’t receive your truth. That you would pull up the weeds and the thorns thistles that keep us divided and half focused on the world and half focused on you. Would you cultivate our hearts with grace that it might change how we live? That we would arise and awaken to the life we have in you. Jesus, capture our heart and set us apart. Help us live set apart. In your name we pray. Amen.

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