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James Meehan - God's Plan for You

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    James Meehan - God's Plan for You
TOPICS: God's Plan, Purpose

Well, welcome to week two of our series, "Who is God", where we're exploring the big questions about who is God? What is he like? And what does that mean for us? Last week, we kicked off this series by asking and exploring the question who is God? God is our creator and he wants a relationship with his creation. Now, if you missed last week, I'm just gonna tell you that you missed a lot, but the good news is, is you can literally just find that message here on YouTube. It was aired last Wednesday. It'll be super easy for you to find. And so that's a great way for you to stay up to date with everything that's happening here at Switch.

Now, jumping into this week, week two, Who is God. We're gonna look at what does it mean for God to be our Redeemer? And the big idea for today's message that everything is gonna come back to is this is that God is our Redeemer and he wants to rescue us from sin. So what does that mean? What is redemption? I think the best way to illustrate this is to go all the way back to the glory days of the early '90s. Because in 1992, something momentous happened. That was the first year where the US allowed professional NBA players to play for the men's Olympic basketball team. And that year, the USA put together what has been called the Dream Team, because this was a team entirely consisting of basketball legends.

These are people that you've probably heard of like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippin, Chris Mullin, and Christian Latner. Some looking back on the Dream Team have called it the greatest team ever assembled because that year in 1992, they went undefeated and outscored their opponents by an average of 44 points a game. They were completely dominant on the court. And that legacy of dominance continued year after year, Olympics after Olympics for the US until 2004 when things went awry. You see the 2004 men's Olympic basketball team came home with a bronze medal.

Now, for most people coming home from the Olympics with a bronze medal would be a huge victory, but because of the previous success and the expectations, there were so many people who saw that bronze medal as an embarrassment. And so four years later, the US put together a team with the goal of winning back that gold medal, redeeming it. And that's why the 2008 men's Olympic basketball team was known as the Redeem Team, because they set out with a clear mission in mind to win back the gold medal that had been lost four years previously. And they absolutely accomplished that mission. The Redeem Team went undefeated and they won by an average of over 20 points a game. Winning back what was lost. That's what redemption looks like in action.

You see a redeemer is someone who recovers ownership of something in exchange for a payment. That 2008 Redeem Team recovered ownership of that gold metal in exchange for the payment of their blood, their sweat, their tears, their time and their talent. That's redemption. But the thing that we can never lose sight of is that God paid something so much more costly and dear to redeem us from sin and death and darkness. And that's what we're gonna talk about today. In Peter's letter to the early Christians in chapter 1:18-21 he writes this, "For you know, that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him, you believe in God who raised him from the dead and glorified him. And so your faith and your hope are in God".

Now, well, there's a lot to unpack from that passage of scripture. There's so much meat and meaning that we can pull from it. What we're gonna do today is focus on the three big ideas that Peter is showing us as followers of Jesus. The first big idea is that redemption has always been a part of God's plan. The second idea is that redemption invites us into a new way of life. And the third idea is that redemption comes through Jesus. So have you ever had a plan that didn't quite go like you expected, but you stuck to it. You kept trying, you made adjustments, and then eventually what you hoped would happen finally happened. Now for me, this was the journey of beginning to date, my now wife, Mandy, and eventually become married. And now we've got a son, Jace Quatro, who just turned one year old and it's been amazing, but it didn't start that way.

You see, when I met Mandy, I was absolutely captivated. I saw her and thought to myself, oh my goodness, this girl is gorgeous, she loves Jesus. She's really friendly and nice and has a great personality. I think I need to marry her. Now at that point, I had just recently become a follower of Jesus. And so I was really caught up in trying to find the person that I was gonna spend the rest of my life with. And when Mandy entered into my world, I thought, dear Lord have mercy. This is a gift from God. And it is clear that I need to pursue a relationship with her.

Now, if you were to ask her, she would tell you that it was clear that I was trying way too hard and coming on way too strong. And so she shot me down in that moment. And so I thought to myself, that's okay. I think it's still gonna work out. Like I literally remember the day I met her going home and talking to my mentor and he asks like, Hey, what's going on? What's new in your life. And I told him, I met the girl I'm gonna marry today. And he said, oh, that's cool. Who is it? And I told her it's Mandy. And he knew about Mandy. He looked me in the eyes and said, Yeah bro, she's out of your league. You're not gonna marry her. And the thing is, is like, wow, that hurt a little bit in the moment. It was absolutely true because at that point in my life, I was newly following Jesus. And I was still trying to figure out how to live as a disciple of Jesus in a way that is honoring to God and honoring to others.

And so there was a lot of work that God's still needed to do in me. And so I continued to pursue Jesus. I decided, you know what, maybe my focus it shouldn't be on trying to get Mandy to notice me and maybe it should be on becoming who God's created me to be. But then over time, these different scenarios and situations showed up where Mandy and I were in the same place at the same time with the same group of friends, which blossomed into us becoming friends ourselves. And I was trying really hard to not make it weird. So there would be times where I literally would not respond to a question she asked the entire group until she asked me directly, because I didn't want her to think I was trying to date her in this process.

So I made it way more messy and confusing than it needed to be. But eventually at the right time and in the right season of life for each of us, we realized that we both have feelings for each other and that pursuing a relationship would not get in the way of the other things that God wanted to do in our lives and through our ministry. And so we started dating. Shortly after we started dating, I had a conversation with her dad and he asked me, Hey, look what are your intentions? And so I told him, I said, I'm dating Mandy to see if she's the woman that I want to marry. And he said, okay, cool. So like, if everything goes well, what's the timeline you're thinking of? Like in an ideal world, when do you think you guys would potentially be married? I said, well, like in an ideal world, obviously this is up to whatever she decides and she wants best.

I'm thinking it would be cool if we dated for six months, we're engaged for three months. So nine months from now, we were married. And her dad laughs at me because it was a pretty bold statement. And he said, yeah, the only way that'll happen is if Mandy hears the audible voice from God saying that you are the man for her. What's really funny is we dated for seven months. We're engaged for two months and nine months later, come on, somebody, we were married. I'm not saying that it was prophecy. All I'm saying is that I had this plan to spend my life with this woman. And yes, there were some ups and downs and complications along the way, but I stuck to it. I pursued God every step of the way. And now Mandy and I have been married for almost six years and we have a one-year-old son and it has been an absolute joy.

Why am I telling you this story? Because God's plan has always been to redeem and rescue his people. From the very beginning, page one of the Bible, God knew that what he wanted was a relationship with humanity. And God knew that as human beings, we were going to make choices that would make that plan a little bit more complicated than it probably could have been because we sin, we're selfish, instead of choosing surrender to God, we pursue our own desires. But from the beginning, God's plan was to undo the damage of sin and rescue us to redeem us, to recover ownership of us so that we could be adopted as sons and daughters. That wasn't some plan he threw together at the last minute. It was his plans from the very beginning.

When we think about what it means for God to be our Redeemer, we cannot miss that redemption has always been a part of God's plan and that redemption invites us into a new way of life. Without question, I would argue that the most famous redemption story in all of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible is the story of God rescuing and redeeming the people of Israel from the nation of Egypt. And see, at this point in history, the Jewish people were living as slaves in Egypt, serving Pharaoh, the ruler of this nation. And this story is the story of an oppressive empire abusing their power by taking advantage of the people of God. It's not the way things were supposed to be, but because of the complications that showed up because of our rebellion as human beings, this is where the people of God found themselves. And over time it became really clear that this was not okay.

And so these people began to cry out to God asking him to deliver them from their slavery. And so God sends someone to do exactly that. It's a man named Moses who was born a Hebrew slave. He was raised as an Egyptian prince. He was in exiled to spend 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness. And then God called him to be his representative, his prophet, to be the person who brings the message to Pharaoh that this time of oppression has ended because God is redeeming his people. And there's the scene in Exodus chapter three, where Moses seeing a bush that has been caught on fire, but is not burning up. He's intrigued so he goes to investigate. And as he gets closer, the voice of God calls to him from this bush by name.

I wanna pose there because I don't ever want us to miss the fact that the God of heaven and earth, the creator of everything, our Redeemer knows us by name. He sees us, he notices us. He invites us to him. We're not just a number on a spreadsheet. We are a person with a name and a story, and God wants us to know him the same way that he knows us. And so here's Moses being called to from this bush and in verse seven of Exodus 3 the Lord says these words. "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I've heard them crying out because of their slave drivers. And I am concerned about their suffering.

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites,, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me. And I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites out of Egypt". This is God's plan to redeem the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. It was a plan that God had in store from the very beginning, but he set it in motion by calling Moses. So Moses goes to Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, and he tells him, Hey, God wants you to let his people go, but Pharaoh refuses. And so God sends signs and wonders through the form of 10 plagues to eventually convince Pharaoh that, Hey, the right decision in this situation is to go ahead and allow the people of Israel to be free, to go into the wilderness to worship their God.

And so what we see is as Pharaoh relents, he allows the people to leave. They've been cross over the Red Sea, following this pillar of smoke and fire that represents the presence of God out into the wilderness. And it's in this wilderness season that God invites them into a new way of life. Because up until this moment for generation after generation, the way of life of the people of God was defined by slavery to Pharaoh. But what God was doing is saying, Hey, you don't have to be Pharaoh's slave anymore. I want you to be my partner. I want you to be my chosen nation, a kingdom of priests set apart to represent my goodness and grace to every corner of the world. But here's the challenge that comes with that is sometimes entering into a brand new way of life that is radically different than everything you've ever known, it doesn't happen like turning on a light switch.

Sometimes it's more of an ongoing process that takes time and effort because yes, God had pulled his people out of Egypt, but he still needed to pull the Egypt out of his people. And over the course of 40 days, that eventually became 40 years. God began to teach the people of Israel what it means to live as his followers, what it means to partner with him, the calling and purpose that they had been given. And for those of us who are followers of Jesus today, the same thing is true for us, that we have been invited into a new way of life through the grace of Jesus. And when we step into this new way of life, there are different ways of thinking and acting and speaking and believing than what we used to call comfortable.

And sometimes it takes process to learn how to live this new way of life. And that's exactly what discipleship is all about. It is the process of becoming like Jesus for the sake of others. And to make the most of this process, we need to actually practice it. That's why over the last several weeks, we've been talking about this spiritual practice known as silence and solitude, which is making space to experience the presence of God. Because when we get into the presence of God, his power begins to work in our lives. Getting down to the deepest parts of who we are, rooting out the sin and insecurity that sometimes we aren't even aware of so that we can live holy lives, representing God and his goodness to the rest of the world so that we can truly become people who love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love others the same way that God through Christ has loved us.

A really great resource to make the most of this practice in your own life is a Bible plan that we wrote for you simply called Becoming Like Jesus, Silence and Solitude. If you're watching on YouTube, you can click on the description down below to get started on this Bible plan. And what this is, is a guided journey to help you spend intentional time alone with God in the quiet to pray, to read, to consider the questions and implications of the passages of scripture and to be still and know that he is God. Because the thing about redemption is it has always been a part of God's plan. Redemption invites us into a new way of life.

And the last big idea from that passage we read earlier in I Peter is that our redemption comes through Jesus. You see all of us as human beings we have been enslaved by the forces of sin and death, but it is through the precious blood of Jesus that our freedom has been purchased. We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness, and we have been brought into the kingdom of light because of what Jesus did on the cross 2000 years ago, it is a gift of grace that all we have to do is to receive it, to experience the redemption that God is offering to us. Because who is God, God is our Redeemer. And he wants to rescue us from sin.

Back to that passage that we began with Peter writes starting in verse 18 through 21 "For you know that it was not with perishable things, such as silver or gold that you were a deemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect, he was chosen before the creation of the world. But he was revealed in these last times for your sake. It is through him you believe in God who raised him from the dead and glorified him. And so your faith and your hope are in God". Who is God? God is our Redeemer. And he wants to rescue us from sin.

Heavenly Father, we come before you right now and we thank you that you love us. You love us enough to keep pursuing us even when we run from you. God, thank you for setting this plan in motion before the creation of the world, because you knew how all of this would play out and it didn't stop you from creating us and rescuing us.

As we're hearing this message I know there might be some of you right now who as you're hearing about God being your Redeemer, who wants to rescue you from sin, you would admit, yeah, I'm a follower of Jesus, but I'll be honest with you. That whole new way of life thing isn't really my speed or it hasn't been, but there's something stirring inside of you that's saying today is the day that you step into that new way of life. That you actually begin to practice the way of Jesus so that you can be a picture of what heaven on earth could and should look like. And if that's you and you're saying, yes, I want the help of God to become more like Jesus, to show his love to others and simply raise your hand or type it in the chat down below as I begin to pray for you. And honestly, I pray for me because I need this too.

God, we thank you that your grace is enough for us. That even when we fall short, you are still faithful. I ask God that you would open our eyes to the parts of us that need to change. That you would make us more like your son, Jesus, so that we can be a chosen people, set apart, holy to reflect your goodness to the rest of the world.

Now there's a dozen of you right now who as you're hearing this message, what you realize is that you have never experienced redemption, but you long for it. You know that there are things in your life that just aren't going the way you wish they would. And you want that to change. I need you to understand that redemption ultimately comes through Jesus. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the sinless Son of God who entered the world 2000 years ago. The thing about Jesus is he wasn't just an ordinary human being. He is one with God, the father. And so Jesus, who is one with the creator of heaven and earth so wanted a relationship with you that he lived as an ordinary person. And eventually he died on a cross, crucified, not for things that he had done, but for the sins of humanity, because it was through his precious blood that our redemption was secured.

You see the thing about Jesus is that he died so we could live. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sin so that we could be made right with God. And right now, what you're starting to realize is a thing that's been missing in you is relationship with your Heavenly Father, the creator of everything, the Redeemer who wants to rescue you and that redemption was made possible through Jesus. So as you're hearing this message, if you find yourself thinking, yes, that's exactly what I want. I want a new start. I want a new life. I want to begin to put my trust in Jesus maybe for the first time ever. If that's you you're saying yes, Jesus, I give my life to you. I want a relationship with you. I want to be made new.

If that's you simply lift your hand all over the place. If you're saying yes to a relationship with Jesus, for those of you that are watching online, type it in the chat down below me saying Jesus, today I give you my life. There's no more important choice than you could ever make than to receive the gift of redemption that God is offering. And as people are making that choice, we're gonna do as a Switch family is pray together, out loud with them. Because even though you had to make the choice on your own, you don't have to pray this prayer alone. So repeat after me altogether.

Heavenly Father, thank you for being my Redeemer. Today, I give you my life. I need your grace. I need your mercy. I need your love. I give you everything in Jesus name, amen, and amen.

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