Man: Now, let’s talk about what’s going on with that bag.
Woman: Oh, that? It’s nothing.
Man: It looks like a big something.
Woman: It’s just some old stuff.
Man: Well, can I see inside?
Woman: Seriously. It’s just junk.
Man: Well, if it’s just junk then why are you carrying it around with you?
Woman: To be honest, I’m trying to avoid opening this bag again as much as possible.
Man: Well, that’s even more of a reason to open it. Let’s do it together. What’s this?
Woman: My family. Or… was my family.
Man: Are they dead?
Woman: Might as well be. When my father left, it left our family completely broken.
Man: Eviction notices. Job terminations. Bad grades. Debt. You carry a lot of old paperwork around with you.
Woman: I just always seem to be missing the mark.
Man: This isn’t all of it though. What about the successes?
Woman: I guess the failures just speak louder.
Man: Looks like you’ve had a lot of suiters.
Man: What happened here?
Woman: The usual. He cheated. I guess I just wasn’t enough.
Man: Well, there’s a ton of stuff in here. Regrets. Addictions. Hurt and pain. No wonder this bag was heavy. Why are you holding on to so much of your past?
Woman: It’s familiar. It’s become my identity. It’s who I am.
Man: No. Not anymore. You don’t have to carry all of this. The thing about this cup is that it makes all things new. Even you. It’s time to move on. Why don’t you let somebody else carry all that stuff for you?
Well, good morning everybody and also welcome to those who watch via the mobile app and the internet. The video is so powerful because most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, have at least carried a bag around for a while and, if we’re honest, many of us still carry that bag today even though we are Christians. And I believe that what I have to say this morning to you all — most importantly, what God’s Word has to say to you all this morning — will really make a difference in your life.
But, before we go there, I want to make sure that I bring everybody back up to speed because I’m committed to, whether you’re brand new, whether you’ve missed a couple of weeks or whether you’re just happy to be here and you forgot what we’re dealing with anyway, I just want to make sure that everybody’s on the same page so that everybody feels like they’re a part.
We’re in a five-week series called “Drink” and this is week number three. And what we’re doing in this series is we’re looking at how the four cups of the Passover meal represent core transformations that God has for our lives. And I want to unpack that a little bit for you so that it makes sense.
When I went to Israel, I went to Israel with 20 plus years of school and I had taught at college seminary level. But, when you go somewhere, it’s a little different than what you think it is. I mean, a picture only shows so much. When you’re physically there, it’s different. And I had many different things that happened on that trip of things that I went, “Wow, I’d never really put that together this way.”
But, one of the most impactful moments when I was in Israel was when I got to spend some time with our tour guide. Her name was “Sheira.” And, by chance, Sheira, if you ever watch: Hi!
She was a really great lady who knew a lot about Israel, knew a lot about the archaeological stuff going on there in Israel. Very well versed in all the stuff going on. And she talked about the Passover meal. I mean, I had read about it and I’m sure I’d even studied it. But, you know, I didn’t really think that much about it. When I think of the Passover meal, I think probably like you all about communion. I think of the cup and the gluten-free wafer. That’s what Jesus was doing, right? I mean, that’s pretty much what I thought.
Well, she explained to me that, during the Passover meal or the Seder dinner, not only did they do other things, but there were four cups that they would drink out of. Which means when it says that Jesus took the cup after supper, that is a specific cup in the Passover meal. I never really put that together. For whatever reason, I hadn’t.
So, it really put me on a journey to look at these different cups that were a part of the Passover and Seder dinner. And they come from the book of Exodus in Exodus 6:6-7. So, as they drink — and they drink one cup and then they do some stuff and drink another cup all the way through the four cups — they have an “I will” statement that they make when they drink the cup.
So, what I’ve done here is I’ve sort of put numbers for each of the cups so that we’re all on the same page. God says to Moses, “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and (1)…” — This is the first cup. We dealt with this last week. — “…I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
So, when they drank the first cup, they would say, “I will bring you out.”
Then it goes on, “and (2) I will deliver you from slavery to them.”
So they’d say, “I will deliver you.”
The third cup is, “and (3) I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.”
And the fourth cup is, “(4) I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
Those four cups, the more I looked at it and the more I studied Exodus, were the four real things God wants to do in your lives. Now, maybe you’re not like me, but I assume most people are similar. If it was like 35 things I’ve got to do to get it right or 100 things God wants to do in my life, that’s sort of hard. But four things? I mean, I’m from Kentucky. Four things? I can handle that stuff. You know what I’m talking about? Four things.
So, these are the four major things God wants to do. And last week, we looked at the first cup. The first cup is God wants to save and deliver us. He wants to get us out of Egypt. He wants to move us from being lost to being found. And that is an important cup. It’s something He wants to do in our lives. And if you’re here this morning and maybe you showed up, maybe somebody brought you in here, maybe you’ve been away from church for a while or whatever, let me tell you something: God wants you to come home. He wants you to drink that first cup.
So, He takes them out of Egypt. The second cup though, He says, “I will deliver you from slavery to them.”
Isn’t it interesting that God takes them out of Egypt and then He gets Egypt out of them? See how that works? I’m convinced — and I say this reluctantly because, as a pastor, I want you to walk in all the fullness that God has for you. Every single thing God has for you; I want every one of you all to get ahold of that. I’m convinced — and I say this with a sad heart — that the majority of the Christians in the world have never got past the second cup. They’re still carrying around their yesterdays, they’re still carrying around all of their burdens, they’re still carrying around things that influence the way they act. And listen: I believe God wants to deliver you from those things and He wants you to live a great life.
So, we’re going to do something a little different. Normally we do this at the end. What I want you to do is get your bulletins out and back here it says “Sermon Notes.” If you’re online, get a sheet of paper out or your iPad or your phone or whatever. I want you to write down a few of these commitments. These are really big. This is really important because if we don’t understand this, this message may not be as powerful as it could be. Write these down. Take notes here. This is really important.
First of all — and I’ve made it personal. Normally I use “we” or I use “us” because I want you to know that, “Hey, we’re in this thing together.” You guys only get one sermon on the weekend. I’ve got to preach this thing four times, man. I walk out of here after 11:30 going, “God, I’ve got a long way to go.” You guys only get it once. I get it four times. I get the quadruple blessing of the message.
Anyways. The first thing that I want you to understand whether you’re a new Christian, whether you’ve never been a Christian, whether you’ve been walking with God for many, many years:
1. God doesn’t just want to save me.
That’s not what God is all about. He doesn’t want to just save. Now, He wants to save you. He wants to bring you home. But, He doesn’t want to just save you. Write this down: Salvation deals with my eternity.
When I come to faith and I believe in God, I’m getting my eternity settled. But, God doesn’t want to just save you, God also wants to deal with my quality of life now. God wants you to live a good life. He doesn’t want you to go, “Hey, I’m saved. I know I’m going to Heaven. But, I’ve got this big bag that I’m carrying so everybody can see me carrying this big bag.”
Nobody’s going to want that. God wants you and me to live trade-up lives. He wants people to look at you and me and go, “I want something of what they’ve got. So, He doesn’t want to just save us.
Secondly, and this is important that you write down.
2. The grace that meets me where I am doesn’t leave me where I am.
And, unfortunately, the church has got both of these things wrong as a general rule throughout the ages.
First of all, we've told everybody they've got to get cleaned up before they come to church. Now, come on. You know you've heard a friend say that to you. "Well, I'll come to church, but I've got to get some things right in my life."
Can I let you in on a little secret? You aren't ever going to get all that stuff right until you meet God. God's the one that cleans us up, okay? So, we've got that wrong that everybody's got to get cleaned up before they show up. No no no. We want people to come in here no matter what's going on in their lives because God wants to meet us where we are. But, thank God He doesn't leave us where we are. And what's interesting is is the people that have gotten this one right. "Oh, well God meets me where I'm at. God loves me. I've got so much grace. He loves me so much." They forget that God doesn't want to leave you where you are. God actually wants to produce holiness and righteousness and power in your life. So the grace that meets us where we are doesn't leave us where we are.
3. God wants to unpack my junk.
Write this down. He wants to unpack my junk. He's not wanting you and me to walk around with big bags. He wants to unpack it. Make this personal. These are important things that we get. And here's the beauty. The fourth one: God then uses my healed yesterdays as He unpacks that junk.
4. He uses healed yesterdays to bring blessings to others.
He uses what He does in our life where He transforms areas of our lives that were deficient and He brings healing to that. That's what we usually end up ministering to other people through are those broken areas in our lives that He's healed us. It's very difficult to minister out of a bag. The way God wants to do it is He wants to get that bag off of your shoulder and then use those things that He's healed you with to bless other people.
Makes sense so far? Everybody tracking with me? Okay. So, now that you understand that, I want you to put down your sheet of paper. If you want to have your Bible out, you can. But, I want to tell you a story. Y'all like it when I tell Bible stories, so we're going to have a Bible story. Just pay attention here. If you know the Bible well, you're going to enjoy this and if you've never read the Bible at all, I think you'll still enjoy this. We're going to start off with the book of Genesis. If you've never read the Bible, if you go to the table of contents and turn right, you'll be right there. It's the first book of the Bible. And it starts off: "In the beginning..."
And everybody knows that. You know? It's like the kid in class. He's like, "God plays baseball because in the big inning..."
You know? Y'all are slow this morning. Y'all wake up here, come on. Y'all should've got coffee on the way in. Anyway. We start off in the beginning and we realize not very long after the beginning that there's this thing called sin that happens and it sort of just messes the whole world up. I mean, everybody's sort of doing all the bad stuff. There needs to be floods to eradicate this stuff. They're building buildings trying to build up to God and everything. And, in chapter 12, He calls a guy named Abraham to start to deal with this problem. And He says that, "Abraham, through you, I'm going to bless the nations."
See, He wanted to bless the nations from the beginning. Remember? He told Adam and Eve that He wanted them to go into the world and subdue the earth and do all that. God's plan from the very beginning was the same thing. So, He calls Abraham to sort of pick this thing up again and start moving forward doing his thing and so on and so forth. And, as you read through the book of Genesis, you'll come to some pretty cool things. Like you come to this guy Abraham, he has a son named Isaac. And he wants Isaac to get married. So, he sends his servant out to go find his wife. And where does he find his wife? He finds his wife at a well.
That's important. You're reading these things. The story of Isaac finding his wife, Rebecca, is the largest narrative in the book of Genesis. So, it must be important. It's longer than the creation of the world, which is interesting. The longest narrative in Genesis is this idea of this dude finding his wife at the well. The story sort of goes the same way as some of the other stories that you find out in the Bible as they get married.
You know, they find their wife. She goes back in town. Everybody comes back out. They rejoice. They end up getting married. Well then, as you go from Isaac, you go to Jacob. Now, Jacob, in the original language in Hebrew, means "a deceiver" or "a supplanter." He's a trickster. He likes to do things that he shouldn't do. Well, Jacob is at a well in the middle of the day. Now, if you understand that culture, that's not the time you normally show up at a well. You go in the morning or you go in the evening because, in the middle of the day, it's really hot. Nobody goes out to draw water from the well in the middle of the day. Well, he's in the middle of the day out there and, all of a sudden, some people come up to the well at the sixth hour. Sort of strange that they would show up in the middle of the day.
But, part of what shows up is this beautiful girl named Rachel. I mean, she's so pretty and she's pure that Jacob gets up and there's a rock on the well – it normally takes two or three guys to take that rock off. He goes into hero mode to lift that rock off to pull it off to show her his strength. Now, ladies. Come on, now. Do we need some men that used to do that five years ago? We need some hero today, don't we? Rather than sitting on the couch and eating Cheetos. Come on, ladies. I'm helping you out. Some of you guys are like, "I hate my pastor now."
Anyway. I'm trying to help the women out, man. So anyway, he decides he really likes this girl. I mean, she's beautiful. He even goes up and kisses her. She goes back and family comes out just like for Isaac and all that good stuff. And the dad of Rachel is Laban. Laban's like Jacob. They both are some hucksters and some tricksters. You know? You reap what you sow. Can I tell you that? You reap what you sow. And so, Jacob wants to marry this girl Rachel. He says, "I'll tell you what. How about you work for me for seven years for a dowry and you can have my daughter."
Man. Can you imagine what it would be like if we had to work for seven years to get our wife? Boy. We wouldn't have as many problems as we have, would we? Come on. Some of you women are like, "I know, man. He should've had to work for me. He got me some flowers and a chocolate bar. So now I'm married. Man, seven years? Can we go back and do a rewind?"
Anyway. So, he works for seven years doing his thing. And finally, he's going to consummate this marriage. Goes in a tent with no electricity, no AC or whatever. He goes in and consummates his marriage with Rachel. Except, when he wakes up in the morning, it's not Rachel. It's Leah. Old Laban, he's a trickster like Jacob. So, Jacob then has to go work another seven years to get Rachel, this beautiful girl that he really likes. And he marries her.
Now, it's interesting because the Bible says he loves Rachel because she's pretty. But, he doesn't love Leah because she's not that pretty. Now, you may say, "Okay. That's cool, man. Get on reading Moses. Moses finds Zipporah, his wife, at a well. So, if you're reading that – and you should read the Bible that way. You should read the Bible going, "Okay, that's important here. All this stuff is going on. This is important stuff."
Because it becomes important when you get to the Gospel of John. John starts off – most people, when the read John, if you've read Genesis, they're like, "Oh, that's cool. He's sort of starting off like Genesis."
He starts off: "In the beginning..."
You're like, "Oh, wow. That's cool." And, if you're really reading John and you're really paying attention, John gives you seven chronological days right after he says "in the beginning" which is really cool because there's seven days in Genesis. John's giving you seven days. He knows Genesis really well. Well, in chapter 3, as John the Baptist is talking about Jesus, he says something sort of cool. John the Baptist says, "The one who has the bride is the bridegroom."
In other words, Jesus is the bridegroom and He's in search of His bride. And, if you read John, John's got the Gospel, he's got epistles and he's got revelation. He's really big on this idea of the bride. He says, "So, the one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom..." – that's John the Baptist – "...who stands and hears Him rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice."
Now, if you're reading that and you sort of have some idea, you've read "in the beginning" and the seven chronological days and Jesus is now the bridegroom, you might think, "Man, is he coming looking for His bride? Is there something going on?"
Well, it's interesting because, as you flip into the next chapter, here's what you read in John 4:5-7, "So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given his son Joseph."
That's interesting. I mean, he didn't have to include Jacob. He could've just not mentioned his name. And then he says this: "Jacob's well was there."
Woah, man. We've got the bridegroom at Jacob's well. That's sort of cool. Because we remember Jacob's story.
"Jesus, wearied as He was from His journey, was sitting beside the well."
It gets really cool now. Because, "It was about the sixth hour."
You've got to be kidding me. Jesus is at Jacob's well at the same time Jacob was there. Is it possible that maybe this really pretty, beautiful woman might show up?
"A woman from Samaria came to draw water."
Now, that wouldn't have been beautiful. She was what they call a "half-breed" back then. She was part Jew, part Gentile.
So, "A woman from Samaria came to draw water and Jesus says to her, ‘Give me a drink.’"
Now, that was radical in that day. It was just crazy radical for a man to say something to a woman. That's just not the way it went. She's sort of taken aback that Jesus would ask for a drink. And so, they start to have this dialogue back and forth. She's like, "What do you mean with a drink? You haven't even got anything to draw with."
He's like, "But I'm going to give you some living water."
And her attention is perked up. She's like, "Man, what are you talking about here? Living water? I've been here at this well. I've drank this water a long time. There's no living water here."
He's like, "No. If I give you the water I give you, you'll never thirst again."
She's like, "I've never heard about this stuff. What's going on?"
And she asks a question. It's a really important question. She says, "Are you greater than Jacob?"
Jesus starts talking to her and, next thing you know, He says to her, "Hey, you've been married five times and now you're living with somebody."
We realize that's why this woman's come to the well in the middle of the day because she has some issues and some scars. She has some things that she doesn't want to have to deal with out in public. So, she's come and she meets Jesus and Jesus unloads the truth bomb. "You've been married five times and now you're living with somebody."
But, He's so kind to her and He's so gracious to her and He's so loving to her that she just cannot escape what's going on in her life. And John records something interesting. He says, "So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people..."
She left her water jar. You don't leave a water jar. You don't leave a water jar. That's important. I mean, you've got to get water. You've got to have a water jar to draw water. She's so taken aback at the love that Jesus has shown to her and the grace that Jesus has shown to her, the fact that she's been married five times and is living with someone and all of these things, and nobody probably cares about her and nobody loves her or anything like that.
She showed up in the middle of the day, Jesus meets her and shows her all of this love. She runs back into town and she says, "Come see the man who told me everything that I ever did."
Interesting. This lady who was hiding from all the things that she had ever done is now proclaiming that Jesus has read her mail and said everything that she's ever done. And I want to say something. I won't run anybody off. I don't want you to walk out of her and get mad at me because I want to make sure that you understand this. I am totally not for divorce in any situation whatsoever. I get that stuff. But, I want to set some people free because, sometimes, the church has taken divorce and they've made it like the sin above all sins. You know? You can go out and cheat and steal and rob and drink but, if you get a divorce, you're out of there.
Can I say something? It's a truth bomb here for some of you all. Jesus recognized that she'd been married five times. He didn't say she'd been married once and the other four weren't marriages. He says, "You've been married five times."
I just want that to give some people – not that I'm trying to condone divorce, I just want you to feel the freedom because so many people carry that around as a bag and they can't get out of it. And all the people in the church tell them all the bad stuff. I want to tell you something: that can be forgiven too, in Jesus' name.
She says, "Come see a man who told me everything that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" And they all went out of the town and were coming to Him.
What a great story. It's like an awesome story. All of the stuff going on, all of these things sort of unpacking as we go. So now, get out your sheet of paper here because this is where we do the take-home thing. This is where we take home some stuff that we can chew on for the rest of the week and really think about. This is important that we do here. These are called take-homes.
Here's the first one: the woman stopped making it about her and made it about Him.
This is woman that had issues. I mean, she was not perfect in any way, shape or form. She didn't have her whole life together. She had a lot of things going on in her life. She came to the well in the middle of the day because she didn't want to have to deal with her stuff. It was about her. But what happened is she met Jesus and it became not about her anymore and it became about Him.
If you and I want to see the bags that we carry around go away, the first thing we've got to do is it's got to stop being about us. And we've all met them. I mean, you've been in small groups where somebody comes in and they share their problems, you know? And then they share it again and again and again. It gets old. It's like, "Dude, you just need to get rid of some of this stuff because this is not the way you should be living. You should not be carrying this stuff around."
And then some of you, you won't say it in a small group or you won't say it to other people, but you carry it around. Let me tell you something: it's never going to go away until it stops becoming about us and it starts to become about Him. The Bible's very clear that it's when we seek God and His righteousness, that's when He adds all the things that we're looking for in our life.
Secondly, the woman abandoned the bringing of water for the bringing of people.
This is huge. Her reasoning for going to the well was to get water. That's what she went for. She went to get water. She left her water pot. It didn't even become about water anymore. That's what she was about. Going to get water. She left the going to get water to go get people. What happened in her life was this, and this is what's got to happen for you and me: she realized that the hope of the calling of who Jesus was in her life was greater than her issues.
Something happened that just absolutely dawned on her. "Man. God has such a plan for my life. God loves me with so much. I can now focus on the thing that matters."
Paul says it this way in the book of Ephesians. He says, "I pray that you all would have the eyes of your heart enlightened."
"I pray that you wouldn't see with your physical eyes. I pray that you would see spiritually."
"...that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you."
See, when we recognize the hope to which God has called you and me, that's when the past starts moving away. Paul says it in Philippians 3. He says, "Even the good and the bad." He goes, "I forgot all those things and put them behind because, what I'm doing now is I'm pressing on towards the prize of the high calling of what God has called me to do. I know what the hope is that He's called me to do. I know that it's not about me anymore and it's not about going and bringing water. It's about going and bringing people."
And thirdly, the woman's scars become her testimony.
She was there at the well because she didn't want to have to deal with what was going on in her life. She goes back into town and says, "Hey! I met a guy that has told me everything I have ever done." She's now ministering out of healing that Jesus has given to her.
Now, here's what you do. And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Man. If I could get that in my life, I would be so happy. But Chip, you don't understand. I don't know how to let go of the rejection and the guilt and feelings."
You notice how I read your mind there? Isn't that cool? You're just going, "Man, I like that stuff. That's good. But, I don't know how to do that. That sounds good conceptually, but I don't know how to put it in my life because I just don't know how to let go of some of these things. I've got some stuff that I just can't let go of."
Okay. So, we're taking it another level this weekend. Normally, we do take-homes. We're going to go even deeper practical this weekend. This is called "PC's Good 'Ol Down-Home Advice Section." How's that? Is that good? Do you like that? Is that cool?
That's what this is. This is some good old advice. Now, if I were you and I was here, I would realize I'm not here by accident. I would be getting a sheet of paper out and I'd be writing down what I'm getting ready to say. In Kentucky, we say this is where the rubber meets the road. Okay? This is where it gets serious. So, here's what I want you to do. You say, "Hey, I want some of that. I want to get rid of my baggage. I want to offload those bags. I am here. I am all ears. I see what happened in that woman. I get it conceptually. I get the idea. I want it. Help me out."
Check this off.
First, you need to connect with people who love and appreciate you and then go do something with them.
Let me explain this to you. Many times, when we're going through our difficulties and we're struggling, what we do is we go home and we binge-watch Netflix or we eat Cheetos or Doritos or whatever your comfort food is. And we sort of sit around and just dwell on it. That's not a good way to get rid of yesterdays. What you've got to do is you've got to connect with some people that love and appreciate you.
This is my little push here. Get involved in a small group. You want to connect with people who love and appreciate you. The problem is is we stop there. What we do is we go, "Well, I've got a group of people that love and appreciate me. So, what I'll do is I'll go every week and tell them about my problems so that they can love and appreciate me."
No. That's still about you. You connect with people that love and appreciate you, but love and appreciate you enough to go, "Honey. This is the third time this week we've been talking about this. We've got to move on. Okay? We can't stay here."
So what we're doing is connect with people who love and appreciate you and then we go do something with them. That "do something" is get involved in other people's lives. Let them love you. Let them say, "We understand." Let them pray for you. But then, go do something. Go visit a hospital. Go visit somebody in intensive care. Go visit somebody in a nursing home. Get outside of yourself.
Because what's going to happen is all those things that you're dragging around and holding on to, when you start connecting with people that love and appreciate you and will speak truth into your life and then you go out and start doing something, what you realize is is the hope to which you called becomes greater than your problems and you start to drop that stuff off.
I'm not done. Here's the second one:
Spend your mental energy on how this can be turned for good.
What we do is we sit around and go, "Oh, God. I can't believe this happened. Oh, God. My finances are a wreck. Oh, God. My marriage is wreck. Oh, God. My relationship's a wreck. God, I'll never have a relationship with my son or I'll never have a relationship with my daughter." And all we do is feed our mind with all that negativity. What you need to do is take that mental energy and harness it for good. Start going, "You know what? God's a good God. He actually is a good who can do the turnaround. He's the God that can take the sufferings of the present time and make them not even worth comparing to the glory which is going to be revealed. He's the God that can do the miraculous. He's the God that can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that could ever or think."
In fact, Psalm 115:3 says, "My God is in heaven; he can do whatever he pleases."
So, what I'm going to do is take my mental energy that I spend on all the negative junk and I'm going to turn it around and I'm going to start focusing on the things that God could be doing good in my life. "You know what? I've got this marriage and, instead of looking at the marriage the way it is, I'm going to start going, you know what? God can use my marriage. God can use me. God, start working on me. Make me the spouse that I need to be. Work on me, God, to make this marriage good. God, in fact, I know that what you could do is you could take this marriage that's broken right now and we can actually lead a marriage group one day because I know you can do that.
"God, my relationship with my son, instead of looking at that and saying how bad he is and how no good he is and all this stuff, God, I know that you can do a turnaround."
So what happens is you start taking your mental energy and you start spending it on how it can be turned for good.
Next thing you do. Check this off.
Make part of your prayer life – now, I'm assuming that you have one. So, if you don't have one, you need to get one.
Make part of your prayer life a declaration on how God will use your scar's scars for His glory.
I'm talking about when nobody's around you pray out loud – and some people are like, "I don't want to pray out loud, man. I grew up in church and we pray like this." Look, I'm not trying to say anything bad about that. I'm totally in for that. But, sometimes, you've got to just use the mouth that God gave you and you've got to walk around the house and say, "God, I am not going to let my marriage fall apart and I ain't going to pray for my spouse right now. I'm going to start praying for me. God, use my weaknesses. God, use my faults. Use my temper. Use my anger. Use my insufficiencies God. Start working on them because you're a God who can. And God, if you can start working on my life like that, I know that things will start turning around in this."
It may be your finances, your job. It may be whatever. But, if you start declaring, "God, I know that you can take these things and make them good. You did it with Jacob. You did it with Paul. You took a murderer in Paul and made him a guy who wrote a third of the New Testament. God, you took people that couldn't do anything and you made them great. So, God, I'm confessing and declaring that I believe with all of my heart you're going to take my deficiencies and make something great out of it."
And if you've connected with people and you're turning positive energy and you're starting to pray that way, if that doesn't light your fire, your woods wet, okay? Listen. This is another important one here. Check this one off.
Spend time reading aloud the Word of God.
When you leave out of here, you're going to get this. This is what you're going to get from our church. What I did is I took two passages of Scripture – two of them – and I rewrote them to the personalized version. They still say what they say, I just added it in a way that you can walk around your house and read this out loud and declare it. Here's what you're going to read. Listen to this:
"I don't lose heart even though my outer-nature is wasting away and I have tons of problems and issues, God, I know that my inner-nature is being renewed daily because I know who my Father is. This slight, momentary affliction – and God, it may seem big to me right now, but through the lens of eternity, I know it's really nothing – is preparing for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure. I don't look at the things that can be seen, but I look at the things that can't be seen. I see that, in Jesus Christ, I am the righteousness of God and my old nature has been put to death and I am God's child.
"What I can see..." – Yeah. It's good, right? You start reading this out loud, man, all those demons will run away. You know what I'm talking about?
It says, "What I can see is temporary, but what can't be seen is eternal. And the eternal is what God is working in and through me right now."
Then you're going to flip it over and you're going to say, "If God is for me, who can be against me? God didn't even withhold His own Son, but gave Him up for me. Will He not also then give me everything else that He said He would? Who's going to bring charges against God's elect? Who's going to bring any charges against me that stand? My past? People? Emotions? It's God who justifies me and nothing else. Who's going to condemn me? My past? My emotions? My thoughts? People? Religious people? It's Jesus Christ who died for me and yes, – listen to this – who is at the right hand of God right now praying for me."
"How in the world can I get down and out knowing this? Who's going to separate me from the love of Christ? Is it going to be hardships or distress or persecutions or famines or my past or my emotions or peril? Or even if I have to die for Him? I knew when I signed up I would follow Him and it could even include to the point of death. But, even there in the fiery furnace, in the lion's den, in the king's prison, I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. I know it is a fact. Nothing – and I mean nothing. Not death nor life nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor to come nor powers that be nor the media nor political issues nor height or depth nor anything else in all creation can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord."
The last thing here is to drink the second cup. "I took you out of Egypt," God says, "when you drank the first cup. Now what I want to do is I want to get Egypt out of you. I want to get ride of your yesterdays."
Drink of the second cup. Let Him take your baggage. Let Him work it out and then watch what He does in your life as He ministers through those scars and they become your testimony.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to You right now and we just pause for a moment. We pause. And right now, I just pray, God, that Your Spirit would hover over this congregation. There are bags that need to be dropped on the sanctuary floor right now. There are bags that need to be dropped in front of computer screens and phone screens as people are watching this. Because You didn't come just to save us. You came to give us a quality of life now. You came to get slavery in Egypt out of us.
And Lord, right now in the mighty and powerful name of Jesus, I pray that those bags would be offloaded right now, Lord, and there would be some freedom in this room and some peace in this room and some joy in this room in Jesus' name. And Lord, I pray that You would let us push that bag aside and not go back and try to get it.
So, Lord, I pray that as we leave here today that You would watch over us and protect us, lead and guide us. And I pray, Lord, that You would help us to be the church that You have called us to be, which is a light to Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton for Your glory. Lord, I pray that we would all leave here today differently than when we came in. And I pray, Lord, that we would truly feel the need to bring some other people in here so that they can drink these cups, too. Because, Lord, people need to hear what You can do for them.
So, Lord, bring us back safely to when we meet again. Give everybody a great Labor Day weekend. Lord, we just love You and praise You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."