John Gray - The Bridge

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If you will do me a favor and go to first Timothy chapter two, first Timothy chapter two. First thing I wanna say is that this is really a very simple message, but I believe if we grab the principles within this message, we will be stronger in our faith and better as a community of believers. The truth is, we got too many walls going up folks, too many walls in society, too many walls of differences. There are so many things attempting to separate us and divide us. And I believe that it is the call of the church to build bridges, bridges of understanding between cultures, between races, between ethnicities, but bridges of understanding for those who are believers and non believers.

I wanna talk for the time that I have with you from the subject the bridge, the bridge. First Timothy chapter two starting at the fifth verse, reading from the new King James version. This is what the writer says, for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.

A mediator is someone who attempts to bring competing parties or parties who are disconnected or in disagreement, into a place of common ground. A mediator is actually in effect, a bridge, a bridge of communication. Because many times relationships and communication are often disconnected because I could say one thing and you could hear another based on who you are and your perspective and the way you were raised, I could say one thing, but it could translate into another way. A mediator helps what I'm saying to get across to the other party in a way that they are able to receive it.

A mediator builds bridges, a mediator find common ground, a mediator fights to bring both people, both parties, to the middle, to a place of agreement. And sometimes someone who is diametrically opposed based on the mediators wisdom, is able to bring them to the other side of the bridge, and there is peace instead of pain.

I like this scripture because the Bible also says that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. Jesus Christ, the man Christ Jesus, the man and Jesus. Christ Jesus, the anointed of God, the man he was fully God and fully man, he was 200%. This is the Christophany, this is the mystery of the Gospel in a nutshell. That God inhabited a body, Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus the prophesied Messiah who built the bridge between broken humanity and perfect divinity. This is who Jesus was, a bridge for those of us who could not get back to God on our own.

More than ever, we need the church to be a bridge, a bridge to people who are hurting, who are lost, who are broken, and we talk about it. But the truth is, there are more people out there who don't know what's going on in here. And the only way they're gonna find out about it, is if you and I build bridges to let them know that they are welcome inside of this place, and inside of the arms of Jesus Christ. Truth is: time have change. We're not as nice as we used to be. Just not the same.

I just met one of my neighbors, we recently moved my wife and children, and we moved, and yesterday our neighbor across the street came over and said, "Hello". And it was so refreshing that somebody said "Hi", because when you move in, I don't wanna just go to your house it's messy because I'm big and brown. I don't wanna get taste, I'm like, I live here, I promise I just moved in. So please don't spray no mess. We had a nice conversation and, she said she's, her and her husband have children. I told him my wife and I we've got two small kids and, you know, we just had very good you know, conversation and hopefully we'll continue the dialogue and prayerfully our friendship will ensue.

But that's rare these days that people extend themselves out of their comfort zone. Back in the day weren't like that. Your neighbors were extended family. When I was growing up, I knew who live next door, miss Baker, we all went to the same church. Miss Baker had a three level house, she lived on one level, her daughter and her two kids. Dwight Nico lived on the main level. Somebody else lived on the second level and up the street. On the other side, Mr. Harrison and his wife lived on the block probably 30 years. Mr. Harrison was a man of faith. He planted banana trees in Cincinnati.

Now you've got to have faith to plant banana trees in a non tropical climate. Every summer just looking at leaves, not one banana, not one banana, monkeys will be flying in from all over the country just waiting, sitting on the side, I wish a banana would grow, I would wait now. Not this year, we leave and we out of here. Next door to him was Mr. and Mrs. LeRoy Oliver. And they had children and grandchildren, and the grandchildren were friends with me.

That was Dana Avenue in Cincinnati, and they treated me like family. They let me have food, I used to eat all day food, too much food. Don't judge me, don't judge. God has enlarge my territory. Sometimes they see me walking up the street, to the have them like turn off the lights, close the curtains, there he comes. Does his mama ever feed him, Jesus? But it was family. And not just in the good times when I acted up. I got in trouble at their house. And then they called Alice. And when I got home, she was sitting on the couch with a Bible and a belt, Lord Jesus.

I know you watching ma, why did you have to have the belt and the Bible. Maybe just spank me and let's move on. Don't quote Jesus, while you spanking me? The Bible says respect adults. Today they will call the people on her. I told her, I would call the people, she said, "If you can reach the phone". We used to have block parties connected to one another, but now we're disconnected. And I think a lot of what's going on in society is because we're so disconnected. Social media has taken over inter-personal relationships. We would rather text than talk, would rather snapchat and tweet than engage in conversation.

I have even had to deal with the reality of how far I had gotten disconnected from my own family. My son was sitting on my lap and he was talking to me, and I was busy doing something via email or whatever. And my son shook my arm, he's four years old. He said, "Daddy, look at me, look at me". And then he said what he said again, and what I realized is that my son didn't just wanna be around me. He wanted to be connected to me, and he wanted me to connect to him. And in the same way that my son wanted my attention, our Heavenly Father wants our attention. It's not enough just to come into this building, and if we're still distracted, we missed the beauty and benefit of the intimacy and the fellowship that we can have with our Father for so that for the next 15-20 minutes, let's lean in and engage because maybe just maybe God wants to speak to you, right where you are.

The truth is, it's hard to engage with my son because he's four. And I don't have a lot in common with a four year old. We don't like the same things, we don't communicate on the same level. I'm not really excited about the Good Dinosaur and Lion King for the 5000th time anymore. And I know where Dory is. We found her son, we found her. Jesus. And my daughter is the princess, what's the thing the Frozen thing? She oh, Lord, she wants all the princess dresses and she wants to wear the frilly outfits and they wanna talk and engage but the reality is, that's not my world.

So I literally have to bend to where they are in order to engage them, because it matters to them, that I am connected to them. And in the same way God has bent down, to where we are and even though his ways are not our ways or his thoughts our thoughts, he bends down to meet us where we are. He connects to us in our pain, he celebrates when joyous, he fights for us when we're hurting. This is the love that God has for us. And if you know like I know that God has stretched himself to meet with us, can we just give him a praise and thanksgiving.

It's funny because for many of us, that was a very nice pleasant applause. And that's great, because I understand that we are in a certain church setting. But let me tell you something, God did not stoop down out of obligation, he stoops down out of passion. He stretches himself because he loves us, and he even though some of the stuff we're talking about would not make sense to a divine perfect being, he makes himself available out of his passion.

And don't tell me you don't have passion, because in a few weeks stadiums all over this country are gonna be filled with people shouting for a football team that they don't know. And they're gonna be high five and strangers and hugging people they wouldn't ever talk to outside of that stadium. And they're gonna be sitting there drinking their root beer and their sodas. And isn't it funny, that at that stadium, it's totally acceptable to show your passion and to jump up and down and shout, but in here, the enemy wants you to stay quiet and docile? No, I'm not waiting until football season to give somebody praise. I will take a few seconds, right here and right now, I'll cheer-lead for Jesus right here.

Is there anybody that's excited about Jesus? Is there anybody that loves Jesus? Because he stretched himself to meet with you and I, when we were not worthy, this this our faith. I need a eight second praise break in here. High five three people tell them, he stretched for me. He stretched for me. I feel the Holy Ghost, I said I feel the Holy Ghost in here. This 11 o'clock you're trying to make me act up. I'm trying to be all, with my suit on, but I feel the presence of God. Do you understand how far God stretched for us? Because whether you know it or not, there was a great distance between us and God. But it wasn't always that way, we were family. Whether you know it or not, we're still family. Different backgrounds, different shades, different ideologies, but we are nonetheless family.

I know me and Dr. Paul don't look alike but we are family. Because the same blood that saved him saved me. That makes us blood related. I got white family, I got brown family, I've got yellow family, I've got Indian family, I've got Filipino family, I've got Asian family, Colombian family, Mexican family. Yeah, Mexicana. It'd be like all in the car. None of us in the car. You know how we wrong? Family, this is the power of Jesus. How amazing is it that a Jewish Jesus who lived over 2000 years ago saved African-American me, and white you, and red you, and green you, and yellow you, and whatever other color and the only color that matters is red and this the blood of Jesus, the blood is the bridge. Oh somebody get that in your spirit, the blood is the bridge.

Ephesians chapter three verse 14 says, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with might, through his Spirit in the inner man that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God".

I love it, it says I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, you got family. Tell somebody you got family. This is important because when you struggle you need to know you're not struggling alone, you've got family. That's what the community of faith is. That's what Lakewood is. That's what the local church is. It's your family. We fight for one another. Now, even though we might argue, somebody on the outside can talk about you. I might, who me and you get on my nerves. Like somebody else say, you don't talk about them, that's family.

As family, we're family, we fight for one another, we pray for one another, we believe, why? Because we cross the same bridge. The blood is the bridge. We're family but because of sin we got disconnected. See, it was all good in the garden. God, the perfect, divine essence of all creation, the Creator, the omniscient one, the omnipotent one decided he wanted to have family and so he stepped into the earth and put his hand in the dust and formed it and breathed into this dust creature's nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.

God created family, Adam was the first family member. And as Adam began working and working so hard, our Heavenly Father said it's not good for him to be alone, made him a helper, and now Adam and Eve and God, the first family. What a beautiful picture of uninterrupted fellowship, of true intimacy, of true connection. And that's what the Father always wanted. Whether you know it or not, God wants to talk to you. He wants to spend time with you. He's intimately committed to every detail of your life. But of course, we know what happened in the garden, satan showed up, that no good serpent came in and Adam and Eve made bad decisions, decisions that the Bible calls sin. Sin, separated Adam and Eve from the uninterrupted and intimate fellowship that they shared Father.

Let me tell you something about sin. Sin was a problem then, it's still a problem now. Let me just make this clear that, you know, in a water downtime when people want to talk about issues and everybody's got issues, let me tell you something. I can get counseling for my issues, but you can counsel devils, you got to cast them out. And only Jesus can do that. We still need the blood of Jesus, we still need to believe that he can save us, that he died for our sins, amen.

So let me tell you a couple things that sin does, if left unchecked. Number one, sin creates distance, sin creates distance. When Adam and Eve were first in the garden, there was no distance between them and God. When sin entered the picture, the first thing you hear God says, "Adam, where are you"? There's distance that exists now that didn't exist before sin.

Sin cultivates shame. How many people know when you've done something wrong you feel ashamed? Six of us, all right, well. Good for you, you lie. I feel good about it, thank you. I just, I don't struggle at all. Well, I don't know about you. But there times when I've done things that I knew dishonor God and displease God, and that overwhelming sense of oh my, I hurt it, I hurt God. I let myself down or I let my mama down. She raised me better than this. I should have done something different, that shame kicks in. Shame will hold you hostage.

How many of us have been held hostage to shame? And because you feel like you can't get free, you just go ahead and keep doing that same thing, because after all, I guess this is just what it's going to be, that's a lie. The enemy has got your mind hostage. That's why the Bible says, thank you Holy Ghost. In this scripture in first Timothy, Jesus gave himself a ransom. Somebody say ransom.

You ever seen a movie when somebody is held hostage? Michael they call a number they were like, "We want a million dollars or you're never gonna see your loved one again". Like I got a couple cousins, I'll pay you maybe $37, but call me when the price goes down. He said you wouldn't worth but $37. Here's the thing, sin wants to hold you hostage. Shame wants to hold you hostage, guilt and condemnation wanna hold you hostage. Sin creates distance, cultivates shame and the third thing sin does is it corrupts intimacy.
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