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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Trash and Treasure

Craig Smith - Trash and Treasure

Craig Smith - Trash and Treasure
TOPICS: Boundless, Treasures

Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills. I’m glad you made it. I’m looking at the committed, the brave, the slightly fewer. This morning if you’re joining us online, and I’m guessing our online number is probably a little bit higher this morning because we’re broadcasting from Colorado and October in Colorado, you just never know. I was driving on my way to the church this morning and I saw a sign this had winter weather until Wednesday, right? So however you’re joining us, whether you’re at the Littleton campus or joining us from another campus or you’re online somewhere around the world, we’re really glad you’re here. I’m excited to hear because I’m really excited to be able to deliver this particular message to you today. We’re in our Boundless series working our way through the Book of Philippians in order to uncover the secret to living bigger than our circumstances. And I really believe that the message that God has for us today is gonna help us move forward in a significant way on that journey.

But before I get into that content, I do need to make a confession to you, something that the Holy Spirit convicted me of this week that I need to be vulnerable with you and share. So here’s the thing. So I own a three-car garage. That’s not my confession. Here’s what the coming…here’s what’s coming. I own a-three car garage, which means in theory, I can park three cars in my garage, keep them out of the winter weather that we’re facing this weekend here in Colorado. But in practice, no matter what, anybody wanna guess how many cars I can actually fit in my garage? Yeah, the answer’s no cars. I cannot fit any cars in my garage.

Now, let me be clear. This is not a hoarder situation, okay? It’s not like there’s so many piles of stuff that if you went into the garage, you’d be afraid they’d fall on you and no one would ever find your body. That’s not the situation we’re talking about, but there is too much stuff in the garage for me to really park any of my cars in there. Now, there’s three kinds of things in my garage that are taking up the space. I have some good stuff, okay? It is usable, it’s in good shape and it’s useful. I have a use for it on a regular basis. Then I’ve got stuff that’s usable, meaning it’s in perfectly fine working condition but I don’t have any actual use for it. So for instance, I know that in a crate in my garage I have a pristine mint condition dial up modem. Remember those? Anybody remember this sound? Wait for it, wait for it. Remember that? Some of you are like, what is that? That is the sound of the internet back in the day. Okay. I’ve got a perfectly good dial up modem and my garage.

Now I don’t even know if I have a phone service at my house anymore. I don’t think I do. So it wouldn’t do me any good, but it’s still there and then I got some stuff that is not usable or useful. Like I know in one of my bins, I have an old laptop and it weighs like 30 pounds. It’s like the heaviest thing you’ve ever had on your lap actually. And I can’t use it anymore because first off it doesn’t have a working power supply. Second, even if I did have working power supply, the battery’s no good. And even if I could turn it on, its running Windows 95 okay. Like it is a useless object and yet it’s still there because I spent $1,000 on that thing, right? And it’s hard for me to just take something I spent $1,000 on and just go throw it away. It’s trash. This is a really difficult thing to do. But I was thinking like what would it take for me to really move that stuff out of the garage and park my car in? And I thought, well if somebody were to call me up and say, “Hey Craig, I wanna deliver a Tesla into your garage,” I think that would do it. I think I would suddenly clean everything out really quick.

By the way, it is October and October is Pastor Appreciation Month. So just saying, I’m just saying if anybody’s looking for a last-minute idea. I’m pretty sure if if somebody said, “I want to deliver a Tesla into your garage,” I would clean the garage out, right? Now, you’re going, okay, why are we talking about your garage? And the answer is because I think our lives are sometimes like our garages, so full of stuff that we don’t really have room for much more valuable stuff that God wants to move in. Why don’t you go and grab your Bible and start making your way to the Book of Philippians 3.

Today what we’re gonna do is we’re going to talk about some of the stuff that we hold on to that keeps us from taking hold of everything that God has for us. Here’s the situation. Paul is in jail in Rome and he’s writing to the church that he planted in the City of Philippi because he knows there’s some people coming in telling them they need to grab ahold of some stuff that he knows is gonna keep them from taking hold of much more valuable things that God has for them. He says this 3:1, he says, ”Further, my brothers and sisters rejoice in the Lord.” And I’m just gonna stop there for a second. We could honestly spend our entire time this weekend on that verse. It’s such an important verse and it’s easy to overlook it because it sounds a little bit like a spiritual cliché, right? Like exactly the kind of thing a pastor or a worship leader, rejoice in the Lord, but what you need to understand is that what Paul’s saying here is not a spiritual cliché.

What Paul is speaking here is actually a very powerful and a very practical contentment strategy. He’s actually setting the stage for everything else he’s gonna say in this section, but what he’s also doing is he’s giving us a very powerful strategy for beginning to develop a contentment that’s not rooted in our circumstances. And so what he says is this, “Rejoice in the Lord,” and understand that’s not saying feel joy because it’s very hard to generate feelings. He’s actually talking about practices. He’s talking about here’s what you…I want you to do. I want you to rejoice in the Lord. I want you to express joy in the Lord. I want you to articulate joy in the Lord. Basically, he says, I want you to celebrate in practical ways, God and your relationship with him. That’s what he’s saying. Celebrate God and your relationship with him

Why does he want us to do that? And especially why does he let us to do that in practical ways? And the answer is because of this principle that we gravitate towards what we celebrate. We gravitate towards what we celebrate. We gravitate towards, we take up orbit around the things that we spend time celebrating. It’s basically it’s a biological truth. I don’t know if you know this, but a number of studies that confirmed that there we’re hardwired to respond in significant ways to the acts of celebration that we perform, okay?

So here’s what happens. When we celebrate our brains release something called dopamine. Every time we celebrate, regardless of what it is we’re celebrating or even how we’re celebrating, when we celebrate, our brains release dopamine and our bodies love dopamine. When our bodies get a hit of dopamine, what happens is we feel good. I can prove this, actually. Here’s one of the ways I like to celebrate when something good’s happening. I go yes. Let’s just do that together, okay? I know it’s a little weird, but just follow me. Okay. I’m gonna count to three and then we’re going to go yes. Okay, so one, two, three. Yes. Hope you did that online too. It felt good, didn’t it? Like there’s this little…there’s this tiny little like, ooh, that like, ooh, little bump up, right? It does. It feels good because that’s your body going, “Hey, here’s dopamine. You’re celebrating, I release dopamine.”

Now, our bodies love dopamine and not only does it feel good, but it actually enables us to deal with stress and pain in a much better way. So what happens is our brains release dopamine when we celebrate and our body’s like, ooh, that’s good. And our brain’s like, okay, I need to pay attention to the thing that caused that good chain reaction, okay? It’s the way that God built our brains. So what that means is we gravitate towards what we celebrate, our brains are like, “Oh, the body liked that, this is important.” And so we move more and more towards the things that we celebrate. We gravitate towards what we celebrate.

And here’s the problem. We celebrate a lot of things that we shouldn’t be gravitating towards. We celebrate a lot of things that ultimately cannot give us a platform for peace, contentment, security, significance or value. We often celebrate things, we gravitate towards things that can be taken away from us and can take all those things that we’re looking for away from us, right? So for instance, we celebrate possessions, don’t we? We celebrate possessions. We get a new car and we celebrate. We tell people about it and we drive it around. We polish it. That’s an act of celebration. And we gravitate towards what we celebrate. And then of course the car gets scratched or it doesn’t smell like a new car, so we have to do weird things like go to the gas station and buy one of those fresheners. It’s supposed to smell like a new car, right? Because we’ve gravitated towards what we’re celebrating and we’re looking for that feeling again. But it can be taken away from us. And with it, contentment and the peace and the security and the significance and the value, all the stuff we attach to it.

Or we celebrate accomplishments, don’t we? We celebrate accomplishments. I got that promotion and we celebrate or, you know, like I got a good grade on the test and we celebrate or I’m the valedictorian in the eighth grade class and we celebrate that and then things happen like, you know, we moved to high school and there’s a whole bunch of other people and suddenly we’re not the smartest in the class anymore. And with it goes our piece and our contentment because we gravitated towards what we celebrated. We don’t get the promotion or somebody else moves into the company. They’re advancing faster than us or whatever it is, we’ve gravitated towards it because we celebrate it. But then it went away and with it, the peace and the contentment and security and all the other things that we were looking for.

So what’s the alternative? Paul says, celebrate God and your relationship with him. Rejoice in the Lord. And again, not in sort of like theory, but in practice, like actually do acts of celebration about God and your relationship with him because we are gonna gravitate towards what we celebrate. And when you do that, and God is the source of the celebration, God’s never going anywhere. And no matter what your circumstances are, there is still peace and contentment that are possible if that’s where you’re at. So he says, rejoice in the Lord. How do you do that? Well, very practically. I mean three quick things you can do. Number one, you can sing. And I mean that literally because here’s another brain fact. You ready? Our brains interpret singing as celebration. It’s the way God built us. Whenever we sing our brain’s like, “Oh, we’re celebrating, okay, better get busy.” And that’s true no matter what we’re singing about. And even the act of listening to people singing, our brains interpret it as celebration. Studies have confirmed it.

So what do we sing about? Well, we need to be careful about that because again, our brains interpret singing as celebration no matter what it is, which means that if we listen to or sing along with sad songs, our brains begin celebrating sadness and we gravitate towards what we celebrate. Or if we listen to really angry music, our brains interpret that stuff as celebration, and we gravitate towards what we celebrate, and we ultimately become more angry. It’s just…it’s a biological fact, it’s the way God built our brains. On the other hand, if we listen to and sing songs about Jesus, about God, and celebrating God’s goodness and his greatness and what he’s done for us and had an incredible thing it is that we have this relationship with, what has happened, we gravitate towards what we celebrate. So singing can be one of those really powerful things.

Second thing you can do is you can speak that kind of praise or celebration to other people. Go, “Hey, I saw God do this in my life. I just wanted share this with you maybe with your spouse or with your Life Group or some other group of people around you.” When we speak it out loud, our brain recognizes it as celebration and we gravitate towards what we celebrate. So you can speak that kind of thing out loud. Or honestly, you can also just write it down. Even the act of writing down things that we’ve seen God do or what we’re thankful for actually has the power to have to move us closer to God. It’s the way that God built our brains. We’re actually gonna talk about this. Right around Thanksgiving, we’re gonna have a couple of weeks where we talk about the power of praise and we’re gonna push it into this a little bit more, but all of these are practical ways that Paul says, this sets the stage for what I need to tell you and the rest of this passage. He says, “Rejoice in the Lord.”

Celebrate and gravitate towards God and your relationship with him. And the reason this is so important to set the stage for is cause he’s about to speak to some issues where people were telling the Church in Philippi, hey, you need to celebrate these things. Here’s some things that you need to put value on. Here’s some things you need to move towards. Here’s some things that you need to find significance in, and Paul wants to say, no, no, no, no, no, no, and so he’s setting them up. No, you need to celebrate God and not so much these things. Here’s what he says. He says, ”It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again. I’ve said this before.” He says, ”But it’s not a problem for me to repeat it because it’s so important and it is a safeguard to you.” Notice that word. It’s a safeguard. This is setting you up for success. He says, ”Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.” You’re like, okay, that escalated quickly, right? What’s just happened here, here?

Here’s what’s going on, in the Church in Philippi and in several of the cities where Paul planted churches, there were a group of people who are coming around to the Christians, the followers of Jesus, they were saying, hey, hey, it’s great that you have faith in Jesus. That’s awesome. So glad, but that’s not enough. If you’re really gonna be right with God, there’s some other things that you need to have. And specifically, the one thing that they’re focusing on here is they’re saying you need to be circumcised. And the room goes still. I’m gonna hope you know what circumcision means because I’m not getting into it. We’re just gonna say it’s a minor outpatient surgical procedure, okay? And if you don’t know what it is, then after the service, you should talk to somebody who’s looking uncomfortable right now, okay? Here’s the thing. Circumcision is not a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, God commanded it. In fact, when he called the first Jewish person who himself, a man named Abraham, God told Abraham, “One of the things that you’re going to do to demonstrate your commitment to me that you’re my people is you’re gonna circumcise yourself and your household.” And for every Jewish person, since then, circumcision was practiced and it was a way of kind of externally indicating like I’m of the people of God, okay?

Now, in the early days of Christianity, all of the followers of Jesus were Jewish. They are all descended from Abraham. The apostles were Jewish, Jesus was Jewish, obviously, and so all the followers of Jesus were Jewish, which means they were all circumcised, all the men at least, right? But then the Gospel began to spread out and it began to go to the Gentiles, so the non-Jewish people who were not circumcised. And then there was a group of people who kind of arose who basically went to the Gentile followers of Jesus and they said, hey, it’s great that you’re followers of Jesus. That’s awesome. Your faith is definitely a necessary part of your salvation, but if you’re gonna follow a Jesus, a Jewish Messiah, you kind of need to be Jewish, which means that you kind of need to be circumcised.

What does Paul think about that teaching? He says they’re dogs. And don’t think you’re a golden retriever. He says they’re scavengers. They’re lurking and they’re trying to take scraps and run out of the church with the scraps they’re able to grab ahold of. He says they’re evil doers. He doesn’t say they’re thinking wrong. He didn’t say if they have incorrect theology. He says they’re doing what? Evil. He says there are evil doers. They’re doing evil. He says they’re mutilators of the flesh. This is not a thing that honors God. In fact, it is a tragedy as a mutilation of the flesh. Wow. Now, it’s interesting that that’s the kind of thing that you would expect somebody to say if he didn’t have the advantage of circumcision, right? It’s the kind of thing that you would expect somebody to say if he didn’t have the advantage of these sort of Jewish markers or distinctives because people often kind of slams something or put something down if they don’t have it, right? I have the privilege of having a seminary education. I’m so grateful for that.

Sometimes I’m in groups of pastors where people start slamming the seminary and inevitably the pastors who are slamming seminary are people who didn’t go to seminary. It’s kind of the way it works, right? So you sort of expect, well if Paul’s saying circumcision, it’s just not important. You’d expect him to be somebody who doesn’t have the advantage of having circumcision and being set apart in that way, right? But that’s not the truth. The fact of the matter is, Paul has been circumcised. He just doesn’t think it matters anymore. He doesn’t think it makes him the people of God. He didn’t think it’s what makes him right with God. He says this, verse 3, he says, “For it is we who are the circumcision,” meaning it is we who are the people of God, “who serve God by his Spirit.” Says the people of God aren’t defined by a physical thing, it’s a spirit thing, is we who are the people of God who boast in Christ. Jesus is about our faith in Jesus. “It’s we who are the people of God who put no confidence in the flesh.” This is not about a flesh thing. It’s not about an external thing. It’s about a faith thing. It’s about a spirit thing.

And he says, but just in case you’re thinking I’m dismissing it because I don’t have access to it, let me tell you this, verse 4 he says, ”Though, I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I got more: circumcised on the eighth day. In the beginning of my life, I’ve had that distinctive. I’ve had that marker. Of the people of Israel, I’m a blood relative of Abraham. I was descended from Abraham. I’m Jewish in every possible way. Of the tribe of Benjamin, of a respected tribe within the Nation of Israel. A Hebrew of Hebrews, the best of the best. In regard to the law, the Old Testament rules and regulations,” he says, ”a Pharisee,” a group of people that were committed to obeying every single rule and regulation, even putting a fence around the Old Testament Law to make sure that they didn’t accidentally break it.

So they put new rules to make sure they didn’t stray too far from it. He says, “As for zeal, as for passion, persecuting the church, I’m so committed to being Jewish that I hunted down the followers of Jesus because I didn’t think that they were honoring all of the Jewish traditions and distinctives enough. I hunted them down and I killed them. That’s what I did before I met Jesus. And as for righteousness based on the law and obeying the rules and the regulations, faultless.” He says, ”I had it all.” I had it all. These people are coming in and they’re telling you, hey, having faith in Jesus is great, but it’s not enough to be right with God. You gotta have circumcision and some of these other things. Hey, I not only had all the things they’re talking about, I had a lot more that they can’t claim. And you know what I think about all of it? “But whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” They don’t matter.

Well, on one level he says they don’t matter, but actually I realized this week, as I was studying this passage, after I read this verse 1,000 times, but I realized this week I’ve misread it a thousand times, and maybe you’ve had a similar experience if you’ve heard this verse before. I read this and I go, okay, so whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss. And when I saw the word or heard the word loss, what I thought, my brain kind of made a substitution and I thought he’s saying lost. Whatever were against me, I thought lost meaning gone, meaning left behind, meaning of no significance. But what I realized this week was, that’s not what he’s saying. He’s not saying they have no value. And so I left him behind. He’s saying they have negative value. The word loss literally means negative value. In fact, that same Greek word that he translates here at other times as translated as penalty. Proverbs 27:12 says this, it says, ”The prudent, the wise, they see danger and they take refuge, but the simple or the foolish. They keep going and they pay the penalty.” Same Greek word. Paul says, ”Whatever I once thought gains, I now consider a penalty.” It’s not just of no value, it’s a negative…they’re actually holding me and holding me back and so very literally what he says here is whatever used to be advantages to me or I used to think of as advantages to me, I now consider disadvantages for the sake of Christ.

Well, how can he say that? How can all of those things including the good things that God ordained for his people, how can they be considered disadvantages? You remember my garage? The answer is because when we hold onto these things, it makes it very hard for us to take hold of other much more valuable things. He says, for the sake of Christ. And in effect, what Paul is saying here and we need to be clear about this, is he saying that the trash we hold on to keeps us from receiving the treasure God has for us. He’s saying the trash that we hold onto keeps us from receiving the treasure that God has for us. And you might go, okay, hang on a second. I get it. I understand the point, but that seems a little harsh. It seems like maybe you’re pushing it a little bit far. To call circumcision and these other distinctives of the people of God in history to call those things trash, you’re pushing it too far, Craig.

But that’s exactly what Paul says. Look at this next verse, he says, ”What is more,” verse 8, ”I consider everything a loss. Everything a disadvantage because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost let go of all things I consider them,” what’s that word, Church? “garbage.” He says, “I consider them garbage, trash that I may gain Christ.” And honestly that might be an understatement. The King James translates the word there as dung because it can mean excrement, which is even worse than garbage or trash, but trash isn’t pushing it too far. That’s what Paul under the inspiration of God himself says. Because the trash we hold on to keeps us from receiving the treasure that God has for us, this treasure of knowing Christ. He says, ”I wanna gain Christ” verse 9, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law. I want righteousness that doesn’t come from trying harder and checking off the boxes of the do’s and don’ts. No, I want that which is through faith in Christ that I receive as a gift from God.

The righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, not because I’ve earned it because I can’t and I’m glad that I can’t because if I could somehow earn it, I would always be afraid that I had lost it, that my behavior wasn’t good enough, that my track record wasn’t sufficient to keep me in the grace of God.” He says, ”I don’t want that.” I want the salvation, the righteous that comes as a gift from God that all I have to do is say thank you. I accept it.” Verse 10 he says, “I wanna know Christ. I wanna know him, yes to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings becoming like him in his death.” Says, “I want to know that power, that the power of Christ who lived the perfect life, died on the cross to pay for my sins and in his death brought me freedom and then three days later he rose from the dead. I wanna know the power that lifted him out of death and out of darkness, out of sin.” He says, “Because I still struggle with sin.” Because we all still struggle. In Ephesians he says that you are all dead in your sins and transgressions separated from God, trapped in sin and death and darkness.

But in Christ, there is the power to lift from that. Not only in the end, not only when we walk into glory, but even here and now to begin experiencing the power of the resurrection to set us free from all those things that hold us back because I wanna know that power. Verse 11, “And so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection of the dead, the true life with God both now and forever. He says, “Not… Verse 12, ”Not that I’ve already obtained it, I’m not all the way there, or that I’ve already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

I love that sentence. Read it again. “But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” He says, ”I wanna let go of anything I have to let go of so I can take hold of the one who took hold of me.” And you think about this, what did Jesus have to let go of to take hold of us? We looked at it just a couple of weeks ago in Philippians 2. The Son of God let go with his glory. He let go of the honor that was due him. He let go of the right to be recognized and to be worse. If he let go of all that. He basically said, yeah, I know that’s what’s due me, but I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, that’s trash that I let go of so I can take hold of something much more valuable. And what is the incredibly valuable thing that he let go of honor and glory and worship to grab hold of? It’s you. It’s me. It’s us. He let go of all that so that he could take hold of us. We’re his treasure. Think about that for just a second. This is how much God loves you. In spite of our sin and our selfishness, God loves you so profoundly he let go of all of those things so he could take hold of you. Paul says, I wanna follow his example. I wanna let go of everything that I think has value, everything that I now recognize as trash so that I can take hold of true treasure, a relationship with the One who has treasured me so much that he went through that to take hold of me. Wow.

He says, ”Brothers and sisters,” verse 13 ”I don’t consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do, one thing I have taken hold of, forgetting what’s behind, letting go of all of that stuff and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This is what I’m doing. He says, I’m not there yet. Says, I’ve only smelled the bread in the oven. I haven’t taken a bite yet. I’ve only dipped my toes in the cool water of the lake on a hot summer day. I haven’t yet plunged beneath the surface and experienced all that there is. I’m just beginning to taste the outside edges of it. I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of everything that God has for me, but the very little that I’ve experienced is so incredible that there’s nothing that I wanna hold onto if it’s gonna keep me from taking hold of everything that God has and that’s really at the bottom of it, that’s what this whole passage says. He is saying to take hold of all that God has in store for us, we have to let go of all that we’ve stored up for ourselves. That’s it.

In the simplest terms, everything that Paul’s saying here boils down to that, to take hold of all that God has in store for us, we have to let go of all that we’ve stored up for ourselves. How do we do that? Three questions. Three questions that we need to ask, answer and act on. Question number one, what do I need to let go of? What do you need to let go of? What are you holding on to that’s actually gonna keep you from taking hold of everything else that God has for you? You know, it might be a bad thing. Sometimes we hold on to bad broken things. We call those sin in the Church, and it may be that even right now, the Holy Spirit’s speaking to you and you know that there’s a sin in your life that, that you know it’s not good for you. You know it’s nothing compared to everything that Christ has for you, but it’s just for whatever reason, it’s so hard to let go of. You need to identify that. You need to call it what it is. You need to repent of it. Well, maybe it’s a bad thing. Maybe it’s not a bad thing.

Honestly, maybe it’s been a very good thing. Maybe it’s something that God’s even used in your life to get you to a certain point, but now he’s going, okay, it’s time to move past that. Maybe that’s a relationship or a job or something like that. Or maybe it’s a neutral thing, but something that you celebrated so much that you gravitated towards it and now it’s very difficult to break out of that orbit. Now, some of you when I asked this question, you know, what do I need to let go of, you…some of you immediately go like, I got it. I know exactly what it is. Can we please move on? Some of you, maybe it’s not so clear. You’re going, like, I get the idea, but I’m not sure what it is I might be holding onto.

Maybe here’s a couple followup questions. Maybe you ask this question, what am I celebrating? What do I find myself celebrating? What is it easiest for me to celebrate? Because it might very well be that that’s your kind of identifier because the reality is that we gravitate towards what we celebrate. And so if you can identify what you’re celebrating, that might point you very quickly to the thing that you’ve got in such a tight grip that you can’t open your hands to take everything else that God’s got for you. Or maybe you flip it around. Maybe it’s the thing that you’re most afraid of losing. Maybe it’s the thing that you find this kernel of fear growing in you. Because you’re like, what would I do if that thing went away? What would I do if this was taken, what if circumstances changed and I didn’t have that? What’s the thing you need to let go of?

Question number two, what is it keeping me from taking hold of? I think it’s so important that we have some understanding of what it is that God is offering because it’s very hard to let go of something that we found security and hope and peace in unless we understand that what’s being offered to us is infinitely better. Do you understand what it is to know Christ? Do you understand what it is to know a God who loves you so much that he sacrificed his own Son to buy you back to take hold of you? Do you know what’s promised? Maybe you don’t. So maybe what you need to do is you need to but read the Book of Revelation. Well, maybe you need to read the last part of the Book of Revelation because the ramp up to the last part is a little different than what I’m talking about. Revelation 20 and 21, actually a great place to start. You begin to get a picture there of everything that is in store for us. And to see that what’s in store for us is actually what God wants to begin working in us even now, maybe that’s what you need to do to begin understanding what it is that God has for you. I love what God himself said through the Prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 29:11. For some of you, may be a familiar verse. He said, ”I know the plans that I have for you.” You may not know and honestly you may not even be able to wrap your head around it, but I know. I know the plans I have for you. “Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Can you take it on faith that whatever God has for you, it is infinitely better than what you have for yourself? We need to have some sense of what it is that we’re being offered so that we can begin to pry our fingers off of the things that were grabbing hold of. As we were talking about this on Tuesday in our planning meeting, Danny Oertli, our weekend experience pastor, reminded me of a really powerful statement from CS Lewis, one of my favorite quotes from him. He said, would you pop it up? He said, ”It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not to strong but too weak. We’re half-hearted creatures fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when in fact infinite joy is offered to us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” We are. We are far too easily pleased. And so God offers infinite joy. We’re like, “Oh no, I’m good. I got this thing and that thing,” but they’re all things that can be taken away from us. We need to have some sense of what it is that God offers, that sets the stage for being able to do.

Number three, which is this, how will I get it out of my garage? How will I get it out of my garage? We need a plan, right? We need a strategy. Hope is not a strategy and it’s important the way identify the things and we begin pushing towards all the things that God has for us, but we probably need a specific plan or very little progress will actually happen. So how do we do that? How do we get it out of our garage? Honestly, Paul has given us one of the most powerful and practical things, which is rejoice in the Lord. Again, not a feeling, but to actually celebrate God and your relationship with him in practical ways. We talked about a few of those earlier today. Make that a regular part of your life if it’s not, because we gravitate towards what we celebrate. So one of the first keys to moving these other things out of our garage to make room for everything that God wants to move in is to celebrate God and your relationship with him in practical ways, to rejoice in the Lord. It’s not a cliché, it’s a powerful practical strategy.

Maybe part of your strategy too is to get some people around you to talk about this. Maybe you talk about with your Life Group or with your spouse or some other friends. You go, “Hey, I’m kind of seeing that I need to get my fingers off of this so that I have room to grab what God wants. How about you?” And you discuss it and you maybe you make some practical steps together and you hold each other accountable. God will lead you in that. You’re smart, but you need a practical plan to move it out of your garage. And it’s so important that we do that. Why? Because to take hold of all that God has in store for us, we have to let go of all that we stored up for ourselves. Would you pray with me?

God, on behalf of followers of Jesus gathered in this place and gathering with us online around the world right now, I confess to you that we are too easily satisfied, confess to you that we have found hope and meaning and significance and contentment and security in things other than you. We confess that to you and we invite your Holy Spirit have your way with us, Lord. Reveal us those specific things that we have so tightly in our grasp that we can’t take hold of all the much, much better things that you have for us. Reveal those to us, Lord. Give us a glimpse of what it is that you’re offering us and who it is that offers it because though there’s no greater treasure than that simply to know you. And Lord, give us the wisdom to begin taking practical steps to get our fingers off of it, to move it out of the garage, to make room for all that you have.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something for me? Would you begin praying for the people around you and the people watching online? Because I believe there are people listening to this right now that they don’t have a relationship with that God. They have not taken hold of the One who longs to take hold of them. And if that’s you, I just wanna speak to you very briefly. It may very well be that the reason that you don’t have that relationship with God is because there’s other things that you’ve been holding tightly to. Maybe it’s your own sense of righteousness. Maybe you think, well, I’m a good person. Are you good enough? You probably know the fear that comes from that. And maybe it’s possessions or popularity or some other thing, but you know that you’re holding on to something and it’s kept you from taking hold of a relationship with God. And maybe for the first time you heard that God loves you so much that he wants to offer you something infinitely better than anything you’re holding onto.

And if you don’t have a relationship with that God, you can have it starting right here, right now. Wherever you are, this is what you say to him. And if you’re ready to begin that relationship, would you just say this to God in your own heart? Say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. I’ve trusted in other things than you. And I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for rescuing me. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe that you rose from the dead and I want the power of your resurrection in my life. So I’m ready to accept your gift. Jesus, I’m reaching out my arms to you. They’re empty, ready to take hold of you. Come into my life. I put my trust in you for now and forever. Amen.

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