It’s time to breathe again, believe again, and begin again in Jesus’ name. For the last message in the Again series, we reflect on what God has been saying to us and put our faith into action by saying, “I need to ______ again.”
Download the Again Response Card –https://resources.valleycreek.org/document/again-response-card/
So we’ve been in this series since the beginning and it has been good and it has been really important and it’s been challenging. So what we want to do today is we want to take just a few minutes and we want to go back and just see what the Lord has been speaking to us to remind our own selves of what He’s spoken throughout this time. So I encourage you, lean into this fresh, like lean into this like it’s fresh for right now because it still is.
In fact, what does the Lord want to say to you today?
It’s time to breathe again, it’s time to believe again, it’s time to begin again in Jesus’ name. And I want to start this series by saying something really significant. And I’m acknowledging its significance right out of the gate. And it’s simply this, I think this might be the most important year of your spiritual journey. Because what I want you to understand is we are six weeks away from one year. Six weeks away from one year ago when COVID hit, and we stopped gathering in our campuses and had to go through all that. And we’re back now, and all those different kinds of things. But what I want you to understand is that if you don’t engage your spiritual journey again this year and you go another year the way we did last year, there are patterns, behaviors, habits, beliefs that will get so engrained in your life that you may never get them out.
And you might wake up 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road and say something like this, like what happened? What happened to my faith? What happened to my family? What happened to my life? And so it’s time to engage again. See, I get it, the reason so many of us have disengaged in our spiritual journey is because last year was a global year of transition. Let me try to paint a picture for you here, just to kind of acknowledge where — it was a global year of transition. And transition is disorienting to us. We don’t like change. Change causes us to usually disengage, step back, wait it out until we get to decide if we like where it went or not. But last year was a global year of transition that none of us got to avoid. And we don’t like transition.
Transition causes us to disengage. Here’s what I’m trying to tell you. Don’t let someone else’s transition be your excuse for sitting on the sideline. Don’t spend so much time grieving the past that you miss what God is doing in the present. Come on, Isaiah 43 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now, it springs up; do you not perceive it?” The answer is no for most of us. We don’t see it. Why? Because we’re so busy dwelling on the past. The reason we can’t see the new thing that God is doing is because we get so focused on the past and the pain of transition. And God is saying, come on, it’s time to forget those things. Stop dwelling on what was. I’m doing a new thing now. That’s why I’m called the Great I am.
I’m not the great I was, I’m not the great I will be. I am the Great I am. I’m right here. I know they may not be. I know that thing may not be. I know that thing may have transitioned. I know those people may have moved on. But I am right here. Do you not see me?
See, it’s time to connect again. There are four different kinds of hearts, four different types of soils. Four different types of hearts. The hard heart, the rocky heart, the thorny heart, and the good heart. And so the question I want to ask you today is, which one of these is your heart? Which one of these is your heart towards God and His word? Is it hard? Is it rocky? Is it thorny? Or is it good? Come on. Which one of these is you? The answer is all of them. The answer is all of them.
You have all of these soils in your heart. And based on what God is saying to you, the type of soil that you have in that area determines how you respond. So the question is not which one of these are you. The question is how do we create more of this soil in all the areas of our life. How do I create this in my life? Are you ready for the answer? Relationships. Relationships. See, it’s time to connect again. That’s what today is about. It’s time in Jesus’ name to connect again. You say, why? Because you can’t cultivate your own soil. Now, you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of the body. I don’t care how my forearm feels. If it’s connected to my elbow and my hand, it’s connected. It doesn’t matter how it feels. By faith, it’s positioned in my body. And what’s happening?
Life is flowing into it and life is flowing out of it. We got to connect again in Jesus’ name. Whether online or in person, it doesn’t matter. Is the life of Jesus flowing out of someone into you and is it flowing out of you into someone else? That’s what matters. Are you with me on that? So it’s time to forgive again. Jesus is sitting with the disciples and he says, hey guys, you’re going to get offended. I don’t care who you are, offenses are going to come in your life. You’re going to get hurt, you’re going to get wounded, you’re going to get disappointed, people are going to sin against you. So watch yourself because it’s a really big deal when it happens. And he says, no matter what they do, no matter how many times it happens, up to seven times in a day, you need to forgive them. Seven times in a day. Seven is the number of completion. So what Jesus is saying is you need to abundantly, lavishly, completely, generously forgive them no matter how many times, no matter what they do.
And the disciples’ response to that is ‘increase our faith’. And they are exactly right. Because it takes faith to forgive. You see, what we have to remember is that forgiveness is not logical. It’s not cognitive. It’s not something we understand. It doesn’t make sense. In fact, it’s illogical to cancel a debt that somebody else owes against you without having them pay for it. Forgiveness is supernatural. It comes from the kingdom of God within you. It comes from the Spirit of God within you. It comes from the grace that Jesus has given you. And remember, God’s wisdom is foolishness to man. So it doesn’t make sense in the world, which is why it requires faith. And so you what is an offense? Big word, we’re not always sure what to do with it. An offense is unforgiveness that demands judgment.
It’s an unforgiveness that says there needs to be a judgment based on what you have done. I need to see justice, there’s a vengeance, there’s a hostility, there’s an anger, there’s an edge. It’s an unforgiveness that demands seeing some kind of justice come into your life for what you did to me. If we are that offended, it says to me that we’ve lost sight of the grace of God. So it’s time to forgive again. Had you forgotten? Had you forgotten that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus? Had you forgotten that you are a new creation? Had you forgotten that God is not offended at you? It’s time to receive forgiveness again, so we can release forgiveness again.
It’s time to obey again. Because in the kingdom of God success is defined by obedience, not results. So if you’re being obedient in any given area of your life, no matter what the results look like, you are by definition successful in Jesus’ name. What you have to understand is that you don’t obey to become, you obey because you are. You don’t obey to become significant, and valued, and loved. You obey because you are significant, and valued, and loved in Jesus. It, grace, teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. What you have to catch here is that grace reaches us and the goodness of the grace of God and His voice in our life teaches us how to say no to ungodly things, how to walk in obedience. Our problem is we spend more time listening to the voice of this present age than we do to the voice of our good Father.
Can I ask you? What’s the last thing that God told you to do? Did you do it? If not, it’s time to obey again.
It’s time to enjoy God again. Today is a test. Today is a test to choose to lean in and seek God and more forward even though it feels uncomfortable, inconvenient or maybe like a little bit of a wind just got kind of knocked out of your sense. Like can I ask you, like even today, are you enjoying God? Do you enjoy His presence? Do you enjoy His grace? Do you enjoy your relationship with Him and His goodness and His love? Like are you enjoying God? Because He’s enjoying you.
And so on a day like today, when maybe the experience isn’t what we were expecting or were maybe a little bit disappointed because we were looking forward to come into our campus or this is a little bit out of the norm of what we do, that’s okay. The question is, is right now in this moment, can you enjoy God? Can you enjoy God even when things don’t look like you want them to look like or feel like you want them to feel like or are moving in the direction that you want them to move? Can you just enjoy God again?
Today, we’re going to choose to remember again. Remember to stay Jesus-focused. In times like this, you got to stay Jesus-focused. Open your eyes, see how Jesus is moving because whatever you stare at you steer towards. A whole bunch over the course of the last 12 months, we’ve been staring at everything else other than the very one that we should be looking at.
We’ve been staring at the brokenness of the world, we’ve been staring at the things that cause anxiety and fear, we’ve been looking right down the gut of all the things that are surrounding us and instead we must focus on the one that holds us. We must focus on the one who’s in us. We must focus on the one who’s leading and guiding us. That’s why we are Jesus-focused.
It’s an invitation to trust again. God so loved the world that He gave, He trusted, His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him, whoever entrusts their self back to Him will not perish but have eternal life. Heaven. See, the kingdom of heaven is all about a firm trust in God. The kingdom of this world is all about a firm trust in man.
Which kingdom do you trust? Which kingdom does your life say you trust? Which kingdom does your worry or anxiety say you trust? Because friends, if you’ve got worry or anxiety in your heart, can I just encourage you? That’s just misplaced trust.
So come on, that’s good. That’s the voice on the Lord in our lives, in our church family. That is His word for us to breathe again, to believe again, to begin again. Can I just tell you, a part of the reason that those that are planted in the house of the Lord flourish is because we get to hear the very words of God spoken over our lives and our family. They build our faith.
And we begin to walk forward in steps of faith. That’s what happens to many of us in this season. We begin to walk forward from where we were stuck, from where the world was stuck, from what happened to us. And we begin to walk forward by faith to begin to follow Jesus again. When you came in, you got one of these cards. Go ahead and grab that. Online, you can take a look at the chat room and pull this up if you want to access this card. But today, we’re going to take a moment and just ask the question, where do I need to blank again? What is the thing that God has been speaking to you over this time? He’s spoken some amazing things to our church over these last eight weeks. So what is He saying to you specifically? We choose to ask and to listen and then to actually respond by faith. What’s God been speaking to you over this time?
Maybe one of those that you just heard on that recap struck your heart to forgive again, to obey again. Maybe it’s time to connect and engage at a different level again. Or maybe it’s actually something different that He’s spoken to you. What is that thing? Maybe for some of you, it’s time to dream again in Jesus’ name. You lost sight of dreams that you once had, you lost sight of hopes that once filled your heart. It’s time to just dream again with God. Maybe it’s time to walk in relationship again. Do you have a specific person that He’s bringing to your mind? Do you have a specific group of people that you’re going to reengage in this next season? It’s time to get back into relationship again. I don’t know. The Spirit does. He wants to show it to you. And I want to invite you to begin to write that down. Grab a pen and write down the thing that you think you’re sensing.
Many times I find that it’s the first thing that comes to my heart and my mind is that still small voice that kind of bubbles up on the inside of me. That’s the goodness of God, it’s the Spirit speaking to me and telling me what He wants me to write down. See, what you’re going to do is you’re going to write this down as an act of faith, one small step of obedience, and that one small step is going to lead to more steps after that. And then you’re going to find and instead of feeling stuck, you’re going to be in motion again. You’re going to be moving forward with Jesus. Because something as simple as writing it down, scriptures say, write it down, make it clear so that the messenger may run with it. Write it down so the messenger may run with it. Do you know what you’re doing today? You’re writing a message to yourself. Through the Holy Spirit speaking the very word of life that God wants to call up in you what is it that you need to do again. Go ahead and write that down right now. If you’re at home, you can write that down for yourself.
Believe by faith that those very words, this moment is a marker stone moment. It’s time to move forward by faith. It’s time to run again. It’s time to reengage the life that Jesus has called us to. Go ahead and write that down and then take a look here above me at the screen. Hebrews 12. Look what Hebrews has to tell us about this. It says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Have you felt tangled up? Have you felt caught up in this season? Then it’s time to run again in Jesus’ name. Come on, “Let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, the perfecter of our faith. For the joy set forth before him he endured the cross. He scorned its shame. He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Come on, it’s time to run again. Why? So that we do not grow weary and lose heart. We look to Jesus. And as we look to him and as we face forward into the future, into what he’s calling us to, we choose to begin again. We choose to get unstuck to move from where we’ve been stuck over these long months. Isn’t it crazy that today, today, today was the first weekend we were not able to gather together as a church one year ago? We’re taking it back by faith.
Today, we choose to lean into what Jesus has asked of us, to come on, to breathe, to believe, to begin again by faith. We choose to run this race that’s marked before us. It’s time to do all those things again. That card is for you to hold on to. You keep that, you remind yourself of this moment, of this time. And now, it’s just a chance to just seal all this up in our hearts, to spend this moment together. We’re going to choose to take communion.
Another thing we haven’t gotten to do in a long time together. If you prepared your communion elements at home, you can grab those right now. I encourage you here inside the room, and there’s two tabs on that little communion cup. Make sure you just open it carefully. But as we choose to take communion, what we’re saying is, that communion is really the essence of again. Communion joining in together to remembering what Jesus has done for us. It’s the very essence of again. Let me explain it to you. Jesus came to his disciples and he reminded them that every single time they took communion, they were going to remember everything that he done again. They would remind their souls, remind their hearts of what he had finished, what he had completed, what he had done through his death, burial and resurrection. And every time we take communion together, we are reminded again of who Jesus is and what he has done.
When Jesus breathed out his last breath on the cross, it allowed us to breathe again. When Jesus had to choose by faith to believe in the goodness of the Father and obey Him all the way to death, scorning and shame, it reminded us that it’s time to believe again. When Jesus took those steps of faith on his way to the cross and through the life that God had brought him on this earth to live, he began again so that we can begin again. That’s what communion does. It’s the essence of again. It’s the essence of choosing to walk forward by faith. So go ahead and take the bread.
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus grabbed that piece of bread and he broke it. And he said, this is my body being broken for you. Every single time you eat of it, remember again what I’ve done for you. Let’s take it together.
In the same way, he took the cup. He said, this is a cup of a new covenant, a new agreement between God and man, it’s going to be poured out like my blood for the forgiveness of sins. And when you drink of this, it’s going to be an opportunity to remember again what I’ve done for you, how you are forgiven, how you can move forward boldly by faith, so every time you drink of it do it in remembrance of me. Let’s take it together.
So thank you Jesus. We choose to remember you today. Remember that you’re the one that set a course for us to take a new breathe, for us to be full of belief and faith. And for us to move forward and begin, into any season of our life again.
In fact, right now, we just choose — we choose to use this moment in time to say, we’re not going back to what was, we are moving forward by faith. We’re not going back to what was in the past. We say that the best is yet to come and wherever you are leading us is better than where we’ve been. And so we boldly move forward in faith, we boldly choose to step into the life you called us to. We breathe in your life. We believe in you as a good God. And we begin again today in Jesus’ name.