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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - What Story Are You Living In?

James Meehan - What Story Are You Living In?

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    James Meehan - What Story Are You Living In?
TOPICS: What Difference Do I Make?, Influence

It has been said by somebody smarter than me. I'm not exactly sure who it is. I tried to look up their quote online, couldn't find it. So somebody smarter than me once said that the story we live in is the story we live out. So what story are you living in? My best friend in high school, his motto was, "Life sucks. And then you die". That is a very depressing story. My motto in high school was the same motto as every Disney movie made over the last 20 years. It's some version of, "Do what makes you happy. Follow your heart. Be true to yourself". And sorry to crush your dreams, but that is also a really terrible motto because it sounds good, it feels good, but it doesn't often take us the place we want to be. Because as human beings, we almost have this innate desire to make a difference.

It's almost like all of us, throughout history on every continent, have been searching for significant, something that is bigger than ourselves to be a part of. But where does that come from? Why is that so common? And why is it so hard to find people who actually live a meaningful life? Not just something that looks pretty on the outside, but internally. They go through their day with this deep sense of satisfaction, knowing that who they are matters and that what they do is making a difference. If you're anything like me, then that's probably something you are longing for. And the truth is that, that isn't something I found until after Jesus stepped into my life and changed my story. Because he invited me into a much better story, not one defined by doing whatever makes me happy, which at that time meant chasing girls, getting into fights, and playing video games. But he invited me into the story that God has been writing from the very beginning.

It's a story that starts really good, with God creating you and me in his image and inviting us to be his partners. It's a story that ends with all things, everything that is broken and wrong in the world being made new, and is a story that is centered around the person of Jesus. And I would suggest that the things that we have been longing for, this desire we have to make a difference, can only fully be satisfied through a relationship with Jesus. And that's why throughout this semester of Switch, we started by taking six weeks to explore the truth of who God is. And then when we move from that to ask the question, "Who are we"? Because to really know who we are, it actually starts with knowing who God is, as the one who created us, as the one who defines us, as the one who saves us and makes us new. And now we are going to look at the difference that we've been called to make the purpose that we have been given, the calling that is on our lives.

And what I wanna do is walk us through the overall biblical story and trace the theme of what it is we've been created to do starting in Genesis and moving all the way to Jesus, to help us begin to wrap our minds around the story we've been invited into and the part we have been called to play. So the big idea for today's message is we're beginning this series is this: that your creator has called you to work. Your creator has called you to work. And to help us unpack that one statement, we are going to walk through the biblical story in four major movements. We're gonna talk about how we're created for work. We have been cursed to toil. That we are now called by Jesus and we have been commanded to love. Starting in part one, you are created for work.

In Genesis chapter two verses four and five, the author tells us this that, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the heavens and the earth. Now, at this time, no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground". God created everything, but something was missing. There was no one to work the ground. So what does God do? Well, a few verses later, in verse seven, we're told that, "The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being..." As human beings, we have been created in the image of God. That means that we have value. That means that we have purpose. That means we are loved by our creator.

And then verse 15, "The Lord God takes the man. He puts him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it". So from the beginning, you and I were created by God, the creator of everything, with value, with dignity, and with purpose. And our purpose was to work and take care of the Garden of Eden alongside God, our creator. And what's interesting is that word, "work" that shows up in Genesis 2:4, again in Genesis 2:15, is this Hebrew word called abad. And this word gets translated into three different English words. The first one is work. The second one is worship, and the third one is serve. And over the next couple of weeks, we're actually gonna break down each of those words one by one to help us discover the difference we've been created to make.

Today is all about how your creator has called you to work. Next week, we're gonna look at what it means for our redeemer, who has now called us to worship. And then in week three of this series, we're gonna talk about how our king has called us to serve. Because within that one word "work", all three of those ideas are present. That we are called to work, worship, and serve God. So what does that look like? Well, in the very beginning, it looked like taking care of the Garden of Eden. It looked like walking with God and having a relationship with him. And that sounds like a pretty good gig. But the story didn't stay that way. Because if you just turned the page to Genesis chapter three, everything takes a turn for the worst. And this brings us to part two of the story where we are cursed to toil. In Genesis chapter three, verse 17, this is God speaking to Adam. And he tells him, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it. Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat food from it all the days of your life.'"

In this moment, we are hearing God tell Adam, the first human being, the consequences of his sin, the consequences of his disobedience and rebellion against God. And you might be hearing this and all of a sudden you're skeptic radar just went way up because you're not quite convinced that the book of Genesis or the Bible as a whole can be trusted. And I just want you to know that that's actually totally okay. That Switch is a place that you can belong and you can bring your questions. We would actually rather you ask questions and bring those to your small group to wrestle through those together, because we want our faith to be something that we can ask questions about, because God is so much bigger than our questions. For the longest time, when I was in middle school and high school, the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, was like the biggest obstacle in my way from believing that Jesus is who he said he was.

But as I've continued to go on this journey of trying to do the best I can to follow truth wherever it leads, I've discovered how beautiful this book really is and how, even though we have lots of questions, the truth is is that the book of Genesis is not primarily meant to be a scientific lab report telling us how God made the world. Instead, the book of Genesis serves primarily as an introduction to the biblical story. It starts by setting the stage with the main character, God, and the supporting characters, us as human beings. It introduces the tension, the consequences that take place when this beautiful relationship is shattered because of our sin and rebellion and it sets the stage for everything that's going to come after it, as the God of heaven and earth puts a plan in motion to undo the curse of sin and death that was unleashed on the world through our sin.

That's what Genesis is really trying to do; to invite us to discover the truth of who God is, who we are because of this beautiful world he's made. And the purpose we have been called to step into as people who get to work alongside God, as he brings about his good plans to undo the damage of sin and the curse of the fall. So bring your questions. Ask them. Invite other people into your journey, because we know that every step of the way, God is gonna be with you. So that's part two, cursed to toil. Notice that at first we were created for work and then the language that's used is "toil", which is a much less flattering word for doing labor because now, because of sin, the good way God created the world has been thrown into disorder, which means the work that was once meant to be meaningful and life-giving is unfortunately now not that. It's draining and sometimes depressing.

But that's why the Jesus part of this story, the Gospel is such good news because part three is that we are called by Jesus. Because God showed up in human form 2000 years ago in the person of Jesus to undo the curse of sin and to invite us to get our old jobs back, to once again work alongside the creator of heaven and earth in his good plans for the world. And this is why I love what Matthew records Jesus saying in chapter 11 verses 28 and 30, where Jesus is calling out to anybody who is willing to listen and take him up on the offer. Here is what he says in verse 28. He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest". You have been toiling for a really long time, but I want to invite you to take rest in me. Verse 29, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light".

This is the invitation of Jesus. This is why the Gospel is good news because Jesus is inviting us to find rest in him, to learn from him how to live the kind of life that is truly life, life in relationship with God our creator, and living out the purpose that he has designed us for life free from the curse of sin, life free from the pain of death, a life fully devoted to him and the good plans he has for the world. Now you'll notice in here, Jesus says in verse 29, "Take my yoke upon you". A yoke is an instrument of labor. It is the big wooden thing that you put onto oxen that keeps them hitched together as they are pulling a plow or a cart through the fields. And so what Jesus is saying here is he's saying, "Hey, I wanna show you how to do work in a way that is light, that is easy and is refreshing for your soul".

This does not mean that following Jesus is gonna make it to where we never have to work hard. It just means that when we do work, we get to do it in relationship with him and we get to do it in a way that matters and makes a difference. So here's the question though, what exactly is Jesus's yoke? Because Jesus is saying that take his yolk upon us and we will learn from him. But if we're gonna take his yoke upon ourselves, we've gotta know what that actually is. And in the ancient world, the yoke was symbolic for the way a rabbi, a Jewish Bible teacher, interpreted the scriptures. And so when Jesus is saying to take his yoke upon us, what he's inviting us to do is see and be in the world the way that he does, to see God the way he sees God, to see others the way he sees others, to see ourselves the way that Jesus sees us. And when we do that, that will actually shape the way that we live and we occupy and we breathe and we do everything that is involved in this journey called life, which is what brings us two part four, that we are commanded to love.

Because back in that time, if you wanted to know if a rabbi, a Jewish Bible teacher's teaching was good, you would ask them a very strategic question. And that's exactly what we're gonna read about here in Matthew chapter 22, starting in verse 34, where after Jesus has silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees get together, and one of them, who's an expert in the law tests Jesus with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law"? In other words, this expert in the law is asking Jesus, "How do you interpret the Bible? What is your yoke"? And so Jesus responds. In verse 37, he says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind". This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself". All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

This is how Jesus interprets the Bible. This is his yolk. This is the way that Jesus sees the world. And this is what he's inviting us into, to a faith that is not defined by lifeless religious duty, but a loving relationship with God our father. It starts with loving God with every part of who we are, every fiber of our being. And it includes every step of the way joined together, loving others the way that we would want to be loved. This is the way that Jesus sees the world. This is the way that he interprets the Bible. And that's why here in Switch, we talk all the time about how Jesus is king and context is everything. And so what we wanna do is take our cue from Jesus. We wanna learn to read the Bible the way he does. We wanna learn to see God the way that he sees God. We want to learn how to live the way that Jesus lives because his life, every step of the way, was defined by love for God and love for others.

And so if we ever find ourselves in our Christian journey where maybe we aren't loving God very much, or maybe we're not being kind and loving to other people, then that's usually a clue that we've missed it at some point along the way. Because what Jesus invites us into is a type of work that is defined by loving God and loving others. This is the work we've been created for because our creator has called us to work. It is a work that is defined by Jesus as he leads us every step of the way. It involves doing the hard work, like what we would actually define as work. It includes worshiping God with every part of who we are and serving others the same way that we would want others to serve us. So what do we do with all of this? Right? Like being commanded to love, for most of us who have grown up in church, we've heard that before. And it sounds like a really good idea, but how do we put it into practice?

I wanna offer a couple of suggestions. My first suggestion would be that you begin the Bible plan, titled, "What Difference Do I Make"? This is a Bible plan that we wrote for you to help you better discover the truth of who God is, what that means for you, and the purpose he's created you for. And hopefully that will give you some direction and some ideas on how you can begin to take your faith and put it into practice. The second suggestion I would offer is that you become a person of prayer. That is gonna be the spiritual discipline that we are engaging in throughout this series. And starting with that plan I just described, the "What Difference Do I Make"? That's gonna sort of introduce you to the idea of prayer and give you some prayers to pray along the way.

And then next week, we're actually have a Bible plan come out that is going to guide you step by step on learning how to pray. Because other people wiser than me have said that if it is not born in prayer, it'll probably be born in pride. And so instead of us trying to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, we want to walk side by side with Jesus as he lead us. We want to trust that God is really the one who's in charge and he has good plans for the world and we get to be a part of those plans. And when we go to God in prayer, we are reminded of those things. The third thing I want to suggest to you is that you keep showing up every single week. Because throughout this series, we really wanna rally around a very specific cause, a very specific difference that we, as a Switch movement, can make in the world.

And so throughout this series, what we're gonna be talking more and more about is how we as a Switch movement can fight against the evil and injustice that is human trafficking, because slavery exists in our world today and it affects millions and millions of people. And that is not something that God is okay with. And as the church, the body of Christ, the people of God filled by the Spirit of God, called to live under the rule of God, we have been asked by God to be a part of making a difference in the world. And we want to be a movement that says yes to that invitation. We want to do everything we can to love God with every part of who we are and love others the same way that we would want to be loved.

And so over the course of this series, we're gonna talk about different ways that we can be praying specifically for amazing organizations that are on the front lines of fighting against human trafficking. We're gonna talk about ways that we can be involved serving and doing what we can with what we have right where we are. And then coming up on May 4th, we are going to have a special night devoted to fighting against human trafficking, where we are going to give to these organizations to support them in what they are doing on the ground, helping rescue people from modern day slavery and resource others, so that we can put an end to this evil that should not exist. Because your creator has called you to work. Unfortunately, we've all been cursed to toil, but thank God that we have been called by Jesus. And he? He's commanded us to love. And some really practical things we can do is we can start that Bible plan. We can become people of prayer and specifically, you can keep showing up each week to discover more and more how we as a Switch movement are going to fight together against human trafficking.

Now this weekend, we are celebrating the greatest event in history, the day when Jesus rose from the grave. It's Easter weekend. And what's so beautiful about Easter is, it is the declaration that what God has done in Jesus is good and it's true, that the God of heaven and earth showed up in history to intervene by cutting off sin and death at the source and disarming the forces of darkness so that we, as his people, could be freed to live out the life and calling we've been created for. And that's what we're celebrating this weekend. And as we prepare for that, I just want to invite you to be prayerful about the people that God might put in your path that you can invite to experience his love and his mercy this weekend. And in that I want to actually pray a prayer over you that comes from the apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter three, starting in verse 14. And so I'm gonna pray this over you. And then what we're gonna do is we're gonna enter into another time of worship to celebrate who God is and all that he's done. Pray with me. In Ephesians chapter three, verse 14 and 21, the apostle Paul prays this. He prays:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

The good news of the Gospel is that when Jesus entered history, he changed everything. Through his life, through his death, and through his resurrection, he undid the damage of sin. He broke us free from the curse of death, and he has invited us into a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father, because you have been created to be in relationship with God, the maker of heaven and earth. And Jesus, it is through him, through his life and all that he came to do, he made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and made right with God. And maybe that's why you're here today for the first time to begin a relationship with Jesus, to answer the calling he has given you, to come and find rest in him; rest that refreshes your soul. This is what the Bible teaches, that anybody who believes in Jesus, that puts their trust in him would be saved, that we would be made new.

And maybe that's why you're here today to be made new, to begin a relationship with Jesus who died so that you could live. If that is you and you're saying, "Yes, I want a relationship with Jesus. I wanna be made new. I wanna be forgiven of my sins". Wherever you are, lift your hand right now. If your online, type it in the chat, say, "Jesus, I give you my life". There is no better choice you could make than that one right there. Because in that moment, you become freed from sin. You are reunited with God and he invites you to be a part of his good plans for the world. And so, as people are making that choice to say yes to Jesus, as a Switch family, we wanna pray together because even though you had to make the choice on your own, here, you don't have to pray alone. So altogether, out loud, repeat after me.

Heavenly Father, forgive me of my sins. I'm turning to you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Today, I give you my life. In Jesus' name, amen and amen and amen.

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