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2021 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Five More Minutes

Levi Lusko - Five More Minutes


Levi Lusko - Five More Minutes
TOPICS: New Year

Gateway Church, Hey, Levi Lusko here and it is such a privilege and a pleasure to be with you as a part of the First Conference. What an incredible thing. Happy New Year. I got some staff here with me to help me, come on. Happy New Year. Gateway Church, we love you like crazy. When I say that Pastor Robert and Debbie Morris have a special place in my heart, I mean that. Not only because of their legacy and impact in the way that their writings and leadership and messages and their lives have made a difference to Jenny and I, as we lead and as we seek to have our church be a part of that blessed life that Jesus promised to us.

And I'm just telling you, we've been encouraged, we've been inspired. But in these last days in 2020, I would just say, God really sustained us a lot through some encouragement from your pastors. And there was one specific moment early on in the midst of all the COVID craziness. And I also almost shot my eye out with a firework on the 4th of July last year. True story. But theres just been some dark times and some painful moments and some moments of confusion and difficulty, God just specifically sent a word to us and it washed over our home like a flood.

I remember standing in my living room, tears running down my face and just praying and just really being ministered to by your pastor. More than anything, I have a word. I've got a message. Believe me, I came ready to preach at this conference as you start the year off, but I just wanted to say, thank you. Thank you for your ministry, your faithfulness, Pastor Robert and Debbie. And thank you, Gateway Church for what you've stood for, what God has built through you and the way it has sent shock waves across the body of Christ around the world. We're thankful for you so, so much. Man, what a lineup for this conference. Pastor Jeremy Foster and Priscilla Shirer and Dr. Tony Evans, an absolute living legend. I mean, just incredible and more incredible and even more incredibler. I'm also indebted to Coach Tom Mullins, just an incredible man he is.

So, just want to say that I'm grateful to be a part of this. And my assignment today is to talk to you about a subject that none of us want to think about, but every one of us need in our lives. And I'll explain that to you in just a minute, but let me tell you the title of my message is Five More Minutes. Isn't it funny how often in life that is the specific amount of time that's needed? Like, if you're late, you're not going to make the meeting. You always let them know, I just need, what do you need? I just need five more minutes. And when you open the oven and the cookies aren't quite ready yet, it's like, are they ready? Nope. I think they need about five more minutes.

Every husband knows or learns the hard way eventually, that when his wife is doing her makeup and it's time to get in the car because you need to get to the thing with the people from the place, and you say we need to be there, and it's almost like herding cats a little bit to get your wife's. And for me, I have four daughters and a son and my son, we try to get him ready. His pants aren't on for some reason. But the little girls and Jenny it's always like, please, please, please. You got to usher them into the car. When are you gonna be ready? She's like, just give me five. And every wife knows or will learn in marriage that when you ask your husband how much longer in the game, because it's time to eat dinner. The answer will always be honey, there's only five minutes left in this game.

Kids learn eventually. When watching a movie and mom and dad say, go brush your teeth and get in bed. Just, please. Just let me watch, they don't say half an hour, which is the intent. They don't say the rest of the movie, which is what they actually long for. They don't say I plan to be up all night, so my parents will never get to have sex. They just say, let's watch just five more minutes. Five More Minutes is also the title of one of the saddest songs that I've ever come across. No, I'm not talking about the Jonas Brothers, more minutes.. Geez, I can't get that high note. Sorry. That's why I'm a preacher, not a singer, guys. Scott McCreery wrote the song, Five More Minutes and it goes like this.

At 86, my Grandpa said, there's angels in the room. All the family gathered round knew the time was coming soon. With so much left to say, I prayed, Lord, I ain't finished. Just give us, say it with me, five more minutes. And just warning you, if you haven't seen the music video to that song, ugly cry is how you will describe it. I can't tell you how many times in our family's story we've longed for just five more minutes with our daughter. Out of her four daughters and one son, one of the girls is in heaven, Linea. And as I think about what she's experiencing, so many times from that day, til this day, we've thought, if we could just get five minutes with her. Just to ask her what's going on, just to know what she's experiencing.

Five More Minutes is the title. James chapter 5, if you have a copy of the scriptures with you. We find Jesus' brother telling us, "Therefore be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruits of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful".

And Father, I thank you for my brothers and sisters at Gateway Church. Thank you for the enormous impact that they're making on the world, on the kingdom of God. And I pray God, that as resolved to begin 2021 honoring you, hearing from you. And through all these different voices, your servants you've raised up to communicate, I believe you have something you want to do in them because of something magnificent you want to do through them. I think of Joshua, who told the children of Israel, consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. And I believe that over this great church and these great leaders, and I thank you that in these days of consecration at this First Conference, as they are resolving to seek you first, you will do all these things. Add all these things to them, work wonders among them. And I pray that from these verses you would speak something specific to each person watching. And I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.


I want to talk to you about how to honor God through patience. This idea, just don't give up now, just five more minutes. Patience is a funny thing because it's at the same time, something that we all think we have. I mean, none of us would say I'm am impatient person and be proud about that, right? It's like, tell me a little bit about yourself on a first date. My name is Scott McCreery, I wrote the saddest song ever, right. Like, no we wouldn't be like I'm into soccer, I like to cook, I'm really impatient. Like that's not something to run up the flag pole, right? We all would like to think that like, how's your patience? About as much as anybody, right? As patient is the average bear, right? Like we would all think we're patient people, but patience is also something that none of us want to find out whether we have it or not.

For, to discover if we have patience is essentially to face things that make us want to freak out, want to give up, want to escape or snap or break, but instead choosing to just give it just five more minutes. To be patient is to have a long fuse. That's patience. Patience is a spirit of serenity in the face of adversity. Spirit of serenity is that calmness, it's that sense of it's okay. It's not freaking out when you feel like freaking out, but to find out if you have that quality of patience, you have to face things that make you want to freak out. Now, good news, bad news. Good news is that the amount of patience you have today is not the amount of patience you're stuck with. That is to say, it's not fixed. It's not like there's patient people and impatient people, and if I didn't get a heavy dose of patience when God was doling out spiritual gifts and attributes and personalities, then and just sucks to be you or whatever. Right?

Like I took the Enneagram test and it told me my number is not patient, so I can't do anything about it. No, listen to me. Patient people are built, not born. You can grow in your patience. That's the good news. The bad news is that the only way to grow in your patience is to face vexing circumstances, difficult people, difficult situations in life, where you've run out of, where the amount of patience that you have is depleted. And then, and only then can you then. That was like way too many uses of the word then, but in that situation, what you must do is ask God for it in faith, God, give me more patience. Then, believe he's answered your request, even though you won't feel any more patient, and act as though your prayer has been heard. You have to understand, God cares very little for how we feel. The Bible cares very little for how we feel.

Now, don't misunderstand what I'm saying. God cares if you feel lonely or God cares if she feels if you feel discouraged, but when God tells you to do something, he never tells you to feel that way. Like in the book of Joshua, the children of Israel are told, be strong and courageous. Joshua was told, be strong and courageous by his heavenly Father. He wasn't told, feel strong and courageous. The Bible tells us to worship God, to praise God. The Bible never tells us to feel like praising God. The Bible tells us to give our first fruits, to give our tithes, to give offerings. It never tells us to feel generous. It tells us to be generous. It was the most breakthrough paradigm for me when I realized that worship in the life of a Christian is not a feeling expressed through actions. It's an act of obedience that oftentimes develops feelings on the backend.

When we worship God, we then eventually, ultimately get with that program and feel like it. But we start out by doing so as an act of faith, it's a sacrifice to give, even when we don't feel it. It's choosing to be strong and courageous when we don't feel strong and courageous. And that leads us what James, the brother of Jesus said. He said that we are told to be patient. He says right there in verse seven, be patient. And for him to tell us to do something, is telling us if we step out in faith asking and believing for that patience, God will come through, but oftentimes it's motion activated like a treadmill or an elliptical you'd get on but the screens not lighting up. It won't light up, oftentimes, until you start moving your feet. It might not be plugged in. It might be motion activated. So it is in a life following Jesus. Patience comes as we act act in faith, and step out and choose to be patient.

Now here's what's really wonderful about patience. It's the goal of the Christian life, really, if you think about it. Because the Bible tells us that the goal is to become like Christ. As we follow him, as we walk with him, he's trying to conform us into his image. He's trying to make us like Christ, and Christ is patient. God is patient. In fact, that's part of his name. Exodus 34. Moses said, God, show me your glory. And God hit him behind a rock. And then blasted by like an F-16 and Moses glowed in the dark for a month just from that residual effect of the glory of God ricocheting off of the rock face onto his face. And as God passed in front of him, he proclaimed "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness".

What is God saying? He's saying he's the God of five more minutes. When he should judge, he doesn't. He chooses to wait. When he should be angry, he holds it back. In the Bible we're told that God holds back wrath. Why hasn't Jesus come back yet? Why hasn't he righted all the wrongs? Well, let me just ask you this question. If you've come to Christ in the last 20 or 30 or 40 years, aren't you glad he didn't come back and unloose the bold judgments and the sealed judgments and blast the trumpet judgments and tread the fierce wine press at the grapes of almighty. I mean, aren't you grateful that God hasn't come back and said, Nope, it's over. Thank God, he gave us five more minutes.

So why is God waiting today? There's more people that haven't trusted, more people that haven't heard the precious gospel. So God is patient. That's who he is. He's patient with us. The first time we mess up, he doesn't just say, That's it, you're out, you're over. He's forgiving. He's long suffering. He's got a long fuse. And if we're to become like him, we will grow in this as well. So even though it's unpleasant, we should, in 2021, Gateway Church, we should be focusing on God growing our gift of patience because that will then allow him to be able to use us in more wonderful ways. So like I said, it's serenity in the face of adversity. It's enduring trials without panicking. It's the opposite of what many of us have exemplified in 2020: being upset, being irritated, full of self pity, totally stressed out.

And I know it's all behind us now because now it's 2021 and now everything's going to be all green lights. Isn't that how unrealistic we were through the last quarter of 2020? Like, Oh man, I just can't wait for 2021. That's why everybody went crazy for Christmas. I've never seen so many Christmas lights in my entire life. Usually on our street, it's like a couple of houses, maybe a Santa Claus. This year it was like full tilt. Everybody was like, no, we need this. We need this, now. Like people who don't even like Christmas carols were like, Frosty the snowman. We just needed warmth. And we all have this like naive understanding of 2021 that is now going to be okay, just like we had this inaccurate depiction of what 2019 was like. Oh, for simpler days when we were not stressed out. Oh, for simpler times when everybody was kind and gracious to one another.

Now was 2020 an absolute cauldron and a pressure cooker? For sure. But let me tell you this, 2021 is going to have it's fair share of surprises too. And so will 2022 and 2024. And as much as we all like to have this idealized image of what the future is going to be one day, God always wants us right now in the present to know all we have is today, so all we can do is face what's in front of us with the belief that he is in control. Where does patience come from? I believe that at it's theological core, it comes from an understanding of the sovereignty of God. That God is sovereignly in control of the universe, he's not breaking a sweat. He's not at the edge of his seat. He's not concerned. He's never said, oops, right? He doesn't just say, how'd that happen? Right? He's not like Gabriel, what's going on? Like, God is in control.

And if we, listen to me, if we, Gateway Church have a settled confidence of God's sovereignty, then we can have the relaxed confidence of his kids who know that our Father knows best and has planned good for us, and we can trust him. It's like when I'm on an airplane, back in 2019. When I face turbulence, the first thing I do is look up and see what are the flight attendants doing? Cause they fly everyday. This is what their job is. That's all they ever do, so I look at them and if they just keep serving drinks, all right. It's going to be all right. If they put the drink card away and sit down and buckle up. Okay. It's a little more serious. If you ever see one of them start fingering rosary beads and crossing themselves, you might be in trouble, right? The point is, if they're not freaking out, I don't need to freak out. Beloved, your Father is not freaking out. He's in control. He has a plan. This has not caught him off guard.

So if he's not stressed, we don't need to be either. Or as Jesus put it, don't fear, my little flock it's God's pleasure, your Father's pleasure to give you the kingdom. So let's be patient. And when we feel like throwing up a verdict and accusing God of being negligent and accusing him of not seeing what's happening and being capricious then, and feeling permission to become a victim and to become petty and to become mercurial. In those moments, we're going to instead give God five more minutes. And at the end of that, we're going to give him five more minutes. We're just going to choose to have that long fuse, that long fuse, that long fuse. He's up to something. He's got a plan. I know it looks bad, but I choose to believe in the goodness of God even when life is bad. It's essentially coming to a conclusion where like James says we can be patient like farmers.

That's the first of four take away truths I want you to jot down. Be patient like a farmer. He uses this agricultural illustration about latter rain and early rain, which essentially boiled down to early October and then March and April. And these are the two different times of the year that they kind of knew they would get rain. And one was important because it was after they had planted these seeds and another was important because it was right after things were starting to ripen. And so, you kind of set your year based on the rain that you're going to get now and the rain that you're going to get later. That is to say, farmers always had a mind to the season they are not in yet. The season they're not in yet. They're in a season now and they're doing something for it now, but they also are mindful and aware, patiently, of what's to come.

I love this because it shows that patience is proactive. Patience is proactive. I can believe God for something not happening here, but I can also say, all right, I can't do anything about this, but what I can do is organize something so that when this does happen, if this does happen, when the five minutes has come and gone, and God has done what he said he's going to do that I'll have arranged this over there. What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say that waiting time isn't wasting time because we can be asking the questions, what can I do in this waiting time that will benefit me if and when this comes to pass over here?

Let me make this really simple and really plain. Many of us, myself included spend so much of our time worrying that our dreams won't come true that we don't take the opportunity we have to do some things, so that if our dreams do come true, that we'll be ready for them. What am I saying? I'm saying the problem for us shouldn't just be, what if my dream doesn't come true? But, what if it does? And what will you have done now so you're ready for it then? When I will Bible college, there were classes on preaching the Word, classes on Greek. There was classes on how to do a hospital visit. I remember one day they told us how to do funerals. I mean, they talked about a lot of different things about ministry. But you know what there wasn't in my Bible college? Classes on HR, classes on budgeting for a church, you know, the sorts of things that now are incredibly important to me and complex and a part of the daily leadership responsibilities.

So if I could have gone back, I wouldn't have just been reading, you know, Spurgeon, I would have been looking more into economics and more into software and more into some of those things. I was like, Oh, I wonder if I'll ever get a chance to lead a church. I wonder if I'll ever get to see these dreams come true. It would have been a better use of my time to say, Hey, if it does happen and God does call me into this, what would benefit me down the road? So my question to you is, in that thing in your life that just hasn't happened, Mr. Right just hasn't materialized, and you have the desire to be married one day, but God hasn't brought that person yet. What can you be doing now, so that if and when that does come out of the ground, when the early and then the latter rains do come, and that finally has shown up, that you'll be thankful for what you did in this season.

We tell all the young people in our church, go through Dave Ramsey, go through Financial Peace University, get your budgeting sorted out when you're young. Then when you're old, it'll benefit you. Some of the things you want to happen, I don't have a car, I don't have a job, all those things can and will happen in due time. But you can do things right now when your seed isn't shooting up that will cause you to be grateful and thankful for what you did when it finally does show up. This is practical preaching. I hope this is helping you. Wait like a farmer. Be proactive.

Second Kings 3:16 says "Make this Valley full of ditches". God had promised to bring water through, a flood through, rain through. Their part to play was to dig a ditch, but they did it when there was no rain and they only got as much water when the water did come as they had the faith to dig their ditch deep when there was no rain. So do now what will dig deep ditches and benefit you later if and when the dream does come true. I love this quote by Robert Louis Stevenson. He said, "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant". What can you do now that future you will thank you for? Secondly, wait, James says, like a family. Wait not just like a farmer, but also, he goes, wait like a family.

And so what that means is no grumbling, no grumbling, no murmuring at each other, no eating at each other. No, I can't believe. He talks basically about kindness in God's house. I think it's hard for us to be patient with ourselves, but it can be even more difficult for us to be patient with each other. And for whatever reason, we want grace for ourselves and we want justice for each other. And I can prove it to you. Next time you're driving down the road and you see red and blue lights in your rear view mirror that flash, what do you think? Oh God, please let me get mercy. Please let me get grace. Just a warning father, just a warning. Let there be a warning today, right?

If you have kids in the car, you're like pinching them, please be crying. Because when the cop gets there, you want them to look in and be like, you know what? You've got a much harder situation. I'm just going to back away slowly. Right? I'm not saying I've done that. I'm saying someone I know pinched his daughter, Olivia to make her cry and it got a warning. All right. When you are driving on the road, and maybe you're cruising through the Bishop Arts or Deep Ellum. I'm trying to like work all the parts of Dallas I know into this message. You're like, Oh, we get it, you've been at Dallas before. All right.

So when I'm in Plano and I'm cruising by the star, right. That's Frisco, my bad. And I see someone else pulled over, what do I think. You know what, it's about time they're cleaning up the streets, right? That's what you think. You immediately, you're like, you know what you did that you did the crime, now you can do the time. We almost have this like smug sense of superiority, this pharisaical heart that goes, that's what you get. We cry out for mercy for us, but judgment for others. And that's why we can tend to end up murmuring. And that's why James says we ought to love each other like a family. Other people in your life are on a journey, too. Other people in your life are developing, too, are trying to figure this thing out, too.

When we get to the end of our lives, we're going to stand before God, full of glory and full of the image of Jesus that he was working us towards. The construction will be over so to speak. And so what can be helpful is to ask ourselves the question, within the family of God and the people of faith, even the ones that annoy us sometimes, if we almost just squint our eyes a little bit and ask the question, what are they going to be like in the presence of God? What are they going to be like when all the hurts and all the insecurities and all the little things that are in their past that are causing them to act out, what are they going to be like when all those things are worked out and they're standing strong and comfortable in their own skin and in their right mind before Jesus and you bump into them there.

C.S. Lewis said that they're going to be like the angels, like gods and goddesses in heaven. It's almost like as we meet people today, there's no mere mortal. There's only someone who, if you met down the road, you would be tempted to worship them if you saw them. That's who that person who bugs you, who you grumble against is going to be like in glory. And so the question, the better question than, why are they so lame? What's the matter with them? Is perhaps to ask, what is the thing under the thing that's causing this thing? What is it that's driving this? What would cause someone to lash out in this way? What would cause someone to always, you know, rush out to top any story that's told? What's driving this bit? What's inside? What wound are they carrying? What difficulties and dark things have they faced? What questions about their identity and purpose in the world have gone unanswered? And here's a better question, what can I do to help move them along in their journey to being like Jesus? What can I do, what can I say?

Maybe there's not much, sometimes. Just a prayer or a smile or a kind word, or choosing to not take the bait and let them drag you into a fight. I think it was Mark Twain who said, the problem with wrestling with a pig is that you both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it. You know, so maybe it's just not stooping to that level, not getting goaded into a situation where you then say things you regret. But you say Levi, but they always push my buttons. Well, I've been in elevators. They sell these little things you can lock the buttons up with. So maybe you need to lock up your buttons. Right?

You say to me, how many buttons, Levi? They just keep getting my goat. Maybe you should tell your goat up somewhere else. I'm just saying, like, maybe you need to draw some boundaries in this new year and have people in your life in certain areas where you just can't handle emotionally being around them. I'm not mature enough to be around you too much this year. Maybe when I've grown and maybe when I'm stronger. It will be the best thing for the relationship for there to be some space, for there to be some distance if you're always being provoked into a version of yourself that you don't want to be, but we need to be like a family. Within the body of Christ, there needs to be that love because when it's not present, it is one of the greatest oppositions to the evangelism that we're meant to live out.

G. K. Chesterton once said that the most powerful argument against the truth of Christianity is Christians. And that should sober us all up. What's the most powerful argument for Christianity? The resurrection. What's the most powerful argument against it? It's not manuscript evidence, right? Put that against the Iliad and the Odyssey and the biographies of Alexander, right? The problem with Christianity is not the historicity of the New Testament and the reliability of the manuscript evidence. The problem is not that we have a shaky case for the resurrection. Right? Ask Lee Strobel. You know what I'm saying? Like, yeah, we get it. It's legit. Too legit to quit. Everyone's been trying to bash it in with hammers since Christ rose, and no one's been able to do so yet.

So the great argument against the truth of Christianity, Chesterton said, is you and me. And tragically it's often a family affair. How we treat each other, how we at times are not known by the love that Jesus said the world will know us for. So if we can be patient with each other, love each other to wholeness and hopefully help each other get to the version of ourselves we're going to be when we stand before God in heaven, then patience will have its full and complete and perfect work in us. And let me just tell you beloved, that is not a passive thing. Patience can almost feel like a passive thing. Well, be patient. No, man, it's hard work. It's hard work to be patient because it's always when our tempers are going, our blood pressure's up, and we feel that hot feeling and that burning feeling and the angry-email feeling, and that I want to quit feeling.

And I just, you know, fat on you feeling. It's in those moments when our thoughts are racing and we can't remember Jerk Store, right? Cause it's like, ah, I had the perfect thing, but it was just too late, George Costanza said. It's in those moments, when patience is most needed. And that's why one of the most important words in the book of James is this word hypoménō. hypoménō, hupomenó. It's in the passage we just read. And it's this idea of taking a stand. Taking a stand, and when you do that is when you're choosing to dig into patience, even though everything inside of you is screaming, do the opposite. Everything's saying, cuss him out. Everything is saying, just leave this church, just quit this job, just bail on this marriage. Just say, No, I'm going to take a stand.

So we get the relaxed confidence that God's in charge, but it only comes when we've taken that stand of patience. And I just really feel like God is in your heart right now, just touching a certain area you just are beginning to sense. And in part of the response to this conference and this message is going to be you realizing, I need to take some stance. I've been a little too passive. I've been a little too easily knocked over, which is what the enemy wants. He wants the storms and the hardship of life and the craziness of this world to cause us to be taken out. The seeds that God has planted, the sower sows the seed, and he wants the hot sun and the weeds to tear up what God's planted, but God wants you to be steadfast and immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord.

So you need to take your hyper stand, your hupomenó and to choose patience and to choose, I'm not giving up. I can do five more minutes. I don't have to wait forever. I can do five more minutes. I can be steadfast. I can be immmovable. God is compassionate and I can't be too like a farmer, like a family. Do you notice the theme? They all start with the letter F. These are the things I do for you, church. All right, third, like, you know the future. You should wait expectantly. You should wait optimistically. You should wait believing that God has got great things in store, believing that he's got an end intended in mind. Wait like you know the future.

Hey, I've read the back of this book. We win in the end, all right? If things aren't ending out all right, that just simply means it's not the end. And we can, sure like, what's going to happen initially? I don't know. But ultimately, that I know. I know in whom I've believed. And I know the end that he has intended. And so, until that happily ever after rolls across the screen, I choose to still believe that the best is yet to come and that God does have good in store. He has his goodness and not evil in mind for us. And that he's even working all the hard and dark things together for his good, so I can wait patiently like I know the future because the text said the judge is at the door. The judge is at the door, meaning the next thing that's going to happen is he's going to turn that knob. The next thing that's going to happen is to the clouds are going to crack open. Christ is going to return. That's the next thing that's going to... Nothing else has to happen as we await his return, just like he came at Christmas.

That was awesome. He's going to come. It's going to be Christmas 2.0, right. President rolls around on Air Force One. Jesus comes Air Horse One. That's the call sound when he shows up on a white horse, and we can believe that's what's going to happen. So we have everything to look forward to. We have heaven. We have glory. We have a perfect, renewed world that we get to live on, ruling and reigning with Christ for a thousand years, enjoying reconnection with loved ones who have gone on ahead of us and saints of old and best of all, we'll be with Jesus face to face. Come on church, we should wait patiently knowing the future. That's the future. That's your future. Coming soon to a world near you.

We should then let that drive our decisions. And that will curb, oftentimes, the jealousy that shows up in our lives. We're jealous of each other, but when the judge shows up, he's going to ask us each as we stand at the Bema Seat judgment, which is a judgment for Christians. Non-Christians go to the white throne judgment, that's heaven or hell. But Christians go to the Bema Seat, and Pastor Robert has done such a great body of work teaching on this. And at the Bema Seat, we will be rewarded for what we did or didn't do as his followers. And as we think about that moment, it'll curb jealousy in this moment, because most of our mistakes come from wishing we were given someone else's calling, we were given someone else's authority, we were given someone else's position.

And so we don't do what we could do with what we have because we wish we were given what someone else has. But when we wait like we know the future, we know we're standing personally before Jesus, we're going to be told that what you did was wood, hay, or straw, gold, silver, or precious stones. And we'll be given crowns to toss at his feet. I want to do everything God has planned for me. I want to lay hold of all that he laid hold of me for. Don't you? Wait patiently, like you know the future. And then fourthly and finally, we're almost done here, Wait like your forefathers, James says. Your forefathers. Look at verse 10 again, but the Message translation. "Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God".

I love this. James basically sweeps his arm to the entire Old Testament and goes, y'all look how it went for them. They went through tons of gnarly stuff, tons of brutal stuff, tons of difficult stuff, but look what God was doing. We get to read Hebrews 11 in this amazing hall of faith and we go, Oh man Noah. Yeah. And Jacob, and oh my gosh and Abraham and yeah, Samson and yeah, yeah, Moses. But in real time, it felt pretty bad for Isaiah to get cut into with a saw. And in real time, Abraham had to wait all these years for his old wife to have this baby. And then when the baby finally came, he had to offer this child up before God and have the only thing in the world he ever wanted taken from him.

And in real time, Esther's story, which, oh man, beauty pageant. It started with the death of her mom and her dad. Then a maniac shows up and tries to kill everybody who she ever knew. And her marriage was so dysfunctional that if she went to her husband's bedroom without him asking for her to come, she could die. Okay, yeah, so it was kind of a beauty pageant, but mixed with Survivor a little bit, right? I mean, it's dark. Dark for sure. And he's saying, what story do you celebrate that doesn't have complexity? And it's kind of an ouch-moment because all of us complain the most when our life involves complexity, but that should tell us that it's in those moments that God is preparing his most magnificent works.

So in that sense, 2020 and what we've known these days of 2021 thus far, they are then an occasion which it's possible and probable that God wants to do something that will be wondrous in our eyes when we see it. But it starts out with the plot twists of hardness and difficulty and challenging situations and circumstances, and God is waiting and watching to see, will we worship him in the midst of it? His eyes are still going to and fro in the whole earth. He's waiting to see in the midst of COVID, in the midst of difficulty, in the midst of setback, in the midst of, well, I wanted this to happen, I wanted that to happen in the election, I wanted this to happen here. I wanted that to happen here, and he's saying, who's going to honor me? Who's going to trust me anyway? Who's going to worship me? Who's going to take a stand for me?

And I believe that's what he sees in Gateway Church. I believe he sees people rising up saying, here am I, God. Send me, use me. I'm not going to be rushing to a verdict, I'm going to give you five more minutes, God. I believe you've got a plan. You've got something in mind. You've got something in store. So I'm not going to be judge, jury, and executioner accusing you of doing a bad job of running this world. You did a pretty good job before I got here. You're going to do a great job after I'm gone. So I'm just going to be like Job, who James references, and say, even in the midst of suffering hardship and difficulty, God, you give and you take away. So blessed be the name of the Lord.

I think the question awaiting us in this new year is will we be people who can receive good only from the Lord and not evil? Or can we be people who are trusted with the true riches, who know that blessed are the broken hearted. Blessed are the poor in spirit, that we shall see God if we don't give up. To close with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer".

And Father, would you help us to not give up? It sometimes feels like it's going to last forever. It's not going to last forever. This too shall pass, but those who do the will of God, who live by the word of God, those things will last forever. What we do for kingdom will last for last forever. The kingdom of God. All of this will soon be passed, but what we do for you, Jesus, that will last. So with your eyes that blaze like a flame of fire, would you burn away the dross from our hearts, our minds, our lives? Help us to prioritize every area of our lives like we have this year at this First Conference.

Lord, we put you first in finance in schedule and in priorities in energy. And I pray you would bless your people as they make these decisions filled with your Spirit. If you're saying yes, if you're saying I resonate with this, if you're saying I want to grow in patience, could you just right now, right there at your computer, raise up your hand, just raise up your hand. God sees you. God sees you. All of us together saying, God, I want this. I want you to grow this in me. Forgive me for my impatience. How quickly I doubt you, how quickly I stress. Help me to honor you through being able to look at a world and see no signs of you doing anything, but to say I still trust you. In Jesus' name, fill your people with your Spirit. Amen.

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