The beginning of a flourishing life is to receive the forgiveness that Jesus offers. Although we have all fallen short and missed the mark, we were made to live in the glory of God. Forgiveness is a choice that God has already made, receiving his forgiveness is a choice that we have to make.
Alright, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. We’re really glad that you’re here with us today. Whatever campus or location you may be at, whether you’re in Danton, Flower Mount, Louisville, The Venue and extension site, watching or listening online somewhere in the world, can we just welcome each other together for a moment? We are so glad that you are here with us. And if you are new at Valley Creek Church, I have no idea where you are. I have no idea what’s going on in your life, but I know this, hope is here. Hope is here because Jesus is here. And I believe he wants to do something great in your life. So I would say to you, welcome home. You see today, we’re going to start a new message here, it’s called flourish in life. And really, what this is, is a continuation for a theme this year as a church of getting rooted in Jesus to flourish in life. Our entire theme for this year, we’re taking an entire year of just going back to the basics. Going back to building a relationship with Jesus, moving past identifying with God to actually connecting to God.
And Colossians 2 has really been a themed verse to us. It says, so then, just as you receive Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness. In other words, if you will get rooted in Jesus, he will build your life. And the same way that a tree rests on, receives from, and trusts in the soil, we’re invited to rest on, receive from, and trust in Jesus. And yet, if we’re honest, we often get rooted in everything but Jesus. We get rooted in money and work and hobbies and activities, in addiction, in religion, and the things of the world. And the problem with all those things is that they never really deliver on what they promise, do they? They leave you feeling dry and weary and burdened because when you lose connection with the source of life, you will always lose your life.
And so, Jesus is inviting us to come back home to get rooted in love, get rooted in him so we can flourish in life. And really, all throughout this year, we’ve just been taking a look of these five roots. They’re really pathways of connection. These are not religious activities. They’re pathways of connection, engaging scriptures, talking with God, building godly relationships, meeting the needs you see and investing your time. And as we engage Jesus that way, he starts to build our life and we begin to flourish in him. And here’s what I want to say to you, your roots are growing. Your roots are growing. They may have only grown this much this year, maybe they’ve grown this much. I don’t know. And you’re like, it’s my first time, I ain’t growing nothing. Oh, man. You’re in an environment of faith, hope, and love, so your roots are growing right now, even as we talk. You, you’re growing. And really, a word that we’ve said is like a word for our church is you can’t rush what God is doing, but you’re going to need what God is doing for the days ahead.
You can’t rush what God is doing inside of you right now, but you’re going to need what God is doing for the days ahead because God wants to give you such a big life, but you’re going to need the root structure to sustain it and support all the blessings and all the goodness that he wants to pour into your life. And so, so in a sense, here’s what I want to say to you, God wants you to flourish in life. Do you believe that? I mean, do you really believe that? John 10:10, Jesus says, I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect to life and its fullness until you overflow. But how, how do we get that? By getting rooted in Jesus. Ephesians 3, I pray that you being rooted and established in love. Remember, love is not a concept or a feeling, he’s a person and his name is Jesus. I pray that you being rooted and established in Jesus may have power to gather with all the saints to grasp how wide, long, high, deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. I submit to you that if you are filled to the measure of the fullness, you are flourishing in life.
The question is, is how does that happen? When we say, get rooted in Jesus, what does that actually mean? When we say, rest on, receive from, and trust in him, what actually are we talking about? How do we flourish in life? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about for the next four weeks and what we’re going to do is we’re going to look at four different types of soil. Different soils in a sense that as you get rooted in Jesus will be the determiner of how you begin to flourish in life and we’re going to walk through that together and we’re going to start this week by just telling you a story from John Chapter 8. One day, Jesus is in the temple and he’s teaching like he always was and the crowd of people developed and it was a great day, a great message until a whole bunch of angry, vengeful, religious leaders comes storming in. And they’re dragging behind them this woman. She’s half-clothed and her tears are streaming down her face. She’s terrified. This is a woman who has lived a tough life. Lots of things have happened to her. She’s made lots of mistakes. She’s had all kinds of brokenness and pain and she was just caught red-handed in adultery. And she’s terrified because she knows the punishment is death. So in come these religious leaders dragging this woman and they whip her in the ground in front of Jesus and they all pick up stones and they say, Jesus, the law tells us we should stone this woman. What do you have to say? Now, pause. Here’s my question for you. Where is the man?
It’s a good question, right? Remember, religion oppresses women. Jesus sets them free. So, so they throw her on the ground and they picked up stones. Jesus, we should stone her, what do you have to say? And Jesus very calmly and quietly looks at the all and he just kind of bends down and he starts writing in the dirt. Silence. They’re furious. Jesus, did you not hear us? The law says, we should stone her, what do you have to say? And very calmly and quietly, Jesus stands up, he looks at them and he says, he who is without sin, let him throw the first stone. One by one, the stones fall to the ground and they all leave and Jesus looks at the woman and he helps her up and the first thing he says to her, is there no one left to condemn you? Ain’t that interesting that that’s what he says? He didn’t look at her and say, what’s wrong with you? Do you know I just saved your life? Like, why, why are you doing this? Why did you do that again? Don’t you know — is there no one left to condemn you? No answer. He lifts up her head. Then neither do I condemn you. Now, go and live your life of sin and be free.
And for the first time in her life, she begins to flourish, why? Because she just received the forgiveness of Jesus. She got rooted in the soil of forgiveness and just like that, she began to flourish and the same is true for you and me. If we will get rooted in the soil of Jesus’s forgiveness, we will flourish in life. You see, John chapter 8, that’s our story because that’s us. You’re like, no, no, no. I wasn’t caught red-handed doing that. Okay. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, we’ve all failed, we’ve all fallen and we’ve all messed up. Romans 3:23, all of sinned and falling short to the glory of God. Have you been in church for a lot of years? You’ve heard that verse used all kinds of wrong and broken ways. What does that verse really mean? All have sinned, to sin means to miss the mark. You’ve missed the mark and have fallen short of the glory of God. If you fall short of the glory of God, it means you are made to live in the glory of God. It means God has created you to live a glorious life. He doesn’t want you in the dirt of the world. He wants you to flourish in his glory, so he wants to forgive you, to set you free.
And like this woman, we know what it’s like to mess up. We also know what it’s like to be condemned. We know what it’s like for people to pick up stones and have them start coming in our direction. And I would submit to you that there are four different types of stones, condemnation that most of us experience on a regular basis. First is this, we’re condemned by the law. We’re condemned by the law, the law is the 10 commandments, God’s standard, and it’s written on tablet of stone because the law is hard. It’s rigid. It’s inflexible. The law demands everything from you but refuses to help you. The reason they stoned was people was because it was a picture of you broke the wall. Here was the standard written on the ten commandments, you didn’t keep it, so here comes the hard-stoned law coming down to crush you. In fact, second Corinthians 3 tells us the law is the ministry of death and the ministry of condemnation. The law hangs out and it is there to accuse you, define you guilty and demand a punishment to be paid. Don’t ever forget that the law was not given to make you good. The law was given to expose your need for Jesus. So we’re condemned by law. Secondly is we’re condemned by Satan. We’re condemned by Satan. Satan’s name, Satan, it literally means the accuser. That, that’s what his name literally says. What is — literally is the accuser. Isaiah 54 says no weapon formed against you will prevail and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. So catch it. The weapon Satan uses against you is accusation. The weapon he forms against you is accusation and condemnation and let’s be honest, he’s really good at it. You mess up and he just kind of slithers right in there, cuddles up nice and close to you and says, are, are you serious? Did you really just do that? Like you’re such a hypocrite. Like, like you call yourself a Christian? Like why, why did you leave and go to church last week and, and when people find out, they’re never, they’re never going to be okay with it. And if God — oh, when, when God — oh, when God —
You better keep this in the dark with me. He’s ruthless. Point out every failure, every flaw. And if that’s not bad enough, even when you do good, he shows up and tells you it’s not good enough. That’s why Revelation 12:10 says, he stands before God night and day accusing us, like he’s ruthless. He never gets tired of bringing accusations. That’s why he’s literally called the accuser. Third condemnation we experience is condemnation from other people. Let’s be honest. People are really good at throwing stones. They’re very quick to pick them up and chuck them out. As ever since Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have sat in the seat of judgment. A seat we were never created to sit in and we define everything as good, bad, right, wrong and we’re very quick to judge people and demand punishment and throw stones at them. People can be really mean and make you feel really small.
And if that’s not bad enough, the worse condemnation of all is we condemn ourselves. We’re the best stone throwers of all. And we throw them at ourselves. Self-doubt, self-condemnation, self-loathing, self-hatred. Like if you could just take a tape of the mind, of the person sitting next to you and listen to their thoughts of self-condemnation, it would be terrifying. We might be able to full everyone else around us but we know we can’t fool ourselves. And the harder you try to fool everybody else, the more condemnation you’re usually living under. We know we messed up, we know a penalty needs to be paid, so we often punish ourselves. Let’s be honest, condemnation is exhausting. So here is this woman. She’s guilty. Thrown in front of Jesus, she’s been condemned by the law, condemned by Satan, condemned by others, and condemned by herself. And they are waiting for Jesus to condemn her, but not only does he not condemn her, he sends all of her accusers away. Why? Because Romans 8:1 says, therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who were in Christ Jesus.
The only one who could have thrown a stone is the only one who didn’t even pick one up. Jesus stepped in between her and her accusers and forgave her of all her sins and one by one, the stones fell to the ground. He defeated — so he fulfilled the law, he defeated Satan, he silenced her accusers and he calmed her own heart and mind. And that’s what Jesus does for you. He wants to step in between you and all of your accusers, forgive you, and one by one, the stones will fall to the ground. I mean, John 3:17, we like 16 on posters, but 17 is a good one too that we should know. It says, that God did not send his son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. Ain’t it interesting that the one person we expect to condemn us is the only one who doesn’t? The last place we should — we go is the first place we should run. And so, what I’m trying to tell you is that in Jesus, you are completely forgiven and fully free. In Jesus, you are completely forgiven and fully free. Say, I am forgiven and free.
Okay. Now, say it again like you mean it. Yeah, you are. Come on. Have a little bit of authority in your voice — when you say it like you believe it. Psalm 103, praise the Lord on my soul and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. The problem is not that we’re not forgiven, the problem is that we forget we are. In fact, do you know what the word all means in the original language? It means all. Like every one of them. That’s like rocket science right there, all, you know. And some of you, like you got to understand, all of your past, present sins have been forgiven. And you might sit there and you’re like, wait a second. You’re telling me, since I haven’t even committed yet, I have already been forgiven? Yeah. Because when Jesus somewhere in the cross 2000 years ago, he said, it is finished. All of your sins were in the future. If he can’t forgive future sins, you’re in big trouble. All of them. Or how about Hebrews 8:12? He says, I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more. The sins you can’t seem to forget are the ones God can’t seem to remember. Not only are they forgiven, they’re forgotten. Like that one. Yeah, that one. Like the divorce, the abortion, the thing you did when you are deployed, the secret you keep that nobody knows about, that, that addiction, the screen time, where you’ve been, what you’ve — yeah, that one. Yeah, the one that all of a sudden, you’re like hoping that I don’t say, that one. That one. We have to stop paying for what’s already been paid in full.
See, we’re really good at throwing stones at ourselves, we got to get really good at Jesus’s forgiveness. Maybe it’s time to drop that stone. You see the reason a lot of us don’t flourish in life is because we’re not rooted in forgiveness, we’re rooted in condemnation. If we’re honest, many of us, we’re not rooted, we don’t rest on, receive from, and trust in forgiveness, we rest on, receive from, and trust in condemnation. We’re rooted in condemnation and it’s killing us. If you’re rooted in condemnation, all kinds of dysfunctions start showing up in your life. Remember, these are your roots, but this is your life. Anxiety, sickness, stress, worry, doubt, self-hatred, all those things start showing up in your life. You say, why? Well, just take a tree. If you took a tree and planted the tree in toxic waste, it would absorb that toxic waste, then it would start to wither and die. When you’re rooted in condemnation, it is toxic waste. You will absorb it and you will start to wither and die. And all of a sudden, you’ll lose all your hope, you’ll expect the worst, you’ll live with constant shame and guilt, you’ll repeat your sins because you feel like you’re already guilty and are going to get punished for it, so you may as well just do it again. You get stuck in the cycle. You sabotage your own relationships; you start yourself and other people. I mean, it’s, it’s amazing how dysfunction, the whole thing gets. The human heart was never meant to carry shame, guilt, and condemnation.
So it destroys us. You say, what, what is condemnation? Condemnation is when you’re accused, found guilty and deserving of punishment. That’s all it is. You’re accused, found guilty, and deserving of punishment. So here’s the problem, when we’re rooted in condemnation, we know we are deserving of punishment, so we start to punish ourselves. Subconsciously, you will start to punish yourself, which is why sickness and anxiety and depression and brokenness and loneliness and all that stuff will start showing up in your life. Why? Because you’re actually punishing yourself because you know you’ve been accused, found guilty and deserving of punishment. Like Psalm 103, we just read it, He forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. There’s an order. Until you believe that you are fully forgiven, your life will be full of all kinds of diseases. I want you to think about this with me. Until you believe you’re fully forgiven, your life will be full of all kinds of diseases. Why? Because you’re in the soil of condemnation, so you’re absorbing them and bringing them into your life, so you’ll have diseases in your body, diseases in your mind, diseases in your heart, diseases in your relationships, diseases in your emotions, and it will cripple you and start to kill you. I mean, if you just look around the world right now and you look at the diseases that are on there, they’re like skyrocketing. Cancer, mental disorders, relational chaos, anxiety, worry, depression, fear. What is all that stuff? I’m not saying all of it comes from this way, but a whole lot of it is because we’re rooted in condemnation, so we absorb it and we punish ourselves because we know we’re guilty. So you get the choice, you can let Jesus be punished for you or you can punish yourself. Whatever you are rooted in will manifest in your life. You’re in condemnation, death and destruction will show up. You’re in forgiveness, freedom and flourishing will show up.
That’s why it’s amazing when people finally received the forgiveness of Jesus, how all kinds of diseases start to go away in their life. All kinds of things, cancer and anxiety and depression and relational chaos, they just disappear. Why? Because he forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. Are you with me on that? Some of you might think, so you’re saying every — I’m not saying everyone, but I’m saying more than we ever want to give credit for. More than we ever want to acknowledge of the dysfunctions that are in our life comes because we just won’t receive the fullness of the forgiveness he offers. Listen, here’s what I’m trying to tell you, God is not mad at you. He’s not disappointed in you. He’s not trying to get you. He wants to forgive you. The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus, so the love of God can be poured out on you. Jesus was condemned so you could be forgiven. I believe the reason Jesus bends down in that moment is a prophetic picture to say, I’m willing to lay my life down, so I can lift her up.
He was willing to lay his life down, so you could be lifted up. Like this woman’s guilty, so someone has to pay for what she did and in that moment, you know what I think Jesus does, I think he looks at the Father, and says, Father, put it on my account. Every time you fail, I think Jesus looks at the Father and says, Father, put it on my account. Put it on my account. That one, put it on my account. I mean, that’s why Romans 4 says, blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, who sins are covered, blessed is the man who sinned. The Lord will never count against him. Do you know who that’s talking about? You. Blessed. Supernatural empowerment, flourishing in life come to those are who, who sins, the Lord does not count against them, who are rooted in the forgiveness of Jesus. Those are the ones who begin to flourish in life.
Until you received the forgiveness of Jesus, it is impossible to flourish in life. And I’m not talking about just knowing it, I’m talking about believing it. I’m talking about receiving it. So the next time you fail, declare out loud, in Jesus, I am completely forgiven and fully free. The next time accusation walks in the door, picks up those stones, that tape starts spinning in your mind, just stop, stop everything and say there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I declare that stone will fall to the ground because it’s already been thrown in Jesus, it cannot now be thrown at me. Unless I throw it myself. It’s your choice, okay? So you’re completely free and fully forgiven. The next thing is this. If that’s true, it means your past no longer defines you. But we don’t believe that. Do we? Why? Because we define everyone else by their past. People around us, you know, we always tell that story like that’s Aunt Sue, you know what she used to do? You know?
That’s my neighbor, Bill. You know where he came from? Right? We take their brokenness and we attach it to them for life. Why? We judge them because we think God’s judging us. Here’s a fascinating truth for you. You will always treat other people the way you believe God is treating you. Always. So you want to know what you think about God, just look at how you treat other people. However, you love people, that’s how you believe God loves you. However, you serve people, that’s how you believe God serves you. How you forgive people, that’s how you believe God forgives. So if you’re throwing stones at other people, it’s because you believe God is throwing stones at you. That’s why Isaiah 118, God says, come now, let’s reason together. He says, let’s talk about this. Though your sins are scarred that they shall be white as snow. Though they are red as crimson, they shall be like — well, we sit there and want to talk about the stains and the shame of our past and God says, what stain? What shame? He says, I can’t remember that. All I see is white as snow. You are not defined by what you did, you are defined by what Jesus has done.
You are not what you do, you are who Jesus is. You are not defined by the worst of your bad and you’re not limited by the extent of your good, you are now Jesus’s best. That’s why Romans 6:8 says, if we died with him, we now live with him. Like think of this woman, in the story, she is never called the adulterous woman. She’s called a woman caught in adultery, which means she is not defined by her failure. She’s not an adulterous woman, she is a woman made in the image and likeness of God who is loved, forgiven, and set free. That means, you are not your past. You are not an adulterer, a liar, a thief, a coward, a failure. No, no. You’re a child made in the image and likeness of God, love, forgiven, and free. Forgiveness is not just what you receive, forgiven is who you now are. That’s your identity in Jesus. So second Corinthians 5 says, if anyone’s in Christ, the old is gone, the new has come. Like it’s gone. No one would define a butterfly by its days, as a caterpillar. Would we agree with that? He never seen a beautiful butterfly, being like, oh, man, you know what that thing used to do? Yes, you may have crawled in the dirt, but you’re now soaring with God in the sky. Come on.
I mean, first John 1:7 — it’s alright, it’s alright. First John 1:7 says, if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins. See if you can catch this. The word cleanse in the original language, it, it means a continuous action. So it means when I put my faith in Jesus, not only am I cleansed of all my past, but I now live a life where I’m constantly being cleansed. So when you put your faith in Jesus, it’s like you live with a constant flow of forgiveness over your life. Everywhere you go, everything you do, everywhere you’re at, there is a flow of forgiveness over your life. Like I grew up about five miles above the Niagara Falls. On the Niagara River. And if you’ve ever seen the Niagara Falls, it’s one of seven wonders of the world. It’s profound. The water is so strong and so fast and so powerful. And so, I was thinking about that this week with this verse. I was thinking, imagine if you were standing underneath the Niagara Falls. That would be impossible. You’ll be swept away and you’d die. But if you could — if you’re standing there, the water is so powerful and so strong that it would literally become impossible to be dirty. Water so fast, it’s so strong that you could literally scoop up the worst mud of the earth and try to rub it on yourself and before you even got it here, it would be totally washed away. You wouldn’t even be able to see it. That’s what first John is telling us. That the power of Jesus’s forgiveness is so strong that even if you wanted to get dirty again, you couldn’t. So why do we want to define ourselves by our past brokenness. It, it’s no longer sticking to me. It can’t stick to me. That’s why Jesus’s forgiveness is one of the wonders of the universe.
I mean, think about it like this. We don’t confess our sins to be forgiven, we confess our sins because we are forgiven. There’s a big difference and it will mess with some of you. That’s okay. The moment we accept Jesus as our lord and savior and acknowledge the law brings us to the end of ourselves, I can’t meet God’s standards. I need someone. Jesus is savior, I bring him into my life. I am now completely cleansed and I live under a cleansing flow of his forgiveness. So I don’t have to confess my sins to be forgiven. Why? Because they can’t even stick to me. They’re already off my life. I confess my sins because I am forgiven and I refuse to be rooted in condemnation, so I declare them out loud to say thank you, Lord, that you have forgiven me and set me free of that already. In Jesus’ name. I mean just think about the thief on the cross for a second. Remember, Jesus is dying and there’s a thief next to him. And the thief looks at Jesus and says, Jesus, you know, with his dying breath, he was like, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus looked at the man and said, I probably am going to die in the next thirty minutes, you better start confessing really fast. Okay. Jesus, when I was in third grade, I think it was third grade, I stole a stick of bubblegum. And then, in fifth grade, I put a frog in my sister’s bed. And when I was 15, I took my dad’s car — no. Jesus looked at him and said, today, you will be in paradise. Why? Because he admitted he needed Jesus, so he was cleansed and being cleansed. We thank God for the forgiveness. Satan wants us to focus on the failures. God wants us to focus on the forgiveness. That’s the difference. See, here’s the question you have to ask. How do you know if you’re rooted in condemnation or forgiveness?
How do you know if you’re rooted in condemnation or forgiveness? Just, just one simple answer. What do you do as soon as you fail? The moment you fail, Tuesday night, at midnight, Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m., when you’re at work, when you’re at school, when you’re with your family, when you’re driving on the road and that thing happens, okay. What do you do? If you go right to Jesus, you’re rooted in forgiveness because you know it’s already been cleansed. It’s already off of you, so you go to him and thank him and ask him for strength that you might flourish again in life. But if you run from God, if you want to avoid him, if you kind of walked into church today like with one of these, like I hope, I hope God don’t know what happened last night. He does. And what he’s hoping is that you’ll look to Jesus and realize that in Jesus, it’s already been taken care of. You don’t have to live under the burden of your brokenness, you can live under the freedom of his forgiveness.
Which brings us to the last thing and it’s simply this, forgiveness changes how you live. John 8:11, Jesus says to the woman, neither do I condemn you. Now, go, live your life of sin. Look at the order, when we’re forgiven, it changes how we live, live. She, she came with shame, she left with strength. She came withering, she left flourishing. But we reverse the order, don’t we? We say to people, if you get your life right, then I forgive you. Jesus forgives knowing forgiveness will change how we live. That’s why he’s the god of grace and truth. The order matters. I mean, think of this woman. Do you think after this moment, do you really think she’s going to go back to that guy? Come on. You think she’s going to walk out of there and be like, hey, babe. Where you at? Hey. You are never going to believe this story. I have to tell you. I’m good. I’m still here. I’m coming home. Come on. No. Why? Because she spent her life rooted in condemnation and for the first time in her life, it’s been uprooted, she’s planted in forgiveness, she’s now free. That’s why Titus 2:12 says that it’s grace. Forgiveness, that teaches to say no to ungodly living and worldly passions and living upright self-controlled life in this present age.
It doesn’t say when we learn to say no to the world, then forgives us. It says we get rooted in forgiveness and then, we want to say no to the world. Because we don’t want to go back to that brokenness because we’ve been free. And it stresses some of us out. Some of you are like, you can’t tell people that. You’re going to give them permission to sin. Number 1, people don’t need permission. Let’s be honest. They’re really good at it, right? Okay, okay. And number 2, what if they do? What if they do take advantage of it? Then I think Jesus looks at him with every moment and says, Father, put it on my account. Put it on my account. Put it on my account. And eventually, they will either reject Jesus so much that their heart will become hard and they will completely walk away or the grace of Jesus will so transform their lives that everything will be different.
That’s why the Bible tells us kindness leads us to repentance. God’s goodness is what changes us. Like I don’t know, a couple years ago, we were at dinner when me and my wife and my kids, and the waitress came over and said, hey. Somebody in the restaurant wanted to, to buy your meal. And so, it’s paid for, so when you’re done, you could just let me know and, and you can leave. And we were like, so — like it’s so kind and so grace, were like so generous. It was one of those moment as you’re like, well, that’s so cool. And so, we’re talking about it, explaining it to our kids and you know the first thought I had was? It get another menu and let’s order to go order for everybody. Trey, get the dessert menu, get every kind, try them all. No. My first thought was, I wish I would have just got a water and not iced tea. My first thought was, I wish we didn’t get the chips and keso. Because I was so grateful by someone else’s generosity that it didn’t want to make me want to take advantage of it, it made me actually pull back. It’s like, well, I don’t want to do that if they’re going to have to pay for it.
That’s what grace does. It changes us from the inside out. Like how about this? Peter, one of Jesus’s 12 disciples. Let’s be honest, Peter had a rough go. He, he’s a fisherman that doesn’t know how to catch any fish. That just starts your life in a tough direction, you know? He, he, he’s bold, he’s brash, he’s insecure, he runs his mouth, gets ahead of himself, lots of problems, here’s my question for you, when did Peter change? When did Peter actually start flourishing in life? I say, well, when Jesus came and said, come follow me. Have you read the gospels? Really, Peter doesn’t flourish all that much at all in his journey with Jesus. When does he start flourishing?
I would submit to you that Peter starts flourishing when he finally receives forgiveness. You see, at the end of Jesus’s life, Peter denies Jesus three times to a servant girl. Jesus is dead and Peter’s, Peter — Jesus dies and Peter’s devastated. Like you want to talk about condemnation, you want to talk about shame and guilt, like this dude is rooted in the — he’s like self-talk, it’s condemned by the law, condemned by Satan and condemned by others, condemned by himself. He runs and he hides. And yet, the resurrected Jesus comes in, finds him, and completely restores him. And it’s like from that moment on, Peter finally got it. He becomes a totally different person. He’s secure, he’s kind, he’s loving, he’s no longer afraid, he steps out and lives the life that god has for him. In fact, that’s why in first — in second Peter 2, at the end of his life, Peter writes, and he says, for this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness, to goodness knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, perseverance godliness, and the godliness brotherly kindness, and the brotherly kindles love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Pause. Would you agree that if those qualities were in your life, you would flourish? Self-control, patience, love, kindness, all these things. Okay. You would flourish in your parenting, in your marriage, at school, in your calling, in your finances, you would flourish in every area of your life. Then look at what he says, if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. In other words, what Peter tells us is he says, the moment you get rooted in forgiveness, you start flourishing in life. And what he tells us is yeah, I followed Jesus for a long time without being rooted in forgiveness. Can I tell you something? You can spend your life coming to church, you can pray a prayer, you can have your ticket punched to heaven, and yet, you can be withering, struggling, and dying because you have yet to get rooted in his forgiveness.
To move past knowing about it to actually believing it. The secret that every person who is flourishing in life shares is they have just gotten rooted in the forgiveness of Jesus. In fact, if you’re not flourishing, there are some level of condemnation in the soil of your life that God wants to remove. You see, the reason — go to the next slide for me, please. The reason we’ve been talking about these this year, in all these roots, they’re meant to draw the forgiveness of Jesus in your life. We don’t engage the scriptures to find out what we have to do, we engage the scriptures because we want to grow in our knowledge, in our believe of the forgiveness of God. We talked to God because we can come right to Him and confess and thank Him that He has already done what He has done in our life with Jesus. We need godly relationships because when we fall, we need someone else to say, bro, that doesn’t define you. Let’s get up and keep going. We serve other people because when we lay our life down and lift them up, we’re reminded Jesus laid his life down and lifted us up and it takes time.
This doesn’t happen overnight. The problem is we don’t do this, so what happens is instead of engaging the scriptures, we listen to the voices of the world. Instead of talking with God, we allow Satan to be the constant accuser in our ear. Instead of having godly relationships, we hang out with people who throw stones. Instead of serving people, we throw stones at the people we should be serving. And instead of investing our time, it didn’t happen overnight and so, we’re done in it. And so, we’re stuck in condemnation and we wither and die. Maybe — just maybe it’s time to put down some roots. Some roots in forgiveness. You see, I love what Jesus says to the woman. He says, is there no one left to condemn you? No. Then neither do I condemn you. Now, go and be free. Today, Jesus would say to you, is there no one left to condemn you? The law has been fulfilled. Satan has been defeated. And the voices of accusers have been silenced. The only stone left is you. Maybe it’s time to put the stone down that we’ve been throwing at ourselves. Forgiveness is a choice God has already made. Receiving it is the choice you now get to make. So you close your eyes with me. Yeah. What, what do you think God wants to say to you today? Where, where is the Holy Spirit in your heart shining a light? Maybe you’re here and you’ve never put your faith in Jesus.
You’ve been confused by God, you’ve thought of Jesus as a religious guy, you thought he wanted to get you. My hope today is that his spirit is working in your heart and you say, Jesus, today is my day. I invite you into my life. Thank you for stepping in between me and all of my accusers. And thank you that you don’t throw a stone, you give us a helping hand. And if that’s you, for the first time of your life, you start to flourish because you just went from death to life. And then, there’s a lot of us here and we’ve been carrying guilt and shame and condemnation for years. You’ve been in church. You’ve heard the messages. You know the deal. And yet, for some reason, you don’t think that thing in your life can be forgiven by Jesus that there’s something you still have to do, some way you still need to earn it, some way you still need to punish yourself, so there’s diseases in your life.
Today is the day I think Jesus wants to say, yeah, that thing, yeah, that one, the one that’s in your mind right now, the one that makes you so ashamed and so broken and so remorseful, yeah, that one, that’s the one God wanted me to just tell you that he doesn’t even remember. That’s why I have nothing to say out loud. In Jesus, you are completely forgiven and fully free. Your past no longer defines you. And when you receive that forgiveness, it changes how you live and you start to flourish in life. So Jesus, would you come and uproot all of the condemnation and may we receive all of your goodness and your grace? And may we leave here today free and changed and thriving in the goodness of God. Every stone that could have been thrown at us has been thrown at you. Today, we look to you and we say thank you for forgiveness. May we receive it in our spirit? In your name, we pray. Amen.