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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Look and Live

John Bradshaw - Look and Live

John Bradshaw - Look and Live
John Bradshaw - Look and Live
TOPICS: In The Word

It's wonderful to be with you today. We have the opportunity to open up the Bible and hear from God as He speaks to us through His Word. Let's pray together now.

Our Father in heaven, we thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who would teach us and guide us. As we gather around Your Word, I pray that You would reveal Yourself to us, encourage us, correct us where You need to, allow us to see Jesus, as we are together in the Word. We thank You, and we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

On a Wednesday evening in July of 1977, lightning struck an electrical substation 50 miles north of New York City. Owing to a mechanical error, the breakers that were tripped did not close again, meaning that power could not resume flowing. Well, then there were further lightning strikes, and the upshot of the chain of events that followed was that the entire Con Edison power system was shut down, and all of New York City was left in the dark. It couldn't really have happened at a worse time. New York City was in the midst of a financial crisis. It was locked in the grip of an unrelenting heat wave. David Berkowitz had shot 13 people and killed 6 of them. The man who became known as "the Son of Sam" was still on the loose. New Yorkers were distressed and nervous.

So in the dark, chaos ensued. Looters and vandals, cloaked in darkness, caused mayhem: 1,616 stores were damaged; over 1,000 fires were responded to; thieves stole 50 new cars from one dealership in the Bronx; almost 4,000 people were arrested; $300 million damage was done in the dark that night, the equivalent of more than $1.2 billion today. You know, some people are more comfortable doing what they do in the dark. Secrecy provides cover. Anonymity is a form of protection. When the sun has set, and the twilight has faded into blackness, that's when some people feel emboldened to do what they otherwise would not. They'll do what they would not otherwise do when the sun is shining. They take on a type of nocturnal courage.

One of the most famous verses, perhaps even the most famous verse in the Bible, was uttered in the dark. The Savior of the world had only recently begun His earthly ministry. He had changed water to wine, and people noticed. And then, if there wasn't a single person in Israel who wasn't talking about Him already, He went to Jerusalem at the Passover, at the Passover, and emptied the temple, renovated not long before by Herod the Great. It was like old McDonald's farm in there, "with a baa-baa here" and "a moo-moo there". There were cash and coins changing hands as though it was Jerusa-Vegas. And Jesus went in the midst of that maelstrom of merchandising and money-grubbing and put an end to it. Tables were overturned.

Lepta and denarii and drachmas were sent clattering to the ground. And men who had lost sight of the true meaning of temple services scurried to rescue what was most precious to them. The prophet Haggai had said that the glory of the second temple would exceed the glory of the first temple. And the presence of Jesus had made it so. The obscure Galilean was suddenly known very well. Jesus of Nazareth was now a household name, and people had been talking about His outlandish claim that if they destroyed the temple, He would raise it up in just three days. But although so many were deeply offended by what Jesus had done and said, there were some who reacted differently. Some were driven to study the prophecies relating to the Messiah.

One of those was a man named Nicodemus, who had begun to wonder if this One could indeed be, as Haggai wrote, "the desire of all nations". Nicodemus had to talk with Jesus. But how could he be seen, this ruler in Israel, seeking the counsel of this, this, this, this Jesus? Ah, but nighttime is the friend of the stealthy. It would provide the cover he coveted to meet with Jesus. You know how the exchange began. "Rabbi," he said in John 3 and verse 2, "we know that You are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that You do, except [that] God be with him". This was an attempt at righteousness by flattery, and Jesus wasn't buying it. God always knows what you need. You don't, but God does. Nicodemus needed, and very urgently, an encounter with truth, with the very blunt truth that he was not nearly as holy as he thought. A member of the Sanhedrin, a good man, a man of some means, but he had the statement in the book of James backwards. He was rich in this world's goods, but poor in faith.

Let's go back to John 3: "We know that You are a teacher come from God". Now, that wasn't a statement of faith. That was the statement of a man who was hedging his bets. This important man needed to become aware of his spiritual lack. And that's true for all of us. I know that you know that the Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. "There is none righteous, no, not one," Paul wrote in Romans 3:10, quoting from David in Psalm 14. None righteous? Nicodemus had a problem: He was not righteous. And we have that same problem. And it is a problem because only righteous people will go to heaven. I certainly hope we've got it out of our system now, that idea that we have to be good enough to go to heaven. The human heart is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," Jeremiah wrote. The Hebrew word he used is the word "anash". It means "incurable". We have a, have a heart that's incurable. Nicodemus was about to come face to face with the depth of his spiritual depravity. Until we do, we'll never be saveable.

The message to the Laodicean church is the message to us. It's a message to a group of people who don't know their own emptiness. You say that you're "rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, but you don't know that you're wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked," Jesus said in Revelation chapter 3. Nicodemus didn't know how bad off he was, and neither do most of us. Read the parable of the 10 virgins. The Bible says they were all asleep. We'd like to think, "Oh, I would have been one of those young ladies who had oil". Well, that makes you marginally better than the others. All of them were asleep.

The message to Laodicea isn't a message to the liberals in the church; it isn't only a message to the cranky conservatives; it's a message to the entire church. You might think that you are better than you are. The challenge is we don't understand the catastrophic nature of our condition. And so Jesus told Nicodemus straight. He said, "You must be born again". "Well, what does that mean"? he said, Nicodemus. "What does that mean"? Nicodemus was now attempting righteousness by stupidity. Sorry, friend, sorry, Nicodemus, ignorance is not bliss. According to Jesus, we must be born again. But as Hamlet said, "There's the rub". How can that happen?

Now, Jesus spoke on further, and He said in John chapter 3, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God". Nicodemus knew; this was too clear. Water baptism and conversion. But again, how? So Jesus tells Nicodemus, and He tells us. We're in John chapter 3 and verse 6. He said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit". It was Job who asked, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one". Well, we'd better figure this out because, according to the Word of God, "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be". Matthew 15 and verse 19: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies".

According to the Bible, that is all we are good for. But Jesus is telling us here: the Spirit, born of the Spirit. You know what I think? I believe there's a special danger for conscientious Christians. I'm gonna say that again, in case you didn't quite catch it: I believe there is a special danger for conscientious Christians. Let me ask you a question. Is it right to eat right? Think about that. Is it right to eat right? There's only one answer, and the answer is not "no". Yes, it is right to eat right. But eating right cannot save you. I think we might find that the road to hell is paved with meat substitutes and egg-replacer. I'm not against health reform; I'm all for it. But it cannot save you. Is it right to dress right?

Now, modesty seems to have gone out the window largely in recent years, but I think we can agree that, yes, it's right to dress appropriately. But it is not a uniform that's going to get you through the gates of pearl. It's right to worship right. It's right to worship on the right day. But you can worship on the right day and be worshiping the wrong God. We could go right on down the list. Tithing? Yes, that's good; that's right. Folks should tithe. If you don't, you are missing the blessing. And it was God who said you are robbing Him. So that's the right thing to do, and it's good for you, but your money doesn't impress God one little bit. You can't impress God.

I remember being in a supermarket one day. I was standing in line at the checkout with a bunch of flowers in my hand. I was the third or fourth person back waiting to see the checkout operator. The lady in front of me must have been a mother because she had eyes in the back of her head. She just turned around, looked at me, looked at my flowers, and she smiled and she said, "So what have you done wrong"? I looked at her, and I said, "Ma'am, I've discovered that if I buy enough of these, I can do no wrong". You can impress your spouse, at least, I hope you can. Maybe you can impress your friends from time to time, but you cannot impress God. How many times do you read in the Bible where God speaks to us, and He says, "It's not your sacrifices I want; it's your heart"?

Micah wrote in Micah chapter 6: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul"? And then he says these famous words: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God"? It's your heart God wants, and if you will let Him have it, He will make it into what it ought to be. But Jesus went on to get very specific in this passage. Before John chapter 3 and verse 16, He shared words that we absolutely must remember. Now, hold on just a moment. John 3:16, what is that? "For God so loved the world", say it with me, "that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life".

I don't know if we have empirical data for this, but it seems to me most people would say that is the best-known verse in all of the Bible. "For God so loved the world". It is sublime. It's an amazing wee passage of Scripture. But before Jesus got to that, He was building up to that potent verse, that transformational verse. And before Jesus shared John chapter 3 and verse 16, He said these words. This is John chapter 3 and verse 14: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up". Now, that takes us back, doesn't it? What does it take you back to? It takes you back to a curious story, to a time when Israel was wandering in the wilderness. Like too many people in the church today, wandering and complaining, figured they had the gift of denunciation. And they were exercising that gift. God knew He had to get their attention off themselves and back on to important things.

So, in your Bible or on your device, I encourage you to turn with me to the book of Numbers, chapter 21. Numbers chapter 21. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, and before He said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," He took Nicodemus back in his thinking to this time. So this is Numbers chapter 21 and verse 5. It says, "And the people spake against God, and against Moses, 'Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.'" Can you imagine? What God had given them for their survival, they didn't only disapprove of; they spoke to God in the face, as it were, they spoke to God through Moses, and they said, "We hate this stuff".

Numbers 21, verse 6: "And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, 'We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that He take away the serpents from us.' And Moses prayed for the people". And how did God answer? What did God do in response to this prayer? Verse 8 tells us: "And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass that everyone that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.' Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived".

Now, there we have it. In that curious story, we have the remedy for sin, the remedy for a corrupt or a broken heart, encapsulated in just five verses. That's the passage Jesus referred to when He was talking to Nicodemus in the darkness that night. Jesus said, "Nicodemus, if you want to know how your corrupt heart can be made right, I will tell you". Nicodemus, look back, Nicodemus, all the way back to the time of Moses. Here was a group of dying people, and in order to live, in order to go from dying to living, from death to life, Nicodemus, what did they do in order to live? They didn't work. They didn't try, Nicodemus. They didn't give anything. They didn't strive. They simply looked, Nicodemus. They looked and lived! And there we have it. According to Christ, to live is to look. That's the look of faith.

In fact, we could say the look in faith to the Savior who saves because it is His righteousness that you need. You won't get it from Christ, hear me carefully, you get it in Christ. The Bible makes clear that Jesus is our righteousness. God calls to us, and He says, "Look to Him. Look to Jesus and live". Let me add this thought. You go to the gas station; you put the, you take the pump from the... well, the handle from the pump, you put it in the gas tank opening, and you squeeze the, the little trigger thing, and you fill the car up with gas. You undo the process, put on the gas tank cap, pay, one would hope, and then drive away. The car is now full, depending on which way you look at it, full of gasoline. You are good to go. But what happens? You drive a day or a week or however long you drive, and you start to see that needle come down, down, down, down, down, down, down, and you say, "Wait, it was 'F' for 'full'; now it's 'E' for 'empty.' What do I need to do? I gotta go back to that gas station and do what I did last time".

You fill it up. You're good. You go. A week or two later, you've gone from F down to E. You know what I think, what I fear? I think a lot of people figure that that's how we get grace or righteousness from God. We come to God; we say, "Here's the tank; would you fill her up"? God fills us up with righteousness, and we say, "We're good now," and off we go. And over the next hour, day, week, whatever it might be, the, the gauge starts to go down, down, down, down, down. You say, "I'm getting low, 'E' for 'empty.' I've gotta run back to God and get righteousness from God". That's not how it works. You don't get righteousness from God.

You know, this is semantics here. But it's a very good point, an important point. You don't get righteousness from God, from Christ; you receive righteousness in Christ. It's more like dialysis. The needle goes in, the blood is taken out, it circulates through a machine, and it's put back in pure. You're connected to the dialysis machine. We need to be connected to Jesus to receive His righteousness. It's not something we get from Him, go our way, do our thing, and then come back when we get low. Now, righteousness is found in Christ. It's a lovely picture. John told the people gathered, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world". "Behold," he said. He was saying, "Look, look to that Man; look to Jesus".

If you can look to Jesus, if you can look upon Jesus, He will be your righteousness. He will be your salvation. Friend, today I want to encourage you: Look to Him. Look away from your troubles and your woes; look away from your weaknesses and your failings. It has been said that the hardest battle that anyone will ever fight is the battle against self. That isn't only about the way your selfish self desires another helping of gateau or another serving of lasagna. That may be a battle against self, but for too many people, the battle against self is the battle against looking at your own weakness and convincing yourself that you will never be good enough to go to heaven. You look at your own sin, and you'll be convinced that God could never save you. If you're thinking like that, listen, then you are looking in all the wrong places. Hold on just a moment. If you are looking at yourself, "Woe is me! I'm such a sinner. I've done so many bad things. God could never forgive me".

Let me tell you kindly exactly what your problem is. Your problem is that you are selfish. You are self-centered. Salvation is not for the self-centered. Salvation is for the Christ-centered, you understand. I remember somebody telling this story about they were having dinner at the table, and there was a little ketchup, which some people call tomato sauce, there was some tomato sauce or ketchup on the table, and his son grabbed the tomato sauce, and he realized, "Oh my goodness, I like that sauce so much on my wife's wonderful cooking, but if my son uses it, there'll be none left". And he said he was tempted to say to his son, "Thank you. I'll take that tomato sauce, that ketchup". But instead he said, "Wait a minute, that's self rising up. And so I should be selfless and win the victory over self here and let my son eat the ketchup," or the tomato sauce, "on this wonderful food". I understand that. If that's where your battle is, that's where your battle is. I understand that.

Now, I'll tell you how it would work in the Bradshaw household. My son might reach out for the tomato sauce, and I would say, "Hey, wait a minute. How many other people are there sitting at this table"? He would say, "Three, Dad". I would ask him a question: "Have you offered it to any of the others? Uh, in particular, the adults"? "No, Dad, I haven't". I'd look at him, and he would turn to his mother and say, "Mom, would you like some of this ketchup, this tomato sauce"? And she would say, "No, dear, you go ahead". And then he'd look at me. And I'd say, "Heh-hey, I thought you'd never ask," and I'd take that ketchup and whack the bottom, squeeze it, and shake it. You know how it goes. And then I'd say, "Hey, you can have the rest". That might be a teaching moment.

Yes, that's a battle against self if somebody desires the sauce or the cake or the money or the car. Sure. And I don't wanna minimize that. But there's a greater... greater?... yes, I think a greater, certainly a more destructive battle against self that far too many people lose time and time again. You fall into sin, and you say, "Oh man, I'm bad". That's the devil; he's saying, "Don't look at Jesus. Look at you". You fall into sin, and you say, "How can God love me"? Fall into sin and say, "I have failed too many times". Fall into sin and say, "Surely God isn't gonna bother with me now". Fall into sin and say, "I've failed. I've, I've stumbled. I did foolishly. I can't go to God like this". That's self. Self is mastering you. It is at that moment you must take the advice Jesus gave to Nicodemus: Look, look upon Jesus and live. Look to Jesus. Look to Christ, and live.

Zechariah wrote in Zechariah chapter 13 and verse 1: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness". That fountain is Jesus. He is our solution. He is our help and our hope. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever", does what? "believes in Him," whoever looks to Him in faith, "will not perish but will have everlasting life". In the same book, the book of Zechariah, there is the sublime story of Joshua the high priest, described as a "brand plucked out of the fire". But he is clothed with filthy garments, and you read this; the Bible says, "He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, 'Take away the filthy garments from him.' And unto him He said, 'Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.' And I said, 'Let them set a fair mitre upon his head.' So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the Angel of the Lord stood by".

That's Zechariah 3, verses 4 and 5. I want you to notice how that transaction went. Who did all the doing? God did. God did the saving work here. What did Joshua do? Nothing. Joshua's role was nothing more than to simply stand there. That was it. Well, well, let's fatten that up a little bit. Joshua's role was to accept what God wanted to do for him. Put it another way: Joshua's role was to not resist, that's all. God is saying, "I'm going to do something for you here. Just don't fight me. I'm gonna take care of you. Just don't push me away. I'm gonna take away your dirt and replace it with righteousness. Just don't resist". Joshua only had to cooperate with God and let God do what God wanted to do. If we'll learn to get out of God's way and let God be God, we'll really be going somewhere.

What did Ezekiel write? God said these words in chapter 36 of Ezekiel's book: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes". Ezekiel 36:26 and 27. Let's consider what God said: "I will do this. I will give you a new heart. I will put my Spirit in you. I will cause you to walk in my ways". That's encouragement for every weak sinner, for every stumbling soul, for every struggling servant of God. God says, "I will do for you what you cannot do for yourself". Our job is to look, and when we do, we live. That serpent lifted up in the wilderness represented Jesus. Some only saw a snake. They perished. Others saw a savior, and they lived. It was a likeness of a destroying serpent, and Jesus came to this earth in the likeness of sinful flesh.

Of course, that image, that image couldn't help anyone, but the image was to lead their minds to the salvation provided by God. That thing also served to remind the people that it was their own sin that had got them into their fix. But in yielding to Christ, they would be safe, and they would be saved. Today, we must look in order to live. But too often, too often it's like trying to look at the, at the stars on a cloudy night. I had a family member tell me that they were in the country. They, they traveled from New York City, and they went to Britain. They said, in the southwest of England, the, the kids were looking up into the sky and saying, "Wow"! It was a bright night, a, a cloudless night, stars everywhere. He said they saw the stars in the sky. "Where we live in New York City, they don't see many stars. Too much junk in the way". That's how it can be for us. Try to see Jesus, but there's too much junk in the way.

I remember way back in 1986, it was the last time Halley's Comet appeared. Many times I looked up into the sky trying to find that comet. Turned out that everything I looked at looked like Halley's Comet. The sky was full of stars. I didn't quite know where to look, and I couldn't tell the comet from a star. There was too much competing for my attention. You might not be able to see Jesus because of distractions, the things that are getting in the way, blocking your line of sight. You might not be able to hear His voice because of background noise. I used to be able to see just about anything, but then a vast conspiracy saw book manufacturers start using much smaller type. The guys who loaded the teleprompter in the studio started using much smaller letters. My daughter came to me one day. She said, "Dad, take a look at this". I took and I, I held it out, held it out like this. She grabbed my hand and brought it close to my face. She said, "Dad, take a close look". I pushed my hand back out there. I said, "Sweetheart, this is a close look. It's not as easy to see anymore".

I need something to help me see now because I have trouble seeing like I used to. Sometimes we have trouble seeing Jesus, and that's deadly. Because in the wilderness there was only one thing that was going to save those people, and that was looking at that image. There is only one thing that will save you: seeing Jesus, being drawn to Him, receiving His righteousness. Nothing else will do. And when we've looked and lived, we can then lift Jesus up so others can see Him and live also. Here's a promise for you. Jesus said in John 6 and verse 37, "He that comes to me I will in no wise cast out". Isn't that something? Jesus made clear that our problem isn't sin.

Now, I understand this. I could preach another sermon and tell you that the problem is sin, but, but let me explain what I mean. The problem isn't sin inasmuch as He died for that. So if that's a problem, it's a problem that's been well and truly taken care of. But Jesus said in John 5 and verse 40, "[But] you will not come to me, that you might have life". The only thing that will keep us from the kingdom is a refusal to come to Him. Let me ask you, friend: Have you come to Christ? It's easy to see your sin, and you don't get any bonus points for noticing it in your life. When you notice it, it's because God wants you to see it. The devil wants to rub your nose in it.

You see your sin. Jesus says, "Okay, come to me that you might have life". The wages of sin is death, but if we come to Christ, we have life. Our life is in Christ. Our hope is in Christ. It was written by someone who had a very close connection to God that, "when we submit ourselves to [Him], [our] heart is united with His heart, [our] will is merged in His will, [our] mind becomes one with His mind, [our] thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; We live His life. This is what it means to be clothed [in the robe] of His righteousness". Jesus died to save us. He died to cleanse us. Jesus will transform us. Jesus for justification. Jesus for sanctification. Jesus to live in us, "both to will and to do for His good pleasure".

How is it with you and Jesus? How is it? If I asked, what's the state of your heart like? How's the sin issue? You could say it's bigger than Mt. Everest, higher than Mt. Everest, and deeper than the Mariana Trench. I get it. What ya gonna do about it? Try harder? That doesn't work. Doesn't work. There's only one thing to do, and that is to look. Look and live. They'd been bitten by venomous snakes, and they were dying out there in the wilderness. There was no way they could run to the hospital and get some antivenin. Couldn't be done. Tourniquets couldn't help them in the wilderness. What could help? Just one thing, and the thing wasn't a thing. The thing was a Savior. A look in faith... to this...representation of the Son of God, who would come to this world and die for the sins of all of humanity. And don't get me wrong. I'm not in any way trying to lower the bar. I'm not saying that obedience isn't important.

Of course it's important. I'm not saying that the new life isn't important. What I'm telling you is how to get there. How do you get there? Jesus, You da Man. No one can work these miracles that You work, Jesus. Oh, unless he's a special person. Jesus cut right through all of that. Nicodemus, your issue? You gotta be born again. Nicodemus wondered how. And Jesus made clear. That wind that blows, He's alluding to the Holy Spirit's power. Just come back with me, Nicodemus; come back thousands of years. They were in the wilderness. "I was lifted up," figuratively. And they looked, and they lived.

Some years ago, a friend of mine, whose name was Russ, told me this story. Russ was a sign writer. This is back in the olden days when sign writers used paint and paintbrushes. He lived in North Carolina, not far from the speedway in Concord, North Carolina. He got a phone call one Sunday. It was from, I think it was a Sunday, it was from a NASCAR driver, the most successful NASCAR driver in NASCAR history. His name was Richard Petty. Such an impressive, such a successful driver, he was nicknamed "the King". So the King is on the phone. "Russ"? "Yes". "This is Richard". "Oh, Richard. How can I help"? "I'm down at the track. I just got a new sponsor. I need the sponsor's logo painted on my car. Can you get down to the track right away"? Russ said, "I will be there". He grabbed his bag of tricks, jumped in the car, drove down to the speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, got into the ground, and then, of course, he had to get to that very restricted area where the racing teams kept their cars and their personnel. There was a big security guard on duty there.

Russ walked up; he said, "Hey, listen, I'm a, I'm a painter. I've come to write something on to paint something on Mr. Petty's car, and he needs me to get in there". And the security guard was not impressed. He said, "Man, if I had a jar, if I had a dollar, if I had a dollar for every time somebody came here and told me they're here to see Richard Petty, I'd be a rich man". Russ is beside himself. He didn't want to let down the King. He said, "But I have a job to do. It's for Mr. Petty. Look, I've, I've, I have paints in here. I, I got to get in, sir. Please, would you let me in"? And this was before cell phones, so he couldn't just call him on the cell phone. The guard wouldn't budge. Russ wondered. Russ worried. Russ paced backwards and forwards. "What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do"?

He figured all I could, he'd look up at the, he'd look up at the security guard from time to time. Scrunch up his face and shake his head, "Nope, you ain't getting in". "What can I do? Man, I'm sorry". He turned around to walk, he turned around to walk away when he heard a voice. "Russ"! He turned around. It was Richard Petty. "Come on over, Russ. What's taking you so long"? The security guard stepped out, "Well, I was just, I was just welcoming him in, Mr. Petty. I was just telling him, 'Come on, come on, young man; walk right in this way.'" He walked on by, "Well, thank you", walked right on into the team garage. Before the King showed up, he couldn't get into that restricted place. But now he can walk right in there, walk right into where the important people and all their expensive vehicles are. What made the difference? He was on the outside. Next minute, he was on the inside. You know what made the difference. The difference was he was with the King. On the outside, no King, no access. But when he was with the King, there wasn't anywhere he couldn't go.

Friend, the question today is, are you with the King? That's what makes the difference. And the King accepts sinful, faulty people. If we can alter our thinking and realize that God's plan is for us to be with the King, it's gonna change our lives. Instead of looking at ourself and pitying our weakness and our failings, we look to Jesus. What did He say? "Whoever comes to me I will by no means cast out". Can you come to Jesus today? Can you look in His direction? When you do, you will see a Savior with outstretched hands. A Savior with a smile, not a frown. Those nail prints in the palms of His hands, what does the Bible say? He has engraven you on the palms of His hands. It's those nails. Can you look to Jesus today? Will you look to Jesus today? When you do, everything changes. There's no hope outside of Christ. In Christ there's nothing but hope. Come on, let me pray with you.

Father in heaven, we thank You today for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. We thank You today that we can be with the King, that we can look and live. Give us grace to look away from self and to look towards Jesus, we pray. Lord, we believe that You are able. We thank You. We look to You in faith. We believe You save us. And we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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