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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Obedience When It Doesn't Make Sense

Levi Lusko - Obedience When It Doesn't Make Sense

Levi Lusko - Obedience When It Doesn't Make Sense
TOPICS: Obedience, Trust, Guidance

Why does God call us to do things that are murky in the moment? Because he's like a good fitness trainer. He knows that if you just do triceps on Tuesday, and biceps on Thursday, and bench press on Wednesday, and you do the same workout regimen you've been doing for all those years, you're not going to continue to have gains. There has to be a confusion to your system. You've got to shock the system. You've got to mix it up. You have to change it. The load has to change. Your body adapts to it. And why would it be any different when it comes to our souls? We need spiritual muscle confusion, and God knows that.

Well, if you have a copy of the scriptures, we're going to be in John 12 today. And if you don't have a way to get into the Bible, we have some verses for you to put up on the screen. We are in a series of messages kicking off this new year called Make Up Your Mind. And we're talking about how to win the battle of our minds, so we can win the other battles that God's calling us to win as well. We began with this idea of intrusive thoughts and how common and how often it is that we deal with levels of thinking, lines of thought that aren't going to take us to where God wants us to go. And the number is 500 per day. And 94% of us report having thoughts show up in our heads that we don't want and that are moving us further away from God's best for us.

And so we're talking about how to deal with those things by setting our minds on things above, to make up our minds. As Paul said, we've been raised, hello, raised to walk in newness of life with Jesus Christ. And if that's true, hello, live like it, is what he's saying. If you've been raised, like, when Jesus came out of that grave, that you came out of that grave. Spiritually speaking, you were raised to new life in Christ. You died to your old life, and you are now born again, born a second time, born on the inside. And if that's your citizenship, if that's really true, then it should lead to a different kind of living and a different kind of thinking. But you have to choose to do that again, and again, and again.

And as often as I cross country, I had to do it this morning, set my watch back to Mountain time and then, later on today, when I'm on a plane, back to Central time. I have to choose to set my mind based on what's true, where I'm really at. And if what's really true of us is that we've been raised to life in Christ, we have to choose every single day. And sometimes, it's a minute-by-minute struggle to set our mind based not on where our feet are, but where our citizenship is, where our Savior is. And when Christ, who is our life, appears, we will appear with Him in glory. We will be seen to be the smartest people ever. Right now, we seem crazy, right? But just wait. Just wait. Noah seemed crazy too until it rained. Noah seemed stupid too until it rained. And then, he was the smartest guy out there.

So we'll feel crazy. We'll feel that pinch. We'll feel that pull from culture, pull from our peers, pull to live for the latest label, and the square footage, and the whole deal. And I got to keep up appearances. It's like, wait. Hold on a second here. If I really had been raised to life in Christ, I have to choose to think differently about money, think differently about my future, think differently about what you need to do to be enough, and how you have to appear and keep up appearances, and all those things. So we're in this series. We're trying to deal with some of those intrusive thoughts, which, honestly, a lot of them, if we're really going to peel things back, have idolatry as their root. The definition, it got real quiet in here, like, how dare you, right?

Idolatry is looking at anything other than God to be God to us. And the byproduct of looking to something that's not God to be God is going to be anxiety. I believe there's a connection between idolatry and anxiety. And the more we look to things that don't have a name tag that say, "Hello, my name is God" to do for us what only God will do, the more anxious we will be because the thing we're looking to do what it needs to do for us won't be able to do for us. So we're going to end up troubled. We're going to end up afraid. So of course, the more we look to possessions, and the more we look to accomplishments, and our sex life, or what we do for the environment, or the more we look to politics to be God to us, our kids can become our god. You got to do this. You got to do this school. They got to accomplish.

We can end up, again, what are we doing? We're looking to our marriage. We're looking to even overhauling ourselves and our fitness, whatever it is, to be God. That's the most important thing because everybody has a god. There's no such thing as an atheist. Everybody and everything has a master passion, has a controlling interest, is looking to something to give them their identity. And when we look to something that's not God, the result is going to be anxiety, and we're going to open ourselves up to more intrusive thoughts and difficulty. But the more we tell ourselves the right story, because we use that phrase "story of my life" usually when something's gone wrong. We ought to start using that when something goes right. Story of my life, raised from dead, story of my life, headed to heaven, story of my life, filled with the Spirit, story of my life, blessed, highly favored, story of my life. He makes a way where there is no way.

Story of my life. He's the truth in the life. Hello. We'll start to be able to deal with the details of our life within the true narrative, the spiritually true narrative because as Eugene Peterson, the Saint from Lakeside Montana now in Heaven, as he put it, reality is made up mostly of what we cannot see. But a lot of us are basing our watch's timezone only on what we can see, what is in the bank account, how we're feeling, how our health is on that given day. But if what's true in Heaven is true of us, we will continually think different. And today, within this series, and again, this is one message broken up in four different weeks. So you'll have to come for all the weeks of the series to get the whole sermon.

So if you leave today going, what about, what about, come back to church. You are allowed to come multiple weeks in a row. They just changed the rule. Thank God. Title of this message from John 12 is "Murky Obedience," "Murky Obedience". How do we obey when the path forward isn't clear? John chapter 12, I'm going to read to you a passage that comes to us from the Passion week. It's actually the kickoff event of the Passion week. It says, "The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him and cried out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel.'"

Now, if you have a paper Bible like I do, you'll notice that even just from the font and the way it's inset and italicized, the author is letting us know that this is a direct quotation from another part of scripture. And when you read a physical Bible, you're able to really see that the way it's all laid out. And it says, "Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it, as it is written". And again, we have this little spacing, and it says, "Fear not, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt". And then, the reason I believe God had me preach from this passage today, "His disciples did not understand these things at first. But when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him".

Father, help us to choose compliance over clarity, we pray in Jesus' name.

We began last week in the series talking about how, if we're going to think different, we're going to have to choose the better of two options before us at any given moment. And last week, we started with the idea of flesh versus spirit. At any given moment, we have to choose between the flesh and the spirit. And to make his case as to why you should choose flesh, sorry, choose spirit and not flesh, Paul, in Galatians 5, says, here's what the flesh is going to look like if you let him drive. It's going to look like drunkenness, and revelries, and wrath, and murders, and heresies, and scandals. And we ask the question, how many of you would love to get to the end of 2024 and look back and go, that was what my year was full of, and it was awesome? It's like, no, none of us want what the flesh is going to bring about.

We all want the other list because it also said, but the fruit of the Spirit is different. It's evident. It's going to lead to love, which will lead to joy, and goodness, and kindness, and gentleness. And I don't think there's a single one of us who, at the outset of this new year, would want to get to the end of the year and look back and, none of us would say, oh, dang it. 2024 sucked. It was just full of love and kindness. I didn't fit in any revelries in there. I wanted some revelry. There was no murder. Gosh, what a wasted opportunity. No, of course, as we look forward in the year, we don't want dissensions and scandal. We don't want immorality. No, we want what the Spirit wants to produce.

So what do we have to do? We have to keep thinking different because the flesh stuff will just take care of itself. Take your hands off your wheel driving home if you don't believe me. You will not end up in your garage. Well, that's the weirdest thing. I took my hands off the wheel, shut my eyes, and ended up at home. No. Your car's going to pull towards disaster, left to itself, destruction. So you don't have to do anything to lead to the works of the flesh in this next year. All you have to do is not walk with Jesus. But if you will walk with Jesus, because twice in Galatians 5, it says just walk in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit. And what's going to happen? Bloop. There's an apple. You're like, well, that's weird. Just walking with Jesus, woop, pomegranate. Just walking with Jesus, papaya. it's wonderful, right? The fruit of the Spirit can't be forced. It has to be cultivated. The result of walking with the Spirit, someone said, a Christian shouldn't go anywhere he couldn't continue to pray.

So if that's our test this year, could I keep praying while putting down the phone and walking out of the building? You know what I'm saying? Because we've all been on those calls where our reception started to get a little bad, and we went, hold on a second. I'm going back to where the reception is better. That's how you lead to the fruit of the Spirit and not the lust of the flesh next year. You walk with the Spirit. If you start to sense the rumble strip of the Spirit going, hmm, the way you're talking to your wife, hey, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I know this is a gray area, but this is leading to, you see what I'm saying? As we sense the Holy Spirit getting our attention and we keep where the reception is good, we're going to notice fruit that's grown almost on its own through walking with Him and not the lust of the flesh. So it can't be forced.

And we said last week that we don't need better rules because our tendency is like, I'm going to make a bunch of rules now, religion, and Ten Commandments. We don't need tighter rules. We need a better relationship. So let's walk with Jesus. So that's our first thing. If we're going to have our minds made up this year, we're going to choose Spirit over flesh. This week, we're going to talk about how we need to choose compliance over clarity, compliance over clarity. The honest truth is walking with Jesus, at times, is going to be murky. I started to sense God calling me to go to Bible college. Ever since I was a little kid, I would say, I'm going to be a pastor one day.

That's what I always would say. I'm going to be a pastor. I'm going to be a preacher one day. It was just what I felt was almost this like call of God on my life. I didn't have real language around it, but I felt like I was supposed to preach God's word. And so after high school, I was preparing to go to Bible college, but I never forget calling my grandma one day to talk to her very successful, very wealthy. And I was going to tell her, I was telling her, hey, I'm going to go to Bible college. And her first words out of her mouth were, "Oh, Levi, oh". And then she said, "But you're so bright". We only want idiots in the ministry is what she was trying to say. She said, "But you're so bright. That would be such a waste," is what she was saying. And honestly, I felt deep down it was God's call for me to go to Bible college.

But in that moment, I felt ashamed because part of me wanted to, you know what I want to go do, I want to do something that would impress you. I want to go and get a communications degree and whatever else it would be like. And I felt that, gosh, am I making a mistake? Is this the wrong decision? And I've had to get used to that sensation, that feeling. I felt it when we first started to feel like maybe God wanted us to move to Montana because we were enjoying ministry. Jen and I, just newly married living in California, eaten In-N-Out Burger every week. I was gaining weight steadily. And just got season passes to Disneyland, no kids. We were just going to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and have a churro and go home. It was awesome. And life was going well. I mean, God was blessing our ministry efforts. We were seeing people come to Christ, seeing people learn and have aha moments over them. And it felt like we were on a right trajectory.

All my life, I had felt this sense of pull to preach and specifically to reach a lot of people before this life ends. And then, my stupid friend Bob Osborne had to tell me to come to Montana. And I was like, how dare you, because that was not the plan. I'm joking. And Bob's here. And he said, his exact words were, "You should come to Montana and start a church because there's not one like what you would lead that you're a part of in California at the moment". And I said, Bob remembers this, I said, "I'll pray about it," but I didn't mean to. I actually, in my head, said, mental note, don't pray about that. Have you ever done that? I'll pray for you, but you have no intention to.

You know what I'm saying? What's better is I prayed for you. I've made it more of my habit to text people, I just prayed for you, not I will pray for you. But I said I'd pray about it. I didn't intend to because I was like, we're walking in God's favor right now. This is God's plan right now. There's 3 million people in Orange County, millions more in LA, and San Diego, and the Inland Empire. And there's a great commission to fulfill. I want to do my part and then die. I'll eat as many In-N-Out burgers as I need to along the way. I'm prepared to serve King and country. I mean, we could see the ocean out of our condo. I'm going to Disneyland, bro. I'm not moving to Montana. And then, I started to put feelers out with other people because I couldn't help but deny that I felt in my heart of hearts like, dang it. There's probably something to this. Just keep moving. It'll go away.

The leading of the Holy Spirit, get thee behind me, devil, because the devil is always whispering to people to go preach the gospel in new places. That's his favorite move, right? It's just demonic opposition, right? No, that's the Holy Spirit of God, idiot. And I started to feel like, oh, my gosh. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Maybe we are supposed to move to Montana. Maybe we are supposed to start this church. And I remember I sat down with a friend who was a wise voice. You want to get the wise voices to look at your God dreams. And we were sitting down at Pancakes, at a restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. And I said, I'm thinking about moving to Montana and start a church. What do you think? like, that's not God's will. He said it just like that.

I pushed my pancakes away. I was like, that's a bold statement. That's not God's will? And I needed him to explain it. And he did. He said, simple math, bro. You're reaching a lot of people. There are a lot of people headed to hell. More people going to hell is worse than more people going to Heaven. You should stay in a place where there's a lot of people. And then he said, there's not even a million people in Montana. How can that be God's will? There's traction. And then he said, we need you here. And so here am I in this place of like, I have this sense that maybe God wants us to move up here and start this ministry, start this church. But human wisdom makes sense on paper that this is not God's plan. It was murky.

So it was for the disciples. We love to think of the disciples like just complying with every order Jesus gave them and doing so from a heart of understanding of the prophetic significance of every single detail. And this, by the way, is an important passage that occurs in Matthew, and in Mark, and in Luke, and in John which, outside of the events of the crucifixion and Resurrection and the feeding of the 5,000, is the only story repeated four different times. And if God repeats Himself, He's a good teacher. If He repeats himself, it's for a reason. Let me say that again. And so this whole story, which ultimately fit into God's prophetic timetable, because it involved direct quotations from Zechariah, which were qualifications for the Messiah when presented to the nation of Israel and the cry of the people, hearkens back to Psalm 118 verse 25.

And Jesus was meticulous throughout His ministry of following His father's blueprint to every last detail, where He was born, what the details of His life would be like, what He would do, all of these things where, at the end of His life, something you could point to and go, no one could make this up. Did you have a big say in where you were born? Yeah. And yet Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which scripture said He was going to. And all of the details, born to a virgin. Scripture said he was going to be born to a virgin, that he would be buried in a borrowed tomb, that He, as He would die, would be next to two criminals, that He would be pierced, a prophecy given hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented, that He would die pierced, hanging with his bones out of joint.

When people down below who were His enemies were shooting out criticisms at Him, I mean, all of this, it fulfilled over 300 different prophecies, Jesus's earthly ministry did. And He was careful to always do things in lockstep with God's plan. But the disciples, they didn't know. You would love to think of them like, oh, get a donkey. Yes, get a donkey. Oh, I love Zechariah 9:9. It's so good, right? It's like they had been having their quiet time that morning in Zechariah, right? No. This is Peter, and James, and John. These cats were arguing about who is the greatest at the Last Supper. He's like, take my body. They're like, I'm more important. Wait a minute. We're in good company is what that really means. It was murky, and I like that John, who is the only of the four to admit it, says, we had no clue what was going on. We had no clue. We didn't know until later. We didn't know until after He was glorified.

And then he said, then we remembered this happened and that we had participated in it. What did it look like to them in real time? Hey, guys. Good morning, Jesus. I need you to go get me a donkey. A donkey, you say? Where are we going to get you a donkey? Here's what I want you to do. Go into the village, and you're going to find a donkey tied up. Take it. Now, this is just the sort of stuff I imagine disciples loving. They were like, we were born for this, grand theft donkey. They're all excited. And but then, one of them says, probably Matthew, Lord, if we untie the donkey, we're going to go to jail. We're going to get arrested. And Jesus says, no big deal. If the master comes out and says, why are you untying my donkey, just tell him, my master needs it. Ah, yes, wonderful plan. Sound strategy. We're screwed. But off they go. And they did all this having no clue that what importance it was prophetically and symbolically, how it would set the tone for all Jesus was coming to do.

We'll talk more about that in a moment. But what blew me away, and I wrote it down exactly like this, they had no idea what they were doing, but they obeyed anyway. It was unclear to them. The disciples, the text says, did not understand these things, but they obeyed anyway. Could we come to a place where we would be able to be unclear but still comply, where we could feel like, I don't know why, I don't know what you're calling me to do, because here's what I'm going to relieve you of. Your responsibility is not to understand God, but to trust God, to obey God. We should focus less on our strategic plan and more on just saying yes to our Master, who is the King of all glory and eternity and, even when it's murky, to still obey and follow Him anyway. Why? Because of muscle confusion.

If you've ever worked out with any trainer who knows what they're doing and you go to them weekly, you're going to notice they're not going to go, we're going to do triceps on Tuesday, and then next Tuesday, what, triceps again. That's exactly the pulse. No. They're going to mix it up. They're going to get you on a BOSU ball that's unstable, and you're going to be doing all the, unstable. You're going to feel unstable. You're going to feel out of control. They're going to change it up. They're going to mix it up. You'll plateau if you just do the same thing. You can't get stronger without confusion. Why would it be any different with the muscles of faith? Why would it be any different with our spiritual tone and composition?

So we have to have elements of chaos entered in, and God is more than happy to comply. And that's for many reasons, but that included why I believe Jesus never healed the same way twice. You ever notice that? Even when He would heal blind people, He would slightly mix it up. He would heal people by touching their eyes. He would heal people by spitting in their eyes. He would heal people by spitting on the ground, and making mud, and rubbing that on the eyes. You know that guy, when he found out about the guy who got healed with the touch, was like, what the heck? It's possible? The spit, was it necessary? What?

C. S. Lewis uses this truth from scripture to illustrate how, in The Chronicles of Narnia, the kids never get into Narnia the same way twice. It's the wardrobe in this one book. It's these rings in another book. It's this other event in another book. He's just saying, we cannot get God down to a system. We can't boil God down to this is exactly how it works. This is what makes sense because I took my paper, and I wrote a line, pros on one side, cons on the other. So long as I live in the pro land and not the con land, I'm going to be good. And God's like, well, I got news for you. I'm the God who killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. And I'm the God who turned the prophet back one day with a donkey, but now it's not a jawbone.

Now it's the donkey talking to Balaam. I'm the guy who finds a king by a man looking for donkeys who ended up living like a donkey, different sermon. But the point is, He's constantly changing His methods, but not ever His message. He wants us to trust Him. And so He tells Joseph, do not be afraid to marry Mary. He tells Philip, who's a part of a revival in Samaria, now go out to this area. This is desert. Oh, yeah, that makes great sense. I'm preaching and leading a revival. I'm supposed to go to a desert? He wants us, the point is, to trust Him. This is why He had to convince his cousin, John the Baptist, to baptize Him because what did John the Baptist say when Jesus showed up and said, please baptize me? Can you imagine, by the way? Jesus gets in your baptism line. You're like, no, no, no. I draw the line.

That's how John the Baptist felt. I don't feel worthy to baptize you. Jesus said, I permit it to be so. What are we trying to understand? We're trying to understand that we should never tell God no. Hey this is Levi and Jennie Lusko, and we are going to get right back into the teaching in just a second. Sorry to interrupt, but we just wanted to say, if you're between the ages of 18 to 25 or you know someone who is, would you pray about coming out to Montana to intern with us this summer at Fresh Life Church? We would be so happy and overjoyed to have you. The dates are May 26 to August 8. But the deadline to sign up is March 31. Right. But we'd love to have you.

Would you please consider it? Because it would be so fun. We learn, we grow. I mean, I'm saying we, but it's you, but we are too because you help us. You'll be able to get college credit through our Fresh Life Leadership College, explore Montana, serve in the local church, see what's going on. We'll spend time with you. So go to to get more information, and get your application in. And then, hey, we'll see you in God's country this summer. Now back into the teaching. We should never tell God no. His methods, they're unorthodox. Point number 2, not only do we need the muscle confusion, but His methods are unorthodox. So if He wants to get a hold of Moses, he's going to use a bush that's on fire. Of course, He would. Why didn't I think of that? A bush that's on fire.

If God wants to raise up the father of many nations, Abraham, of which we today, if you are a Jesus person headed to Heaven, you have Abraham to thank for that. You're, spiritually speaking, a son or daughter of Abraham. And God brought all of these children through Abraham when his body was as good as dead. That's what the book of Romans says. God made a promise. You're going to have a kid one day, and then a bunch of kids are going to come out of this family of Israel that's coming from you, bubba. And Abraham is like, awesome. That's great. Let's get it on, Sarah. And 25 years goes by before they have a child. And what about those 25 years? It was murky. Have I made a mistake? I left everything I knew behind, Ur of the Chaldees where I had a normal life. I've lived in tents. I've been made fun of because my name was, at first, Abram, which means exalted father. And I would have to introduce myself in Canaan, hi, new here, Abram. Oh, what's that mean? Exalted father. Excellent.

How many kids do you have? Just me and the missus. OK. Well, good to meet you. And then a while goes by, and God shows up one day and goes, don't worry. I got this. Don't worry. I got this. In fact, let's change your name. Your name is not Abram anymore. Your name is Abraham, which means father of many nations. Can you imagine? He's at the gas station filling up his Camellac Escalade. Guy goes, hey, isn't it exalted father? Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That's not my name anymore. What's your name now? Father of many nations. Still just you and the missus? You got it. All right, then. I mean, just walking in the murkiness of this for so long until Romans says, his body was as good as dead. And now finally, when it was impossible to man, God chose through that one man to bring forth Isaac. And the rest, as they say, is history, unorthodox means.

And so what does that mean? That means if we're going to follow Jesus, we're going to need to get used to different, as they say in The Chosen because His ways, Isaiah chapter 55, verse 8, are not our ways. My thoughts, God says, are not your thoughts. So whatever you think it's going to look like, it's probably going to be different from that because I know, for me, if I'm like, I need to host an event where I feed a lot of people, my first thought is, call a caterer. God's like, are there any children here? And if there is a child here, let's get their lunchbox, and we'll feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes. And then, a couple days later, there's going to be 4,000 people. How many people? 4,000 people. And God's going to want to feed them, and He's going to use seven loaves.

Now, this, to me, is a big womp womp. If I'm God's PR department, I'm like, Lord, come on. Step it up. We need to go further up and further in, like up and to the right. So can't we feed 7,000 people? It's a real disappointment to me. And then, I go, ugh, could you have not used three loaves? You know what I'm saying? You used five loaves to feed 5,000. Let's really show them. Let's use one loaf. But He's like, He's going to do less with more. He's just mixing it up. He wants us to trust Him. And there are going to be some seasons in your life where all you have is five loaves and two fishes, and you're going to watch God use that so long as you put it into His hands in faith. And then, there's going to come other seasons where you're going to accomplish less, humanly speaking, using, and it's going to take more in your hands. And yet it's all about just following God and not about you doing something that impresses other people when you tell the story.

Do you see what I'm saying? It's about murky obedience. Can we keep following God when it's not clear? His means are unorthodox. And if there's any place in the Bible that proves this to me beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's 2 Kings 5, when a man named Naaman has leprosy. We were in the snow the other day talking about leprosy. And my daughter Daisy told me something I didn't know about leprosy, that when you begin to lose feeling because of leprosy, you might be opening a jar. And where you and I would stop because of the pain in our hands, if you have no pain sensors, you'll keep opening the jar successfully but damage your hand along the way. And we both stepped back, and we all said, wow, so pain can be a gift. Pain can tell us something. Pain can communicate. All of us in our lives right now, if we have pain, are tempted to wish it to go away. But maybe God, through the pain, is seeking to give you a gift.

And so these leprous feelings of pain going away and embarrassment, this is Naaman's reality. And one day, a man of God is sent to him to tell him, hey, you can be healed because this man had sought out healing in the God of Israel and he was told this. Go dip seven times in the Jordan River, and you'll be fine. And then, the door is shut in his face. And he gets angry. He gets furious, not because he didn't receive a message from God. He's mad because he got a message from God and didn't like it. And in his words, he said, are there not better rivers where I come from? Well, then, go back to your rivers and dip in them. What brought you to Israel is the fact that no one and nothing that you've looked to as an idol to give you what God can has helped you, so you've come here.

But his servant tapped him on the shoulder and said, with all due respect, Naaman, if the man of God had told you to do something impressive and heroic that would have made you feel big about, you would have done it. But he told you to do something stupid and small, so why would you not be willing to do something that would cause you to have to humble yourself? Isn't it worth a try? And so what did he do? He got into the murky water. I've been in the Jordan River. That thing is filthy. We whitewater rafted in the Jordan River. It was more like brown water rafting. And I feel for Naaman, who got in it. He got in. He got in seven times. And when he came out of that murky water, his flesh was restored. And the point is, it was never about the river. God was using it as an opportunity.

If we get hung up on the object of faith, we should be focused on the opportunity for faith. God, in this situation, I trust You. And in this murkiness, I'm going to choose to comply even though it's not clear. I'm going to get it in my head that Your ways are higher than my ways, that Your ways are past finding out. And so, God, I'm going to choose to obey even when it doesn't make sense. And what a great thing that God has a different way of doing math because the truth is He would never have picked you, and He would never have picked me. I wouldn't even trust me with safety scissors. "But God", 1 Corinthians 1, "chooses", verse 27, "the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise. And God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty".

You know God could have had Jesus pick a bunch of apostles who spent their mornings reading Zechariah 9 and Psalm 118. But Jesus, after praying all night long, went out and picked the foolish things of the world so that God would receive all the glory when He worked through people who were not taught, who were ordinary and common, but they had been with Jesus. So praise God that he welcomes us in. He welcomes us into his family. He welcomes us in with our difficulty trusting Him, with our propensity towards the wrong pull with our ego, with our fleshly nature nipping at our heels the whole way. He wants us to trust Him.

He wants us to say, God, I give You me. I give You me when I show up to work. I give You me when I show up at school. God, I give You me. No matter no matter what You put into my hands, I want to be faithful with what You've called me to do. I don't care if it's murky. I don't care if it's muddy. I don't care what credit I get. I don't care who knows I did it. God, my eyes are on You, and I want to look to You. I'm going to follow You with all I do. Your methods, God, they're unorthodox. You're confusing the heck out of my spiritual muscles. But what God's looking for in our hearts is readiness, readiness.

We are reading our Crown the Year, we're going, sorry, Fit For the Fight, do you try to keep up, Levi, Fit For the Fight is our church reading plan through the New Testament this year, a chapter a day, Monday through Friday. I will admit I have a hard time on Saturday and Sunday knowing what to do because I'm a strict rule follower, and I must check my boxes. So I'm like, oh, I can read anything I want. I don't like it. But we read in the early days of the plan about the boat. Did you read it? Mark chapter 3, verse 9. It just came across it, and it was what stuck out to me that week because I love the pages have a chance for you to write down something that stuck out to you and something you're praying for as we go through this.

And I love that as I bump into you, as we bump into each other, all across the church, and that extends to church online family. I'm telling you, we run into people at the airports all around the country who are like, I got to show you. I got this tattoo based on something you said in one of your series. I'm like, that's amazing. I've got to catch my flight. But it's just so amazing how our family's grown in that way, but that we know we're going through the same thing. We have something to be able to talk about as we're studying through these things in common. But Mark 3 verse 9 was my stuck-out-to-me verse when we read chapter 3 on the third day of the year and how pretty it has been so far and how it's all messed up now because we took two days off. I'm just saying. Jesus told his disciples that a small boat should be kept, say the next word out loud with me, ready, ready for Him because of the multitude lest they should crush Him.

Now, a whole chapter goes by because that's the ninth verse, and it's a long chapter, Mark 3. And I'm like, what about that boat? What about that boat? That boat's just sitting there? We could be fishing. We could be doing stuff with it. No, no, the boat's just to be kept ready, allocated, consecrated, dedicated, ready for Him. And the moment that comes that He needs it, it better be ready. And then notice verse 1 of chapter 4, "And He began to teach by the sea. But the multitude that was there was so great it was gathered to Him so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea. And the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea".

The boat was there when He needed it, ready for Him to step into it and push out and use the natural acoustics of the hillside to form a megaphone where His voice could be heard by thousands for one of His biggest sermons ever because the boat, in a previous chapter, was made ready. And He had the presence of the mind to say, keep that boat ready for me. And I just wonder, in our lives, and it's going to be different for all of us, what's the boat that God wants ready for Him to use in chapter 4? And you're right now in chapter 3 going, what the heck is this stupid boat sitting here for? Why is it here? Why? Don't touch that boat. It's Jesus's boat. I don't know what it's for, but He wants it ready. And so help me, it is going to be ready. I'm shooing the birds away from it. If someone wants to rent that boat and go fishing, no, you're not going fishing. That's Jesus's boat.

I wonder if it's margined for you financially. There may be some opportunity or something God would have for you in chapter 4. And in chapter 3, He wants you to leave some margin financially, so you're not plowing to the edge of your field, so to speak. So you're ready for that when it comes. For others of you, perhaps it's just a function of time. You're too busy. You're overextending yourself. Should the opportunity come for whatever it is, you don't have that ready for Him to spend that time with Him or to do the thing that God has called you to do. Or even it could just be emotional depletion that's the problem for you. You felt it before, that feeling of something bad, and you just look in your little soul, and you're like, there's no room.

I really want to feel bad about that. I don't have any room. You're like, no room at the inn, right? I don't want that to be the story of my soul. I want to have some room to care. I want to leave some room and let there be some time to wander, so to speak, in my soul that's allocated so that if God or if it's something God puts on my radar, I'm ready for it. Let's keep the boats ready for the weird thing that He's got in chapter 4 by keeping some space ready for Him in chapter 3. Do you receive that from God today? It's called murky obedience because someone's going to go, why is that boat there? I don't really know, but it's ready. And there are seasons that feel like that. There are whole seasons where you're like, what was the point of this whole exercise?

I don't really understand that whole, maybe it's not even about what God does through you in that season, but what He does in you to prepare in you space for Him to sit for His word to go out when you get to chapter 4 verse 1. Your job is not the master plan. Your job is to follow your Master each day and to keep your mind on Kingdom, Kingdom, Kingdom. Perhaps the reason the disciples were not living in Zechariah 9:9 is because they were so often focused on their own part. Who is the greatest in Your Kingdom? They wanted to know who's the best apostle. Who's going to get the most attention? Even when Jesus finally told Peter how he was going to die, hey, you're going to die by crucifixion, remember what Peter said? He said, what about John? That's what he said. It's human nature. All right, I'll go die for You, but what about John? Is he getting a different assignment?

And Jesus, what did he say? Hey, come on, buddy. Eyes on me. He said, what is that to Thee? Follow Me. So let's not focus on what God's called each other to do. Let's focus on Kingdom, OK? Peter learned this lesson the hard way. Remember when Peter was first told that Jesus was going to die on the cross at Caesarea Philippi? Who do men say that I am? Some say Elijah. Some say this, some say one of the Prophets. Who do you say that I am? You are Christ, the Son of the living God. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, Simon Bar Jonah, but my Father in Heaven has revealed this to you. And I say to you, you are Peter. And on this confession, I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

And then He began to tell him about the cross. I shall go, and they shall take hold of Me. And they'll strip Me, and they'll beat Me, and they'll stretch My arms out wide, and I will die on the cross, for the Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. And what did Peter say? That's a terrible plan. He said, You can't do that. No. He said, not so, Lord. Not so, Lord, words that should never mix together, no, Lord, because if He's Lord, by definition, He gets what he wants. What did Jesus say to Peter who had just giving Him a great compliment? He said, get thee behind me, Satan, for you are not mindful of the things of God. You're focused on the things of man. He said, Peter, you need to make up your mind. You need to let this mind be in you, the mind of Jesus, who though being God in Heaven, chose to humble Himself and come down and become one of us and to die not just any death, the death of the cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that's above every other name.

The disciples were being invited, you and I are being invited to focus less on our parts in it and more on the Kingdom, which is a Kingdom of tension, a Kingdom of it's not how it should be because talk about unorthodox methods. To be King, He humbled himself. It's an upside-down Kingdom. And that's the point of the donkey. Everything was right about the pomp and circumstance of Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem. Everything was right. Millions of people in the city, 2.7 million, Josephus says. So hundreds of thousands, it's possible, lined the parade route. Can you imagine that? Messianic expectation at a fever pitch, people putting down palm branches in front of Him in the road, crying out, Hosanna, crying out, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Save now, save now, Lord. Send us your prosperity.

Everything was right except for the donkey because nothing says elegant victory parade like hee-haw. Roman generals and kings would be paraded into the city on white stallions, war horses. But Jesus chose the humble, lowly donkey, this F-150, you could say. It was a workhorse. It was the vehicle of a servant, not the splendor of a sovereign. But that was how He was going to inaugurate His kingdom. The donkey points to the cross. And it wasn't even the adult donkey. It was a lowly foal of a donkey, this undriven, untested beast that the only way they could even get it to do this was to bring its mom ahead. And then the little one that Jesus was riding on was going to follow its mom. He was trying to show them how He was going to bring about His Kingdom. He was showing, in a beautiful, living, prophetic symbol that He had come like the donkey, to serve, to die for us on the cross.

And that was the only way for Him to get us to be a part of His Kingdom. You and I have no hopes of taking part in the place of palms, which is Paradise. Revelation tells us that in Heaven, everyone waves palm branches before God's throne, this symbol of victory, and joy, and triumph. But the only way we could actually participate in that was Him being willing to come and to ride on a donkey. I opened talking to you a little bit about my love of In-N-Out Burgers. And it was appropriate because this past week, Jennie and I, on our podcast, Hey! It's the Luskos, we had the chance to interview the owner of In-N-Out Burgers. And she's the granddaughter of the founder of this restaurant. Has anybody been to In-N-Out and eaten all across our church? And right. Does anybody love it? You're like, I'm an In-N-Out fan. Who's looking forward to your next opportunity? Yeah, of course, right? Does anybody not like In-N-Out? Just raise your hand up. Thank God.

I don't want to kick you out of the church, but I was really worried there was going to be some hands. There's 400 locations, and they have, like, 38,000 employees. And so we were talking culture, and leadership, and the owner's a Christian. And of course, if you've ever been, you lift up the cups. There's scripture verses, like John 3:16 and other verses under the wrappers, and it's beautiful. And it's actually awesome. The company started in 1948, the same year of the modern rebirth of the nation of Israel, just saying. Milk and honey. But we were talking to her in the process of researching and then in the interview, and you'll be able to hear the whole episode. And if you lead anything, this would be a great episode for culture, and excellence, and team, and all the things. And yet, in the conversation and in the process of getting ready for it, something happened that blew my mind, which I love when something happens.

Kind of like a Zechariah 9:9 moment, you look back, and you go, wait a minute. It was there the whole time. I just didn't even see it, like the disciples. We were on the call, and she said about the crossed palm trees in front of every store. Crossed palm trees in front of every store? It's like, what? Yeah, at every In-N-Out store, they put two crossed palm trees in front of the store. And I'm in my mind going through every In-N-Out experience I've ever had. I'm like, I can't remember a single crossed palm tree in front of the store. So I got on Google and started searching. And sure enough, in every In-N-Out Burger, there are two crossed palm trees in front of every single store. And so I look at another one. And yep, there's in that one too. And then another one, and that one too.

And then I found this one in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where they have heat coils wrapped all the way up each tree so that these trees can make it through the winter because it's perverse and unnatural that they're even there. But in front of the Colorado Springs In-N-Out Burgers, there's heating coil. And by the way, I did ask her on the interview when the Montana store is coming. So you'll have to check the episode for the answer to that question. But I feel shook because I've been to In-N-Out as many times as I have in my life. If I have a layover in Salt Lake City, the three hours, I'm going to Uber to that In-N-Out and have me a Double Double Animal Style with chopped chilies because there is a Savior, and it is good to eat that burger. And I'm going, how have I seen those crossed palm trees my whole life but never notice them?

So I asked her why they're there. And she tells me her grandfather, who started the company, loved this movie called It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, where these people bury a treasure, and they find these two palm trees that are crossed, and they hide the treasure under the palm trees so when they come back, they know where to find it because X marks the spot. And there's going to be a treasure under the X. And she said she wanted people subliminally, whether they knew it or not, her grandfather wanted people to know there's always a treasure under the cross, always a treasure under the x, always a treasure under the palms. And that's what this Palm Sunday is all about. It's all about the cross. And we may not see it now. But as we follow God, there's going to be treasure as we follow the One that the palms were spread down in front of.

So my final point is that you'll know more later. You'll know more later. You don't need to understand God right now. You just need to trust God right now. He's doing something. You might even be looking at what He's about to do but not recognize it right now, but it's all about the cross. It's all about His Kingdom. And so that's what we can expect as we follow Him in acts of obedience that, in the moment, feel murky. So let's recap what we have learned. We've learned that we need muscle confusion. God has unorthodox methods. He's looking for readiness. He wants us to focus on Kingdom. And yes, you'll know more later. In other words, murkiness in our obedience in Jesus' name. Amen?

And so, Father, we thank You. We thank You that You have called us into a story where You are weaving, You are working, you are outside of time where You see the end from the beginning. And we thank You that You've just given us an invitation to join the parade and to sing, to take our palm branches and to cry out, Hosanna. And if You want us to get a donkey, and if You want us to go to a desert, and if You want to call us to get water and believe it can become wine, we just are going to say, the answer is yes. What's the question? May we be faithful even when it's not clear why. I know for some today, the lack of clarity on the why issue extends to some circumstances that are really tough. And I'm not trying to be glib with you and say, oh, mind over matter, and just trust God. I want to sympathize with you that it sometimes really hurts and really is confusing.

And, God, where are You? Why are You so far from me? It feels like sometimes You're blessing everybody else. What about me? And, God, I want to feel that with Your people today. But I thank You that, in the case of going to Bible college and ultimately coming to Montana and seeing Fresh Life Church born, I thank You that my grandma, whose funeral I got to speak at the age of... when she was 88 and went to be with You that she came to know you through this ministry, through watching online. And it was murky why I'd go to Bible college back then. But You were working in preparing something that would end up being a part of her salvation story. And so, God, would You give us the grace, even though it's so hard sometimes, to realize it's not about us? It's about You. It's about others. And if we'll look for the cross, we'll see X really does mark the spot. There's always a treasure under the cross. So may we pick up ours, deny ourselves, and follow You?

If, as I'm speaking, you would say, this message was for me, I needed this today, could I just ask that you just raise a hand up? Let God know. You're saying:

God, help me follow You even when it's murky. Help me comply even when it's not clear because I believe, at some point, I'll look back, even if it's from the vantage point of Heaven and see, oh, I understand now. I see why You wanted this. I see why that was necessary. We will know then even as we are now. But today, God, we don't, so we just trust You. And we choose faith over sight. And I pray that over Your people even now with a Fresh empowering of Your Spirit. Thank you, Jesus.

If you could now, just all of us, just put your hand on your head, your mind, your temples.

And, Lord, we pray You would let this mind be in us, the mind of Jesus. Help us to be mindful this week not of the things of man, but the things of God. May we go where You want us to go, say what You want us to say, and do what You want us to do for Your glory. We pray this in Jesus' name.

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