Worldly Limitations are Kingdom Invitations

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The things we value are limited, but what God values is unlimited. God is unlimited and so is your relationship with Him.

Jesus, Jesus, the savior of the world, the prince of peace, the king of kings and the lord of lords. And he is here right now with you. You see, this is Palm Sunday. It’s the Sunday before Easter. And on Palm Sunday what we remember and we celebrate is that it’s when Jesus rode into the City of Jerusalem to lay down his life for the salvation of humanity.

And as he came in, people cut down palm branches. And they took off their coats and they laid it on the ground and made a path for him and said, “Bless is he who comes in the name of Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” And they worshipped Jesus and they lifted up his name. And he rode into their lives because they welcomed him in. He rode into their sin and their shame, and their sickness, and their brokenness, and their pain and their addictions, because they welcomed him in. And today, we get to do the same. We can choose to welcome Jesus into our lives through our worship.

And so I want to invite you wherever you are, if you feel comfortable, would you just close your eyes and maybe open up your hands with me like this.

And on this Palm Sunday, could we maybe together welcome Jesus into our lives? Could you maybe right now just welcome him into your heart, into your mind? Would you welcome him maybe into your body, in your life? In fact, maybe whatever room that you’re even in right now, maybe just say, Jesus, I welcome you into my living room. I welcome you into this bedroom. I welcome you into the kitchen. Jesus, I welcome you in. I lift up your name and say, would you ride into my sin and my shame and my sickness and my anxiety and stress, and the storm that’s raging around me and come and be the prince of peace?

I love it, Jesus tells us, he says, “I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open up the door, I will come in and be with you.” This is our moment to just open up the door and say, Jesus, I just welcome you in. I welcome you into my business and into my school, and into my situation and my circumstance, and I say, come Jesus and do that, which only you can do. We lift up your name.

And so even in this moment, can you just be aware that right now Jesus just entered wherever you are, to your life, to your situation, to your circumstance, to the room that you’re in.

The prince of peace just came to be with you. So Jesus, today we lift up your name. We welcome you with praise. And we say you are welcome here in our lives, in our families, in our homes, in our church, in our city, and in our world. You are our king of kings, our lord of lords. And we look to you today Jesus, in your name we pray. Amen.

Well, hey, everybody, I want to just welcome you again here to our special Valley Creek online service. I’m so glad that you’re here today. And we are aware of the presence of God that is with us right now. We are aware of his peace and his provision and his protection.

And I’m so glad that you’re joining us wherever you are in the world. You see, this is our fourth Sunday of online church. Like can you believe that it’s already been four weeks of having to do online church. And I think when this whole coronavirus thing first started up and we couldn’t meet that first week, I think a lot of us kind of thought this was going to be like a snow day, like alright, it’s not the greatest thing, but we’ll be okay. And we’ll get back to life tomorrow. And then all of a sudden, everything has seemed to change.

There’s shelter in place orders. And we can’t go to work and we can’t go to school, and we can’t go about our normal daily lives. And it feels like everything has changed. And so here’s just what I want to ask you, how are you doing? Like how are you really doing? Maybe nobody has really asked you that question yet. Like how’s your heart? How’s your mind? How’s your spirit? Like how are you really doing in the midst of all this?

Because I realized for a lot of us, like it feels like everything has changed. And a lot of you are dealing with home school pressures now. And maybe you’ve lost your job. Or maybe there’s the economy. Or maybe there’s sickness or fear, stress, all those different kinds of things. Like how are you really doing? And it’s amazing as all these emotions have gotten stirred up, there is this anger, and there is this anxiety, and there is this apathy. And while all those emotions are real, while they’re all valid, what I want to remind you in this season is Genesis that tells us, “You are the God who sees me.” That in the midst of everything that’s happening around you, He is the God who sees you. He knows, He cares, He’s in tune, He is with you, and He is for you. His eyes are upon you. And He’s holding you in his hand.

You see, I love Psalm 136, it tells us, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His love endures forever.”

Even in the midst of everything that’s happening around us, He is still good to you. And His love endures forever. The coronavirus can’t stop the love of God because it endures forever. And if it endures forever, then the coronavirus or the economy or the stock market can’t stop it. And so we have lots to give thanks to the Lord for because there is more to celebrate in this season than to complain about why because He is good to you, He loves you, He cares for you, He sees you, and He is holding you in His hand.

You see, this is a really interesting season because if we’re honest, what’s happening to all of us is we’re all being stretched. Like would you agree with me on that right now? Like wherever you are, would you agree? Like this is a stretching season. And we’re all kind of being stretched at the same time.

And some of us feel like we’re getting stretched like almost to the breaking point. And what I want you to think about is I want you to think about like a giant rubber band that’s being stretched. It’s kind of what it feels like in life right now. But if you think about that rubber band, you have to stretch the rubber band to take things out of it or put things into it. You have to actually stretch the rubber band if you’re going to go ahead, if it’s around a pack of pens to pull one of those pens out or if you want to put a piece of paper into the thing that the rubber band is holding, all the other papers, you actually have to stretch the rubber band to pull something out or to put something in. And that’s exactly what’s happening in your life and my life right now.

See, God is allowing us to be stretched so He can take things out of us and put things inside of us. And so the question I want to ask you is, what in your life right now is God trying to take out and what is God trying to put in.

In the midst of this stretching, what’s He trying to take out of your life? Maybe he’s trying to take out stress, anxiety, worry, fear, ungodly beliefs, insecurities, idolatry, I don’t know, what’s He trying to take out of your life and then what’s He trying to put in? Maybe He’s allowing you to be stretched because He’s trying to put in faith, hope, love, a fresh vision, a new destiny, a dream, or some creativity or some innovation. He’s not just trying to take things out, He’s also trying to put some amazing things in in the midst of the stretching.

And what I want you to realize is you’re not the only one who’s being stretched. All the people you love, they are being stretched right now too. And so we’ve all kind of gone from being fluffy sheep to being prickly porcupines. You know what I’m talking about? Come on, if you know what I’m talking about, give me a “oh yeah” in your home right now, like oh yeah.

And look at that person that’s getting real prickly. Yeah, we’re all getting a little edgy. We’re getting a little short, we’re getting a little tense, we’re getting a little sharp with each other. Why? Because we’re all being stretched at the same time. And so it’s a reminder for us that we have to give each other grace. Ephesians 4, I love this, it says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” This is a great verse for this season. To be kind and compassionate and start treating each other the way that God treats us. See, this is a season for grace.

And what I love about grace is grace means undeserved favor and supernatural empowerment. So this is a season to give grace to the people you love. Give them undeserved favor. Serve them in ways they don’t deserve, talk to them in ways they don’t deserve, treat them in ways they don’t deserve because that’s what God for you. And when you give grace, it supernaturally empowers them.

When you give grace to the people in their life, when they’re like a prickly porcupine and you give them grace anyways, you’re empowering for victory, you’re empowering them for breakthrough, you’re empowering them to be strong and courageous and move forward. It’s an opportunity for you to partner with what God is doing as He’s stretching them and trying to take things out of them and trying to put other things in them.

See, this is our season to be quick to apologize and quick to forgive and kind of de-quill each other along the way because how we go through this season is just as important as getting through this season. You see, if we’re honest, what’s kind of happened to us is this whole coronavirus thing, it literally came out of nowhere. And all of a sudden, this big storm came into our life and just like, we lost our comfort, we lost our convenience and we lost our perceived sense of control.

I don’t know where coronavirus shows up and this whole thing happens. And all of a sudden, all the comforts and the conveniences and the control that you and I love to move, and all of a sudden, that was all removed and we were forced in to change. And if we’re honest, we don’t like change anyways. And we hate change that is forced upon us. And so all of a sudden, there’s all these limitations, there’s all these barriers, there’s all these obstacles and all these things that you can’t do. And it’s like every time you turn on the news, there’s another limitation that gets placed upon your life.

And in the midst of all of those limitations, you know what’s not limited? God. Or your relationship with Him. You see, I love this verse, Matthew 6, Jesus tells us, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We love this verse. We use it all the time. We say, put God first and he’ll take care of the rest.

That Jesus is supposed to be first and foremost in our lives. And yet if we’re honest, we often get this verse backwards. We seek everything else and then hope that God will be added to us as well. We misplace the order. We go about our daily lives seeking all these other things, and then we want to add God to the end. He says, no, no, seek me first and then I will make sure everything else is added to your life as well.

And so all of a sudden, we’re in this season with all these limitations. And all of a sudden, all the things that we normally seek, we can’t. They’ve been limited. You can’t seek work. You can’t seek or go after school. You can’t seek shopping or the gym or the movies or your activities or your hobbies. All the things we seek first and foremost in our lives, they’ve kind of been limited in this season, haven’t they? And yet, we can still seek God with everything we’ve got.

It’s almost like in God’s goodness and His grace, He has allowed everything else to be removed, so the only thing left to seek is Him. You see, when life feels limited, the greatest thing you can do is seek after the unlimited God. In fact, I love this, it says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” Do you understand His kingdom and His righteousness are unlimited? The kingdom of God, it has no limit. “Of the increase of His government there shall be no end.” There’s no limit on the kingdom of God. It can go from life to death, from heaven to earth, from supernatural to natural, from spiritual to the physical. There is no limit on the kingdom of God.

And there is no limit on the righteousness of God or the finished work of Jesus. There is no limit to what Jesus has done. He can forgive the worst of sinners, the hardest of hearts and even the most rebellious spirit.

And so what God is actually telling us in this verse, He’s saying, hey, seek the only unlimited things in the universe, my kingdom and my righteousness, and I will take care of everything else. This isn’t just a principle, it’s a promise. And if Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, then if we will walk in his way, we will discover his truth and we will start to experience his life. God is not limited in this season.

In fact, check out these verses with me. Look at this next one. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Okay, come on. With social distancing and shelter at home in place, there’s a whole lot of people that have had to leave, a whole lot of people that have had to move out of your life for this season. Well, guess what, God hasn’t left. And he won’t forsake you.

Or how about this next one. This says, “God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach for Him and find Him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

We talked about this last week that God didn’t create the coronavirus. He didn’t send the storm, but He will use it for your good and His glory and He’s using that right now, so that we would seek Him, reach out for Him because He’s not far from each one of us. Like right now, God is in your living room, God is in your bedroom, God is in the kitchen, God is wherever you are right now engaging in — He’s not far from you.

Or how about this next one? This says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that’s so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. In other words, let’s toss off all the things that we normally seek first and foremost in our life. And let’s go after Jesus. And what’s amazing is whether you realize it or not, a whole lot of the things that hinder and a whole lot of the things that entangle you from going after God have been removed for you in this season so that you can fix your eyes on Jesus.

One more, look at this, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. We are in a time of need. And this tells us we can go right to the throne of grace, the way a son would run to his father. There is no limit between you and God. There is no barrier between you and God in Jesus’ name. And you can be as close to Him as you want to be.

You see, what I think is so cool is that all of the things that you want in life, they’re found in Jesus. The love that you want, the peace you desire, the joy that you seek, the wisdom, the healing, the answer, the breakthrough, it’s all found in Jesus. That’s why it says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and everything — everything else you want is found in Him.”

And He’s not limited in this season. So maybe we need to change our perspective. Maybe we need to stop talking about all the things we can’t do and start focusing on what we can do. Maybe we need to stop looking at the limitations and start seeing the invitations. Maybe we need to stop looking at the obstacles and see the opportunities. Come on. I know there’s lots of things that are limited in your life right now. You can’t go to work, you can’t go to school, you can’t do your activities or your hobbies. But you know what you can do? You can worship. You can pray. You can engage the Scriptures. You can take a next step. You can obey. You can trust. You can give. You can serve. You can be filled with the Holy Spirit, discover fresh revelation, confess and repent, move forward in faith, hold on to hope, I genuinely believe that this is the greatest opportunity you have ever had in your life to seek God.

I think this is a moment of fresh paths, new life direction, new perspective, worldly limitations have brought about some amazing kingdom invitations. Come on, are you with me on this? You see, if we’re honest with each other, like here’s – let me ask it you like this, like would you be as upset if seeking God was limited or canceled as you are about the other things in your life that have been limited or cancelled? It’s a really good question.

Would you be as upset if seeking God was limited or canceled as you are about all the other things in your life that have been limited or cancelled? And if the answer is no, that’s okay. What it does is it reveals to you that maybe we’ve been trusting in some other things. Maybe we’ve had a lot of security or joy, or maybe we’ve just been pursuing some other things in this world. And what this season is doing is it’s paring it all back and it’s showing us that maybe we weren’t really seeking after God the way that we thought we were.

Because at the end of the day, you will always seek what you most desire. In fact, I love it one day when the teacher of the law comes to Jesus and says, “Jesus, what’s the greatest commandment?” He says out of all the commandments, like which is the most important one? In other words, what’s the most important thing to God. And Jesus looks right back at the man and he says, “The most important commandment is love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, Jesus says, seeking God is the most important thing to God. Living in His love and allowing it to flow through you is the most important thing to God.

And I’ve been thinking about that all week, realizing that while the things we value might be limited, the thing God values is not. We might be limited in where we can go and what we can do in our comforts and our conveniences, but living in love has not been limited.

And so while you may not be able to seek right now what you want, you have the full opportunity to seek after that which matters most. Are you with me on that? Come on, I’ve been wanting to say to you all week. Are you with me on that? I mean there’s this great story in Acts 16 about Paul and Silas, two followers of Jesus. And they were going about their life, preaching the gospel, everything was good, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere they get arrested, beat, persecuted, thrown in jail, locked in chains in the innermost cell.

And almost like out of nowhere this big storm showed up, hit their lives, there they are, you want to talk about shelter in place, this is called shelter in prison. And just like that, all their freedoms are limited. They can’t go to the park, they can’t go to church, they can’t go see their family, they can’t go all the places they want to go. There they are. And they got a decision to make.

How are they going to respond? And it says, “At midnight, Paul and Silas started worshiping and praying.” In the midst of all the limitations that were forced upon their life, the one thing that wasn’t limited was God. And so they sought Him with everything that they had, why? Because when life feels limited, the greatest thing you can do is worship the unlimited God. And as they started seeking out after Him, all of a sudden they welcomed Jesus with their praise, He came, He moved, the Spirit of God showed up, their chains came loose, the door flew open. And all of the prisoners were set free.

And I love that story because I think that’s us right now, guys. The coronavirus storm has showed up out of nowhere in our lives. And all of a sudden, it feels like everything is limited. It feels like we’re thrown into the inner cell with chains and a locked down and we can’t go anywhere. And some of us are really struggling with that. I realize some of you like right now, you have a really hard time just being with yourself.

You’re not comfortable in your own skin, you’re not comfortable being with just your family or just with God. And I’ve been thinking about this all week. Why is this so hard for us? Because if we’re honest, there’s a storm raging in here. We think the storm is out there. The truth is the storm is in here. There’s a lot of unrest in our souls. There’s a lack of peace. There’s a sense of discontentment. There’s condemnation and shame, and guilt, and doubt. And all those things live in you, so we fill our lives with activities. We fill our lives with busyness and hustle and hurry and being overwhelmed. We numb and distract. And all of a sudden, all those things have been removed from us, and we’re stuck left with ourselves.

And so I’m already watching and seeing people that are saying, I literally can’t do this so they’re replacing one distraction with another. But now, they’re going to reorganize every cabinet that they’ve gotten, resort all of their towels, and clean out their garage, and make their landscape perfect.

And while there’s nothing wrong with those, don’t just trade one distraction for another. Don’t get rid of one coping mechanism for another — don’t numb yourself with something else the way you used to numb yourself before. See, if you’re not comfortable being with yourself, maybe God is stretching you right now so He can take something out of you or put something into you.

See, the reason we don’t love others is because if we’re honest we don’t really love ourselves. And the reason we don’t love ourselves is because we don’t allow God to love us with all His heart, mind and soul and strength. This is why 1 John 4, I love this, says, “So we know and rely on the love of God. This is a season to know, experience the love of God and rely upon it. Kind of like a trust fall. This is a season to literally fall back into the love of God, and let Him unearth and expose all those things, stretch you so He can take things out and put things in.

Because if you’ll start seeking God in this season, where you feel chained and where it feels like you’re closed in and you can’t go where you want to do or what you want to do, all of a sudden you start turning all of that to praise, then guess what, God’s going to move on your behalf. There’s going to be a new level of freedom that’s going to come in your life, new doors of opportunity will open to you. And the atmosphere of the entire house that you live in will change. Why? Because you welcomed the presence of God into your life. This is a season to seek God with everything that we’ve got.

You see, one last story for you to try to pull it all together. There is this great story of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. He’s’ this great guy, but he’s had enough, man. He’s had enough of the storms and the situations and the circumstances of his life, so he literally wants to die. Literally says, God, like take my life. And so he goes up on this mountain and he goes and he hides in a cave, shelter in cave. That’s where he is.

And while he’s in this little cave hiding out, this big storm comes in the mountain. There’s this big fire that rips down the side of the mountain, burns everything up. But God wasn’t in the fire. And then a big wind comes and blows and breaks everything apart, but God wasn’t in the wind. And then a big earthquake came and shook everything apart, but God wasn’t in the earthquake. Then came a gentle whisper. And God was in the whisper. And Elijah leaned in and listened to God. And what I love about that story is it reminds us that God is not in the storm. But He’s using the storm to get our attention, so we will lean in and listen to His whisper.

You see, the truth is there’s a storm in your life right now. But God’s not in the corona. And God’s not in the stock market.

And God’s not in the drama. But God is using that storm to get your attention, so you will lean in and listen to His whisper. And you say, well, why does God whisper? He whispers because He’s close and He wants to be even closer still. See, all of a sudden, God’s turned the noise of our life down. We say, we want to hear God speak and we want Him to speak louder. And He says, I want you to turn your down or turn your life down. All of a sudden, He’s turned our life down for us in some ways. There’s not a lot of planes flying in the sky or cars on the road or activities to go to, or responsibilities to be a part of. He’s turned it down, so you will lean in and listen.

You see, in this season, there’s three questions that you can ask yourself. Really simple, God, what do you want to say to me? God, what do you want to do in me? And God, what do you want to do through me?

What if this week, as everything has been tuned down, the storm has gotten your attention, so you can hear God. You say, what do you want to say to me? I’m your sheep, you’re my good shepherd. I believe that you speak, I want to hear your voice.

What if you just ask God, God, what do you want to do in me? Where do you want to stretch me? What do you want to take out and what do you want to put in? Search me, God. Know my heart. Test me and remove all the anxiety, all the things of this world. Remove them from me and give me your kingdom.

And then God, what do you want to do through me? You’re a hope carrier. And you have the ability to bring the hope of Jesus to the world around you, to people who will never tune in to a service like this, to a people or a person or a family or an individual that we have no access to, but you do. And He wants to do something amazing through you. You see, this is our season to seek God in ways that we never have before.

It’s time to stop talking about what we can’t do and start looking at what we can do. So the question that I just want to ask you is really simple. And it’s just this, what are you seeking? Like not what were you seeking four weeks ago. That question doesn’t even matter anymore. What are you seeking right now? What are you going after? You see, what we often do is we have these same two excuses that we use on why we don’t seek God. We either, number one, say, we don’t have enough time. We’re too busy. Well, guess what, you got time. All the busyness, all the activities, all — maybe it’s God. Maybe God has helped prune all of that stuff out, so He can get our attention, so we will seek Him.

And the second excuse we use is we say, we don’t know how. Can I tell you something? At this point, how is an excuse. It’s a how issue, it’s a heart issue.

If you really want to seek God, just follow along with all the things that we’re doing. Take the steps that we’re putting out there. You’d be amazed at what would happen. I mean what if you use this season to take all the time and energy that you’ve been using to seek other things. And as those things have removed, what if you just took that and turned it and sought after Jesus? What would happen? Who would you become? Come on. If you seek God in this season, then in the season to come, everything else will be added unto you. It’s not just a principle, it’s a promise in Jesus’ name.

And so I want to help you with this in the days to come. So here’s what we’re going to do this week, we’re going to start a challenge this week, an opportunity and experience because it’s time for a resurrection. So this week on social media, starting on Monday through Friday, there’s going to be a 10-minute experience that we will put up on social media every single 10 minutes to help you seek God in the midst of this season so you can hear His voice, so you can discover His grace, so you can experience His love.

We will make it so easy for you, 10 minutes. And I want to challenge every person that’s watching this, do this. Because you’ve got the time to do it right now. And you can’t say you don’t know how because we’re literally going to make it step by — 10 minutes. Ten minutes a day because it’s time for a resurrection in Jesus’ name.

And so if you’re not following us on social media, please go on follow us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. If you haven’t, text VCC to 313131. Do that so we can stay in touch with you. If you don’t have social media, this whole thing will be on our website as well. In a few moments, I’m going to pray for you and then there’s going to be an opportunity for you to respond to some of the questions that we feel like God is asking through this message. I’m telling you the response time is the most important thing of the entire online church experience.

I love it with my family. And I hope you will lean into it. For those of you that got kids or if you know somebody that does have kids, we have a great experience on YouTube right now, a whole kids service. It’s about 30 minutes. Your kids will love it. Tune into that. If you want to get in an online group and just get to know some people or some other people to walk with in this season, let us know, it’s on our website. We love to help you do that. And for those of you that want to give, you can give right here online. Giving is a part of seeking God first in a season where everything feels crazy.

And your generosity allows us to be a movement of hope for the city and beyond. Our next step center has already been serving hundreds of families with weeks’ worth of groceries through your generosity in the midst of this season. Next week is Easter. And so I want to encourage you to invite everybody you know to join in. But in the meanwhile, let’s seek God in a new and fresh way.

Come on. When life feels limited, the greatest thing you can do is seek after the unlimited God. So Jesus, thank you for who you are. Thank you for what you’re doing in our lives. Thank you that you are the God of goodness and grace. And so right now Lord, we thank you that you are calling us, you are drawing us, you are knocking on the door to come into our world, our lives, our homes, our families, our realities because you want to bring your kingdom and righteousness into our life.

So Lord, right now, would you stir something up inside of us that as the storm has got our attention, may we lean in and listen to your whisper and come closer to you in Jesus’ name. And if you’re here and you’re listening and you’ve never put your faith in Jesus, today is the day to just say, Jesus, I need you as my Lord and savior.

I welcome you into my heart, into my life. I welcome you, the prince of peace, I receive the forgiveness of my sins and the resurrection of a new life in Jesus’ name. Come on, Valley Creek, God is with us. And hope is on the move. Let’s use this season to seek after Jesus like we never have before. I love you. It’s going to be a great week and we’re going to have a great Easter together.

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