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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - The Foundation of Hope

Craig Smith - The Foundation of Hope


Craig Smith - The Foundation of Hope
TOPICS: The Story of Easter, Easter, Hope

Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills Church Online, a little hard to believe, but we are only a couple weeks out from Easter. Easy to kind of lose sight of that in the midst of everything we’ve going on because of course, we’re about three weeks into this coronavirus pandemic. And I’ve just got to make, just a guess, chances are a few of you are feeling just a little bit done with this whole thing. Maybe a little bit worn out from all the worry. I think there’s a lot of people who are doing a lot of worrying right now. Maybe you’re worried about catching the virus, maybe you’re worried about catching it yourself. Or maybe you’re worried about you know, your kids or your spouse, or your aging parents, or friends, catching it. And if you’re worried about catching the virus itself, or somebody catching the virus can I just tell you, there’s a word for you. Normal, you’re totally normal.

I think a lot of us are dealing with those fears. I actually found myself a couple of nights ago, my oldest daughter wasn’t feeling great. She had a little bit of a tickle in the back of her throat. And she coughed a couple of times. And so I ended up laying awake way, way, way later into the night than I normally would. And I was like, “Hah, it’s interesting might like my heart’s gone a little bit faster, and my chest feels a little bit tight.” And I realized that it was just worry, it was worry about the virus and what it could do to our family. And so if that’s you, I just want you to know you’re not alone. And there’s nothing wrong with you for worrying about that. Maybe for you the worry isn’t so much about the virus, maybe it’s about what the virus is doing to our society, maybe it’s worry about what the virus is gonna do to your family’s finances. Right?

I think a lot of people are worried about that right now, if that’s you, you’re normal, right? Maybe you’re worried because you know, you’ve had your hours cut or you’ve been laid off or maybe you own a business and you’ve had to lay people off or you’re afraid you’re going to have to, maybe even close down the business. And there’s a lot of worries around that. And again, that’s totally normal. I feel that myself as a leader of a large church with a lot of staff that depends entirely on charitable giving, which always goes down in a season like that. I’m feeling some of that worry about the financial implications of this as well. Totally normal, you’re not alone, we’re all there. I think maybe what’s the hardest thing for me in the midst of all this is simply that it feels like a no-win situation. Maybe you feel that way. It just feels like we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. And there’s no easy way out of it, right? I mean, if we do what we have to do to keep the spread of the virus down, then it’s gonna trash our economy. And if we do what we need to do to keep our economy going, then the virus is gonna spread, we’re gonna get a lot more people sick and overwhelm hospitals and maybe even more deaths from that.

So it just feels like a no-win situation. And I hate no-win situations. I feel like I’m in way too many of them as a leader. But I can tell you that, you know, whether you’re a leader or not, we all have the same experience when we face what looks like a no-win situation. And that is we begin to experience despair, we begin to experience a sense of helplessness, we begin to experience a sense of hopelessness. And that’s the worst part, I think, of a no-win situation. It’s just feeling like we’re hopeless. And so what I wanna do today is I wanna give you some hope because there is hope. And I wanna share some of that with you. And I wanna do that by actually taking a look at an incident from the life of Jesus, where he faced what looked like a no-win situation. But in fact, he handled that situation in a way that brought and brings tremendous hope, at least it has for me, and I hope it will for you.

Why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible, wherever you are, start making your way to the Gospel of Luke chapter 20. If you’re new to the Bible, I just wanna say I’m so glad you’re with us today. And let me just give you a quick, you know, maybe a little basic intro to what we’re gonna be doing. We’re gonna be looking at the Book of Luke in the Bible today. And Luke is one of four books in the Bible called Gospels. And what that means is good news. And it means that these are the four books that tell the good news of the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus. And today we’re gonna see good news from his life. This is about three years into the ministry of Jesus. So here’s what’s been happening for about three years now. Jesus has been gaining momentum, people have kind of flocked to him because of his teaching, but also, of course, his miracles and Jesus has become very, very popular. But not everybody is a fan. In fact, there are quite a few people, specifically the Jewish religious leaders in Israel in that day. They saw Jesus’s popularity as a threat to their power, and so they’re kind of looking for a way to get rid of him.

And so that’s kind of where we rejoin the story here. Luke 20:20, says this, “Keeping a close watch on him they,” that’d be the Jewish religious leaders, “They sent spies who pretended to be sincere.” They pretended to be followers of Jesus, but in fact, they were just working with these religious leaders who were trying to get rid of Jesus. “They pretended to be sincere, and they hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and the authority of the governor.” Now, the governor there would be a man named Pontius Pilate, he was the Roman governor who was ruling over this Palestinian province in that day and age. For about 100 years now the nation of Israel and Palestine had been under the occupation by the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor. So here’s what’s kind of interesting is the Jewish religious leaders who pretty much hate the Roman governor, they hate the fact that Rome occupies them, but they think they can probably get something that they want out of Rome at this point, they can kind of basically pass their Jesus problem off to the Roman governor. And because the way they see it is, if we move against Jesus directly, because he’s really popular with the Jewish people, then they’re gonna get mad at us and we don’t want that.

So what we need to do, we’re just gonna pawn the Jesus problem off on the Roman governor. And so they sent the spies to try to get Jesus to say something that will allow them to do that. Verse 21, says, “So the spies questioned him and they said, teacher, we know that you speak the truth, that you speak and you teach what is right and that you do not show partiality, but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” And let’s just be honest, what they’re doing there, of course, is insincere. It is what we call flattery, meaning they’re giving him compliments, but they don’t really mean them. They’re just trying to manipulate him into doing something that they want. And by the way, this is just kind of a bonus truth, but I think it’s worth saying. As a leader, I have come to understand that one of the most dangerous things that I face is flattery. It’s people who wanna say nice things to me, in order to get me to do something that they want me to do. I think all leaders face that, right?

It doesn’t matter what context you lead, and in what context you have influence, flattery is an incredibly dangerous thing. Maybe as a parent you’ve experienced where one of your kids comes and they give you a big hug, and they go, “Oh, Mommy, you’re the best mommy ever.” And immediately, you’re like, “Okay, what’s that about? Right, what are you trying to get me to do?” Or maybe you’ve experienced that your boss comes to you? And they say, “I think you’re my best employee.” And you’re like, “Okay, what’s this leading to?” Because flattery is really an attempt to get somebody to do what you want them to do. And I think as leaders, one of the greatest dangers that we face is making decisions under the influence. This is kind of bonus truth, here it is. Don’t DUI Don’t decide under the influence of flattery. Because when we’re being flattered, what happens typically, is that we kind of like it, we like when people say nice things about us. And we want more of those things to be said about us. And so it naturally kind of inclines us to do whatever the person who’s flattering us wants us to do. Okay, so that’s the bonus truth for today, don’t DUI, don’t decide under the influence of flattery.

When somebody does to you what they’re doing to Jesus, what you wanna do is you wanna go, “Okay, I’m not making any decisions right now. I’m just gonna step back and wait until I’m able to make a clear-headed decision.” Now, Jesus has a little bit of advantage as the Son of God, he’s able to remain kind of immune to the influence of flattery, kind of to rise above it, and so he doesn’t have to step back from it, but we’re gonna see that he doesn’t really respond to it either. Okay, so they flatter him, and that sets them up for asking this question. They said, “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” That’s the big question. And that’s the trick question, right? Because there’s really no way for Jesus to answer it. If he says, “Yeah, go ahead and pay taxes to Caesar,” the Jewish people are gonna be really upset with him because they hate Caesar. He’s the Roman governor. Not the Roman governor, he’s the Roman Emperor. And they hate the Roman Emperor. They hate the Roman Empire. And they especially hate the Roman taxes. They’ve been under Roman occupation for about 100 years now. And the taxes were significant. Some estimates actually put Roman taxes as high as 40% of the average person’s income. And that’s really high, obviously. But beyond that, it’s also kind of adding insult to the injury in that they’re paying taxes to a group of people that they don’t feel that they should be loyal to.

They’re basically enslaved to the Roman Empire. And every time they pay taxes, they’re being reminded that they’re not a free people. It’d be a little bit like if China or Russia somehow came to occupy the United States of America, and then they taxed us and every time we send them 40% of our income, we’d be reminded we’re not free anymore. The Land of the Free is no longer the free. And that would add insult to injury. And so the Jewish people hated the Roman taxes. They hated the Roman Empire and everything that the taxes reminded them about the Roman Empire. And so if Jesus says, “Yeah, yeah, just go ahead and pay taxes to Caesar,” they were gonna be like, “I thought you were one of us. I thought you’re with us. I thought you were God’s man, I thought you were gonna lead us to more freedom.”

And so they would have basically withdrawn a lot of their public opinion or their favor from Jesus. Right? On the other hand, if Jesus says “No, don’t pay taxes to Caesar, why should we do that? We’re God’s people. Why should we give money to a foreign…why would he take from God’s people to give it to a foreign emperor?” If he does that, then the Roman governor is gonna be like, “Yeah, that’s not okay.” There’s a word for that. It’s called rebellion. And Rome dealt very severely with rebellion, any hint of rebellion Rome responded to by killing the people involved in or what they thought was fomenting that rebellion. So, Jesus is between a rock and a hard place here, right? He’s in a no-win situation, at least it seems like that. They say, “So is it right, pay taxes to Caesar or not?” And you’re kind of done either way you go.

Verse 23 says this, “He saw through their duplicity.” He saw exactly what they’re trying to do. He’s never surprised by anything that happens. And he said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Well, Caesars,” they replied. Now a denarius was a Roman coin, and it was the coin that was typically used to pay the Roman tax. It was worth about a day’s wages. And on the Roman coin, on this denarius, there was an image and an inscription. That’s what Jesus is asking. “Hold one up,” he says, “and take a look at it. What do you see on there, whose image and inscription?” And the image was of Tiberius Caesar, that was the Roman Emperor at that point. And so it had sort of a profile of him. And it also had some words, it had an inscription, it said “Tiberius Caesar, son of the Divine Augustus.” And so a denarius, a Roman coin had the Emperor’s image and his inscription on it. Now, on the surface, what Jesus does here isn’t really all that interesting. It’s not really all that significant. And Jesus saying “Show me a coin, whose image and inscription are on it?” And they’re like, “Oh, it’s Caesar’s,” right? But on another level, what Jesus is doing here is actually really deep. And to understand that we have to go back into the Old Testament a little bit. And we have to understand how Jesus’s original audience, his Jewish audience, would have understood what he just said because he just used a couple of loaded words.

From a Jewish perspective, the two words that he just used, image and inscription, were actually loaded words, because they feature very significantly in the Hebrew Bible in what we call the Old Testament, both of those words, image and inscription, they’re very significant. So for instance, I’m gonna go all the way back to the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, Genesis 1:27, when God is describing his act of creating human beings, Genesis 1:27, says this, “And so God created mankind in his own image,” you see that word? It’s the same word. “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Interesting, right? So Jesus said, “Show me a denarius, whose image is on it.” And they’re like “Caesar’s,” but that word would have immediately reminded them of this verse and they would have gone like, “Well, so, Caesar’s image is on the coin, but God’s image is on us. It’s on me.” Same thing is true for that word inscription. In the book of Jeremiah, Old Testament prophet named Jeremiah wrote this, Jeremiah 31:33. “God says this, he says, ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law on their minds and write it on their hearts.'” And that word right is built off the same root for the word inscription. Literally, he says, “I will inscribe it on their hearts. I’ll put my words on their hearts, I will be their God and they will be my people.”

And so Jesus says “Look at that coin, who’s image?” “Caesar’s.” And they’re like, “Yeah, but whose image is on me?” And then he says, “Who’s inscription, whose words are on that coin?” Like, “Well, Caesar’s,” but they would have immediately thought, “And whose words are on me, whose words are inscribed to me, whose inscription is upon me?” And the answer is God’s. So he’s basically saying this. He’s saying, “Well, so whose image and inscription is on the coin, but whose image and inscription is on you?” It’s really significant, right? Basically what Jesus is doing is he’s asking another question, a much more significant question. On the surface, the question is, whose image and inscription are on the coin? But underneath the surface, he’s asking a much more profound question and his audience would have understood it. And the question is this, Jesus is asking, “Whose image and inscription are on you? Whose image and inscription are on you?” Here’s why this matters. Because as Jesus goes on, they say, “Well, Caesar’s image and inscription are on the coin,” He says this, “He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God, what is God’s?'” He says, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what’s God’s.” He says, “Whose image and inscription are on the coin?” “Well, Caesar’s image and inscription?” “It’s his coin, give it back to him.”

But remember that other question, whose image and inscription are on you? Well, if it’s God’s, then you need to give God yourself, right? What he’s basically saying is he’s saying, “Give your taxes to Caesar and yourself to God. Give your taxes to Caesar and yourself to God.” Pretty cool. There’s depths to what’s going on here that we can easily miss. He basically says, “I don’t have any problem with giving Caesar his taxes, his coins back. We’re not taking from God to give it to a foreign emperor. It’s his coin, give it back to him, but a much, much, much more interested in whether or not you are giving to God what is God’s, which is yourself, are you giving yourself to God?” That’s what Jesus is asking. “Are you giving yourself to God?” They didn’t know what to do with that. It says, “They were unable to trap him in what he said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.” I love it, right?

I mean, not only did he get out of the impossible situation, not only did he escape the trap, but actually he turned their attempt to trap him into an incredibly powerful accusation, right? Because remember the people that are talking to him, and the people who sent them, they’re fake, right? They’re hypocrites, they don’t think he’s a good teacher. They don’t think he speaks the Word of God. They don’t think he represents God. They’re pretending to follow him. But of course, they don’t actually mean any of that. And so he’s seen through all that, and he’s turned their attempt to trap him into an accusation. He’s saying, “Hey, you claim to be God’s people, but are you actually giving yourself to God?”

And here’s where it gets really interesting for me. And here’s where I begin to see so much hope in the story. Let me try to unpack it. See, here’s the thing. Jesus is asking this question, so important, “Are you giving yourself to God?” That’s the question. And what we need to begin to process and work through is what happens if we don’t? Because what happens if you don’t give Caesar what is Caesar’s, what happens if you don’t give the Roman Emperor what is his? What happens if you don’t give him the taxes?” The answer is you die. That’s how Rome dealt with treason. That’s how Rome dealt with rebellion. They killed you. So if you don’t give Caesar what is Caesar’s you die. But what happens if you don’t give God what is God’s? And the answer is he dies for you. He dies for you. That’s the story of Easter.

And interesting enough, this story is right smack in the middle of the story of Easter. It took place between two key events in the life of Jesus. The first one we call Palm Sunday. That was the day that Jesus came into Israel and came into Jerusalem as King. He came in riding on an unridden colt as the King. And then, of course, just a few days after that, on what we call Good Friday, he was crucified as a criminal, buried in the grave, and three days later, he rose from the dead, to offer us salvation by faith, salvation, forgiveness, relationship with God and hope to give it by faith because of what he did for us. And so this event, interestingly enough, it happens right in between his triumphal entry as a King and his death and his resurrection. And what Jesus is doing in the story is he’s actually beginning to set the stage. He’s beginning to raise this question, right? If you don’t give to Caesar what is Caesar’s what does he do? He kills you. But if you don’t give to God what is God’s yourself, what does he do? He dies for you, right?

That’s what the story of Easter is. It’s crazy. It’s that he dies for you. It really is the story of the whole Bible, right? God is King. He’s King of kings and Lord of lords. He sits above every other throne on earth. And he created us as his image. He put his inscription, his words on us, we’re his, but we rebelled. We said, “God, thanks for life and everything, but I think I’ll take it from here. I think I’ll do life on my own,” and everything fell apart. That’s when all the bad stuff came in. That’s when things like the coronavirus actually got their foothold in the world and in our lives. It’s when we rebelled against our King. We brought all that upon ourselves. Because we didn’t give God what is his, we didn’t give God ourselves, we rebelled against him. But God in his infinite love for us, rather than allowing us to face the ultimate penalty of that, the ultimate death that is separation from him for all eternity, rather than doing that, he sent his own Son, the King. And what did the King do? He died for his people. He went to the cross. He died as a sacrifice for our sins and then he rose from the dead and he offers salvation by faith.

So what will Caesar do if you don’t give Caesar what is Caesar’s? He’ll kill you. But what will God do when we haven’t given him what is his, ourselves? He dies for us. That’s an incredible truth, right? It’s an incredible truth. It’s this crazy truth and sometimes I struggle to wrap my head around it, but we can’t lose sight of it, especially in the midst of all the craziness that’s going on right now. And especially in the midst of all the worry and the fear that the coronavirus is spreading. We cannot lose sight of this truth. God purchased us with love. He purchased with love what was his by right. He purchased with love what was his by right because of his love for us. Even though we were his and we were living in rebellion deserving death, he died for us. He purchased with love what was his by right, us.

That’s a very different king, right? And, Jesus, he’s beginning to set that up. He’s beginning to point people to that reality that God is a very, very different King. And I began to see in this such a tremendous source of hope. I see it in two ways. The story gives me hope in two ways. It lays a foundation for hope in two ways. The first one is just this. It’s that God always wins. And the second one is that he always fights for his people. That’s the foundation of hope. God always wins and he always fights for his people. He always wins, right? This is an unwinnable situation, but Jesus won. He turned the tables, he got out of the unwinnable situation, that’s always true with God. God always wins.

This coronavirus situation might look like we’re caught between a rock and a hard place between, you know, health concerns and economic concerns and how can we possibly get through this. With God, with God who always wins. He’s never surprised, and he’s never trapped, he’s never caught. God always wins. And even in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, I see signs of God winning. I have this privilege of just being connected to a lot of different pastors around the country. And as we’re sharing stories, one of the incredible things is, we’re all seeing an increasingly large number of people giving their lives to Jesus, saying yes to faith in Jesus through online broadcasts. Because in the midst of all of this scary, weird, worrying situation, a lot of people are looking for hope and they’re finding it in the God who always wins. We’re seeing a lot of people come to say yes to faith in Jesus. That’s an incredible fact. God is winning, even when it feels like it’s a no-win situation, we’re in. God always wins. And he’s gonna win this too. He’s going to win this too. God is not caught, he’s not trapped. What we see is a rock and a hard place, God sees as things that can be used to shape his people into more and more of what he intends them to be, okay? God always wins.

Secondly, God always fights for his people. He always fights for his people. How can we ever worry about whether or not that’s true, right? This is a God who we rebelled against, and he paid the price of our rebellion on his own blood. That’s a God that you can be confident is fighting for you. He is always fighting for you. He purchased with love what was his by right. That’s a God who will always fight for you. And there’s hope in this, right? God always wins. And he always fights for us, for his people.

So what are we gonna do? We’re gonna do two things. First, we’re gonna remember that God always wins. And second, we’re gonna refocus on giving ourselves to God and giving ourselves to the God who has given himself for us. That’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna remember God always wins and we’re gonna refocus on giving ourselves to God. Okay. So I’m gonna ask you two questions. And I’m gonna ask you to really push into these two questions this week, I want you to really pray about them. I want you to really give some thought to them because I believe that they’re gonna be the basis of a surge of an upsurge of hope in your life. Okay, the first question is just this. How will I remind myself that God always wins? How will I remind myself that God always wins? I don’t know what it would do for you, I don’t know what it would look like for you. But you need to figure out some kind of a rhythm of reminding yourself that God always wins. Maybe it’s that you find some passages from the Bible that you’re gonna read on a regular basis throughout this coronavirus pandemic. One of them, let me suggest to you, one of them would be Psalm 91, incredibly powerful reminder that God always wins. I love this.

Let me just give you a hint of it. Says Psalm 91 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he’s my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare, from the deadly pestilence.” It’s interesting, pestilence means sickness, it means disease and that shows up over and over again in this Psalm. “He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you’ll find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and your rampart, you will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say the Lord is my refuge, and you make the Most High your dwelling no harm will overtake you.”

It’s not even the whole thing, it goes on and just gets better. Maybe that’s a Psalm that you need to remind yourself of, or you need to read on a regular basis. And in that Psalm by reading it, you’re gonna remind yourself that God always wins. Maybe you read the story of Easter, we’re coming up on the celebration of Easter. And so maybe you need to read the story of Easter in the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John consistently. Maybe one a day for the next foreseeable future, right until this pandemic is at an end to remind yourself that God always wins. But you need to remember that, you need to find a rhythm, reminding yourself that. So how are you gonna do it? How am I gonna remind myself that God always wins?

Second question is this. How will I refocus on giving myself to God? How will I refocus on giving myself to God? How will I refocus on giving myself to the God who has given himself for us, who has purchased with love what was his by right? Who died for us when we rebelled against him? How will you refocus on giving yourself to that God? Because that’s the question that Jesus really wanted to get at in the story, right? Are you giving yourself to God? So how are we gonna refocus on doing that? I’m gonna give you just a real quick framework that I think might be helpful as you think about this question. And I’m gonna suggest that we can refocus giving ourselves to God by focusing on what we say, what we seek, and what we surrender. Say, seek, and surrender. I think it’s a kind of a triangle, and we wanna keep ourselves right in the middle, giving ourselves to God by paying attention to what we say, seek, and surrender.

So what we say. Like for instance, what are you doing with your mouth in this season? What kinds of things are you saying? Are you reporting to lots of other people in your family around you all the bad news? You can stop that. That’s not helpful to you. It’s not helpful to them. Are you expressing your worry and your concern and your fear and your frustration? Maybe you’ve been cooped up a little bit long and your words are getting sharp? Maybe your words are getting a little bit unkind with your family. Maybe you need to step back from that and go, “Am I honoring God? Am I giving myself to God with what I say?” Maybe you replace some of those negative things with some positive, maybe you’re gonna start praising God, maybe take some time right now to just actually give God some worship, put a worship song on and sing it, incredible power in that. Maybe you’re gonna suggest to your family at dinner the next time because maybe you’re all having a lot more family dinners than you used to, maybe you’re gonna say “Hey, let’s all say three things that we’re thankful to God for in the midst of this thing.” Okay. You may find that by speaking those thankful things, by speaking praise that you find yourself letting go of fear and grabbing a hold of the hope that you have in a God who always wins and who always fights for you. So pay attention to what you say.

Also pay attention to what you seek, you know. Maybe right now in the midst of this whole coronavirus thing, you’re desperately seeking security of some kind, you’re trying to exert some kind of control over things because you feel like everything’s out of control. Maybe instead of trying to seek your control maybe what you need to do is you need to seek God. Maybe you need to seek time with God, right? Maybe you need to go “Hey, I’m not in control God but I know you are. So let me get to know you better.” If I can’t control the situation, maybe I need to know the God who is in control of the situation better. And so you’re gonna spend more time seeking God by reading his Word and praying throughout this season. Or you know what, maybe you’re seeking connection. Maybe you’re an extrovert and you’re just like you’re dying to get connected to people and you’re kind of frantically trying to connect to people. And maybe you’re gonna go, “You know what? I’m gonna seek time with God in the midst of this time when I don’t have as much connection.”

Or maybe you’re an introvert, right? And maybe you’re in your happy place. Not only are you allowed to stay home, but you’re told by the government you have to stay home. Okay, fair enough. But how about this? Do you have people in your life who need to hear that you still care about them? That need to hear that you’re still thinking about them, that you’re praying for them? Maybe as an extra extrovert in life, you need to actually seek to connect with them and speak the truth of God’s Word to them. Maybe you need to connect them, you need to seek connecting with some people right now in this season and letting them know about a God who always wins and who always fights for his people. Maybe you need to reach out and do that in some way.

And third one is that surrender business. How do you give yourself to God by what you surrender? I already mentioned control. But you know what? I think for me at least, that’s the one thing that I feel like is lost in this. It’s control. And that’s hard for me, I wanna be in control, I wanna make sure that I’ve got everything under control. As a leader, as a father, just as a human being, I think we’re all kind of inclined to want control and it’s lost. And then a lot of us are trying really hard to get it back in various ways. And that’s probably creating some conflict in some of our relationships right now. Because what we’re doing, is we’re just trying to reassert control, we’re seeking control. And maybe what we need to do is we need to surrender. We need to surrender that need to be in control to the only one who should be, to God. Maybe we need to surrender control to the God who always wins, and the God who always fights for his people. In fact, let’s pray right now about doing that, would you join me in prayer, wherever you are, would you just close your eyes, take a deep breath. Let’s have a conversation with God.

Hey, God, things are scary right now. A lot of us are scared right now. We’re worried and we’re worn out from the worry. We need hope. We thank you that the hope that we have, it doesn’t come from an end to this pandemic. It doesn’t come from the arrival of a vaccine. The hope that we really need comes from you. It comes from a relationship with a God who always wins. Who has never encountered a no-win situation. And who always fights for his people. Lord, as your people we come to you and we ask for the hope that only you have. Would you pour hope into us. And Lord, not only may we receive that hope, but may we become agents of it, to those who are around us, who are in desperate need of it. Lord, we simply take a moment right now and we acknowledge to you the truth that we know that we see in this story from the life of Jesus, you always win. And you always fight for your people. Lord, fight for us. And we will give ourselves to you. But help us to give ourselves to you in what we say, what we seek, what we surrender. Because in you alone is there hope. And so we look to you alone for hope.


And if you’re a follower of Jesus, if you have this hope, would you do something for me, would you begin praying for the people around you? Maybe they’re in your home, maybe they’re in the neighborhood around you. Maybe they’re on the other side of the world watching this, but I know right now, there are a lot of people watching this who don’t have a relationship with God. They don’t have the hope that you have. So would you begin praying for them right now? And if that’s you, if you don’t have the hope that we’re talking about, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, with the Son of God who always wins and who always fights for his people, and if you would say, “That’s great news, but the reality is, I’m not one of his people.” If that’s you, I just wanna speak to you for a moment. Because all that can change right now. Everything can change right now. You can have that hope, you can have that relationship. All it requires is saying yes to the God who paid in his own blood the price of your rebellion. All it requires is putting your faith, your trust in the God who has bought with love what was already his by right, you.

All we need to do is acknowledge our rebellion, asked for forgiveness and put our trust in what Jesus himself did on the cross for us. And here’s how you’re gonna do it. If you don’t have that relationship, you can have it right now. And if you’re ready to receive hope, if you’re ready to receive that relationship, here’s how you do it. You’re just gonna have a conversation with God right now. Just I’ll give you the words, you’re just gonna say them to God with sincerity. Here’s what you’re gonna say. You’re gonna say:

God, I have rebelled against you. I’m sorry. I’ve sinned. I’ve tried to do life on my own and it hasn’t worked out so great. I’m so sorry. Jesus thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my rebellion. I believe you rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. And I understand for the first time that you’re offering me forgiveness, you’re offering me freedom from guilt and shame. You’re offering me hope. Hope that comes from a relationship with a God who always wins and who always fights for his people. I wanna be one of your people. So Jesus, I’m putting my faith in you. I’m putting my trust in you. Come into my life. I’m yours from now and forever. Amen.

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