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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - A Promise for Struggling Sinners

Mike Novotny - A Promise for Struggling Sinners

Mike Novotny - A Promise for Struggling Sinners
TOPICS: Hard Words Loving Truths

I hope you don't think less of me for admitting this, but there's a part of me, and it's a pretty substantial part of me that likes to sin. I have a lot of experience that makes me say that. I've been through about 41 years of living, which means, I've done a lot of sinning. And if you ask me, "Why do you do that? Don't you love the Bible? Don't you love Jesus? Don't you know the commandments? Why do you keep doing that"? The honest answer would be because part of me likes it. That's not the only part of me, and it's not a part of me that I'm proud of, but when I think of all the things that I've done, the lines that I have crossed, the times when I didn't follow Jesus with all of my heart.

The fact is, I did it because it kind of felt good, alright? I mean, when I was going through my school years, and my buddies and I would, you know, kind of have these impressions of our more quirky professors, of those kids from grade school that we really didn't like. I mean, that's not nice, I wouldn't want people to do that to me so, why did we do that? Because it was fun. So fun it made our faces hurt when we talked like that in the basement at the sleepover. If you asked me why when I was in grade school, why did I shoplift that G.I. Joe from the Kohl's department store? The beginning of my very, very short life of crime. The answer would be, "Because it was kind of exciting". And it was fun to take home a toy I normally wouldn't have had otherwise.

And as I got older if you would've asked me, "Mike, how did you end up in that spa where you're like looking at things on the internet, clicking on links that you should not be clicking at"? The answer would be, "It's because in that moment, it kind of felt a lot better than life before the click". You can take a million sins that I've committed sit me on a folding chair, with a light bulb above my head ask me, "Why'd you do it"? The answer would be, "Because I wanted to". The Bible is really honest about that. It says that whether you're a church person or not, whether you follow Jesus or not, there's something in all of our hearts that just wants what it wants.

Whether it's right or wrong in the moment it feels really good and it we choose it and we seek it, and we desire it and we do it. And because of that there are people who want to be pleasing and want to be popular who will tell you this, what if you didn't have to choose. Like, it's hard saying no to that thing inside of our hearts, what if you didn't have to say no to it? What if you could do what you wanted to do? How do we say it, what if you could live your truth, be true to yourself, live your authentic life, search inside for what right or wrong? What if you could do that and still end up with this? With Jesus? What if instead of fighting it, and going to war against it, and resisting, and denying, which feels like crucifying apart of your heart, what if instead of all that you could just do what you want, have fun, and at the end of the day God's grace and his forgiveness and his love will save you?

There's always people, in ancient times, biblical times, in modern times who will say that. You don't have to choose, God is good, and God is love, and his love endures forever. So, just do what you want to do, and you're going to end up in a better place, because you're not Hitler. But last week if you were here, Jesus' half-brother Jude said, "Uh-uh". No, no, no, no, no, that is not what actual people, who believe in God, who love Jesus do. Real Christians repent, real Christians struggle, real Christians stumble, real Christians mess up, real Christians feel that thing inside of them, real Christians make a thousand decisions, they look back and say, "God, why did I do that"?

Real Christians do all of those things, but the one thing that real Christians do not do is harden their heart against God. No, they don't get used to sin, they don't live in it, it might be the millionth time we've fallen, but we come back to God. And instead of concealing it and holding on to it, we breathe it out and we ask for his mercy and forgiveness. Now, it you missed that message, if you can handle it, put a helmet on, go online, listen it again. Jude was really tough with us. He was blunt about the need for repentance for Christian people but today, today I want to speak to those of you who maybe, you know, don't need to be smacked in the face with that truth.

I want to speak to those of you who are a little bit anxious and afraid because of that truth. Because there are some people, and I could name names of people who are here today. Who when they hear that you have to repent, you can't live in sin, you can't use to it, you can't get numb to it, you have to fight against it. When they hear that message what they do, instead of walking out the door in anger, is they panic. And they start to think, "What if I don't make it? I mean, I struggle with sin all the time. What if I fall away from Jesus? What if I lose my faith? What if I stop feeling bad about this, and a year down the road, five years down the road, I'm one of those people who just used to be a follower of Jesus. And now, I'm just following myself, what if I miss out on heaven".

If you're a person who struggles with anxiety or depression, I can almost guarantee this thought will come into your mind. Now, I always describe anxiety as living in a what if world. What if I fall away, what if I stopped believing, what if, what if, what if. And if you battle depression, just you know, negative thinking is instinctual for you. You just jump to that negative spot, "What if I end up as one of those... they're all over in the bible, what if I'm the next one who loses their faith". I think Jude knew we would wrestle with that. Jesus' brother Jude who is filled with the Holy Spirit, he had this divine insight to know that people tend to choose one or two paths. One is pride, and the other is panic.

People would are proud, boom, they got to be smashed in the face with the truth. No, no, no, you can't play God and act like Lord, and end up with the actual God and Lord in heaven. It doesn't work that way. You need to be called to repentance. But what if you're not there, but here and you're panicking. And Jude have a beautiful word for you today. I won't promise you it's the main theme of his book, he spends most of his time over here. But in the verse last verses of the book of Jude, he gives such an incredible promise, that today, I want to spend an entire sermon, on basically a single sentence. Two little verses tucked in way at the end of Jude, there's this, like, tough sandwich, and this little piece of bread and hope.

And if you're a person who often feels anxious, or worries or wonders, or gets depressed or thinks, "I'm not going to make it". Jude has a beautiful word of hope for you today. Jude 1:24-25, "To him," to God, "who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore"! And what a perfect word to end of on, "Amen". So, I gave you some space in your programs, if you want to write down some notes, even if there's not some blanks here.

Let's start with this phrase. "To him who is able to keep you from stumbling". You think, "I'm not able to not stumble". Fine, yeah, you're weak, you're sinful, me too. But God is able to keep you from stumbling. When you think, "I'm trying to follow this narrow road to heaven and I'm going to trip up, and there's all this temptation, I'm going to fall away". Jude is saying, "But God". The God who didn't just like save you and say I see you in heaven, the God that walks beside you each day, just when you're going to stumble and fall on your face, and lose your faith, and catches you. God is able to keep you from stumbling, when you feel like "I can't, I won't, I don't". Jude says to you, "But God can". Beautiful words. "To him who is able to keep you from stumbling," Next one of my favorite lines. "And," here what else God can do. God can "present you before his glorious presence".

Now, if you're brand new here what you don't know is that the presence, the glorious presence of God is like my spiritual addiction. I think it's what the bible is all about, getting into the presence of God. Because no one gets into the presence of God, no one sees the face of God and says, "Hmm, okay I guess I could do this for a bit". No one in the history of heaven has ever yawned, not a single time. Now, do you know what people do when they see God? The word "glorious" is just a word that means wow. Oh, the presence of God. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon before? It's like getting to the edge, and you've seen picture on the internet, but you stand there, wow. You ever been camping in, like, a dark, deceit place and you see the stars lit up like never before?

Wow. You ever had as kid or grandkid and you sit on the carpet, and she takes those first, like, stumbling, drunken steps with a big smile on her face? Like, those feelings are glorious, but the presence of God is glorious-er. And Jude says, "Here's what my God is able to do, and your God, he is able not just to keep you from stumbling, he's able to present you before his glorious presence". Oh, my goodness, you, there. The Lord is able to bless you and to keep you, until you see his face shining upon you. Some of you notice that, there's a blessing we use almost every Sunday, at our church, at the end? And it's not just, "Hey, God's going to be nice to you".

No, what we say week after week is the Lord bless you and keep you. The God who saved you and forgave you, may he keep you. Keep you for what? So that his face shines upon you. You see it now, just by faith as I preach, but one day you won't have to use faith, you will see his face. May God keep you until that very moment. And Jude is saying, "That's not just some nice thing to say, my God is able to do that for you". But if you're the anxious type, you think, "But if I stand in the glorious presence of God, what's he going to think about me? How many times did I sin? How many times did I want that thing instead of God's thing"? And Jude says, "Okay, one more thing for you". "To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence," Listen to these two words. "without fault".

The followers of Jesus will be presented into the very glorious presence of God without fault, without flaw, without sin, they'll be blameless, perfect, priceless, and holy. Because Jesus is like this... Did you know for about half of my life, I squandered my future inheritance on sports cards?? My parents would probably be billionaires, if we had just invested that money instead of buying me cards at every single store we went to. I collected hockey cards and baseball cards, football cards, basketball cards, all the cards. I didn't have hundreds of cards, or thousands of cards, or tens of thousands of cards. I had half of a walk in closet filled with cards. I loved them. I thought they were going to make me rich and famous. It turns out there were a million other kids my age doing the same thing, and I sold them all for like 20 bucks at a garage sale.

Actually I was so infatuated with hockey cards, one time when I was in middle school, high school I think, I wrote 50 handwritten letters to the most famous hockey players in the NHL, and I would wait every day for the mail man to come to see if something glorious would be back. Like this one. My ultimate hockey hero, the Russian rocket himself, Pavel Bure, you know who that is? Have you ever heard of Candice Cameron Bure, from the Hallmark movies? Now, you're nodding which makes me super depressed. Alright, she married, Pavel Bure's brother, also a hockey player. I sent him a card, and Pavel Bure himself signed it. And there was much rejoicing that day at the mailbox. But this came back, but I mean, think of how frail this little piece of cardboard is, you can crunch the corners, you could crease it, you put it in a drawer it can get messed up.

So, what did I do as soon as I got this amazing blessing? I put it in this case. Like, you put your best card in thick plastic cases, so they can be kept and guarded, So that they stay flawless and perfect. Because if something is flawless it ends up being priceless. Like this ding would mess up the card, but the card is not messed up because of the case. Some of you might know the YouTuber named Logan Paul, recently bought a very rare, Pokémon collector card. Like, this limited edition Pikachu, do you know how much he paid for it? In flawless condition, he paid 5.2 million dollars for a Pokémon card. What was I thinking man, Pokémon, that was the key to my riches, right. When something is in flawless condition, it's worth more than you think.

And what is Jude saying about Christians? He said something that keeps us in flawless condition. He's saying, "You're right, you might be weak, bendable, creasable, stainable, but it's not just you anymore". If you're a Christian, if you are in Christ guess who is on every single side of you to keep you from being flawed in the sight of God? The case is Christ. And if Jesus didn't just save you and walk away from you, if he blessed you and then he kept you, if he saved you and then he preserved you. Then this fear and anxiety we have that we're not going to be good enough when we get into the presence of God, it's just not true. If the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin then every corner, every nook, every cranny of your life is flawless in the eyes of God.

The New Testament gushes about this, remember the passage, "Husbands, love your wives, just like Christ the church and gave himself up to make her holy. Cleansing her with water through the word to present her as a radiant church without blemish, but holy, and blameless". If you believe in Jesus, if you're connected with him, the blood of Jesus is this case that keeps you safe from everything that would be offensive to God. And I guess this card could worry, but the case is going to keep it from being creased. And you could worry what God thinks about you, but he already knows what he thinks. And the case that is Jesus Christ will keep you and preserve you until you see his face. Which explains the last thing that Jude says, "To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault," I love this line. "and with great joy".

When I study for sermons, I have these really kind of nerdy, academic, Greek to English dictionaries, and I looked up the phrase "great joy", like, what does that mean in Greek. And here's what one scholar says it means, quote, "A happiness that implies verbal expression and bodily movement". I love that. Professors are funny people, aren't they? A happiness that implies verbal expression and bodily movements. And I wrote in my notes, not German, right. Not like this stoic, "I am happy, you just don't it". No, Verbal expression, I'm saying it and bodily movements, I'm showing it. You know, if you're, like, 35, 40 years old this is what we would do. Whew. Yeah, we'd raise the roof. If you're like a teenager, 20, you say whatever Gen Z person says, you'd say, "Let's go"! Like all the kids do these days.

Verbal expression, bodily movements, I'm jacked up about this, because my God did not just save me, he kept me without fault to stand before his glorious, glorious presence. I don't have to worry about it, I don't have to panic about it, like, I am a child of God. I don't like sin, even though I struggle with it, and God has made a promise to people like me, I'm going to make it. Philippians 1:6, "The God who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion". John 10, "My sheep know my voice, and no one will snatch them, out of my hand". Roman 8, "The God who predestined you and saved you, he will keep you and preserve you into eternity". God makes promise after promise, to his repentant people, "Don't panic, I got you".

So, what do we do with these words? Let me make two quick applications, first to those of you who maybe are reluctant about church and faith, and Christianity, maybe you're a guest here today, maybe you're watching at home, and the reason you're kind of reluctant about being a bible person or a follower of Jesus is because you think that, that stuff you really like to do, you're going to have to give it up. Instead of embracing it, celebrating it, living it, your habits, your words, your relationships, your sexuality. Like you're so afraid. "Well, what kind of life would I have if I didn't do that? Here's Jude's answer, you will lose, but you will gain so much more. Like, yeah, you're going to have to take up a cross, deny yourself and follow", Jesus one time honestly said, it's going be like you lose your whole life.

"But whoever loses their life for my sake," he promised, "will gain real life". You will give up this temporary life and what will you get instead, to be presented in the glorious presence of God forever and ever, happiness like you have never felt. It is the better of the two options. And so, if you're reluctant, if you're dragging your feet, if you say, "No, I want to make my own decisions, define my own truth, live my own life". Jude is saying to you, "You can, but you will lose something so much better, and it's not too late". It is not too late. You can call on the beautiful name of Jesus today and be saved. You could stop holding on to your sin, you could breathe it out, confess and repent, and you could breathe in your immediate salvation through your faith in Jesus Christ.

If you're on the fence, if it's your girlfriend's thing, or your parents are super religious. I'm going to tell you today, this is your chance, it's not too late. The gates to the kingdom of God are open for you, and his smiling, shining, glorious face, would love to see your face too. But if you are a Christian like I am, if you sometimes think about this thing inside of you that like to sin, and you wonder, you freak out, you feel anxious, what if I don't make it. Today, I just want you to know what Jude says, "Yes, you will". I love the summary of this teaching, "To him who is able to keep you from stumbling, to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore".

There's an old Christian song, pretty popular years ago, "I Can Only Imagine" have you heard it? Like what... you ever do that, you ever just try to think ahead, what's it like to see God? What would you do? What do you feel? Do you dance? Do you weep? Do you fall on your knees? Do you chest bump an angel? Do you hug Jesus? Like, what do you do in that moment? And the answer is, I'm not exactly sure, but I do know this. It takes the best, most exciting, thrilling, heart moving moments of this life and it exponentially increases them. Being a Christian is not easy, it's not always convenient, it's like running a long race, it's like fighting a good fight, it's like being a farmer, working long hours in the field. But let your mind imagine to that moments, when it's all done, when seconds of your life tick down, and you stand in the glorious presence of God without a single fault.

When he looks at you and says, "Wow". And you heart, whoo. And that feeling just doesn't last for one season, it lasts forever, and ever, and ever. And when we've been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, with no less days to sing God's praise than when we first began. Jude is no fool, when he ends a tough message about the Christian faith with these words, "To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore". If you believed it, if you love it, if you want it, then would you join your voice with mine, and speak Jude's final word, "Amen". Let's pray:

Dear God, we thank you for your grace and for your strength, it took grace to send your son for sinners like us. It took unconditional, undeserved love, for Jesus to give his very life on a cross for people who were doing their own thing. We thank you today for your grace that gives us mercy and salvation. And God we thank you for your strength. You're not just a kind, compassionate counselor, you are a mighty, supernatural king, who rules all things. The devil may be strong, but you are stronger. This feeling in our hearts may be relentless, God, but you are better.

Our questions and doubts about making it to the finish line maybe constant, God, but you are infinite. And so, we remind ourselves that you are a great God. We pray that our hearts would magnify you, make big and beautiful, and glorious, so that fear, and anxiety, and depression, sin, and deception do not get the last word instead we start to say with confidence and faith, my God's got this. God, you got me. You started something in us, and you're going to see it through.

And so, Father, I speak a strong word against everyone here who struggles with anxiety, everyone here who just assumes they're too messed up or flawed to be forgiven. God break through their hearts and help them to see that what Jude says, is not just his opinion, it's a word from your heart. May they find a peace that goes beyond understanding, knowing that the God who bless them will keep them, and his face will shine upon them forever and ever. We pray all these things in the glorious name of Jesus and all God's people said, amen.

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