Levi Lusko - The Power To Overcome Gloominess and Despair
If you have a copy of the scripture, 2 Peter chapter 1 is where we're going to be today. I've chose as my text some verses that will help us to see that there is, in the Resurrection story, power to overcome gloominess and despair. Taking that as my subject matter today, the power to overcome gloominess and despair, and what I'm really trying to say is that we have an answer to this common situation and dilemma that we face. What to do when you feel stuck? What do you do when you feel stuck? Peter tells us beginning in the 12th verse of his first chapter of his Second Epistle he says, "for this reason, I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.
Moreover, I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory, "this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the Holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy is of private interpretation or scripture, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit".
If in faith you're excited about learning more about the power to overcome gloominess and despair, and you're grateful for God's word, could you just let Heaven know just for a quick minute. There is such strength in the public reading of scripture. And we have a lot of work to do if we're to recognize that we have the tools that we need to deal with the feeling of being stuck. I got stuck recently. I pulled my vehicle too far into some snow and had to get help. Now, the frustrating thing about it was I had, my friend Eric had told me that he always keeps a chain in his truck, so if he sees someone who's stranded, he can pull them out. And I was like, man, that is me. I'm going to be the good Samaritan that I was born to be. I bought my first truck. I really got my Montana juices flowing now. And so I bought a chain. I was like, I'm going to be ready for it, and I'm going to be ready for someone. I'm just vigilant. I'm on duty all the time. I never sleep. I'm like the Coast Guard. I'm like Kevin Costner. I'm ready to jump out of the helicopter and help somebody.
And so I had this rope sitting there with the zip ties around it in my car all the time, I bought it on Amazon, ready to pull someone out. And it never happened until I, one day, saw someone stuck. Olivia, you remember. You were with me. And we saw this person stuck. And I was like, can I help you? And he goes he goes, nah, my friend is coming. And I'm like, I'm your friend. I am here, let me help you. I am ready for, I've trained for this for a long time. My friends coming, and I'll feel bad if he gets here, and I already got helped. I'm like, well, you can call him and tell him not to come, a brave man showed up and pulled you out. He says, it's all right. So I drove off. Then the day comes when I get stuck. And I realize I have a rope. And it was me that needed saving, as it should be I suppose. I flagged down someone. He was kind enough to get me out of there. I broke the zip ties. It was nice to get pulled out when I felt stuck.
There's a lot of different ways you can feel stuck. You can feel like you stalled out in your career. You can feel like, in a relationship, you've gone as far as you can go. There are times when we feel like we have plateaued in our faith journey, in our development as leaders, in our own progress in our fitness goals, in myriad ways we can come to a place, it's really frustrating to feel stuck. And the gospel comes along holding up the tools needed to pull us out, to overcome that gloominess that can just set in or the despair when you stay gloomy long enough. You see, it's possible to come to a place where you don't even believe, you don't even dare, to believe better days can come. I think you can get discouraged when setback after setback eventually gives you reason to just feel gloomy. And you're reading surveys and stories and statistics about how young people today are just tempering their expectations, losing graduations, losing this sport, losing this thing, and eventually you get enough of that, and you can just come to a place of even just despairing of the thought of the future. Not believing things are going to get better but going to get worse.
And what we find in the gospel, which is a diamond that can be spun to see all the different aspects of it shine the light, we find, I really think God just put on my heart from these verses that we have a diamond to hold up that can get us through, give us hope, give us strength, give us courage, and I love that the most famous diamond in the world literally is named Hope. The Hope Diamond, a 45 carat diamond that used to belong to King Louis XIV that now resides in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. And it's appropriate that the greatest diamond known to man is called Hope because the gospel gives us a diamond called Hope that the more we spin it, the more we see reflecting off of it. And so what I want to do with you today that I believe will give you power to overcome gloominess and despair, what to do when you feel stuck, is to hold up that diamond called Hope and spin it in your hand and allow the light to shine off of it. Five different sides, we could chop it up 100 different ways, but let's just focus on five areas.
Area number one is intellectual satisfaction. Peter tells us in this Resurrection story, of which is the whole scripture, the scriptures all testify to Jesus and Jesus's whole life pointed to the cross, and the big aha moment on the cross was, of course, the Resurrection. And so Peter says, we find intellectual satisfaction. That is to say, it's not like they'll tell you, oh, you know, here's what happened. One person eventually long, long, long, long, long, long, after Jesus was dead hundreds of years later said, this happened to Jesus. He had metaphorically resurrected or the idea of Jesus could never die. The ideal of do unto those as you would have them do unto you, that message of the Resurrection is the enduring one and that eventually over time like all good legends, eventually there is Sasquatch out in the woods, right? Of course there is a Flathead Lake monster because I know a guy who told a guy and eventually it becomes like this big myth that lives larger than life.
And Peter says, that's not at all how this went down. He says, that's not at all how it went down, and he gives us what can give us intellectual satisfaction as we anchor our lives and our deaths upon this story. And that's pretty much the stakes here, baby, right? Either this is true, and there's a heaven. Or it's not true, and you are wasting your time. Either this is true, and you have something to hold on to when you say goodbye to loved ones, or it's not, and you will never see them again. Either this is true, and there is meaning, and there is purpose, and every single person who has ever lived matters, or there is just infinite blackness. You might as well just eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. And so Peter says, no, no, no it's not just some cunningly devised fable. Whereas the message translation puts it in verse 16, we weren't just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Master, we were there for the preview. We saw it with our own eyes.
Two things that I think will give you intellectual satisfaction, number one is fulfilled prophecy, and the second thing is eyewitness testimony. Fulfilled prophecy, he says, we have the prophetic word confirmed, that is to say God laid out a matrix of qualifications that Jesus, to be the Messiah, to be the Master, to be who He said He was, would have to fulfill, leading up to, of course, His triumphant defeat of death. That's the big one, baby, right? That one really is the kicker, but before that, it was intricate. It was where He was to be born, Bethlehem. It was what tribe He was to be a part of, Judah. It was to be the, what grave He was to be buried in, one that belonged to a rich man, not His own grave. He just borrowed it. He didn't need his own. He was just using it for the weekend, honey. It was just a temporary affair. It was like a VRBO situation, no cleaning fee needed. He even folded the linens before He went out which is really a nice idea to leave your Airbnb better than you, you found it.
And so we have Jesus fulfilling, not just one, not just two, not just 10, 300 plus very specific things fulfilled. Prophecies given, in some cases, hundreds of years before Him like the Crucifixion. He was to die with His hands spread out. He was to die lifted up from the earth. He was to die with His enemies below him gloating up at Him. I'll have you know, those prophecies come to us in the Book of Psalms before the method of execution called crucifixion was even invented. So as they were being vocalized, David must have been like, what are you even talking about? I've never heard of anybody dying raised up in the air with their arms spread out, but then the Assyrians come along, and they're like, you know what? Death is too good for our enemies. We need to find a way to stretch it out and make it last longer. Hey, if we nail them to a cross and lift them up in the air, they could take longer to die. And so they come along and invent something that the Romans perfect, that to a T, pun intended, fulfills the way that Jesus would die. But it was weird that He got crucified because the Jews didn't crucify, they stoned to death.
So He was to be killed by the Jews, but they would have to lean on the Roman, do you see what God had to do to orchestrate this all? You see, even the fact that Jesus gets born in Bethlehem, his parents lived in Nazareth, so God has to nudge old Caesar and have him issue a decree to get Mary and Joseph scurrying off to the family of Joseph's lineage to have Jesus there. Peter says, this is not just a big fish story that got bigger over time. And he actually caught a little dinky fish, and it grew into this big monster because who's there that's going to know the reality. Peter is saying, no, this happened and this happened and that happened and this happened. You can have intellectual satisfaction because prophetic words were confirmed, eight ball, corner pocket is the story. It's too many coincidences for it to not to have been planned.
The second thing that will give you confidence, and if you're a skeptic, and if you would say, I'm an agnostic, and I don't really know, first of all, welcome, we're glad you're here. Thank you for coming. If you would say, I'm an atheist, and I don't believe there is a God, thank you for a few moments of your attention. What gives me confidence, let me tell you, I have not given my life to this thing on a whim, or because it's a great big fable like Paul Bunyan, but because, as I have looked into it, it has given me great confidence that gets me through the darkness of gloom, through the darkness of doubt, through the difficulty of sin and sadness, and I have found what, to me, has given me stability in the most difficult situations, what has held me like an anchor in hospital rooms and in cemeteries and gives me hope and confidence of not just meaning in life but life after death. And it is this, the very, very specific eyewitness testimony. Eyewitness testimony. Peter almost seems offended that his, even in his day, people were spreading rumors that it was just this big story that got blown out of proportion because someone was exaggerating the truth, and he goes, no, it's really specific.
I was there. I saw him. And Peter was not alone in seeing Jesus and being willing to stake his name, credibility, and reputation on it. Richard Bauckham wrote a 570 some page tome called Jesus and the Eyewitnesses where he shows the legitimacy of the manner in which the Gospels present a bibliography in keeping with history written in that day. One of the great examples he points to is the book of Luke, which was written by a medical doctor who is owned by a man named Theophilus who is a very wealthy benefactor who is wanting to give his life to Christ. But before he did so, he wanted to make sure he wasn't wasting his life on a whim. And so he sent a doctor to investigate someone who knew how to look into details and specific parts of it, and he had him write back to Luke everything he found traveling to all the cities, talking to all the people, and gave it to him, the excellent the Theophilus, an organized account of the things that he looked into so that Theophilus might have certainty.
That's what we have in the book of Luke. And that's why he wrote down more details than anybody. That's why there's so many names given. It's not just a guy's daughter died, and Jesus raised her from the dead. It's Jairus who ran this synagogue in this city at this time. I talked to him. I talked to his neighbor. I talked to the girls who went to Jairus' daughter's school when, in her 12th year of life, she was raised from the dead. Oh, and then there's this guy who was blind. What's his name? He's not just some guy because when you make up stuff you go, when did this happen? A long time ago. Where did it go down? In a place far, far away. But when you say, in the fifth year of this proconsul when this person was ruling and this tax decree happened in this city, and Bartimaeus was the man whose eyes were healed, and Jairus is the guy, oh, and then Jesus gets arrested. And one of the enemies of Jesus brought a servant with him. The servant of the high priest, and Peter, who did not want Jesus to go to the cross, so this whole idea of this as just wish fulfillment because he wanted it to happen so bad, Peter didn't want it to happen at all.
In fact, he attacked the servant of the least dangerous person there who had no weapon at all. And he didn't even get to kill him. He chopped the guy's ear off, which I think he was going for the neck, and that was the best he got, right? And it wasn't just a guy's ear. It was Malchus, the high priest's servant, at this point at this time at this feast in this day after Jesus was in this city, staying in Bethany, meaning you could look into this all. Now, what gives you even greater confidence is knowing that all of the Gospels were written Bauckham says, and I quote, "within living memory" of those who were involved in the story. The last gospel to be finished was the Gospel of John which was written at the latest 80-90. So you have all Matthew, Mark, and Luke and then 80-90, 60 years after Christ's ascension to heaven, you have all these things out, being committed, being circulated, and being relied upon and anybody who wanted to was invited to go ahead, travel to these cities and talk to these people, which is why in 1 Corinthians 15, when Paul says, Jesus Christ died according to the scriptures, rose from the dead according to the scriptures, and was seen by many people.
First, Peter and then James and then this person and then this person and then the 12 and then the 500. It wasn't just a person. It was no, Mary Magdalene saw him. She's from Magdala, go ahead and talk to her. She ran the most popular fabric factory in the city because Magdala was the center for the garments that, it was the garment district of its day, OK? So she was like this tailor of sorts. And Magdala, being a place where you would go to get clothing, the Magdalene was her nickname, the Magdalene. So she's like, basically, a Versace of her time. Mary Magdalene, so you can go talk to Mary, and Paul says, at the end, if you have any questions, go talk to them. Most of them are still alive, only a couple of them have died. He's inviting the skeptic to go and talk to these people. And what I want to understand is that for 2000 years, people have tried to disprove and discredit the historicity of the New Testament and the Resurrection claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. And nobody has ever been able to but many have been converted to faith along the way. So we can have confidence that Jesus Christ died how? The crucifixion.
If you have questions about that, someone carried his cross named Simon. Where was he from? Cyrene. What were his son's names? Rufus and Alexander. Get Rufus in here, did your dad ever carry Jesus' cross? Yeah, man, wild right? By the way, Rufus, just throwing that out there any expecting moms in the house. Rufus? The benefit is Rufio, Rufio, Rufio. You're doing it, Peter. Secondly, let's keep spinning the diamond right? Ultimate confirmation, what do we find that can give us hope, that can blow us through gloominess and despair? Ultimate confirmation. Peter twice said, I'm going to die soon. First he said, I'm in my tent, but soon I got to bounce from my tent. That's code for, I'm going to die. The Bible refers to this body as a tent that we live in for a season, and then eventually we have to put off our tent. And the longer we live in the tents, the more tattered they become. Our tents get broken down, and then eventually, we leave our tent.
Peter said, I'm leaving this tent, a temporary thing that I'm in my body because you are not just your body, you are soul. And to leave your body is not the end of the road, it's simply a bend in the road. It's to come out of a tent and to live somewhere else. And the body, according to this book, is buried like a seed which is why for thousands of years God's people have not burned bodies as though that was the end of the story. We have buried bodies with a reverence because we believe that same body, like Christ's body, will come out of the grave gloriously. And so we don't bury our dead, we plant our dead and to plant a seed is with the expectation of hope. And we believe that when Christ comes, that the bodies, the tents, that we lived in ashes to ashes, dust to dust, though they decay, they shall come forth from that grave at the command of the Lord and our souls will once again be clothed with these bodies, but they will not be as they are today any more than what comes out of the ground when you plant a seed is the exact seed. It comes out a flower.
And so we come out of the ground to live forever in a newly created heavens and earth in a glorious body that we don't even have the capacity to understand what capabilities will be unlocked in that day, but we get a little bit of a preview because in His resurrected glorious body, Jesus could appear at random through walls and be touched, he could eat and he could fly. All I know is that's all I need to know. And eating and flying, it's all I've ever really wanted. OK, so Peter on his deathbed writes this letter and says, hey, I'm about to die soon. But before I go, I just want to let you know we have this hope, just want to let you know dawn is coming, just want to let you know Jesus is Master, just want to let you know let's do everything we can to live for him. You find out what's really in someone's heart in a storm. I was on a flight recently. It was bumpy, wild. The pilot gets on, we may not make it, ladies and gentlemen, we may have to be diverted to Great Falls.
Ah, last flight of the day, not what you want to hear. I love Great Falls. God bless you in Great Falls. I wanted to sleep in my bed. And so seven minutes before we're about to land, pilot comes on, winds are crazy, there's a burst of wind up to gusts of wind up to 50 miles an hour, we may not make it, but we're going look for a window to drop it in. All right, a little tighter like, kids, a little tighter on the seat belts there. And I hear the flight attendant talking to the other flight attendant reminding her of brace position. She's like, He's like make sure you head is, I'm like, holy jeez, right? And he's like, just make sure your chins down because she was new, just make sure it's down. And then we come in, and it is like a bucking bull. We're going all over, side to side dropping. I saw new prayers in my heart that I had not prayed in a while. And sure enough, we get down on the ground. And everyone is, it's one of those like, everyone's excited to be alive prayers and landings, everyone's excited. And then we get off and get our bags and we're waiting. And then my daughter realizes she left her AirPod on the plane.
And so we have to go, is there someone still who can go back? This amazing girl runs to get the AirPod And she says, you'd be surprised how many AirPods we find in those seats, and so hopefully, we can find your daughters. And I'm like, oh, that's disgusting. And I'm sitting there waiting for this to happen, and I notice the flight crews waiting too for their ride to their hotel for the night. And so I start chatting with them, and I had talked to them on the plane. And the pilot's standing there, and if she's over 27, I'd be shocked. I'd guess 25. She's blonde girl, and she's pulling her hair up into a ponytail. She's got her hat off, and I come up to her, and I say that was an amazing landing, great job on that landing. And she looks at me, and her eyes get big, and she goes that sucked. It caught me off guard. It was a startling level of honesty that I wasn't, quite frankly, prepared for. Like, that sucked? It was just, I was like, oh, I felt bad back there, but to know it felt that bad for you too?
So I go, yeah, I was just glad we didn't land in Great Falls. And she goes, I was just glad we didn't land on the side of a mountain. I said, that was an option at any point in the flight? Like crashed, in the side of a mountain? She goes, yeah, the way they sent us coming in, you got to approach from this side, and then you got to kick out at the last minute to compensate for the wind. And she says, and I knew the mountains were there even though I couldn't see them. And I'm like, I'm pleased that they were on your radar. I knew they were there. I was trying to really hard avoid them. I'm like, that's ideal that you found out what was in me, you found out what was in her, and hardship. OK, so Peter's about to die. If it was all made up, if it was all just a joke that got out of proportion, then this is his moment now to let it loose. Why? He is about to be put to death for his faith in Jesus Christ.
So those who would say, well, the disciples had gain in mind. They had position or power, a prestige they were going to get from being the big shot apostles of the one who rose from the dead, then if you're about to get killed, and how did Peter die? Historians tell us he died by crucifixion also. Jesus was, by no means, the only one crucified. And you're about to be let out on your, all you have to do is say, it was a lie, we admit it and go on the speaking tour for the Roman Empire admitting that Caesar is God and Jesus is not Lord, and it was all a joke. In fact, here's his body, produce the corpse Peter to save your skin, which we know that's in him. He lied three times on the night of Jesus's crucifixion to get out of even just the flak he was getting from people out there by the high priest's house. So if he was if he was going to admit the truth that Jesus was actually dead, then this is his moment. But what does he do? He not only doesn't back down, he doubled down, he doubles down saying, it's fine if you put me to death but I have one request. What is it? Could you please flip my cross upside down and crucify me feet up because I am unworthy to die in the exact same manner as my Lord.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you in the life of Peter ultimate confirmation that this is what he saw. This is what happened, and to his death, he went rejoicing. And not just him. 11 of the Twelve Apostles died martyr's deaths. They were fearful like sheep when Jesus was knocked down, but they were as bold as lions when he rose from the dead. And we can be too. Thirdly, let's keep spinning that diamond. In the story, there is emotional validation. The words of the father are quoted, and those words are, "Behold my beloved son in whom I am well pleased". A direct quotation from what happened, in Peter's words, on that Holy mountain. So Peter, would have you to know that he was not just an eyewitness to the Resurrection, he was also eyewitness to the transformation, one of the most emotionally charged, power-filled moments in Jesus's life. In fact, many people have suggested that not the Resurrection, but the transformation was the emotional climax, or zenith, of all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that all tell this story of Jesus telling his homies, hey, guys, there are some of you present who are not going to die until you experience the kingdom of God coming with power.
Now, if you're the 12 disciples, can we just admit that's kind of a screwed up thing for Jesus to tell them. Talk about encouraging rivalry, right? There are some of you present who are not going to die until you experience the kingdom of God coming with power so noodle on that for a while, I'll be over here. And they're like, what does he mean and who's it going to be? And then a couple of days later, he taps three of them, Peter, James, and John, and he says come with me. Come with me. And he takes them on a hike up a high mountain. And there he is transfigured before them. And he begins to glow. And there's clouds, lightning, power, Old Testament saints, promise, and prophecy. It's incredible. And Moses and Elijah pull a Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. They show up for some reason. And they're talking with Jesus, and Peter's like, and he doesn't know what to say, so he just says, we should stay here forever. This is amazing, best day of my entire life. And Jesus looks at him, Moses looks at him, Elijah looks at him.
And God the Father from Heaven goes, quiet, the adults are talking Sparky, right? And what does God the Father then say? Behold my son. When you're in a room with Moses, the one who gave the law, and Elijah, the greatest of the miracle working prophets, to a Jew, to see God single his spotlight on Jesus, and say, not it, not it, behold the Lamb, behold my Son, in Him I am well pleased. What was the message that was definitely received loud and clear? Jesus is greater than religion. Jesus can do for you what keeping the law cannot. Jesus can do for you what human achievement cannot. And Moses and Elijah both recognize that. They speak to Jesus about his decease, same word Peter says, my decease is coming. They spoke to Jesus before they all left about his decease that was coming. The word speaks of Exodus, the Exodus that was coming. Same phrase used to describe what Moses did when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt across the Red Sea towards the promised land.
This whole thing wraps up beautifully because what it's saying is that, through the cross, we have the ultimate Exodus. Just like Moses led them through the Red Sea on dry land, and they did not die though they should have died that day, Jesus can lead us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. And though we should die, when we die because of Jesus's Exodus when our Exodus comes, we will go through the death that we face. And its walls will be right there, and we should die, and there's an enemy army behind us, but we will not die. We will pass through death on dry land. It will not touch us. We have no reason to fear the Valley of the Shadow of Death because our shepherd, Jesus, our One who is greater than Moses, who is greater than Elijah, His rod, His staff shall comfort us. And just as Moses lifted up his arms before the waters were parted, Jesus Christ lifted up his arms, and so death has to part, and we will be able to follow Him all the way through.
And quite frankly, boys and girls, once you've seen that, the Resurrection is kind of a given, which is why the Resurrection is, they're pretty matter of fact about it. An angel came, earthquake, stone parted, Jesus came out. Because he says, I saw him on the mountain when he was glowing. I'm with him now. This is my God. He's my ride or die. Jesus was glowing on that day, glowing. Mark, who wrote Peter's account, said that his clothes became whiter than any launderer on Earth can make them. I love the bizarre details found in the Bible. Like, dang, man, how'd you get your whites so white? Mine always come out dingy. But what's crazy is the parallelism to what happened on Mount Sinai. Same dirt, different day when Moses experienced the power of God, got the Ten Commandments on the same ground where the bush burned, on the same ground where he had been a shepherd previously. He came down the mountain that day glowing too, but it was a reflective glow. It didn't come from Moses. It came from God's glory shining on Moses that made him glow.
Peter is saying, on this day, Jesus glowed from the inside out. His glowing didn't come from anybody else. It came from him. All right, so all of that to tell you there is something to stand on when we're feeling mopey and gloomy and dark and despairing in those words, "My beloved son. I'm well pleased in you". At our worst, we walk around this world hoping for something or someone to tell us we're enough. If I can get these grades, get into this school, do this well in this sport, my life can look this impressive on Instagram. My church can be this big. I can do this well in my career, have this big of a home, then I will be somehow important. And we walk around hoping for people and things and possessions and connections to somehow make us good enough, to somehow make us worthy of love. But that's like driving a 10 ton truck on a bridge rated only to handle two tons.
We're putting the weight of our soul onto things and people and possessions that cannot help but crumble under us as we seek to lean upon them. But the emotional validation that Jesus received that armed him for ministry came not just from the amount of transfiguration, but this was an echo of what God said to him at his baptism in Matthew 3, verse 17 when at 30 years of age as an obscure carpenter known by nobody, who many people didn't even believe could read, he gets baptized by his cousin one day. And he comes out of the water, and the father speaks over him, I love you. Behold hold my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. And that is what gave him strength to turn water into wine and to raise the dead and to heal the sick and to feed the poor and to die on the cross because he knew he was loved before he did anything. And if we will tap into the emotional validation that the gospel is willing to provide through the diamond of hope, we will stop trying to do so we can be, but we will be and then find the strength to do.
And that is what the enemy knew. And is it any mistake that the moment God gave him that strength to stand on, the devil tried to get him off of it? If you turn stones to bread, you'll really prove you're the Son of God. He was trying to get Jesus to be a human doing and not a human being. Jesus knew, I don't have to do anything to prove who I am. I know who I am. I'm loved by God. I'm His beloved son. I'm pleased by Him. And the enemy will try and get you to stand on the shaky ground of doing in order to be, but when you remember He doesn't love you anymore if you read the Bible, doesn't love you anymore if you went to church 50 times last year or two. He doesn't love you anymore if you know a hundred verses. He doesn't love you anymore if you quit looking at porn. He doesn't love you anymore if you can quit that addiction. He doesn't love you anymore if you can do this or accomplish this or be that. You don't have to do any of those things to be. You're loved by God, marred. You're loved love by God, broken. You're loved by God, a sinner. You're loved by God, dysfunctional. Just as you are.
And when you tap into that power of I'm just loved by God, now you can stop posturing and pretending and faking and trying to have it all put together. And do you see me and do I matter and am I strong enough and am I good enough? And you can just say, I'm loved by God. And I love you. And you can experience that love that will infect and invade and help and heal your broken places too. Is there anybody this Easter who's grateful just to be loved by God? And that he has never one time asked the question, what have you done for me lately? He's well pleased in you, and he's not any more well pleased on you on your big day than on your small one. I love being the pastor of Fresh Life Church. But I am not finding strength in my identity as the pastor of this church. I'm just standing on the fact that I'm loved by God. And then I get to approach serving and hopefully make a difference as many years as God will let me.
And when we can become freed from achievement identity, and we can rest in the security of the love of a God who sees our broken places but loves us anyway, we will then be postured to change the world church. Emotional validation, the diamond spins, and we find spiritual illumination because we still face dark places as Jesus' people. Honest confession, I'm a Christian, and I get anxious sometimes. Honest confession, I'm a pastor, and I have panic attacks. And those moments come when it just gets real dark. And my chest just gets real tight. And I sometimes just don't know what to do. And I sometimes have bad dreams. And I sometimes have bad days. And I sometimes have bad moods. And Peter says, good news, you're just in a dark patch. And you need some light to light up the dark. He said there's a day coming when the morning stars are going to rise, and there's going to be healing in His wings. He says, good news, I saw the glory of Jesus. And when He comes back, it's going to be like that. It's not going to be like the weakness of Bethlehem. It's going to be the power and the thunder of Niagara Falls coming forth from His face. It's going to be with the light of fire in his eyes. It's going to be a name on his thigh that no one knows but Him. It's going to be riding on a white horse.
The clouds are going to roll up. He's going to come like he went. He's going to come from the clouds. He's going to come with earthquakes. He's going to come. And all men will say and acknowledge, Holy is the Lord. No one will be able to deny he is God. And they will mourn who pierced him, many. And so until that day, Peter says the secret to waiting for dawn is to experience incremental sun bursts through scripture and the Holy Spirit. Scripture, that's why church is so important. Don't forsake the gathering of yourselves together. That's why small groups are so important. Get together every one a while and be like, yeah, man, life still sucks a little bit. For sure, need a little prayer? Uh-huh. Run down a little bit? For sure, totally. Here's the things I'm tempted to look to right now to give me power instead of God's love. How about you? I got some too. I got some brokenness in my marriage. I got some difficulty. Could you pray for me? I need a little sunburst. I need a little Holy Spirit. I need a little bit of light. It's like getting a flashlight when the power goes out.
And sometimes the power just goes out. And Peter says, in those situations, in those moments, what do you do? It's in verse 19. This prophetic message, scripture, is like a piercing light shining in a gloomy place until the dawning of a new day. What do you do while you wait for the dawn? You turn off the dark by relying on the spirit and listening to scripture. That's what you do. Every time you do it, it's a little bit of light just to give you a little bit more illumination. Psalm 119:105, "thy word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path". We need God's word memorized, read. We need to prophesy to one another, encourage one another, pray for one another. We need to stand on the promises of God, not on the instability of the news, not on who we can get elected, or this situation.
There's a reason to vote, reason to pray, reason to believe, for godly people to end up in public places. But in the meantime, whatever happens, no matter how dark it gets, no matter what we face, we have God's word to guide us through the storms, to guide us through the dark, to give us what we need. Spiritual illumination, but it's not just scripture. It's taking heed to scripture, taking heed to scripture. God is not impressed by the size of your Bible. He's really not. He's never once been up there in Heaven humming, I like big Bibles, and I cannot lie. Right? Oh, look at that Bible. Well, holy crap, look at that Bible. You got the, they got the Ten Commandments at their church? Really like them. Bless them Gabriel. It's just not a thing that he says. But what we do know is that Peter says when you take heed to scripture, light bursts out. So knowing isn't enough. And many of you are educated spiritually far beyond the level of your obedience.
You know scripture that you're not living. You know truth that's not changing you. And so what we have to do is allow scripture to change us. So how it works is you read a little bit and then God goes, bang, that's the spot. Act on it. Cool, pickup the phone, call, say I'm sorry. Cool, send a text message. Cool, take action. We hear. We do. We hear. We do. When we hear but don't do, we become vaccinated to God's power and incapable of experiencing any transformation because we became inoculated to the truth that he gave to us we didn't act on. So two questions, what was the last thing God said to you in his word and when was the last time God nudged you through his spirit? That's where we need to live. That needs to be the constant emphasis of our life. Again, not so God will love us, but because he does. Spiritual illumination.
And then lastly, we have in the gospel, and this is encouraging even though it doesn't seem like it, ongoing repetition, spin the diamond. I reached the end. What do you do? Spin it again. Because you're going to see something new because now the light is going to hit at a different angle than it did a minute ago. And you're going to see, the mistake we would make is think, well, I already read all the verses in the Bible. I did the chronological Bible in a year on YouVersion. I already read it. It's not like a John Grisham novel. You don't just put it away because you read it. Your life has changed, your experience has changed, your pain has become more pronounced. I mean, you're a totally new version of you every seven years at a cellular level. So why would it not be any different at a spiritual level, for a scriptural level, as well.
So when we read scripture, we read with old scripture with new willingness to let God speak to you, all of a sudden we see something brand new. We see something completely different. This is my 15th year preaching an Easter sermon at this church, but I feel like a kid in a candy store. I feel like a child holding a kite. I've seen stuff I've never seen before. God is showing me things I've never seen before. I can't wait till my 30th year preaching an Easter sermon, if God will let me, because there is that much and more. We never can run out of things that God wants to show us. That's why Peter said, I will not be negligent to remind you, remind you. He's writing to the people who have already heard this. He goes, you need to hear it again. Easter and church and the gospel is not just for the lost. It's also for the found. And he said, I'm actually going to write this down before I die to ensure that you have a reminder because you're going to need it again. And then you're going to need it again, and then you're going to need it again. We can repeat as needed. Developmentally, sometimes we see growth like this, like a ski hill.
This angle which is growing, growing, growing, just growing in my goals, growing in my goals and my gains. And that's why we get so disillusioned when we feel like we've hit a wall sometimes. I thought I was going to keep growing. I thought I'd be further along. We feel so frustrated when we're stuck because I thought growth to be like this in my marriage. I thought growth would be like this, and a lot of people end up divorcing, a lot of people end up quitting jobs, a lot of people end up quitting churches, a lot of people end up moving across the country. I just need something new. I need a new start. But you're going to go there with your same dysfunction. You're going to go into that new situation, that new place, you're going to go in with that new, with the same old problem inside of you, and eventually the newness of that will wear off. And you'll be frustrated as well and then eventually you'll end up gloomy and just despairing because you don't understand it's not just like this, It's like stairs. That's how growth works. It's like stairs.
And so to get up stairs you're going to slam into the stair nose from time to time. And in those times you hit that, wait, I'm not growing. Hey, what's the problem here? Oh, I just need something new. No, you just need to grow up to the next level, honey, you just need to get up to that next step. You just need to grow to the next level. And that's why Peter in this letter says in verse 5, but also for this very reason of repeating and the gospel and spin the diamond, give all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, to virtue now to knowledge to knowledge, self-control to self-control, perseverance to perseverance, godliness to godliness, brotherly kindness, and the brotherly kindness, love. When I asked God what to tell the people this Easter, I feel like the strongest impression he gave me to tell you is beware of false finish lines.
There is a tendency in the human heart to single out some achievement, accomplishment, or date on the calendar, and if I can just get that, I'm going to be OK. This pandemic, that's the problem. If we can just get through that, it's going to be fine. If we can just get through high school. If I can just get on this team, if I can just get a 4.0, if I can just get into GW University, if I can just get into medical school, if I can just get into grad school, if I could just, if I could just, if I could just, if I could just, if I could just, if I could just, if my kids could get into a good school, if my kids could, we single out a spot on the calendar or some accomplishment that we will then be OK. We get to that, and we're disillusioned because there is no date on the finish line that is an actual finish line until we stand before Jesus Christ face to face. And until that day, we just get to keep growing, trusting, believing, loving.
That's really what I'm trying to tell you. Ongoing repetition, the power of the gospel is you just get to keep growing with God and doing and growing with God and accomplishing and growing God and loving. And there is only one finish line that matters. It's when we see him. It's when we're with him. It's in heaven. What I'm trying to say is if you're not dead, God's not done. There's more in store for those who love him. And the best is yet to come. The last thing Peter says, and we're done with this. It's to tell us how we got our Bible. Verse 21, it wasn't the will of man that gave us the Bible, even though Peter said, I know I wrote it, but it wasn't me. But we, holy men and women too, wrote and spoke as we were moved by the Holy Spirit. How do we have a Bible? How across a period of 1,600 years in three different languages do 40 different authors work together without knowing each other to give us a book that gives us one theme, one story, and one arc, Jesus from beginning to end. It's the Holy Spirit's fault. It wasn't them.
Peter says, it wasn't me. I know I wrote this, but I was, I was, to use the actual Greek words, a stuck ship moved by the Holy Spirit. A stuck ship at Easter time. How crazy is it that these weeks of this Easter 2021 the world has been dominated by a stuck ship at Easter time? One of the largest ships in the world the Ever Given, how large is it? Taller than the Empire State Building, visible from the International Space Station, 20,000, give me that first photo, 20,000 shipping containers is the max load that Ever Given can carry. Trying to make its way across the Suez Canal, 105 mile long waterway that cuts through Egypt connecting Europe to Asia completed in 1869, bypassing the need for ships to sail all the way around Africa, it's an incredible achievement.
I love canals by the way. I love the Panama Canal most of all. It has my heart, but I've been having a fling with the Suez Canal lately. And it's pretty cool. The locks of the Panama Canal I like even better because it's a staircase, but the sea level passage, entirely sea level passage, of the Suez Canal is impressive. It was built by a Frenchman. And it's just incredible. To this day, $9 billion of commerce flows through the Suez Canal every single day. The tune of $400 million an hour, 19,000 ships per year, on average 105 ships per day will go through, and this gomer crashes the sucker right into the edge of it, meaning no one else can go through for a week. And so what happens in the Red Sea? Well, you have a massive traffic jam of 400 of the largest ships in the world loaded down with things that need to go into our cars and into our Walmart's sitting there not being able to go anywhere. And the revenue being lost and the ripple effects and the dominoes of supply chain headaches, they say will take months to sort out.
But the biggest dilemma was, how do we actually get the Ever Given off the everloving shore that it is now beached upon? Because when a ship that big is stuck, you guys, you do not get out and push. You know what I'm saying? Imagine pushing the Empire State Building. I mean, just good luck with that. There were some theories being done of, could we send a helicopter in to unload 500 of the shipping containers? We get 500 of them off, and how long will that take one after the other to fly them off? Eventually it will become buoyant enough with that weight taken away for it to float away. They had 10 tugboats attached to it pulling and pushing. They had every excavator in the area trying to dig it out to let more water in and get that, nothing was working. Some suggested the solution would be to take out tons and tons and tons of fuel, so it will ride lighter in the water. Where do you put that fuel? There's nothing in the area to receive that amount of fuel. This had never happened before. And anything that would be able to get there to do this is stuck, can't get in there. And the answer came in the night sky on Palm Sunday when the moon showed up.
And this is how the Ever Given was freed. God took care of it. He sent the first supermoon of 2021. We will get 12 to 13 full moons on an average year, only six of them supermoons where the moon comes near. This was the first. Nicknamed by the Native Americans the Worm Moon because the first full moon of the year, accompanied by the thawing of the ground, would be the first time under moonlight they would see earthworms, or nightcrawlers, begin to move. So the name has stuck. And when the worm moon showed up, well, you probably see where this is going. The moon affects the tides. The tides affects the water level, particularly important in a sea level canal. And the water in this 105 miles of the Suez Canal rose by 18 inches. And now what could not have been done by 10 tugboats and helicopters and excavators was simple and easy as the Ever Given was able to just ride out and sail out the day after Palm Sunday.
What's the point? The point is, Peter says, how do we get a Bible? How do we have this story? How do we go all the way to the end of our lives rejoicing and having joy in our master who is coming? How do we deal with the setbacks and the gloominess and the cynicism and the cancel culture and the just one more thing, and I don't really know how I'm going to make it because the hits just keep coming? He says the answer is in the sky. The answer is in the Heavens. It's not about us doing. It's not about us achieving. It's not about us performing. We can get out and push all we want, church, it's not going to make a difference. That things not going to budge. But I'm telling you when God in the heavens shows up and comes near, and that is what he has done in the person of Jesus, His Holy Spirit can blow upon us and give us strength to do what we can't do on our own. We can, as we're carried along. We can ride as we're carried along. We can run as we're carried along. We can do what we can never do on our own.
Come on this Easter, I wonder if you are aware that in the Heavens there is an everlasting sign of God's love to us. It's called the moon. And the moon does not have any light to give. The moon, like Moses, shines the light of another. And if we will hang up our cap of trying to be the sun, of trying to be the chief executive, of trying to be a dad who has a plan for the family, of trying to be a husband holding this family together, of trying to be that single parent who everything's on you, if you will hang up your sun cap and pick up your moon cap, and realize you're just a beloved son. But God's glory wants to shine on you. His light wants to illuminate you. He has power to give you. He gives it to the weak. He gives it to the poor. He gives it to the needy. He gives it to the hungry. And if we will realize I am weak, but you are strong, we can rise up. We can run with wings like an eagle. Come on. We can run and not grow weary. We can walk in our faith. Church, that's what we're going to do. We're going to ride because God's Holy Spirit is breathing out upon us. Even now. So, dad, we love you.
We love being your kids. And we renounce every other achievement, title, accomplishment as being enough to fill our souls up. We can stand at the tomb of Jesus Christ, which is empty, and be reminded it is a space that holds nothing that says everything. Because he lives, we live. We have a living hope. And we have your spirit to rely on and our weakness.
If here today in the presence of God you would say, I really needed this. I need a trust in God. I need new breath in my lungs. I'm a Christian, but I need strength. I'm a Christian, but I need help. Can I just ask every single person raise your hand up so God can see your hand and pour out some new power upon you, pour out some new anointing oil upon you, pour out some new energy upon you, some new zeal upon you.
Thank you, Jesus, for what you're doing. Thank you Jesus for what you're imparting to us here in this moment now. Every single person who feels like they're distant from this moment because they're watching online, I pray right now you would invade their living room, invade their vehicle, invade, invade their bike ride going down the bike path on the PCH in Huntington Beach. Speak to them now, show them your smile is upon them now. We're your beloved children. You're well pleased in us.
You can put your hands down. If you're here today, and you need to give your life to Jesus, watching in Bozeman, listening in Salt Lake City or in Portland, Oregon, or in Lancaster, and you need to receive Jesus as your Savior, today's the day and now's the time. With heads bowed and eyes closed, let me tell you this last thing. I spoke this week to a friend who has been working in a COVID unit in the East Coast. And he has watched dozens and dozens and dozens of people take their last breath and die. And I asked him, I said, what observations do you have watching such mortality? And he said the biggest thing I've taken away is how much more pain medication is requested and needed to bring people to a level of calm to die who have told me in conversations at their bedside that they don't have faith, and they do not believe. And how much less medicine I need to give to people who have told me they're believers in Jesus Christ. He said it is simply staggering to me. I said, what is it like to watch someone who's told you they're an atheist or doesn't know God die? And he said, the only word I can describe is anger.
To watch a person without hope to die is to watch an angry person leave this world. I said to my friend, what are they angry at? And he said, that's just it, it's so bizarre. They are angry most times at God, who they have told me they don't believe in. You don't need to die with anger. And you don't need to die without hope. Jesus loves you and will save you if you call on him. It's the only hope because we all leave this world, but we only leave with hope if we trust Jesus. He is the Resurrection and the life. He is the Lord and God. If, in this moment, you would like to surrender your soul to Christ's care as your shepherd, the shepherd of your good days, the shepherd of your bad days, I'm going to pray a prayer. And if you would repeat it after me out loud, I believe God will hear you and come into your heart and this confession will lead to your salvation. I'm going ask the church family to pray with us, no one praying alone. We're praying with you together. We're watching, we're with you watching on YouTube. We're with you on Facebook. Say this:
Dear God, save me, a sinner. I can come to you, no other way, than on my knees. I need you. Thank you for new life. I give you mine. In Jesus' name.
Head still bowed, eyes still closed, if you just gave your life to Jesus, I'm going to count to three. And when I get to three, I want you to raise your hand up in the air, your way of saying, I raised the white flag of surrender. I give my heart, my soul, my life this day to Jesus Christ, who loved me and died for me and rose from the dead. When I get to three, shoot it up triumphantly. This is your rededication to God. This is your commitment of your salivation to, that God has given to you. One, two, three. Shoot your hands up. All across the church, God bless you. God bless you.