James Meehan - Where Do Hope and Power Come From?
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Well, hey there. Long time no see. Welcome back. I am really, really excited to get to bring a message to you today that I believe is going to help remind us of who we've been called to be. I believe that it will be a message of hope for many of us in a time where it's super easy to feel hopeless. And so what we're gonna do is we're going to start off with some words from Jesus that he gave to his disciples, his followers, shortly before he left earth and said, "Hey, y'all are going to have to go do this without me. But the good news it was is I'ma send somebody to you that's going to empower you to do what you've been called to do".
Now, the interesting thing though, is that this is all happening shortly after the disciples watch Jesus be killed and crucified on a cross and now they're standing with him after he's been raised from the dead. And in the book of Acts, chapter one verse eight, here's what we read. This is Jesus speaking. He's telling his followers that, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And then you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere: in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth". And then in Acts chapter two, we're gonna pick up in that moment that Jesus was talking about. In verse one, what we hear is that, "On the day of Pentecost, all of the believers", right, these are Jesus's followers, "they were meeting together in one place. And then suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and they began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability".
"At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. And when they heard the loud noise, everyone came running and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed". They're looking around and they're asking the question, "How can this be"? "These people they're all from Galilee and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages. Here we are, we're Parthians Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans, and Arabs. And we hear all these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things that God has done. They stood there amazed and perplexed. And they asked each other, What can this mean"? And that's what we're gonna find out today.
Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that even in a time where the world is crazy, we can still be connected with you and with one another through the gift of the internet. And so God, I pray that during this time that we would be open to what you want to show us, that we would understand that you have brought us here on this moment, on this website for a purpose because you want to move in us and you want to move through us. It's in Jesus's name, amen, amen.
Well, here's the deal, first Switch online message, I felt like there was nothing more important for me to share with you than my favorite movie when I was an eight year-old boy. Are you ready? The movie, "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers". Come on, somebody. If you don't know the Power Rangers, then there's something wrong with you. In case you're wondering, there's like 10 people in the room so that's who I'm talking to right now. But here's the deal, when I was eight years old, right, "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" was my jam because in the very beginning of the movie, here's what happens. All of the Power Rangers jump out of an airplane, then they go sky diving aimed at a bullseye on a football field and Tommy, who's like the leader of the Power Rangers, is skydiving on a snowboard. So can you get this shot? Are you ready? This is what it looked like. Back flip. Just kidding, I wasn't actually gonna do it. But that's the start of the movie.
And about halfway through the movie, the Power Rangers, like, they get beat and so they lose their powers, but then, they get Ninja costumes because what's better than Power Rangers? Ninja Power Rangers, obviously. And it ends with the ultimate showdown between good and evil. And the guys win. Come on, somebody. And as an eight year-old boy, that's all I ever needed. But now, as a 25 year-old married man preparing for fatherhood, I have much more sophisticated tastes. So now instead of Power Rangers, I'm all about them Marvel movies, come on, baby. Whew. "Captain America," "Iron Man," "Thor," the rest of them, I don't care as much about, but those three, come on. But here's the deal, even when I was young and still today, the thing that hasn't changed, my love for "Avatar: The Last Airbender". So here's the deal. Like, back in the day when Netflix like, first went to streaming, the first series I watched beginning to end was "Avatar: The Last Airbender".
And then as soon as I finished it, I started over and watched again. And then when it came back on Netflix earlier this year, oh my goodness, come on, somebody. Could the timing be better? When we're trying to figure out what to do with all this Coronavirus, the shelter in place, God gives us a gift and that gift was Avatar Aang. Come on, somebody. But here's the deal. I love these things, hopefully you love them too. If you're an Avatar fan, I need you to put in the chat the emoji for the nation that you would want to be a part of, right? So the fire emoji for fire, you've got the waves emoji for the water. Give me the tornado emoji for air and the poop emoji for earth 'cause they're by far the most boring. Shots fired. But here's the deal. I think that we love these kinds of things because what they do is they let us step into a world where ordinary people are given extraordinary powers. Powers that they can use to change the world for the better. And I really think that that's something that all of us want. It's something that we all crave, right? We want to make a difference. We want to be significant.
But when we look at the world, there are so many problems that can seem so big and so overwhelming that it feels like it doesn't even make sense to try and start because where would we, even if we could make a difference? And it becomes even worse when you realize that so many of these problems are not ones that your generation created, they're problems that your generation inherited. Problems like the Coronavirus pandemic, problems like racism, problems like human trafficking, like climate change, like political division, like poverty and so many more. These problems can feel so big, so overwhelming and so numerous that there are times where it literally feels hopeless to try to do anything about it. So the question becomes where do we find hope when it seems like there isn't any? And I think the first thing that we have to do is we have to reclaim the meaning of hope because over time in our world, hope has become synonymous with wish. But hope is so much more than a wish, right? To compare hope and a wish is kind of like comparing "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the animated series to the live action movie that came out in 2010, right?
One of them is amazing, the other one, a waste of time. So let's just talk about a wish. What is a wish? A wish is the desire for something to happen that may not actually happen. But what is hope? Hope is the belief that your future can be brighter and better than the past. And we have a part to play in making it happen. Do you hear the difference there? Right. Wishing is a desire for things to be different that may never change, but hope is the belief that they will be brighter and better than the past. And hope also includes our responsibility to do something about it, to make that future a reality. And this is why the message of Jesus has always been a message of hope. It is so much more than wishful thinking. Because from the very beginning, the message of Jesus has been this promise that the future will be brighter and better than the past and it's an invitation for us to be a part of making that future a reality. Because of Jesus, the future will be brighter and better than the past.
And we have a part to play in making it happen. This is the gospel message. This is the heart of our faith. It's so much more than just a wish. And it's interesting though, because people will say that history is written by the winners. But if that's so then how is it that Jesus of Nazareth, this nobody who was executed as a criminal in disgrace has had a larger impact on history than any king, queen, president, poet, politician, or scientist? This Jesus who, his critics, they called him a heretic and they called him a revolutionary. But his followers, they knew that there was something special about him. He committed no crimes, but he was crucified as a criminal. How is it that this Jesus, this first century Jewish rabbi has shaped history more than anyone else that's ever lived? I think it's because he showed the world what hope really looks like. He showed the world what it looks like to have all the power and to use it for the good of others.
You see, Jesus was the kind of leader who didn't use his power in a way that would cause him to ask his people to sacrifice themselves for him. What Jesus did is he had all the power and he sacrificed himself for his people. The world had never seen anything like that before because Jesus was hope in human form. Jesus was power made manifest. Jesus showed us a different way and he showed us a better way and he invited every single one of us to follow his way. He invited us to learn from him. He invited us to follow him. And he changed the world. So what is hope? Hope is so much more than a wish. Hope is the belief that your future can be brighter and better than your past and you have a part to play in making it happen. And because of Jesus, we can have hope. And because of Jesus, we have been invited to play a part in making that hope a reality. So the question becomes how do we play our part? What does it look like for us, as teenagers living in the year 2020, to be hope for others in the same way that Jesus has been hope for us?
What I want to do is I wanna learn from Jesus's words that he spoke in a message that is called the Sermon on the Mount. It's found in Matthew's gospel chapter five, where Jesus says this. He says that, "You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Now nobody lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house. Now in the same way, you are to let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father". Jesus was saying that your good deeds, not your good intentions are what are gonna cause people to glorify your Father in heaven. What Jesus is telling us is that there is a light that is in us that we are called to bring into dark places, that where there are wrongs, we are called to go there and make them right.
What Jesus is saying is that there is a light that is in you that will allow people to see God through you. You are called to be the light of the world. You're called to bring hope to others in the same way that Jesus has been hope for us. So what I wanna do is I wanna give you three ideas that are going to help you play your part. Three ideas that will help us be the light of the world, to be the kind of people that can bring hope to people who feel hopeless. To be the kind of people that can make the changes that our world so desperately needs. So the first thing that we have to be able to do is we have to learn the truth. We have to learn the truth because in order for us to do good, we have to actually know what's good, right? In order for us to do what's right, we have to know what's right. And we live in a world where, let's be honest, there is everybody, and their grandma, and their uncle, and their cousin who have an opinion on what's good and what's true. And if we aren't rooted in the One who is good, the One who is true, then we're going to get really confused and we're to start spending energy in all sorts of directions that aren't actually going to make the impact that we want to make.
So this is why it's so necessary for us to be planted in God's word, to be rooted in his presence. So if you don't have the YouVersion Bible app, what are you waiting for? It's completely for free. If you never heard of it, then today is your lucky day. Our church created the YouVersion Bible app. It's a free app that you can use to read the Bible. And what I love is that over 400 million people around the world have downloaded and installed this app and they're able to use it to seek God daily. To be connected with the creator of the universe. To better understand who he is and what it means for us to be human, how we relate to God. And guess what. Today, we just released a Bible plan that goes along with tonight's message that you can start literally today. You can do it with other people that you know. Invite people to do it with you, learn the truth, download the YouVersion Bible app, and then start the From God Bible Plan. Just search "from God" in YouVersion, that's how you find it.
Here's the deal though. I know that there are times where we will find ourselves in a place where it's like, "Yeah, I know that I should, but I just don't quite feel like it". I think the mistake that we make is that we hope that we're going to feel like it before we actually start. And so don't wait until you feel like it, do it until you feel like it. Because when you do that, when you just take the step to learn the truth, to read the word, what I'm telling you is that God's word is going to open up your eyes to what's true and what's good. And that's when we'll be able to actually make the changes that we want to make. So the first thing that we need to do is we need to learn the truth. The second thing, we got to join a team, right? Because none of us were meant to do life alone. And the unfortunate reality of Coronavirus and sheltering in place is that it's become so easy to be isolated. But God didn't make you to do life alone, he made you to do life with other people. Literally, in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, God says, "Hey, it's not good for you to be alone".
And this is what I love about Switch. Whether online or in person, whatever it is, our entire ministry is built around helping you build relationships with other teenagers your age, with an adult leader that's there to invest in you, to encourage you every step of the journey. So learn the truth and then join a team because guess what. Even the Power Rangers had a team. Come on, somebody. Captain America was on a team and even the Avatar, master of all four elements, wind, fire, earth, and air. Wind, fire, earth, and air, I said that twice. And water, the other one! He had a team. What did Sokka do? He just made jokes but he was amazing. Y'all, you need a team. Don't be Sakka, be Avatar. Join a team. And here's the deal, if you are new to Switch, you haven't gotten connected yet, you're not in a Switch group, guess what. We've got a Switch registration form that you can fill out and that is the first step to getting connected, getting in a group so that you are no longer doing life alone.
First, learn the truth. Second, join a team. And then third, make a change. Make a change. What does it mean to make a change? I think what we've got to understand is that for us, there are so many problems that we see and it can be so easy to feel overwhelmed that we don't know where to start. So we just need to start. Find something that's wrong and make it right. Find something that's wrong and figure out what is one thing I can do to make a difference? And look, here's the deal, like I get it. It can be overwhelming and so sometimes the only thing we know how to do is like, I'm just going to post on social media. Which is a great place to start. Awareness is a great place to start, but we cannot stop there. We have to let our awareness drive us to action. Listen to me, Switch. It is not enough to be triggered, you need to be activated. Go and make a change. These things that should not be will not stop being until we make them not be. Go and make a change.
Two questions for you. What breaks your heart? When you look at the world, what breaks your heart? What are the things that you find yourself over and over thinking, "Gosh, that just shouldn't be". And the second question, what are you gonna do about it? Because maybe that thing that shouldn't be is there because you haven't changed it yet. And for those of us who are Christians, here's what we've got to always remember. Listen to me. Jesus didn't die on a cross so you could sit on your couch, right? Jesus died on the cross so that you could be forgiven of your sins, you could be empowered by the Spirit of God, you could be surrounded by people you love so that you could be sent out into the world, to the ends of the earth to make a change. Those things that should not be will not be when we step in and make a change.
Now, for some of you, maybe the way that you're gonna make a change is you're gonna give, right? You've got some money, you've got a job, you've got allowance. You're going to find an organization, you're gonna give through our church to these things that should not be. Others of you, you're gonna serve. You're gonna find an organization, right? You're gonna find a mission partner at our church, or maybe just in your community that you think, "Man, I think they're doing good work. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm just gonna look on their website, I'm going to find a place that says volunteer and I'm going to sign up to serve in my community". For others of you, you're going to help connect people to each other because there are a lot of people who feel alone and they're waiting for somebody to invite them to be a part of something bigger than themself. That's what you're here to do.
And what a great thing to do is to connect them here to Switch online, right? Literally. You can invite people back with you next week for Switch online. Others of you, you're gonna step out and lead. Because there's this gift inside of you, there's this desire to start something, to make a change. You're gonna get some people together, you're gonna lead something and you're gonna get people together to make these things that are wrong right. Because that's what we're called to do, to be the light of the world. Learn the truth, join a team, and make a change. Because of Jesus, we can have hope that our future will be brighter and better than our past. And because of Jesus, we know that we have a part to play in making it happen. So at the beginning of this, we were reading in Acts chapter two, we stopped in verse 12 and this was where the people, they saw the disciples speaking in these different languages and they were standing there amazed, they were perplexed, they were asking the question, "What can this mean"? But we know what it means because Jesus told them the chapter before.
In Acts 1:8, he told them this, he said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. You will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere. In Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth". You see, something happened that day to this small group of Jesus followers that drew a massive crowd. What we've got to understand is that in that moment, these ordinary people were given extraordinary power. Power that drew this massive crowd. Now, what's interesting is that there were people in this crowd who literally thought the disciples were crazy. And what you've got to understand is that there are going to be times where you start learning the truth, where you join a team, where you start to make a change and people are going to wonder what is going on. They might even think you're crazy. Literally, there were people in this moment who were thinking that the disciples were drunk. But thankfully, Peter sets 'em straight. He says, "Hey, we're not drunk. It's nine o'clock in the morning, okay? It's way too early for that".
That's literally what it says. Read your Bible and you will find it. And then after setting them straight, Peter goes on to preach one of the most powerful, convicting, passionate, and inspiring sermons that anyone had ever heard. And he gets all of these peoples' attention and they're listening in and they're leaning in and during this sermon with so much boldness, with conviction, here's what Peter says. He looks at this crowd of people, at the end of the sermon, and he tells them, "Let everyone in Israel know that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified to be both Lord and Messiah. And Peter's words, they pierced their hearts.
So the people said to him and to the other disciples, they said, Brothers, what should we do? So Peter looks at them and he says, Each of you must repent of your sins". That means turn from your wrongs and turn to God. "And then be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". And what we're told is that those who believed what Peter said, they were baptized and added to the church that day. And there were about 3,000 of them in all. 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ because of the sermon that Peter preached. But what's interesting is three years before this, Peter was just a fisherman. And then one day, he had an encounter with Jesus. An encounter that changed everything. He spent the next three years of every day spending his life learning from and following Jesus. He witnessed miracle after miracle. He saw sick people being healed, blind people getting their sight, dead people being raised to life. And he saw his friend Jesus be arrested. He watched his friend Jesus be beaten.
And Peter is standing there thinking, "Okay, like, if they did this to Jesus, they're probably coming for me next," so he did what almost any of us would do in that moment when people asked him, "Hey, are you with that Jesus guy"? Peter covered his own butt and he said, "Nah. Like, I don't even know who he is". And three times, Peter denied Jesus. And shortly thereafter, Peter watched Jesus, his best friend, be killed on a cross for crimes he didn't commit. So Peter and the rest of these disciples, they went and hid. Because they figured, hey, if they did that to Jesus, it's only a matter of time before they come for us. And they were cowering in this room, waiting for the moment when the Roman soldiers came busting through the doors to take them to prison. But instead of the Roman soldiers, it was Jesus standing there.
And Jesus, he looked at his followers. He showed them his scars. He showed them hey, death has no power over me. And the same power that raised me from the dead, I'm giving that to you. And you see, it was this Peter who started as a fishermen, who spent three years with Jesus, who was now standing there, preaching this sermon, looking at this crowd, he was filled with the Spirit of God, he was transformed by the grace of Jesus, and he was preaching this message, letting everybody know that that Jesus is Lord and Messiah of everything. And if you put your trust in him, then that is where you will truly find hope. Because Peter was filled with the Holy spirit. He had power from God and he had power that was for the world.
And the same God who used Peter to make a change, wants to use you as well. And when you find yourself doubting, when you find yourself questioning, when you find yourself hesitating, remember what the author of 1 John tells us in chapter four, verse four. He tells us the greater is he who is in you than he, who is in the world. And the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead is living in you. And because of Jesus, we can have hope that the future will be brighter and better than the past. And because of Jesus, we have power from God to play a part in making it happen.