Craig Smith - Who, Not Where
Hey, welcome to Mission Hills in all of our campuses, including those of you watching from Church Online. Really glad you are with us today. Why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible maybe from around you, or get one on your phone and make your way to the Gospel of John 14. We are starting a new series today called “When Everything Falls Apart.” I’m really excited to see what God is going to do in your life. He’s already beginning to really work powerfully in mine as I prepare for this series. What we are going to see in John 14 is a beginning of a very clear section of the Gospel of John, a section scholar called “The Farewell Discourse of Jesus,” which sounds like what a scholar would say, right?
The Farewell Discourse of Jesus, what that means in everyday talk, it’s Jesus’ last speech. It’s his goodbye speech, and the reason he gave it is because about four years before this, Jesus kind of burst on to the scene, and in everyone’s awareness, he performed miracles, he taught incredible things and he had attracted a huge group of followers, but he had 12 guys in particular that he drew around himself that he was pouring into 24-7, and these guys were pumped, okay? They were so excited about what Jesus would do, and they began to understand that Jesus wasn’t just a great teacher, he wasn’t just a powerful prophet, but that he was the Son of God himself, and he was the Messiah. He was the Savior. He was the one that they had been waiting for, for so long, and he was going to come and deliver them from all of the difficulties that they were facing.
It was at the moment of the pinnacle of their excitement about everything that they thought that God was going to do that Jesus kind of dropped a bomb into their lives. John 13:33 he said this, he said My children, I will be with you only a little longer, and that rocked their world. Because right in the midst of everything getting ready to launch, as far as they were concerned, they were just getting started. All of these things that God was going to take them to and all of a sudden Jesus said, I’m not going to be around here a lot longer. My time here is short, and they went, wait a minute. The things we know you are going to accomplish. The things we know God is taking us toward, you can’t pull that off in a short time, so what do you mean, and their world really kind of fell apart at that moment.
And what Jesus teaches over the next several chapters that we are going to be in for the next couple of months, he begins to teach them a series of lessons about things they needed to know and things they needed to do to be able to get through it when everything falls apart. Not just to get through it but to come out of the other side of it with momentum. He began to teach them not to fall apart when everything around you falls apart. The very first thing to be able to do that, John 14:1 he said Do not let your hearts be troubled. Don’t let your hearts be troubled. When everything around you is troubling, don’t be troubled. Don’t let everything fall apart. Just don’t do it. There you go. We are good, right? Anybody else feel like it’s a little trickier? The real question is like how do I do that, right?
And I think it’s so interesting that the word that he uses here, the Greek word that’s being translated here as troubled, it literally means upset or agitated or kind of swirly. It’s the word you use — I don’t know if you have ever done this, you take a big rock and throw it into the puddle. When you do that, the waters, the puddle, they get upset. They get agitated. They get troubled. They are splashed around. They are swirly, and that’s exactly the word, and that’s exactly what happens in our hearts, right? Something troubling happens and we get troubled by it. Something upsetting happens and we get upset. Our waters aren’t calm. They are not peaceful. We are agitated, we are disturbed, we are troubled, and Jesus gives a command here, he says don’t let that happen.
Which is interesting because it’s the natural consequence, right? When something troubling happens to you, you get troubled, and he basically says don’t let that happen. Interrupt the natural flow of things and just don’t be troubled. It’s a command. What I think is interesting about that, it begins to suggest something incredibly important, which is that maybe the natural way that things play out so often, maybe that’s not the way they are supposed to be. Maybe it’s not the way they have to be. What Jesus seems to be saying is that difficulty is inevitable. Difficulty is inevitable, but despair is optional. Difficulty is inevitable, but despair is optional. He’s actually going to say a little bit later in this section of John, he says in this life, you will have trouble. Not that you might. Not occasionally, it might happen. It’s a distant possibility, but he says in this life, you will have trouble.
Troubling things are going to happen. Difficulty is inevitable, but despair is optional. What is happening around you doesn’t have to dictate what is happening in you. That just because everything around you is falling apart, you don’t have to fall apart. You can make a choice. You can choose peace. What is significant about that for me, I hear him say that, and he seems to raise this genuine possibility that you can choose peace. You say, I need to know more about this. Anybody else? Because that’s not me, normally. When troubling things happen to me, I get troubled. I get upset. I do things I wish I hadn’t done. I worry. Anybody else? Any other worriers? Some of you are afraid to put your hand up because you worry what people think about you. I know. I understand.
I worry. I get anxious. There are things I don’t do that I should do. I’m not grateful in the way that I should be. I don’t sleep well. All of these things happen when I’m troubled. My waters aren’t calm. They are agitated. They are upset. They are troubled. Jesus says, difficulties are inevitable, but despair, that’s optional. Okay, I need to know a little more about this. How is that possible? He says in the next part of this verse, to his disciples who are troubled, but I don’t want that to happen. Choose peace. He says, You believe in God; believe also in me. He says, you believe in God, believe also in me. I’m reading the New International Version. It translates the group there as you believe in God. That’s a statement. That’s true of you. You believe in God. Now it comes to a command. I want you to also believe in me. Not just intellectually, but put your trust in me.
You trust in God. Now trust in me. If you are reading a different translation, you may see that the words are slightly different there in some translations. Some translations translate both of them as a statement. You do believe in God, and you do also believe in me. Some translations translate them both as commandments. Believe in God. Trust in God; and also trust in me. Or believe me. The reason that happens, the Greek word here can mean a statement or a command that has the same form no matter which way you go so you are going, does this matter to me? Is there a quiz later on? Do we care? The answer is, we really don’t. It doesn’t really matter how we translate, but I want you to be aware that translations vary. The core idea is the same where it’s a statement or it’s a command. The core idea is very, very clear. It’s this idea that our belief in God and His Son Jesus is the starting point for choosing peace. Do you hear me?
Our belief in God, our trust in God and our trust in His Son, Jesus, two sides of the same coin, our belief in God and Jesus, that is the starting point for choosing peace. That if we don’t have that faith in God and in His Son Jesus, we can’t actually choose peace. We can’t do what Jesus says here which is do not let your hearts be troubled. The belief in God is the starting point for that. Why? Because of what He has done for us. In verse 2 it says, My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you that I’m going there to prepare a place for you?
It says In my Father’s house are many, many rooms. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in church. I don’t know if I was taught this directly from this verse, or I kind of picked it up, or I got it from some of the songs we sing, but here’s what I thought it meant. I thought Jesus was going away to build me a mansion in the sky. Anybody else? Yeah. That’s what I was — I got this idea. I don’t know if I was taught it, or if I just picked it up. The idea was like, Jesus has gone aware to prepare a place, to build me a mansion. I remember as a kid thinking, he’s been gone a really long time. It must be a really big house, right? Then I thought, no, no, no. I mean, he’s got to build a mansion for everybody. All of the believers get mansions. He has to build all of them, so I guess that would take a while. Then I was like, yeah, but he flung the stars across the sky with just a word. Is he doing it brick by brick? I don’t understand what’s taking so long.
It wasn’t until years later I really read this verse and I realized that’s not what it’s saying at all. He’s not building us mansions. Notice what he’s saying, he says, my Father’s house has many rooms. He’s only talking about one house, whose is it? It’s the Father’s house. He’s not talking about my mansion. My Father’s mansion, my Father’s house, he says, has many rooms. What’s interesting, in the ancient world, the picture is really clear. What would happen is the father, especially if he had resources, and they longed for the family to be together, what the father would do, he would start adding rooms to his house, and they would curve around the central courtyard, and what would happen, when his kids got to be old enough, to have their own families, they would move into these rooms, but they were able to stay close to their father. They would stay in close proximity, and they would live life together kind of in that courtyard.
Which is interesting, because the picture he’s painting here is somewhat different than the one I got growing up. I thought I was getting my own mansion. I was like, I kind of hope it’s in the woods. It’s going to be a gate around it, a key code for entry. It like this private, estate sort of a thing, and the exact opposite picture is being painted, not that you get your own mansion, but that you move into a room in your Father’s house so that you can stay in close proximity with Him and do life together. It’s a relationship thing. That’s the image. And then the other problem is this, my Father’s house — what’s that word? Say it with me, my Father’s house “has” many rooms. He didn’t say it’s going to have many rooms. He didn’t say my Father’s house will have many rooms once I get them built. No, it already has them. They are already there. The room’s already built. The place is already prepared. Your room has been waiting for you from the beginning.
He doesn’t have to go away to build it. He doesn’t have to go to add on to it. So why does he go away? He says I go away to prepare a place for you. Where is he going, and what is he doing? Here is part of what the problem is, most English translations do this, I’m not actually aware of any English translation that doesn’t. Most English translations add a word here. The word is “there.” If you see I put it in brackets. If that was not so, would I have told you that I am going [there] to prepare a place for you? The way we read that, and understand the reason that most translators do that is it feels natural. In my Father’s house, are many rooms. That’s Heaven. So I’m going. We go, I’m going — there, to prepare a place. But the word” there “isn’t actually there. Jesus didn’t actually say I’m going there. He said I’m going to prepare a place for you.
Wait a minute, then where are you going and what are you going to do if the house is already built? The answer is very simple. What he’s saying is, I’m going to the cross to open the way to my Father’s house. I’m going to the cross to open the gates of Heaven. Here’s the problem, as much as God loves us, as much as the Father wants to be in proximity to us and in relationship with us, we haven’t loved God back. In fact, from the very beginning, the story is pretty clear. We looked at God and we said, I appreciate the life. I appreciate everything you have done, but I’ll take it from here. I’m make the decisions. I’ll call the shots. And we have a word for that. We call it sin, but another way to think about sin is basically saying to God, I think I’ll take over your job in my life.
I think I’ll be god of my own life. Here’s what happens. Think about a magnet, right? A big magnet, you have a north pole and a south pole. You have a little magnet and it has a north pole and a south pole too. What happens if you try to put the two north poles together or the two south poles? What happens? They actually push away. That’s kind of what happens when we sin. When we say I’m going to be god on my own, when we become little g gods, we can’t actually join with the big G God. We can’t have a relationship because we are being repulsed by our own sin. Sin doesn’t just separate us from God. Sin creates a barrier and a desire. The Bible says no one seeks God, not even one. Our sin actually drives us away from God. So Jesus said, I’m going to the cross. The cross, I’m going to beat the power of sin. I’m going to destroy its power in your life so when we put our trust in what he’s done, not only are we forgiven of our sin, he transforms us from the inside out so we stop trying to be the little g gods and we start trying to be the capital “C” children that we were meant to be, who are drawn to our Father as He is drawn to us.
Jesus said, that has to be taken care of first. He’s not going away to oversee a construction project. He’s going to the cross to open the way to the Father’s house to the rooms that have been prepared for us from the beginning. He says this, he says, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back, and I will take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. He says if I go to do this, you can be confident that I’ll come back. That’s a promise. If I go to the cross, you better believe I’m not going to leave you languishing in your sins, and languishing in the state of separation from your God your Father who loves you so much. He says, no, if I go to do this, you can be confident that I’m coming back. That’s a promise. There’s also a principle here. I think we overlook the principle sometimes.
There’s a word. It’s maybe the most important word in this verse, but we often overlook it. It’s the word “if.” If you have a Bible, I would love for you to underline or highlight the word” if.” He doesn’t say I will go away and will do that come back. He says if I go away, then I’ll come back. In other words, what I am going to do, is a necessary part of being able to do the second part. If I don’t go and do this, he says, I’m not going to be able to come back and do that. And here’s what’s really interesting, remember what it is that he’s going to go do. He’s going to go to the cross. He’s going to be arrested. He’s going to be beaten. He’s going to be crucified. He’s going to die. For his disciples, everything is going to fall apart. For his disciples, what Jesus is talking about is a moment of tremendous difficulty.
Here’s the thing we think of when we think about difficulty. We tend to look at difficulty, and we go, that’s going to derail God’s plans, right? When hard things happen, when things fall apart, we go that’s derailing God’s plan. That’s derailing the progress. That’s derailing the movement toward what I thought God was going to do. We look at difficulty as if it derails God’s plans. Jesus is challenging the disciples, and he’s challenging each of us right now to go, maybe you need to think differently about difficulty. Maybe — maybe difficulty not only doesn’t derail God’s plans, but maybe difficulty is what God uses to accomplish his plans. Jesus says, if I don’t go to the cross, I can’t come back and take you into that house and that room that’s prepared for you. He’s challenging us to think differently about difficulty. What he is really saying is this. We can choose peace only when we remember that difficulties don’t derail God’s plans. You hear me?
Jesus says, do not let your hearts be troubled. That is an impossible command to obey unless we remember difficulties don’t derail God’s plans. In spite of the fact that it might feel like that, it’s never true. Some of us have been walking with Jesus for a long time. We can look back and go, the moments I experienced the most difficulty, the moments when I felt everything was falling apart, those are the moments I experienced the most growth. Those are the moments when God revealed His much better plan. Those are the moments when I actually leaped forward with my relationship with Him in shaping my character and molding who I am in a way that I am so grateful for. How many of us have had that experience where difficulty has actually moved us forward into God’s plans?
A lot of hands went up there. How many of us every time a new difficulty comes along remember that, that’s probably what’s happening? I’m not seeing quite as many hands go up there. It’s so easy to forget, isn’t it? It’s not natural. Difficulty always feels like it’s a derailing. Several years ago my brother-in-law and his wife decided to take Coletta and I on a trip with them. Coletta’s brother Shane, he’s a scuba diver, and so they really wanted somebody to go scuba diving with them and so they paid for us to get scuba instructions. And I found out when I was getting scuba instructions, I don’t like water all that much.
I was okay swimming around and that kind of stuff, but then they wanted me to do this ridiculous thing. They pushed me under water and said, breathe. Like everything in me went, no. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have hair. I’m completely aware when I’m completely submerged. I’m completely under water. They are going, breathe. That’s not what we do when we are under water. That’s not natural. I went through this really difficult moment of going, I’m going to choose to trust what I know, not what I feel at this moment. I’m going to take a breath. That worked. There’s still air coming into my lungs. There’s oxygen flowing into my body. I’m not dying. Honestly, every single time I put on the gear and I go under water, there is a moment where I have to go, do what you know, not what you feel.
Difficulty is so often like that, right? We can know from history how often God accomplishes His purpose by things that we think are going to derail it. We can look back and go, if he hadn’t gone to the cross, we wouldn’t have hope. It looked like difficulty. It looked like derailing to them, but it actually accomplished God’s purposes. No matter how many times we have experienced that, the next time the difficulty comes, we have to choose to trust. We have to choose to act on what we know and not on what we feel. Jesus says this, he says you know the way to the place where I am going, and Thomas — and I love Thomas. I do. Thomas said to him, Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?
I love Thomas. Like, that’s what I would have said, right? I mean Jesus says, hey, I’m going away. They are like, what’s going on? It’s okay. You know the way to the place that I’m going and Thomas is like, I don’t think I do, because I don’t know where you are going, Jesus. You haven’t explained it, so where is it? Here’s what Thomas is doing. I think it’s so interesting. Thomas is speaking out of a reality we all live in. We naturally think that where is the key to everything, don’t we? We naturally think that where is the key to everything. Like in the physical world, right? If where I’m going is New York, then I have to head east from Colorado, and if where I’m going is Los Angeles, then I have to head west from Colorado, but it’s not just true in physical terms, it’s also true in life, right? We have the ideas where we are going with our family, where our life is headed, where our career is headed, all of those kinds of things.
We go, if that’s where, then the way follows from that. If I’m going there, I do this, this, this and that’s how I get there. We naturally think that where is sort of the key to everything, and Thomas goes, Jesus, I don’t know where you are going, so how can I possibly know the way to get there? And Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. He says I’m going to the Father. There’s your where, Thomas. Honestly, that’s not going to help. Where, listen to me, where isn’t as important as you think it is, because just knowing where isn’t actually going to get you there. Where isn’t as important as you think it is.
That’s hard. Because we put so much weight on where, don’t we? I was — when I was a little kid I grew up in a military family. We always seemed to be near bases that flew F-15 fighter squadrons out of them. That was my where. I was going to fly F-15s. I put so much of my hope in that day that I was going to fly F-15 fighters, and then one day I was in class, and they brought in this weird machine. They made us put our head on it. They were like weird little pictures. There was like an apple. Where is the apple? Is it here or here? I thought this is a weird test. It’s there, and apparently that was the wrong answer because they gave me a follow up test.
They sent me to the nurse’s office, and she had this chart on the wall. She was like, what’s that letter? I was like, that’s an “E.” What’s that letter? That’s also an “E.” What’s that one? I think that might be an “E.” What’s that one? That’s not a letter. That’s a smudgy spot. It turns out I didn’t have perfect vision, which is really important for flying fighter jets, and I get that. You don’t want to put people in charge like missiles who are like, enemy plane — or maybe one of mine. I’m really not sure. Like, I get that, but what you need to understand is — I was devastated by that because that was my where, and I lost my way to my where, and everything kind of fell apart. I remember that vividly. It was a long time ago, and I remember the devastation of that realization.
Then, I picked another where. I decided I was going to go into quantum physics. I know I went from top gun to top nerd. You don’t have to point that out. I get it, but that was my new where. That’s where my hopes were. And then I took calculus. Yeah. It turns out I was not that good at math. I did okay, but like my second or third “C” in the class on the test, I realized I’m never going to be a player in the world of quantum physics. I’m just not good enough at math. It was devastating because I had lost my way to my where.
That’s how it often works, isn’t it? We have this where. It’s my career. That’s where I’m headed, and we don’t get into the college program or we don’t get the promotion, or we start our own company and it goes bankrupt and it fails, and we lose our way to our where and everything falls apart. Or our family. We have the idea, that’s where I’m headed. My family is going to look like this, and then we can’t find the husband or wife to go on the journey with us, or maybe we do and they decide to leave to abandon us, or we can’t have kids or the adoption doesn’t come through, or how about this? You do have kids or the adoption comes through, and it turns out they didn’t read the script, and we lose our way to our where and everything falls apart. We have our where. That’s where I’m headed. That’s what my life is going to look like. I’m going to do these things, and then health challenges come into our lives.
We lose our way to our where, and everything falls apart. So we think that where is the key to everything. Thomas says, Lord, I don’t know where you are going. I need to know where, and Jesus says, no, you don’t. Where isn’t as important as you think it is. What you need to know is Who. Because the reality is, listen to me, that everything falls apart when we put our hope in where. Everything falls apart when we put our hopes in where, but not when we put our hopes in Who. Jesus looked at Thomas. Thomas is going, Lord, I just need to know where. Jesus said, no, you don’t. You need to know Who. I — am the way. I — am the truth. I am the only way and the only truth to the only life worth living both now and forever. Stop worrying about where.
Who matters more than where. So much more. Now when Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life, one of the things we have to recognize, he’s making an exclusive claim, right? He’s making an exclusive claim about himself as being the only way, the only truth that leads to the only life worth living both now and forever. He doesn’t say he’s one of the ways, and one of the truths and that leads to one of the lives worth living. He says I’m the only way, the only truth that lives to the only life worth living both now and forever. It’s an exclusive claim. I realize in our culture, that kind of exclusivity is not really popular right now, but I think it’s important that we recognize that even those that exclusivity is an obstacle to people, it’s a reality that we have to deal with. We are actually going to talk about the problem of the exclusivity of Christianity after Easter, we are going to go back to “The Problem with God Series” for a few weeks, and we’ll deal with that issue then.
For now, you just need to understand that the exclusivity of the Christian claim of salvation is being in Jesus alone, that’s not something that Christians came up with after the fact. It’s baked into the very fabric of Christianity by Jesus himself. Jesus says I am the way and the truth that lives to the only life worth living now and forever. There are no other options. There are no other ways. You can reject that claim. What you really can’t do is accept Jesus and reject his claims he made about himself. It doesn’t work that way. It’s an exclusive claim, but just as important and I think often overlooked in this, Jesus is telling us an incredibly important thing about life which is that Who matters more than where.
If your hope is in where, it’s inevitable that everything is going to fall apart at some point. Who matters more than where. This is a lesson that God began to teach me. I was fairly young, and I’m so, so glad that He did, because it’s changed the trajectory of my life in so many significant ways. I gave my life to Jesus when I was about 12. I think that was the salvation moment, but it wasn’t until I was about 18 that I began to invest in Who rather than where. I began to invest in Who, and I’m glad that I did because the reality is that my life has taken a lot of abrupt right turns. I thought I was going to be a Christian recording artist.
Every service has laughed at that. I don’t know what that means. But Jesus said, yeah, that’s not where we are going. I went, oh, okay. I thought I was going to be a youth pastor for the long haul. Jesus said, no, that’s not where we are going. Oh, okay. I thought I was going to be an influential Christian professor and scholar. Jesus said, no, that’s not where we are going. I said, oh. I thought I was going to be the president of a significant Christian nonprofit. Jesus said, no, that’s not where we are going. I went, oh, okay. It’s like my new motto in life. Oh, okay. There’s been a lot of abrupt right turns in my life, but please hear me, none of them have been devastating because my investment for a long time now has been in Who not where, and that changes everything.
There is a truth that Jesus has embedded in my soul that goes back to the time I was graduating high school, I began to realize this, and this truth has taken root in my soul. And I’m not saying that I never get off, because the reality is that I do, but here’s the incredible thing, this truth is like a plum line, and because it’s there, it’s buried so deep in my heart and soul, I always have it to be able to look back and say, oh, I have gotten off track from that. I have gotten off center, I have gotten off plum because it’s there, and as a truth, it needs to be embedded in your heart and soul and the truth is just this, we choose peace by investing in Who not where.
Jesus’ command is do not let your hearts be troubled. How is that possible when troubling things happen? The answer is, it’s possible when we invest in Who not where, because honestly, the where is probably going to be different than you are expecting, but it’s going to be better. I promise you that. The where Jesus is taking you is so much better than the where you have managed to come up with. If your investment is in your where, everything will fall apart at some point. If your investment is in Who it’s never going to happen. I want to challenge you to try to bury this in your soul this week. We could spend a bit more time talking about this, but I don’t want to clutter the landscape.
This very simple truth is so important that we grab a hold of it, that we choose peace by investing in Who not where, so I want to give you two questions to wrestle with. The first one is this, what is my hope invested in? What is my hope invested in? What I want you to do this week is I want you to do a hope audit. I want you to go, okay, what am I investing in? What is my hope? Where is my peace? Where is all of that stuff? Is it in a where or a Who? One of the ways you can do that is you can ask some follow up questions. What am I most worried about losing? Or what am I most worried about ever not getting? That is a great question to ask. What you are going to find is that our answer to that question often signals that, that is a place where we are investing our hope. What am I most worried about? What makes me most anxious? What do I most fear losing or not getting? Those are follow up questions around the same idea.
We are trying to figure out, where is my hope invested? And the second question is this, what concrete step will I take now to invest my hope in Jesus because peace is possible only when we invest in Who not where, so what are you going to do this week to begin investing your hope in Jesus more than it’s invested right now? I say what step are you going to take now because I don’t mean next week. I don’t mean next month. I don’t mean next year. I realize we have passed the bar for new year’s resolutions. If you are thinking, I’ll wait for next year to get the new year’s resolution around. No, no, no. Don’t do that. Now, today, what step are you going to take to invest in Who not where? Invest your hope in Jesus, some examples of thing also you might decide to do. You might decide to join a group.
Maybe you have been trying to do the Christian walk alone, or trust that I go to weekend worship services and those are good, and I hope that’s true, but do you have relationships with other people that spur you on? At Mission Hills we are passionate about groups. Our groups look to do three things. They look to love each other, help each other become like Jesus, and help each other join Jesus on mission. If you are not part of a group, I really encourage you when you head out today, when you go by the lobby, look at the groups that are out there. There’s life groups. There’s men’s only groups. There’s women’s only groups.
We have groups that go on with no end date. We have groups that begin at a certain time and end at a certain time so you can try them out sort of a thing. But if you have never been part of a community that’s doing that, then maybe that’s the investment you need to make to invest in Who not where. Maybe it’s to decide to start serving. May have been attending for a while and you haven’t got plugged in serving. At Mission Hills, we want everybody serving in the church and as the Church, being on mission in the church and as the Church. One of the best ways to be a mission as the Church outside the church walls is to be on mission in the church walls. You are getting practice here. Maybe you go out and talk to the Welcome Center. You say, I think I might have a gift for working with little kids. Maybe I should get connected with the kid’s ministry. I could work with the parking team or greeters to help people get in and find their seats so they are not stressed and hurried and troubled, so they can experience everything God has for them.
Maybe that’s how you start serving, or junior high or high school team or there are so many ways to start serving. Maybe that’s the investment you need to start making. Or maybe it’s an investment in your relationship with Jesus in a new way that you have never done before. Maybe you have been kind of part of the Christian life for a while. You have heard people say that you should be reading the Bible on a regular basis, and praying on a regular basis, but that’s never been part of your life. You said okay, I’m going to make that a new part of my life. Today I’m going to start a new habit of investing Who not where by reading the Bible and praying on a regular basis.
I adopted a new habit this year along those lines. It’s certainly not the first time I have read the Bible and prayed on a daily basis, but I wanted to bring fresh life into it, so I got advice from a guy. He said you know the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters. That’s at least one chapter for every day of any month. So what I start to do now is, every day I look at the date — today was January 20th. When I got to the office, I read Proverbs 20. Super easy because it’s nuggets of wisdom from God’s Word, real easy to read. I read chapter 20 on the 20th, and I write down one of them that captures my attention that day. I think the Lord is directing me to it. I write down one of them, and I take a couple of minutes praying about it. It’s just a new habit I have made to invest in Who not where.
Maybe you do that or something like that. Maybe it’s something totally different. Maybe the Lord leads you to something completely different today. That’s fine. But the question is, what concrete step will I take now to begin investing in Who not where? Because Jesus says do not let your hearts be troubled even when troubling things happen. Difficulties inevitable. Despair is optional. How? By investing in Who not where. Would you pray with me?
Jesus, as one of your followers and on behalf of your followers I know are listening right now at our campuses and online, I have to confess to you that I have too much invested in where. I know there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. There is nothing wrong with hoping, but when my hopes are invested in those where, I’m setting myself up for a fall. So Lord, on behalf of all of your people, we confess our need to be invested in Who, You, and we ask for your strength to take whatever steps are necessary to take a new investment, greater investment day in and day out in Who, instead of all of those wheres. If you are a follower of Jesus, I would like you to begin praying right now for the people around you, the people watching online that may not know Jesus as Savior because I think on all of our campuses and Church Online, there are people that are going, I think for me, the concrete step, the next step is just to put my faith in Jesus.
I have been playing around with it. I have been dancing around it. I have been investigating, but I haven’t actually put my trust in him. As we saw from the Word of God this morning, our belief in God, our faith in God and His Son Jesus, that’s a starting point for choosing this peace that we all want so desperately. If that’s you, if you don’t have that relationship, and you are realizing right now that you need it, and you are ready to put your faith in him, would you just put your hand up right now? That’s awesome. That’s fantastic. If you are watching online, just click that button right below me. Wherever you are, this is your next step. Just say this to God, say this to God in your heart say:
God, I have done wrong. I have sinned, and I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for coming and going to the cross to pay for my sin, to forgive me. I believe you rose from the dead to prove that you had done it, and that right now you are offering me forgiveness and new life, a relationship with God and peace. I accept you. I put my trust in you. I receive these gifts from you. Jesus, come into my life. I’m yours. For now and forever. Amen.
Can we just welcome those who just came into the family of God for the first time today? That’s awesome. If you made that decision, I want you to do something for me. On the seats in front of you, there is a card that says “I Said Yes.” I would love for you to grab that card, do whatever one of those options on there is most comfortable to you. Give us an opportunity to come alongside you and help you in this new relationship with God and this investment in a “Who” not a “where” that allows us to have peace. God bless. See you next week.