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Watch 2022 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - The Gift of Rejection

Levi Lusko - The Gift of Rejection


Levi Lusko - The Gift of Rejection
TOPICS: Rejection, The Last Supper on the Moon

Well, welcome to week two of The Last Supper on the Moon. We are so glad to welcome you at every single Fresh Life location, church online, and then partner churches all around the world. Through our friendship with the Open Network, we're talking loosely about themes that resonate with the message that's in this book. But within the series, we are really on a parallel track because we're covering content not in the book, but that is found in the Gospel of John. So if you brought a copy of the scriptures with you, we're going to be in John chapter 4 today, John chapter 4. This is week two if you just jump in. And now welcome, we're glad you're here. If you came at the invitation of a friend, or something you found in your life made you just want to get to church, it really means a lot that you'd come. Thank you.

Come on, let's welcome our first-time guests. And what we find in John's Gospel, the fourth chapter is the second of seven signs. That's his words. John said as he wrote his Gospel, I'm including seven different signs. And really, sign, the way we use it in our culture, it couldb be more like clues. We might say seven clues as to who Jesus is, seven things. And by the way, you want to collect them all. So make sure you come back for all the weeks of the series, as these seven things are meant to work together to give us a picture of who Jesus is. Now, John's Gospel out of the four different gospels we have, which are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are like four different camera angles on the same story. It's not installments like you have the Harry Potter series. It's four different camera angles on the same story. So what you might have on a film set is a GoPro cam, a jib cam, a drone cam, the tight shot, right? All those different cameras are all filming the same sequence. In the Gospels, you have these four different accounts of the same story for four different purposes because they all had different audiences they specifically had in mind as they wrote. And they're all emphasizing different things.

Now, John said, hey, I wrote my Gospel, at the end, he said, I wrote this whole thing just to straight up try and show you who Jesus is so that you might believe that He is the Son of God, and that you might have life in His name. Because, by the way, that is what happens when you believe that Jesus is the Son of God. You receive life in His name. So he said, having walked around with Jesus, because he was one of the original gangsters, right? He was one of Jesus's three best friends. Because Jesus had 500 disciples that were with him a lot. He had 12 apostles, who were with him almost constantly. And out of those 12, He picked out three, and they got to see things that nobody else saw. Like when He went up on the Mount of Transfiguration and started to glow in the dark, and his clothes got super shiny. And Moses and Elijah pull a "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," and came back and hung out with Him for a hot minute. Only three of the 12 got to see that, Peter, James, and John.

Now, you're like, they must be super spiritual. They must have had really shiny halos. No, I think they needed more supervision, quite frankly. When you read the Gospels, you just start to see they couldn't be left alone. These guys had to use safety scissors, OK? So that's why He brought them with Him. And even when they got there, they were just always putting their foot in their mouth, like getting into fights over who's the best apostle. Peter being like, bro, we should stay here forever. We should build some tents and just stay, or go to REI and stay here. And God the Father had to audibly cut him off like, shh, let the adults talk. Like, there's a plan for all of this, Peter. Well, out of all that he saw, John assembled some of the material into the book called the Gospel of John. And he admitted it's not exhaustive. He actually said, if I tried to write everything Jesus did, it would fill up all the libraries on Earth. Because I would have to go back to even before creation, because Jesus has no beginning.

So I didn't say everything He did. I just picked some material, I assembled it to show you who He is. And these seven signs or seven clues are miracles that He performed that all send a powerful message. The first we looked at last week. And it was the turning of water into wine. It was a very important miracle, a very telling miracle. It was loaded because it was His first day on the job as Messiah. Had been baptized, Spirit had come upon Him like a dove, had gone for two days in the wilderness. And now he's like, I'm the Messiah, I'm ready to begin my ministry. And like the president's, so to speak, first 100 days on the job, it was telling of the administration to come what he chose to do first. So it's significant that he chose to go to a wedding, a wedding where they had run out of wine. And he turned water into wine at a wedding.

Why did we say, if you were here last week, that's significant? Because in Scripture, wine stands for two things, healing as medicine and something that lubricates celebration. It's a picture of joy. It's a picture of life being good, of God's blessing on this good Earth. And it was at a wine-free wedding, meaning the wine had run dry, that He stopped this young couple from the social embarrassment and humiliation that would have been theirs for being the couple who had no wine at their wedding. That He stepped in to reverse shame and humiliation in a world where the wine always runs out, meaning the medicine always runs out. Try as you might, you will die. Try as you might, there will be an end to the celebration you find on this planet. But He says in distinction to all that, I have wine that doesn't run dry. Come to me for the medicine. Come to me for the healing. Come to me for the celebration. This is our Jesus.

So that was in miniature what He was doing in his entire ministry. And so that was the first sign. And today we come to sign number two, to miracle number two that John records. And it's in the fourth chapter. And I want to give to you from this text that we're going to read in a moment a message that I'm calling the gift of rejection. Amen. The gift of rejection, could it be that when we are rejected in life, or feel rejected, or feel that all too familiar taste of disappointment, of being picked over, being looked over or being forgotten, when we feel like we've been rejected, is it possible that we have been handed a strangely wrapped present? John chapter 4, starting in verse 43. I'm going to read you the whole thing. And then we'll come back and try and draw some conclusions. But we'll believe that God can even and will even bless just the reading of His word.

"Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things he did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast. So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, 'Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.' The noblemen said to Him, 'Sir, come down before my child dies.' Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your son lives.' So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. And as he was going down now, his servants met him and told him, saying, 'Your son lives!' Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, 'Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.' So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, 'Your son lives.' And he himself believed, and his whole household. This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee".

And so, Father, we pray that You would speak to us through Your words, that You would give us insight that is not our own. You yourself said that we cannot know, that natural men cannot know the things that are written unless the Spirit helps them. And so we do ask what the Psalm has prayed, that You would send Your Spirit to open up the eyes of our heart to see glorious truths in Your Word. We trust that You are able, like the skilled carpenter who has a whole cabinet or whole vehicle full of tools, so that the right tool is selected for the right job. We believe that You are able to use the same Scripture, the same Word to go 100 different ways, to do 100 different things in our lives, to comfort, to encourage, to convict, to save, to heal. We ask for Your will to be done, not even knowing what You would possibly want to do in our midst in these moments. So we just ask for You to have your way. And we ask it in Your name, Jesus. And we said together, amen.


The strangely wrapped gift of rejection, I felt it as a child. I remember in third grade, I found out I had asthma in the third grade. That was when I first had trouble breathing. You know, T-ball never really was an issue, second-grade T-ball. A little bit of Pee Wee basketball before that. But all the sports and recess never really surfaced the activity-induced asthma until the third grade. And then I vividly recall running baseline, side of the baseline to the other in tennis, just getting out of breath. And not being a normal out of breath, because it just was like really hard. It was like someone was sitting on my chest. And I remember just vividly, like thinking, if I could pull at the skin of my throat, maybe I could breathe better. And my tennis teacher kept telling my parents like, your son keeps pulling at the skin of his throat. I don't think he's breathing well.

And you know, it's just when you're a parent, you're with your kids all the time, you probably don't even notice that. She's like, oh, yeah, this is the thing Levi does, he's always pulling that, it's kind of sad when you think about it, right, pulling out the skin of his throat. And so they got me checked out. And like, yes, he has asthma. Got me an inhaler. I would take it 30 minutes before sports, and it's been much better. I mean, to the present day, if I have a cold, it really flares up. Just a moment ago, I was taking my asthma medication because it's just feeling a little bit of touch to that breathing. And I've learned how in healthier eating, staying hydrated, it can get a little bit better. But still, a part of my life. But I was born into the most athletic family ever. Like my dad played football and track in college, and, as the legend goes, set track records that were at the time of me growing up still standing at Mid, South, Central Michigan State. And it's just all this.

My mom lived in Canada for a lot of her upbringing, where she played hockey. And then coming back to America, there was no, in Colorado, women's hockey leagues. And so she got the rules changed and became the only female player on an all-men's hockey league, all right? So that's my mom, all right? OK, all right. So there you go. And then I'm like the runt of the litter of all the runts of the litter, only child not over 6 feet tall. My 6 foot tall sister went to play volleyball in New York on a full-ride volleyball scholarship. My younger brother, who's taller than me, I'm not salty, it's just a thing. He ended up track and foot, high school and running track up all the way to stay in football, and just athletic, just out the ears. And then there's me. And here I'm huffing and puffing, like with my inhaler from Goonies. But I got inspired to get after, athletically, right after Jennie. And I got married. I was putting on some weight. It's the thing, your metabolism slows down. You start eating well and consistently.

And so I was like, man, I need to run. So I got motivated, got some friends together. We were going to do this run. They were going to do this run. On Camp Pendleton Marine Base, there's this thing called the Mud Run. And you would run. And I think it was like 6.2 miles, which is 10K. And I was all excited to do this. And there's Marines, though. And the Marines are yelling at you the entire time. It's very stressful. And they're like shooting fire hoses at you. You come around the corner, and you have to army crawl under flags, thankfully not barbed wire and live rounds, and then jump over a wall. And they're lying to you when you come up this hill like, you only have a little bit to go. And you have miles left. It's treacherous, really. But I got excited. I got some friends together to run. We started training. And I was stretching my hamstrings and just full kitted out, like bought all the clothes and the shoes. And just every day running, running, running.

And my brother comes into town the weekend of the race, Friday night, shows up in Southern California. What are you doing this weekend? Oh, no big deal, just doing a little run, you know. And he's like, oh, yeah, can I come with you? I'm like, you haven't been training, probably wouldn't be a good idea. I wouldn't recommend it. And he gets online, finds out there's a bib left, gets a bib. I'm like, do you even have running shoes? He's like, I think I have some vans in the car, you know, like not even running shoes. I'm like, I don't even know if they're going to allow you to run without like a full kit of running clothes and a plastic baggie with an inhaler in it, which I'm going to have. So he runs and destroys me. I never see him the entire run. And I come in looking haggard, like I literally look half dead at the finish line. And he's just over there eating a banana, and doesn't even look like he broke a sweat. And yet, in spite of the fact that this led to feelings of rejection, never having been the first to be picked at kickball in my life, to me figuring out what do I like. What am I good at? What has God gifted me peculiarly to do? And what it was was reading. And that's when I found myself. And that's when I felt alive.

And so I was always that kid with my nose in a book. And I read every book in my house, and then I read them again. And I would borrow books. And I would go to the library, and check out books, and finish them, and do contests in the summertime of how many books you could read in a summer. Y'all, it pays off to be a reader, apparently. Because readers are leaders, and leaders are readers. But I'm not saying you should be a reader if you're a runner, or you should aspire to play football if God didn't build you that way. What I'm trying to get you to see is, in my life, I found that one sort of rejection can actually become an invitation to the life that God did build you to live. Rejection can be a gift. And I see that all over this text, where Jesus has an appointment with a man who has a terrible need in his life. But before we get there, a word about the subject of reception. I'm going to give you today seven words that I hope you'll jot down.

The first is reception because it comes up in this text. It says that Jesus ended up there doing ministry because they received Him. It's an important distinction to make because it explicitly says, He did not remain in Judea, nor did He go back to His hometown of Nazareth. But instead, He chose to go to Galilee, and specifically within Galilee, to Cana because the Galileans received Him. How did this miracle take place? Well, we can say it's the same case of how it took place last week. Why was Jesus at the wedding? The text tells us, He was invited. Could it be so simple? Could it be so simple as God is willing to work in my marriage if I invite Him? Is it so simple as God is willing to work in my church if I invite Him? Could it be so simple that God would show up at my workplace tomorrow, and I don't have to dread my 9:00 to 5:00? But I could see it as this tremendous assignment, and the Spirit has sent me into my workplace, into my school, into my classroom, into the hardest thing. Could I be sent on mission? Could God go with me? Would He go before me? Would He stand behind me?

It's so simple. And so many overlook it and look at others, and God seems to work in their life, and God seems to work in their life. Try inviting Him into your life. Try inviting Him into your day. Try inviting Him into your commute. Try inviting Him into your carpool. Whatever the craziest, most hectic part of your life is, invite Him in. And won't He do it? Won't He show up and turn some water into wine in your situation? He didn't go to Nazareth. He didn't stay in Judea. Why? Well, in His words, to quote Him, a prophet is not without honor, except in his own hometown. Jesus was born in Judea, in Bethlehem. But his hometown was Nazareth. Nazareth and Judea tended to be the most difficult ministry assignments Jesus had. Let that sink in for a second. The places that had the most access also were the most inhospitable to Jesus's manifestations of power that He wanted to show. Because it's not like He didn't try. It's not like He wasn't willing to.

Matter of fact, He kind of showed up in Nazareth at the synagogue, and the scroll of Isaiah was handed to Him. And He read prophecies about himself. And then He closed the scroll and said, y'all, today, in your hearing, these words are fulfilled. The Spirit of God is upon me. God is about to work. And do you know what they did? Luke 4:29, they jumped up and mobbed him. They forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff. Someone call Gordon Ramsay. We got a church plant nightmare that's taking place up in here. They wanted nothing to do with Him. Why would it be? The place Jesus grew up had no room for Him becoming who God had built Him to be. Because there was this sense of, we've known you your whole life. What makes you better than us? We know your brothers. We know where you're from. We know your dad Joseph. We saw you in the carpenter shop. So now you're aspiring to God-given greatness which He has given to you? It threatened them. And they viewed themselves as being somehow less than if he became, and you'll feel this on a smaller sense, on a micro sense in your lives if you aspire to change.

There will be at times people in your life who try and drag you down, who try and pull you down. Because misery at times loves company. And when you take hold of your God-given destiny, there will always be people who will say to you stuff like, you've changed. And you know what you should say? I hope so. Yeah. I hope so because when has staying the same ever done anything good for anyone? Not that there's a sense of grandiosity in you, but a sense of destiny. A humble sense of "I want everything that God has for me". And so in Nazareth, it offended their egos and their pride. And they couldn't see past themselves to Him because they were familiar with Him. You can become too familiar with things that you stop appreciating them. And so there wasn't the reception to Jesus's ministry. And so he could not, not would not, could not, this is theologically a lot. It's dense stuff here. This isn't the appetizer, OK? We're cutting our teeth into some steak here. He could not do mighty work in Nazareth.

You're like, Levi, I'm going to need to see a scripture to believe that. Not my Jesus. He could do anything. Oh, really? Well, read what verse says in Mark 6:5. "He could do no mighty work there". So He just laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them on His way out of town. Sidebar, would love to have a bad Jesus's ministry day, right? See what I'm saying? Like total dud, just a bunch of sick people got healed and off he off He went. I've had worse speaking engagements, OK? But how incredible is it to think that this reveals Jesus's priority? Yeah. That the one thing that we tend to make the main thing was actually to Him an afterthought. Not that helping and healing sick bodies and feeding hungry people is unimportant. Because it is important. But He only ever did physical miracles so he could get to the actual miracle He was most impressed by, the miracle on the inside. Because you know what, a withered hand being healed? Dope.

Someone with leprosy being given their life again? Epic. A sick person being raised up who had never walked and now they're, this is to be celebrated, is to be believed for, and I believe is something that God still does in the world today. We have not at times because we ask not. We should ask, and we should believe, and we should trust that it is something God can still do. But guess what, it never is the thing that Jesus has most excited by. Why? Because 2000 years ago, any sick person who got healed is dead today. But any person who came to life in Christ is more alive today and will be 10,000 years from now. So this is the priority. This is what lights up heaven. This is what Jesus Christ came to do. It wasn't His miracles. It wasn't wonderfully inspiring sermons to be bundled up next to the great quote from Mahatma Gandhi, and the Buddha, and other enlightened thinkers over the years.

What set Jesus apart was His death on the cross and His Resurrection, which paved the way for eternal life for anybody who believes in Him. And so it was a failure, He couldn't save anyone. Because you can feed someone who doesn't believe. Someone can even apparently be healed who doesn't believe. But nobody has ever been saved without belief. For the just are just by faith. When you meet people in heaven, you can have a lot of questions for them, how did you die, what was your life like. But you won't ever need to ask anybody how they got there. It is by trust in Jesus Christ. And that is what alone can save. And so Nazareth, as He considered, and I see Jesus, He's most recently, by the way, spent some time in Samaria. And most of my preaching career that I've spent time in God's Word and John 4, I've been focused on this wonderful story of a woman at a well. And there is incredible revival that broke loose in a place that the Jews hated.

The Samaritans were hated by the Jews, and the Jews were hated by the Samaritans. And when Jesus was leaving Jerusalem from the feast where He had done some miracles, He chose to go to Samaria. And the disciples were shocked and confused because shockingly, there was then and is still now racial tension and bigotry, and people who thought our way's the right way, and your church is stupid, and how you worship God is wrong. And turns out brokenness is just a part of the human condition and will be until Jesus Christ returns. And so they're like, how dare you preach there? And oh, my gosh, He was preaching to a woman. And when this woman was saved, she preached and began to tell other people about the goodness of God. And they all came out. And there was this incredible revival. And Jesus, who was just passing through to meet this woman, stayed for two days of revival.

That's why the first verse I read to you said, now the two days were over. And an incredible reception in Samaria. They wanted Him to stay longer. No reception in Nazareth. Very little reception in Bethlehem. And so He chose to go to Galilee. Why? For there, they received Him readily. He would spend most of His time in Capernaum. It would become home base for His operations. But on this day, interestingly enough, and it's strange, when you see Him go to Galilee, you almost expect Him to head to Capernaum. But it says, nope, He went to Cana, where He had already done a miracle. And then it says, but a man from Capernaum hearing he was in Cana ran to come to get Him in Cana. And this guy comes in, bursts through the door.

And there is second word now, desperation all over his face, all over his face. And when he begins to speak, you understand why. My son is "at the point of death". Interestingly enough, this is what Jesus said, don't eat from the tree in the Garden of Eden, death will come into mankind. Death will come in. If you eat it, you'll die. Adam and Eve did eat it, and they did die, eventually. But first they died inwardly, spiritually. And to be dead spiritually, and then to die physically is to remain dead perpetually. And that is what God did not want to happen. And that's why He promised in the Garden, the Cross is going to come. I'm going to come and pay for the sins so that you can have life eternally. And dying physically will be a gift. Because if you die physically, alive spiritually, you can be promised that you will participate in the Resurrection eternally. Amen. Because He's going to come and bring every loved one you've ever loved who's died in Christ back to life. That's what He has said He would do.

And so it's a different way to look at it all. But when death first did show up, it wasn't Adam and Eve. It was Abel. Cain slew Abel. Jennie pointed out to me as we were reading through the Bible this year as a family, she said, isn't it interesting that the first to die was a child, not the father or the mother? And indeed, the grief would be unbearable for Adam and Eve. They knew death had come in. And now the sins of the father and mother were being visited on the brothers as Cain killed Abel. And they had to grieve Abel's death. And really, it was two griefs because they now had to grief life with Cain being removed, for he was a fugitive, the Bible says, from that day forward on the Earth. So there's just so much sadness and sorrow. And that is what was written on this man's face, my son is sick. And then he says this. He says, won't You come with me?

And interestingly enough, Jesus responds in frustration, turning to the crowd and going, man, none of you are willing to believe unless you see some razzle-dazzle miracle. And it's frustration written on his face that He responds to a man who's got a great need. And all of us are a little bit like, if we could pull Jesus out like, hey, how cool, how cool. They're going to write this down. That's super mean, bro, right? Frustration? Why this frustration? You have to understand the context. This man, the text says, was a nobleman. But in the Greek, it's actually the King's man. Many people believe that he worked for King Herod. Because King Herod was the only king in this area at this time, under the Augustus Caesar, who is actually ruler of the whole realm at this time. And so this man was somehow part of Herod's throne room, one of Herod's cronies. Perhaps one of Herod's relatives. And we know there was like a sense in which Herod liked Jesus because he heard of some of the miracles and wanted to see it, much like you would want to go see David Blaine, right? Or you would be like, oh, yeah, Copperfield, this is super cool. I love it, check it out on YouTube, right? Like, this is awesome.

Herod didn't love Jesus. But he wanted to see the miracles. In fact, the Bible tells us, "Herod", Luke 23, this is at the end of Jesus's life, "was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle". But Jesus did not come to perform magic tricks. And so in this moment when the man comes to ask for Him to do something, He was responding to the popular sentiment that had put Jesus on this man's radar. You guys just want to see a miracle. You don't actually want anything to do with Me. You just want Me to do things for you. You don't actually want Me, is what He was saying here. And that man in response to Jesus's frustration could have huffed away. You're not the only medicine man. You're not the only shaman. You're not the only healer, OK? I could go find someone who's got some Datura oil to bring to my son. I could, I'm sorry, I apologize.

That was a little too close to home for some of you. I could find someone else to help my son out. He could have, and that is what Jesus was kind of giving him here, an opportunity to be offended. Because the Gospel is always bitter on the outside and sweet on the inside. Amen. Unlike sin, which is sweet on the outside but bitter on the inside. And so Jesus will always offend. He did not come to bring peace first, but He came to bring a sword. And if you're not offended on behalf of that, the fact that He says, die, die with me, give me your life, lay down your life, die and you'll find it, then there's the next chance to that next invitation, that next level. You're invited in. And that man did not get offended. In fact, he doubled down now. So Jesus is frustrated, kind of. And I like to think of Jesus frustrated but having to hide it a little bit, like hoping the man will keep with him. And that's exactly what happens. Because the man then says, please come down with me. My dear child is dying, different Greek word. First it was just my son is sick and at the point of death.

Now he says my baby boy. Please come down with me. We're like, come on, Jesus, act down now. Like, show them the smile. And instead, Jesus says, no, your son's fine. Your son is fine, just go home. The man said, what was the request, come with me. Come into my home. Put your hand on him and heal him. Come with me. The whole walk I'll be able to tell you about him, his name, and this is what he does, and this is what happened, and he fell down, and I don't understand, and the fever broke. And the whole walk Jesus would be with this man. Come with me was the request. Jesus said no. You go, go home, he's fine. Your boy is fine, he lives. So it was a what? Rejection. Jesus rejected this man's request ultimately, giving him something he did not ask for, which was to come with me and help me. He says, no, but he's fine. So just go ahead and walk there yourself. And amazingly, we see what in response? Submission.

Next word you got to jot down. This man submitted and yielded. And he did exactly what Jesus said, and he walked his way. How far? 22 miles was the distance from Capernaum to Cana. He had already walked it once that day. 22 miles he had walked in to meet Jesus. And he got there. Like how long would it take? I mean, this is hours, and hours, and hours, and hours of walking. You could walk four to five miles on average per hour, slower if you got the asthma. And he gets there, meets Jesus, says this. Jesus says, he's fine, go. He heads out. When he gets home, it's the next day. Because he had to sleep somewhere. Because he didn't have a flashlight. Ancient world, you did not travel at night. It was not possible. So he has to sleep somewhere, wake up, finish the journey. His servants meet him out front of the house. Your boy lives, the exact word that Jesus gave him. Your boy lives, your boy lives. When did he get better? Yesterday at such and such a time. And he knew it was exactly when Jesus said the words "your son lives". But he had to walk in faith, taking Jesus at His word.

The second sign shows us that we must believe without seeing, not the other way around. Right. We want to see in order to believe. But Jesus has always said, blessed are you if you believe even when you haven't seen. And I love this picture of a 22-mile miracle. 22 miles where he had to believe and trust God, and keep moving, and not lose heart, and keep walking. And then go to sleep, and then wake up, and keep going, and keep going, believing. That even though he wasn't given what he asked for, that if Jesus spoke the word, that I'm going to keep walking in faith, believing I'm going to see it before it's over. And then Jesus really gave a miracle. You know what miracle was? Salvation. That's the sixth word.

This man got to see the miracle he didn't ask for. He didn't even know he needed it, as he and his household got saved. That's the miracle to pray to God for, may my whole house will be saved. Jesus, may my whole family be saved. If my son does good in soccer or not, if my daughter does good in school or not, becomes a cheerleader like I was or not, gets into the school or not, may my children and my grandchildren be saved. Because then theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven forever. Not just the GPA, not just doing good on the dance team. May me in my house serve the Lord. He got the miracle. Jesus said no to the miracle he asked for to give him one he didn't even know he needed, the gift of rejection. And at the end of the story, this man got to walk away with something I'm praying that God gives us all. And you can only have it by faith, 20/20 vision.

20/20 vision is our seventh word. 20/20 vision is where you look back, and you see what you didn't see then, when you were being rejected. Michael Collins was the third crew member on Apollo 11. Buzz Aldrin took communion on the Moon. Neil Armstrong got to be the first to walk on the Moon. Michael Collins was a part of the mission. Interestingly to this text, he was the only living human at that time, outside of an Aborigine deep in the jungle, who could not watch Neil take that first step on the Moon. Half a billion people on Earth tuned in. Half a billion watched it, listened to it on the radio. Anybody who had ability was watching and listening when Neil took that step and said those words, there's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Michael Collins could not watch. And Michael Collins could not listen. And ironically, of course, he was closer to the two who were doing it than anybody alive, as he was orbiting the Moon in Columbia. But because he was on the backside of the Moon, the dark side of the Moon, no radio reception could receive him. And he was in complete and total radio blackout. How crazy is it?

The one person alive who couldn't watch and listen to what we had all been waiting for all these years was the person closest to the fire. May that never be so among us. May those of us who have seen and heard always be seeing and hearing what Jesus is doing and excited to see it extended in new places and new people. But the 20/20 vision, and Michael Collins, and the interestingness about this all goes further because he didn't belong on Apollo 11. He was never supposed to be there. Because he was rostered on the crew of Apollo 8. He was supposed to be several missions before a part of the crew that would go to the Moon for the first time, circle around it, and then come back home. The first time we went to the Moon was not 11, it was 8. And Michael Collins was supposed to be there. But something happened to his spine. A degenerative disease caused there to be a breakdown between the sixth and seventh cervix. And his legs went numb inexplicably one day. And he couldn't feel them in hot and cold water. He couldn't feel that on the calf muscle.

So he went in to get an X-ray. And they found out there's a problem with your spine. Unless we fix it, you can never be ejected out of a fighter plane again. You can never do any of this. Air Force will ground you. NASA will ground you. You are off this mission. He was heartbroken because the diagnosis meant he could not participate in this historic mission to go around the Moon for the first time. His words when the diagnosis came out, he said, "I had been dropped from the crew as soon as the necessity for my operation had become apparent. Dropped," he said, "like a hot potato". Rejected. They had to put him under the knife, cutting, slitting his throat this way, taking a piece of bone from his hip and installing it to his neck, and hoping it would strengthen and be able to clear him for flight again. But he honestly had no hope of this happening. But then it did. And they said, we have a mission for you. You're going to be a part of not Apollo 8, sorry about that. You're going to be a part of Apollo 11. You're going to go down in history as one of the three who got to be a part of manned landing on the Moon for the first time. How? Because of rejection.

And aren't there so many stories like that? I mean, as we comb through history, does not Steve Jobs go down in history as saying that being fired from Apple was the best thing that ever happened to him? Otherwise he wouldn't have started Pixar, only to come back and own Apple again. I mean, we could only think about Tom Brady being the 199th draft pick. And we'd think about his draft bio talking about how sickly and weak he was, and how he couldn't throw, and he just wasn't much to look at. How you like them apples? How you like me now? Love him or hate him, you got to respect what he's done. The point is, in your life, it's hard when you see it, it's hard when you face it. But I dare you to believe in Jesus's name. There's a gift inside rejection. That God is moving and working. He has a plan. He's up to something in your life.

And so Father, we trust and pray that what we're seeing right now isn't all that there is. And that You're working in the Earth, You're working in our lives. I pray by your Spirit's power, You would help us to see rejection differently. And then if You ever choose to not give us what we ask for, it's because You want to give us what we don't even realize we need. And so we say to You, You do all things well. And if as we're praying all across our church and all the churches in this moment, if you would say, God, I want you to help me see the gift of rejection, to see it differently, my situation, my life. Or you would say, I want You to help me to not be cursed by my knowledge, to not have my life be something You can't work in because there's not receptivity. I'm asking for Jesus people who are saying in this moment, open my eyes, give me new insight, God.


If that's you I'm describing, could you just raise up a hand all across this moment?

Thank you, Father, for what you're doing. Thank you for those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Bless these with the uncanny ability to be unshakable even when situations are all adding up to tell a story that You're not good, that You don't have a plan. That we would resolutely hold on to You. And like Job said, though You slay me, I will follow You. Even if, and especially when You don't make sense to me. Because, God, Your ways are not my ways.


You can put your hands down. And I want to now extend an invitation to anybody who today is listening to this message, and your heart is heavy because you are, as Scripture says, without God and without hope in this world. You've never trusted Jesus for salvation. You might be religious, you might know things about God. But you don't know God. You don't have a personal relationship with Him. But you can't. Because Jesus said, if you are thirsty, come to Me and drink. If you're tired, come to Me, and you will find rest for your souls. He died on the cross for you. He rose from the dead. And the Bible says, His spirit is in the world moving, drawing people to Christ. We cannot come to God unless the Father draws us. And I believe that's happening now in this day of salvation, where the door is open, and all who are willing can come.

You're saying, Levi, I wanted to do that. But what do I need to do? Let's just say, you can't do anything. You must simply receive. "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling". But that spirit of receptivity, you must say, come into my life, come into my soul, forgive me. And if that's what you want to do, I would be so honored to lead you in a prayer, with every head bowed, every eye closed, no one looking around, respecting the privacy of this moment. If you're ready to trust Jesus for salvation, say this out loud after me. A church family, say it with us:

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I'm broken, I'm hurting. And I need You. Please come into my life, make me new. I give myself to You, Jesus.


The phrase "the frown of God" kept coming to me because when I was reading this passage all week, I felt like God was intentionally frowning at this man, which flies in the face of theologically what I believe. Because the Bible again and again speaks about God's shining smile, His face of smile upon his people. So I kept asking God, why would You frown at this man? And then I found this quotation from Matthew Henry, who said this. "Those who God intends to honor with his favors He first humbles with his frowns". And it hit me like a bolt of electricity. It was like 5:30 in the morning, and I'm reading this. And that makes so much sense to me. Because this man was a part of the King's crew. He was used to everybody in life acquiescing. And this man needed to be humbled before he could be saved. It must happen to us all. And the brokenness that came in his life when he came to someone who he thought would genuflect in response to his greatness.

And Jesus did not roll that way. Because he is not a tame lion, y'all. And with the frown, the man was humbled. And desperation then actually came out with the faith. Jesus saw the saving faith. In that moment, that man latched on. And I just love that God at times will get us to the smile he wants us to have through the frown at times of life, at the front of situations that we are facing. And then I continued, and I came across this hymn. And it's by a man named William Cowper. William Cowper wrote a hymn about "There is a fountain filled with blood," the song of Immanuel's veins giving us a fountain of life. It's a beautiful hymn. But then he also wrote a song called "God moves in a mysterious way".

And John Newton, who, some of you might know, wrote a very well known hymn called "Amazing Grace," was best friends with William Cowper when William Cowper struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts as a Christian, as a poet, as a theologian. And Newton came alongside Cowper and said, what if we partner together on a hymn book? And they wrote this hymn book full of songs. The first time that "Amazing Grace" was released was in this hymn book. And Cowper contributed a song, two songs actually to the hymn book. And one of them was called "God moves in mysterious ways". And in it, I want to put the words over the screen so you can see them and let me read them over you. And then we'll sing and walk in the power of God to help us see situations that feel like a frown. Because that's a great depiction of depression, to feel like there's a frown over you. But to believe that even in the frown, it is a precursor to God smiling on your life. And so that's what he writes.

And I love this. He says, "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable minds of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs, and He works His sovereign will. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense", that's man's understanding, my ability to understand what's happening here, "but trust Him for His grace. Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face". And for what it's worth, take it from a dad who has asked God to save my child's life.

And he chose to say yes in the most unusual way, by allowing her to die but bringing her home where she is safe with Him. To say, I've seen God's frown. But I've seen it as a setup for His smile. And from my heart to yours, God is smiling over your life. And the storm clouds you're facing are only His way of getting you ready for the rain showers of His love that he wants to put out on your life. So let's trust Him and worship Him, even and especially when we don't understand what he's doing. My friend Annie F. Downs likes to say that God doesn't use Google Maps, or Apple, or even Waze. But thank God, His ways are not our Waze. His ways are higher than our ways. So let's trust Him.
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