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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Aim Higher, Shoot Farther

Levi Lusko - Aim Higher, Shoot Farther

Levi Lusko - Aim Higher, Shoot Farther
TOPICS: Pioneer Series

At the age of 32, Benjamin Franklin writing in his Almanac wrote these immortal words, "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing". Well, with his words, I welcome you to week one of our Pioneer Series where we are going to gain inspiration and courage and resolve in our walks with God, in our daring greatly while we're here on this world, by looking at the men and women that scripture holds up to us as checking both of those boxes, having both done and spoken in ways that encouraged people to write down the things that they had done, but also in the speaking and writing of great words themselves.

And what we're going to do in this series is we're not just going to look at what they did and try and do it. We're instead going to try and learn how they thought, to learn to think how they thought, and more importantly, perhaps, to believe how they believed, because what you believe, this is the kernel of this whole series, determines how you behave. So if you want to change your life, you need to change the way that you believe. And so as such, the Pioneer Series is all about faith. I hope you're ready for a faith lift because that's what we're here for. The title of my message today is "Aim Higher, Shoot Farther". "Aim Higher, Shoot Farther". The problem, it's been said, with aiming at nothing is that you will get it every single time.

So we need to challenge what we're aiming at, to change what we're aiming at. It was UCLA John Wooden who said to his boys over and over again, failure is not the crime. Low aim is. Low aim is the crime. So what we're going to do in these 10 weeks, and this series will take us all the way to summer, when Olaf Snowman will sing to us and it will be wonderful again, and the White Witch's cruel hold of the Northwest will be finally released once and for all is, in this series of messages, we're going to ask the question, what does it look like to aim higher? That's what the Pioneer Series is all about. I wrote this down, I hope that these weeks of this series will for you challenge you to leave the kiddie pool for a deeper water of trusting God, that your head knowledge of him will be transformed into vibrant and dynamic lived experience.

I hope in these weeks of the series that you will have an aid in getting rid of your excuses as to why God can't work through you as you meet men and women just like you who dared greatly in their walks with God, their exploits for God. And then finally, I pray that in these weeks of this series, in a concentrated, focused way, unlike anything I've preached since 2015, when Through the Eyes of a Lion came out, that I will help you and serve you to discover meaning and purpose in the hardest circumstances that can come your way in this life, and that you will discover the key to being empowered in your pain and finding power inside of your suffering. That's what this is all about. What do you think? Here for it? We are going to be living in Hebrews Chapter 11.

This entire 10-week journey will be based out of one chapter in Scripture that has been called correctly "Faith's Hall of Fame". Arc de Triomphe of the Bible is what Spurgeon called it because of the way that that beautiful memorial commemorates and points back to the heroic exploits of those who had come before in a previous generation. It has also been called the Westminster Abbey of the New Testament because if you've been to Westminster Abbey, you stand on all these graves of amazing men and women who have lived in times past. You're standing at Rudyard Kipling's grave or Isaac Newton's grave. They're all buried right there inside.

How creepy is that, by the way? You come to church, like, wow, I'm totally standing on someone's grave right now. But that's really what we find in Hebrews 11. My sister is graduating from college next month, and we just found out this week she's graduating cuma sum laude from college. And so we're so proud of her as a family. All of us are. She's the baby of the family. And look what she done did, you know? And I could hardly pronounce cuma sum laude. She did it, right? And that means to graduate with the highest honor. What is Hebrews 11, if not God saying out of all of holy writ, here are those who are held with the highest of possible honors?

And what we're going to be shocked by, I think, week by week as we meet them, as we get the chance to sit down over coffee with them and these characters each and every single week is, I think it's going to be underwhelming to us how unimpressive they are for how much God thinks of them. These are in God's mind the who's who, where He is like, did you see what they did? Do you see how they live? And we're going to meet them and go, well, you know. They're broken, imperfect. They're messed up. They had issues. They had their bad days, just like you and just like me. What was incredible about them was not their tremendous superhero abilities, but their simple, childlike faith. And that is something that we can grow in as well. It has never been about great abilities.

Doing great things for God has always come from great availability, from those who have made the space in their life for God to work and trusted Him to do so. Well, that's all to come. But today is just a simple orientation or a primer. What is faith all about? And that's what we're going to read in Hebrews 11, starting in verse 1, where we find these words. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, for by it, the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible".

And so, Father, as we today really just seek to prime the pump for what is to come in the remaining nine weeks of this experience of this journey, I do pray at the outset, as we stand making sure our water bottles are full and we've got the right shoes on, and we've got enough sunscreen and a rain layer, as we're really just looking at the sign telling us about the hike that we're about to take for these weeks separating us from now and summer, we ask that you really would do something marvelous. At the beginning, we speak faith. We speak power. We speak life through Jesus' name over these weeks and what you're going to do through these people. I really am just almost trembling with excitement over what our lives can look like just nine weeks from now. We ask for it to be so in the name of Jesus, believing for miracles, believing for healing, believing for salvation, to rise up in response to the preaching of your word. And we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

I took a daughter of mine to...we got so many of them, right? Just at this point, a daughter of mine, you know what I'm saying? On a play date a while back, she was meeting with a friend. They were going to ride bicycles. And so it was arranged like, hey, we'll meet here at this time. You drop off your daughter with the bike. And I was chit-chatting with the dad of the daughter that she was going to be playing with. And he was like, of course, the usual suspects, you know. It's like, oh, wow, yeah, can you believe this weather? You know, banalities that almost mean nothing, and then it kind of got down to a little more and get to know each other a little more here. And he said to me. It was so funny. He goes, so I hear you're a person of faith. He almost said it, I could tell like the derision. It was like, so I hear you're... and I didn't know how honest to be with this guy.

My response literally was like, it depends on the day. I was like, good days and bad days man. And he was saying like, I hear you're a member of the clergy. It's like, you're a person of faith. It's like, well, I try. That's the goal really, right? Which is the occasion for the writing of the Book of Hebrews. That's really what this book boils down to. So are you a person of faith? Is that what you're going to give your life to? Now, Hebrews is unique in all of the books of the Bible for many different reasons. I mean, it's called an epistle, which is just a fancy way of saying letter. But its tone is more sermon than letter. For example, there's no salutation. There's none of the usual "this is who I'm writing to".

This is who I am. This is who I'm rolling with. It reads more sermon than it does read letter. It's also unique in all of the epistles because we don't know who wrote it. Tons of theories as to who wrote the Book of Hebrews, the leading, of course, being Paul, and you will have to forgive me if these weeks of this series, I do accidentally say Paul wrote it. That's just habit because he wrote so much. No big deal. Humblebrag, right? He wrote so much, 13 that we know for sure, of the 27 books of the New Testament. So it does become a bit default for me just to say as Paul says when reading it. But others think that Luke wrote it. Others think Barnabas. Others think that Apollo, the golden-tongued preacher, wrote it.

Some have postulated that it could have even been Mary Magdalene, though that is least likely because there is at one point a slip of a male gender, where the author reveals that he himself did write it. He kind of shifts out of ceremony and preaches as himself for a second. We don't know when it was written. We also can't say for certain when it was written. Not who's written by, but when it was written, we don't know for sure, though we do know it was written before 70 AD, because he references things that by 70 AD, would have changed. So it's a very early book, of course, Jesus having risen from the dead and ascended somewhere after 30 AD, so within 40 years, here we have this magnificent book. I like what Origen said as to the authorship of Hebrews. He wrote, "Who wrote the epistle, in truth, only God knows".

That was 254 AD. So it was even then an issue, where they weren't quite positive. But here's what we can know. We can know why there is a Book of Hebrews, why there is a Book of Hebrews. The reason this book was written is because there were Jewish people who had gotten saved, Hebrews who had gotten saved to follow Christ, to choose to follow Him, who were being tempted to go back to Judaism from Christianity. They had come out of this system of just being saved by the law, what they could do to be saved, and they were being tempted to put their faith back into Moses and a physical temple and to angels and the keeping of a law. And that was what their confidence was being pulled back to. The visible things of this, that's the key here.

It's one of the keys to the Book of Hebrews, is they were being called back to what they could see, what they could touch, what they could handle, what they could understand, all that they had ever known, instead of the invisible realities of following God through faith in Jesus Christ, whom they couldn't see, believing in the feeling of the Holy Spirit, which they couldn't see, believing they were a part of an invisible temple, the church assembled through living stones, right? So this was an occasion where people were losing their faith, tempted to abandon it. And the author of the Book of Hebrews knew this was happening and wrote this magnificent letter to combat it. He wrote to people losing their faith.

This becomes then a more germane and pertinent book of the Bible than has ever been as we sit literally in an age of deconstruction and age of people who have come to Christ, but wondering whether they've made a mistake or a decision to follow something else would be perhaps better. And the big idea of this book is, first of all, first takeaway truth today, the importance of faith. It's not some little thing. He wrote to tell them faith is the thing. How do we know that? Well, he quotes from Habakkuk 2:4. You didn't gasp like you should have. That's a big deal. Habakkuk chapter 2, verse 4 is an enormous deal, quoted in no less than three places in the New Testament and some pretty heady spaces. Not only the Book of Hebrews, which is sort of like this glimpse into the holy of holies, right, but you also have it in Romans, the Magna Carta of the Christian faith, which we do know Paul did, right?

It's been said the two most important books in understanding Christianity is Romans and Hebrews. So you have habakkuk 2:4 in both of them and in Galatians, chapter 3, verse 11. So a very big space. The other references are Romans 1:17, and of course, Hebrews 10:38, which says, "Now the just shall live by faith, but if anyone", and here's what they were being tempted to do, being told they should do. "If anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him". A.K.A., there is no life at the end of that road because the entire aim of life should be pleasing God, to glorify God, to enjoy Him forever. This is the goal. So to turn back from the only means of salvation that's ever been given, the way, the truth, and the life, that no one comes to the Father, except to turn back from the only one that life is found inside, there's nothing good at the end of that road, amigo.

You know what I'm saying? The importance of faith, that is what this verse about. And by the way, that verse, Habakkuk 2:4 also is the verse that when Martin Luther wrote it, sparked the Protestant Reformation. So it's really importante, all right? The importance of faith, why is this so important, you might ask. Well, here's why. It is impossible to please God without faith. And if pleasing God or glorifying God is the point of life, is the purpose of life, then you can't do it any other way than through faith. Without faith, Hebrews 11:6, it is impossible to please him. So big point, all caps, eight exclamation marks, faith in Jesus must not be turned back from. The theme word, we're just doing a little bit of due diligence before we swoop in on one chapter to just kind of understand the whole book in general.

The theme of the book can be summarized by one word that's used 13 times, and the word is "better". "Better". Jesus is better than angels. Jesus is better than temples. Jesus is better. Jesus is better. Jesus is better. Don't turn back to the blood of bulls and goats. Jesus is better. Don't turn back to temples and rituals that Jesus, don't turn back to the keeping of a law, Ten Commandments that are somehow your benchmark of how you're doing before God. Jesus is better. And there is no salvation in any other name. All of those things that you're turning back to, they were just a preview. Do any of you go at previews once the movie is out? Previews only serve a purpose for once you have the movie. I do not go home at night and kiss my wedding invitation. It was just to get us to the real thing, to the relation.

You see what I'm saying? The Jews were, these Christians were being tempted to just go sit around and watch a preview when the movie was here. Jesus is better. Jesus is more. Jesus is greater, and it's impossible to achieve what you're looking for, except through Him. So I hear you're a person of faith, you can hear the author saying to all those who are tempted to determine. The pertinent, are you a person of faith? So why would they turn back from it, though? I have to at least acknowledge that. Let's now come to our second heading, the letdown of faith, the letdown of faith. There is a sort of letdown, it would seem. Otherwise, they wouldn't turn back from it. Otherwise, they wouldn't be considering other options.

Why would they draw back? Why would they draw back from Christ? Well, there was clearly a letdown. They were let down because of their experience with faith. And there are many today feeling the same sensation, almost like a buyer's remorse. Did I make a mistake in trusting Christ? Is there something better out there? I think there are four primary reasons for that drawing back, for feeling let down. I think number one, it's because we think at times we've graduated beyond faith. Faith was good to get us going. Yeah, that was an important part of it. You know, "Amazing Grace". I was blind. I was dead, but now I really need more. That was amazing for starting out, right, as though the gospel was just the ABCs of salvation and now we need something more advanced.

Now we need the deep truths. Listen, friend, you need faith just as much to finish your walk with God than you did to start it, as you did to start it. And the gospel and these simple truths of you with childlike dependence, trusting God by faith, is not the ABCs of Christianity. It is the A to Z of Christianity. He is the alpha. He is the omega. It's not like we need faith to start, but then we have to really perfect things in our own flesh. But the letdown comes when we think faith was just a parochial beginning issue. And then secondly, where you could put B under that heading, we misunderstand it. We misunderstand what faith looks like. And we treat faith as though we're like an ATM card. You just have to believe it.

No matter what it is, you get it, right? Which does not survive well in much lived experience, right, as though just God was just up there just waiting for you to just name it, and then it was yours. Nor would that compute with the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 when we get to all of the suffering, all of the pain, all of the hardship, and God says, this is what it looks like to live a life of faith. That doesn't much work together. Nor, thirdly, well, we can say we will be let down by faith if we underestimate faith. I think many people underestimate faith's power, sort of treating faith as though we're just this really passive thing, right? I have a low tolerance for faith being just treated like it's this anemic, sickly, doesn't take up much room, just kind of happy to be there.

Like, oh, you just got to just have faith. Like, just faith is just sort of this we sing kumbaya. Everyone just starts dancing and clicking their fingers, like faith, mm, mm. Oh, my love, faith, mm. It's like our favorite song. Like, faith is just this thing that happens. And it's a nice lovely idea. We're going to read that by faith, they stopped the mouth of lions. We're going to read by faith, they passed through fire. We're going to read by faith, they receive the dead back to life. I mean, we're talking about something that's robust. I wrote it down this way. Faith is not a throw pillow. It is an uppercut that breaks the jaw of the enemy. Faith is not a doily to go under your teapot. It is an atomic blast that releases God's power. But if we underestimate faith, well, soon, we won't have much room in our lives. I mean, how many doilies does one really need? The answer is zero, right?

Third, the mechanics of faith. All right, let's actually get down to it now, the mechanics of faith. How we're going to approach this is what it is, what faith is, and how it works. What it is and how it works. First of all, let's arrive at somewhat of a working definition for faith. And of course, no one sentence can fully contain it, but here's how I have boiled down the teaching of scripture. Faith is confident trust in who God is and what He has promised. This is faith. Faith is confident trust in who God is, that He is in what He has promised. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. That's faith. That's what it is. That's easier, perhaps, to get our heads around than how it works exactly. But the author of the Book of Hebrews gives us two words that basically gives us a process for it.

How faith works is described in this way. It is first substance, and then it is evidence. It is first substance, and then it is evidence. He puts it this way. It is a substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. The word "substance" is a unique word, and it's a very good word. There's a range in different translations, but substance, it is agreed by most, is probably the best word to understand what faith is. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. It's a good word because we, when we're really hungry, we want something substantive. Have you ever been disappointed by an appetizer when you were famished, and it was frivolous? You saw it on the plate. Oh, no, this is not going to work. I remember the first time Jennie and I, our friends told us this new concept called tapas. And I was like, oh, that's interesting. It's another language. This will be great.

And then when the food got served, I was disheartened and said, what's this small food everywhere? I don't get it. And they go, oh, no, it's a small plate concept. That's what tapas are. I decided right then and there I don't like tapas, you know what I'm saying? Because tapas are frivolous. I need portions. I need food. I want, when they set it down, for the table to groan a little bit, you know? Like, I want my... anybody with me? I want my food to be substantive. I want my waiter to have carpal tunnel on Sundays. You see him bringing that thing, like, yeah! I want to know that you're going to need to do some PT from carrying my lunch to me. That's how you feel when you're hungry.

Don't bring me something that's really, and I've kind of discovered, the more expensive it is, the worse it tastes, and the less you get, right? What is it with that? Substance. I love that the author of Hebrews says, no, faith is substantive. It is literally the two words that form this word, could be boiled down to from and under, from, under. Faith is what sits under. It can hold stuff up. Faith is substantive. It's a substance. It also, by the way, that word can be translated title deed, ownership, ironclad, court of law, faith. Faith has power to it. Faith has meat. Faith has teeth. Faith is not a road trip in the Northwest in the wintertime in racing slicks. Faith puts studs under you when you need it for traction control in the mountain. That's what faith is.

So don't get faith wrong. Faith has (I shouldn't say it, but I will) a pair hanging. That's really what he is trying to say. There's something to faith that's got testosterone, OK? It's high octane. The substance of things hoped for, of things hoped for. You realize that if you don't have faith in God, that you, deep down, hope for things you shouldn't? You know if there's no God, and when you die, that's it, end scene, fade to black, bye-bye, you shouldn't hope for meaning, beauty. These are all illusory ideas. They're all non-real. Like, even your concept of who someone is, their name, their identity, the fact that you would stand at their grave, that makes no sense if there's no meaning, and there's no eternal life. But we all hope for these things. But as it has been well said, hope is a terrible strategy. Just to hope for that, right?

Faith is what hope gets to stand on. Faith is what gives hope something to eat at the table. Faith is the title deed propping up what we hope for, life after death, forgiveness of sins, that you are still you after you die, that there is meaning and beauty and relationship, and the poor matter, and the blind matter, and the hungry matter. We hope for hurting people to be cared for, but if Darwinian evolutionary thinking is played out to its furthest ultimate end truth, we shouldn't care for the things we do deeply care for. Faith, then, props up our hope and makes hope not just a pipe dream. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. It's beautiful.

Spurgeon said, faith gives hope a grip and holds it fast. All right, so that's the first aspect. The second is, it's the evidence of things not yet seen. Faith allows us to close our eyes and look again and to believe as fact what will seem a lie or impossible when we open our eyes up again. Faith allows us to look at a situation where we are outnumbered. We are outgunned. There are thousands of enemy soldiers about to destroy us, but faith allows us to not even bat an eye, going, there are more on our side than on the enemies, because faith takes as fact, as evidence, what God says is true and not just what you can see with the naked eye. Faith, then, allows us to not flinch and not give in to fear, regardless of what we see, that screams at us to give in to terror and to give in to despair.

Warren Wiersbe said, "True Bible faith is confident obedience to God's word in spite of circumstances and even consequences". Faith takes as fact what is invisible and allows us to endure what is impossible. And it is, in fact, the entirety of the journey of the Christian life, 2 Corinthians 5:7, to walk by faith and not by sight. And that's what makes it so challenging. That's the rub. But hope that is seen is not hope, Romans says. Why would one still hope for what he sees? So the nature of faith is it gives us something to stand on. And how it does that is it allows us to listen because faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. Hearing what God says and believing that more than what we see, believing that more than what's in front of us.

Dr. Oswald Sanders put it this way, "Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen". It allows you to say basically this. What I can see is real. I'm not ignoring that. I'm not denying that. If I look in the mirror and see myself aging and see crow's feet and see wrinkles and see less hair up top or more sagging down bottom, right, if I look at that, I'm not going to go, that's not true. I'm not aging. I will look at that and glance at that and go, that's what I see here. But what I see through the eye of faith is God saying, you're becoming more like me. You have more power. You have more wisdom. You have more glory. You're heading towards life, not away from it. You're heading towards eternal youth, not away from it.

Faith allows me to stand at my daughter's grave and believe there is more linea in front of me than behind me because she's with Christ, which is where I'm going. Faith will allow you to stare at lack, but believe God for your portion. Faith allows you to look at loneliness and fear and hear God saying, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. You see, faith factors in what you can see with the human eyesight, but then chooses to believe the lead story, to make the heading of the story what God says about your reality, for as Eugene Peterson put it, "Reality is made up mostly of what we cannot see". Oh, this life is so important. Is it? This earth lasts forever. Does it?

Your life and having popularity and ooh and trinkets and the things in the status and is that the most important? It feels that way now only when you're looking with human understanding. When you look at life through the lens of God who's outside of time, seeing the end from the beginning, declaring His kingdom shall have no end, then your getting accolades in heaven matters more than getting them here on this earth. Friends, listen to me. The things we see now, Paul speaking, 2 Corinthians 4, will soon be gone. Your car, your house, your whatever, gone. But the things we cannot see will last forever, forever. Who you really are, who Christ is, His new heavens and new earth that we'll get to dwell on and serve, that's forever. This is a flash in the pan. Any hiccup you face here, it's going to be small potatoes when you get there and look back on this life.

Faith, number four, gives us an advantage. Our advantage in faith we must face up to is the hard truth of reading this chapter, as we will through the weeks of the series, is we're going to, again and again and again, go, what the heck is wrong with me? When they (here we go) did so much when they had so little, and yet they gave it their all. Full send. We could call the series that. Just full send. Here's these Old Testament people from the dawn of time moving forward that the master writer of this book is using as his sweeping stained glass portfolio of every believer who's ever lived and did something great for God, that they did it by faith. And he's then challenging his audience and by space and time to you and to me as well, going, do you realize how little they had living before the cross, living before the Holy Spirit, living before the church age, living before, before, before, but they chose to live by faith.

Why would you turn away from the thing that allowed these to do so much? And you're going to miss it. And what does Hebrews 12:1 say? His big case he builds to, getting to the end of the faith Hall of Fame. "Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," let us run the race of faith, laying aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles, not drawing back, not sitting around, not messing around. Let's follow the example of these pioneers. Someone said once, the best way to grow in your faith journey is to walk with the faithful people. And you have to realize we're a part of a big family and God sees the end from the beginning. He sees us all together as the family of God.

And so as we meet these different people, we're going to go, oh, my gosh, I need to step it up a little bit, right? Because isn't the whole thing if you want to have more money, you need to have richer friends? No, it's a real thing. Take your five best friends, add up their salaries, divide it by five, and that will be almost scarily accurately your exact income bracket, which is one of the beautiful things of the church, by the way, one of the very few institutions on Earth where, regardless of your socioeconomic standing, we all sit together at the same table. Everywhere else in the world, it's divided out, rich from the poor, and haves from have nots. But here, whether God's entrusted us with a lot or a little, we all come and gladly stand at the foot of the cross on the same playing field. And it is one of the beautiful things that you can have access to discipleship and encouragement from people across a broad swath of standing on this earth that has always been one of the countercultural beautiful things about the church.

FF Bruce said, "These people acted as if that state of affairs were already present," God's promises. "So convinced were they that God could and would fulfill what He had promised, their faith consisted simply in taking God at His word and directing their lives accordingly". And so, what he's trying to hint at in all of these situations is like, let's step it up a little bit. Let's step it up a little bit. They had just a hint of a promise. All they had was the preview. You guys have the whole movie, and you're tempted to go back and you're tempted to change the story? Let's step it up. Come on, you have a huge advantage of faith. In fact, he puts it this way in Hebrews 6:12. He says that see that you do not become sluggish in the race of faith, is implied, but imitate those who, through faith and patience, have inherited the promises.

And friends, I hope and pray that you realize how good you have it. I hope you realize that when you stand before God to be judged, it will be factored in what age you are given to live in, like a golfer with a handicap, right? When we think about, I mean, how about Polycarp? Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, one of the last remaining disciples of the apostle John, OK? So he lived just one blink away from Jesus in his time. He was a disciple by someone discipled by Jesus. And at 86 years of age, he was finally to be put to death for his faith in Christ. And he was threatened with wild beasts, and he said, fine, bring them on. And he said, we'll burn you alive. And he offered to have them tie his hands. Please tie me. I will not deny Christ. The idea was deny Jesus or die. And he willingly was led to the stake, where he was to be burned to death.

And they said with the torch at the pyre, this is your last chance, Polycarp, 86 years old, deny Jesus and you will live. And he said, and I quote, "For 86 years have I served Christ, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me"? They lit the fire. Supernaturally, God allowed him to stand there and not be burned by the flame. So frustrated were his executioners that one reached out with a dagger and stabbed him through the breast. And as history records, the spout of blood extinguished the flames. And he died not through fire, he died by repeated stabbings. This is a part of what's urging us on in our race of faith. This lineage, this full grand stance of those who are in heaven, which is right there, not far away, like you've got to get put into deep space sleep in your water sack for 25 million light years. Heaven's right there.

And when you die and heaven opens, the angels will bring you to heaven right there. And you will see, as you're seated in the grandstands next to Polycarp and next to Esther and next to Abel and next to Samson and next to Spurgeon and next to Florence Nightingale, you will see, as you watch on, as they urge you on, all that you could have and would have done if you were given the chance to relive your life of faith. And would you not in that moment give everything you could to go back and live it again? But listen, friends, we don't need to have that regret because right now, we have that advantage. We have the story of every man and woman who's ever followed Jesus Christ and lived and died, urging us on.

And what are they saying? They're saying aim higher. Go farther. Don't settle. We, Paul would say, aren't veiled like Moses had to be, like the people that couldn't even look at Moses. They had to have a veil on. We, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18. There's no veil now. We get to look straight at Jesus in faith. And so we must not lose heart. We must not be shaken. We must not deconstruct and make our faith experience all about us. We must continue to look under Jesus with an accurate understanding of what faith looks like, of what it is, of what it isn't, and give our all until we go and meet Jesus face to face. Amen. Can I get a good Amen?

Number five, we're close to the end here. And this is all just our appetizer today. It's hopefully a beefy appetizer, but it's just all going to really be good next week. Number five, the response of faith. We must understand there is a response built in. Faith is not us acting like we just act in faith. Like, I just have so much faith. Like, oh, that guy has got so much faith. And God up in heaven is like, wow. We only ever love Him because He loved us first. So any faith we would ever have or show in difficult circumstances that anybody would ever be encouraged by is and always has been a response. A response to what? The word of God. The word, the sharp two-edged sword, which is the word of God. Jesus Christ himself, we find in John 1:1, is that word, the word of God. That goes out and our response in faith is in response to that. We're responding to something when we have faith.

And that's why, in verse 3 of Hebrews 11, he points to the act of creation. By faith, we understand the world reframed by the word of God. And what we see that is visible all popped out because of God speaking. And it came out of what was invisible. Theologians refer to this as the act of creation being ex nihilo, meaning it was made out of nothing. And I bet there was a bang that was big when it happened, when God spoke and there were stars, and there was a Milky Way galaxy, and everything is what it is. It is a design. That's amazing because it had a designer. You see intentional thought everywhere. And the assumption is there was a thinker, and the thought came out of his mind. And as he spoke, the creative power, Colossians 1 tells us it was made by Jesus. It was made for Jesus to bring him glory, to bring him honor. And we play a part in that.

The assumption when we see something beautiful is, wow, someone did a great job with that. You don't see a great painting and go, wow, there must have been a bunch of cans that fell over, and look at that. The canvas just happened to be there, right? You assume there was something in the mind of an artist, and that's what you're seeing on the canvas. Thus, it is when we look at the visible universe. God said, Genesis 1:3, let there be light, and there was light. And out of nothing came forth everything because of someone who spoke it. And by the way, that Hebrew phrase, "let there be light," is so much more gangster than that. In the original Hebrew, it's actually just, "light be". Darkness better have my money. I mean, this is strong, right? Like he wasn't straining to create it. It just was. Light be. And it was.

And so the act of faith, when you and I live a life of faith, it is us being His creation, doing what He said we would do, right? So He speaks it, and our response of faith positions us to let what He spoke be reality in our lives. He speaks, we respond. Creation happens again. And the act of the Resurrection began a new creation that we continue to ride the wave of every day and in every way. We respond in faith. And that's what makes it so challenging because faith only matters when it's hard. Faith only becomes a factor when it's crucial, and when it's crucial is when it's dark. That's when you need light. When it hurts, that's when you need hope. When there's chaos, and that's when you need peace. God wants to again speak into and is speaking into, day on the day, at all times and in every way, through Jesus, is speaking potential and promise and miracle and revival and salvation and impossible things being done in Jesus' name, exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we could ask or think according to the power that works in us.

And it becomes the most crucial for us to have faith when it is the most challenging to do so. Listen to me very carefully. This is how I wrote it. I want to say it carefully. Obstacles have always been the opportunity in every age of all pioneers. And that's not just true when it comes to being a Christian pioneer. It's also true in just small ways, like business ways, right? Like, I love little anecdotes. Throughout the series, we're going to go from Polycarp. We're also going to shift from there to Richard Branson, right, who started this whole incredible amount of different products under the Virgin banner, the Virgin name. I love the origin story of Virgin Air. Virgin Airlines, right? Which he spun off in 2018, just the American version of that, for $2 and 1/2 billion, selling it to Alaska Airlines.

But when you think about something that big, and I've flown to Australia on Virgin Air. It's an incredibly different airline. But the story of how the entire company got started was a canceled flight. Richard and some friends were trying to fly from Puerto Rico to the British Virgin Islands, and the flight got canceled. And they were going to be stuck where they were, instead of where they wanted to be. And so Richard's like, screw that. It's literally his business mantra. Screw it. Let's do it. So he said, screw that. I'm not staying here. And he chartered a private plane, and then he counted up how many seats were in the private plane and divided the cost of chartering it by the amount of seats. And then he took a little piece of paper and wrote Virgin Airlines, which did not exist. $39 a flight to British Virgin Islands, which was the amount of money he would need to get to get to where they were going.

And he just walked around through the terminal where all the people were sitting who were going to be on that canceled flight, and pretty soon, he had paid for every single seat on the airline. And they got to the British Virgin Islands that day. And he went, hmm. Thus the starting of this multibillion dollar airline, an obstacle, a bad day, something going difficult. He said, and I quote, "My biggest source of inspiration in business are the things that frustrate me. I know if something is annoying me, then there's usually a problem to solve or a better way of doing something". Welcome to the journey of faith. Some of Paul's best miracles came out of him being annoyed, right? God wants you to unleash His creative power through you believing Him in the midst of things that are hard and frustrating and difficult, the response of faith. And finally... and we'll close here. Worship team, come on out. We have to remember in all of this the person of faith, the person of faith.

Back to my original question that I was asked by my daughter's friend's dad, are you a person of faith? Well, here's my answer. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would say I try to. More often, I blow it. But here's the good news. Jesus is the person of faith that we will never be. And our goal in running and our goal in being a pioneer, which we're all called to be, in ways small and large, is to keep our eyes on Jesus, who Hebrews 12 says, look at this, I don't know if you've ever noticed this before, our eyes on Jesus, who is the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. The point is for us to keep our eyes on Jesus. And we become like whatever we focus on. We become like whoever we stare at and do life with the most.

So if we keep our eyes on Jesus, who Hebrews 1 says is the brightness of God's glory and the express image of His person, same, by the way, word, for substance. He's the substance of God. Jesus is good. What about God? Jesus is the meatiness of God, the title deed of everything God, the totality of God, that's Jesus, who upholds all things by the word of His power when He had, by Himself, purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high. Talk about a pioneer. Pioneers blazed new trails, see old industries in new ways, right? Jesus opened up a new and better way to God than anything else offered. Anything that could ever come close is a joke compared to what He offers.

So if we follow Him, the pioneer, the person of faith, then it's going to rub off on us as well. My family and I (and I'll close with this) love in the summertime, ever since we first saw Lord of the Rings, really, to get some bows and get some arrows, go out into the woods, set up some targets on some hay bales. And there's hardly a better way to spend a summer evening, golden hour, than just shooting arrows at a target, laughing. And this was the first summer, this last summer where we introduced Lenox to it. And while we all had a moment of pause at putting a sharp object in the hands of a five-year-old boy, who is just different than any child that's ever been in our home, let me just, we had so much fun when that spark of a-ha came over him, to see him shooting.

All of us, you take a bow and you become a child again, you know what I'm saying? And of course, he had a hard time, like all of us do, at the beginning, because he was aiming at the target, but his arrow kept going into the ground. Welcome to the problems that astronauts have with orbital mechanics and pilots have in navigating the planet and landing on the spinning Earth that we're on and hunters and the reason scopes and the line of sight and ballistics are all, the problem is, the Earth must be factored in.

And the Earth has something called a gravitational pull. And the moment you shoot that arrow out, the earth's trying to get it back onto the ground. You can't just shoot it to where you want it to go. You have to aim higher to go further. You literally cannot spell archery without the word "arc". And it's not just the bow that's curved. The path of the arrow is as well. It was CS Lewis who said, "Aim at heaven, and you will get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth, and you will get neither". The person of faith, Jesus, is personally inviting you to aim higher, to aim at heaven. And you, as you run your race, you will go so much further then you could go any other way.

And so, Father, we thank you for sending Christ. And so Jesus, we thank you for doing for us what we can never do for ourselves. And thank you, Holy Spirit, for awakening new faith inside our dry bones.

If you're here listening, every location, church online, you say I want that. I want that to be the case for me. I want to rise up in faith today. I need that faith. Could you just raise up a hand? Just raising up your life to the heavens. You're saying, God, I need you. God, by faith, I want to follow you. I'm not turning back. I'm not going to turn to any other thing. Help me keep my eyes on you. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Bless these. Bless these whose hands are raised, whose hearts are humble. In the chat, you can put it there. I'm engaging. I'm engaged. We're praying for you, speaking life over you, every single person responding to the Holy Spirit here. Thank you for what you're going to do in our lives, in these weeks, in these verses, in these moments. From glory to glory, from grace to grace, thank you that we get to look at you with unveiled face. You can put your hands down.

I want to now invite anybody trusting Jesus for the first time today. Say, I had my doubts, Levi. I've wondered how is science compatible with belief. How can I know? How can I know? All these questions. Those are all... there's a time and a place for all those discussions. But here's what's true. You hope for things that technically don't make any sense outside of a relationship with God. And Jesus is calling you to put your faith in him. He died for you. He rose from the dead. He is coming again. He will give something for your hopes to stand on top of. He will allow you to listen to his word, to believe as fact what you cannot see. But at a certain point, you just have to commit. There just has to be a full send in your heart. And what I can tell you from experience is that the one who comes to him, he will never cast out. He's not afraid of your sin. He's not intimidated by your doubts, by your problems. He stands with an open invitation to forgiveness, to wholeness, to life.

If that's you and as I'm describing, you sense the Holy Spirit of God stirring in your heart, stirring in your life today, I plead with you not to put that off, not to take that lightly. The presence of guilt of sin is a huge gift. Your heart will get hardened if you persist in living with that sense of agitation, but not responding to him. And you can become almost seared as with the hot iron. If you don't respond to God long enough, you can come to a place where you can't respond to God. Now don't let that be your story. Respond to him now. Receive his grace. Let him flood into your life with mercy and love and hope. And that's you I'm describing. I'm going to say a prayer. Say this out loud with me. Church, say it with us, as we see people come from death to life in Jesus' name.

Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I'm separated from you. I need your life. Thank you for sending Jesus to die, to rise. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for new life. I give you mine in Jesus' name.

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