Shaken Week 3: Hopes and Dreams
Well, good morning to everybody and also those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We are in a five-week series and this is week number three and it's entitled "Shaken." And what I like to do at the beginning of all my messages is sort of bring everybody back up to speed, because if you're maybe a first time visitor you're thinking, "Man, this is week three. Am I going to even know what's going on?"
Let me put you at rest and assure you that you will. And maybe for those of you all who've missed a week or two or maybe you're joining us sort of in the middle and you're a regular attender but you've just missed some services. I want to make sure that you're aware of everything that we're doing.
In this series, what we're looking at is we're look at the times in our lives where our world just gets rocked. Maybe it's a physical ailment or maybe we hear that we had cancer or maybe we lose a loved one or maybe we go through a divorce or maybe our finances fall out and we just sort of get a gut punch to the side and our world's just falling apart. There's an earthquake. We are just shaken to the core.
What do we do in those times? The reason I say that, and it's so important, is because we all know those times happen. Even if you're fortunate and you've never had your world rocked, I guarantee you you know someone who has had their world rocked. And I would even go on to say that if you haven't, there's a really high chance and possibility that you will at some point have an earthquake in your life.
And what I want to do in this series is to give us all some tools to equip us when those moments happen in our life because this is what I've found, and I think you would agree with me, that often times we Christians, when our world falls apart and we're shaken, we don't look too much different than the people that aren't Christians. And, unfortunately, the Bible doesn't really give us that opportunity. The Bible says that when things are going difficult and when there's a lot of fear and there's a lot of angst and all of that stuff, we're to be people that people look at us and they see the hope that is within us.
So, what we want to do here is get some tools to be equipped so that when our world is shaken, we know what to do and we know how to behave. So, what we did at the beginning of the series is the first week we talked about the lenses that we might look through when our world is shaken. And we talked about the lens of "why." And most of us, that's the way we view our world. When it's shaken, we start going, "Why God," and "Why is this happening to me," and, "Why is this going on?"
And that lens of "why" is really a lens of knowledge and it's almost arrogant on our part because we think, "If I could just know all of the whys, then I would be okay."
Even though, in the book of Job, God tells Job, "Hey, listen. Even if I told you, you wouldn't understand."
But yet, somehow, sometimes we want that why. We said that that's not the lens that we should be looking through. The lens that we should be looking through when we're shaken in our lives is the lens of "what." And the lens of "what" is a lens of faith.
"God, what is it that You want me to learn? What is it that You want me to see? What is it that You want me to do? What is it that You want me to minister out of this, Lord? What is it that You have for me?"
And then last week we talked about the fact that one of the things that happens in all of our lives when we're shaken is sometimes we have a crisis of faith. Sometimes we wonder, "God, are You really there? Do You love me?"
Sometimes we even wonder, "God, do You even exist?"
We talked about what to do when those things happen. And so, today and this weekend here at Grace, we're going to talk about one of the most debilitating areas of our lives when we're shaken. I mean, it just rocks us to the core. When our hopes and our dreams are shaken. Man, that is a tough place to be because the Bible's clear in Proverbs 13:12. It says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."
When we don't have something to look forward to, when we don't have any hope in our life and we don't have any dreams in our life, it becomes really difficult. And sometimes, those hopes and those dreams are crushed and we don't know what to do. So, what I want to do today is I want to help you and help me learn some of the things that we need to learn so that we can ask the question, "What is it that I'm supposed to get out of this," so that we can walk through these times and look different than the average person because of the Jesus that lives within us.
So, what we're going to do is we're going to look at a passage of Scripture. We're going to look at quite a bit of Scripture. We're going to enter a story; it's going to be a fun time. Then at the end, we're going to talk about some practical things that we can take home and walk out of here and leave differently than when we came in. So, does that sound like a pretty good plan? I've got about 20 minutes to pull that off, okay?
Let's do that.
So, here's what we're going to do. We're going to start in John 11 and I want you to see here, because I want to be as transparent as I can be. I'm not quoting the entire chapter. And you say, "Well, why are you not quoting the entire chapter?"
Because I try to honor the time that you all give to me to speak to you and I want to be able to get you out of here in a timely manner. If I read John 11, some of you would be going, "Hey, you're getting involved in my Applebee's time. Could you please cut it out?"
So, I want to make sure that I do that. But, here's the deal: this is what I'm going to read out of, but here's the beauty: you've got a Bible. You can read John 11 at home. Okay? So, it's not like I'm cheating you from anything. But, let's enter the story here. Let's get in, because I think we're going to see – although, maybe at the beginning it's going to be a little tough to see – the hopes and the dreams and how they're getting crushed. I think, by the end, and especially when we get into the practical part of it, we're going to go, "Whoa. That really is a powerful passage that John has written."
John says, "Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha."
We've got a couple things here that are important. John wants us to know that there really was a man. His name was Lazarus and he really was sick and he was in a village called Bethany and that was the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived. That's what we get right here in the first part of it.
Then he says, "It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill."
So, now we're getting a little bit more information. We knew that Mary and Martha are sisters. Now we know that Lazarus is the brother. But, what's interesting here is this: Mary is told in this passage of Scripture, we're told something that happens in the future in chapter 12. In chapter 12, she does this anointing, and John is telling us that before it happens that it happens. He does this three times in his Gospel. He does it with Caiaphas, he does it with Nicodemus and he does it with Mary. John is beautifully written.
He's a literary penman. What he's doing is he's saying, "Future events are being brought into the now as you read," because he's really trying to get you and me to understand that the Jesus that we are looking at is not the Jesus that's out there, He's the Jesus that is right here, in fact, in front of us. And he does this in a beautiful literary way. Sort of pulling us in, future's being pulled into the now because all of the "I am" statements of Jesus are "now" statements.
So he says that Mary had anointed Jesus and Lazarus was her brother and he was ill.
"So the sisters sent to him, saying, 'Lord, he whom you love is ill.'"
Now, I want to take a minute here and interrupt the story and I want you to lean in here for a second because this is really important. I want to be a pastor. I want to be a pastor for a moment. Please listen to me. The sisters knew how to get ahold of Jesus. We don't know the networking that they had or how they did it, but they knew how to get ahold of Jesus. I want to ask you a question: do you know how to get ahold of Jesus? Do you know? And, importantly, look at what they say: "He whom you love is ill."
They didn't say, "Hey, Lazarus is sick. Can you come heal him? Lazarus is in a bad shape. Can you come? Hurry up."
They said, "He whom you love is ill."
They were okay with Jesus just knowing the facts. They trusted Him enough with just the facts to do the right things. Maybe, just maybe – and we'll get there in a little bit. Maybe we attach a lot of things to our beliefs in Jesus and a lot of things that we hope and dream for that maybe are the things that get crushed because maybe we're learning something. Maybe we need to learn that just Jesus knowing what the situation is is enough and not all the other things that we put on top of it. We'll come back to that in a minute.
"But when Jesus heard it he said, 'This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God maybe be glorified through it.'"
So, we don't know exactly who He's saying that to. He's probably saying it to the people that have come for Mary and Martha. And He says, "Listen, the illness is not to death. It's for the glory of God, the Son of God is going to be glorified through it."
Now, you can imagine. We get told later on in this passage that Lazarus has been dead for four days. So, it's about a two-day journey from where Jesus is to get to where Lazarus is. So, it's taken them two days to get to Jesus. They go back two days. Then Jesus, two days later, decides to go two days' journey. And when He gets there, Lazarus has been dead for four days.
So, here's the deal: those messengers that came for Mary and Martha, for two days to travel to Jesus with the message, by the time they got back, Lazarus was already dead. And when they walked in, Mary and Martha may have met them and they're like, "Okay. What happened with Jesus? What happened?"
"Oh, don't worry. He said he ain't going to die."
They're like, "He's already dead. He's already dead."
"Yeah, but He said it's an illness not to death."
"Well, if He would've been here, maybe that would've been the case. But, He wasn't there."
So, Jesus says it's for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Then there's this insertion. And listen, I am convinced – I mean, listen. If anybody questions. Do I think the Bible is the Word of God? One hundred percent. I'm committed to that. But, I want you to understand something. I'm also committed to the fact that the Bible's cooler than we let it be. It's really fun to read.
Everybody's like, "Oh, man. I don't want to read this thing. I don't know what's going on."
You don't know how to read it then, because the Bible's really cool. So, John puts this insertion. He says, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."
You go, "Well, why in the world would he put that in there?"
Because he's getting ready to drop something in the next verse that may make you think He doesn't love them. And this is interesting. I don't normally do this because I don't want to Greek out on you guys at 10:15, you know? But, the fact of the matter is – and you don't need to know Greek to read the Bible. Sometimes preachers get up and they're like, "Original language. Original language."
And everybody's like, "Man, I don't know how to read all that stuff. Can I even read the Bible?"
And you put it over on the shelf. You've got all you need to get out of the Bible in your English translations. However, what I'll tell you is is that having some familiarity with original languages is cool. There's a definite article before Martha, sister and Lazarus. John is painstakingly, in the best Greek he can, saying, "Man, Jesus really loved Martha, He really loved Mary and He really loved Lazarus. Do you hear me? He loved them."
Because in the next line he says, "So, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was."
Follow that one? Anybody ever been on that one? "Hey, Jesus. Where you at? Hey, Jesus. Dude. Are you up there? The preacher said You knew everything, but it seems like You don't."
Has anybody ever been there? So he says He heard that Lazarus was ill and He stayed two days longer in the place that He was.
"Then after this..." – after the two days – "...he said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Jude's again.'"
That doesn't mean anything to you and me, but it means a lot to them and John painstakingly wants us to know that. Because, here's what the disciples say. They're like, "Hey, umm, J.C. Let's bring it in here for a moment, man. Let's bring it in here for a moment. The Jews were just now seeking to stone you. You remember? We were just there."
You can read it in chapter 10 if you go home.
"You remember we were just in chapter 10, Jesus?"
Some of y'all are new. The stoning in the Bible is not like it is in Colorado, okay? It's actually rocks. Okay? I just want to make sure that everybody's – you've got to make sure you communicate as a pastor.
The disciples said, "Rabbi, listen. You know, the Jews were seeking to stone You, and You want to go there again? Let's have a moment here. Listen, we really want You to be our Messiah. We've got some hopes and dreams vested in You and the stoning thing is not part of our hopes and dreams. It's not what we're thinking You're supposed to look like. So, let's hang out here until You can get some revelation from God as to what it is that You're supposed to be doing, because going back to Judea sounds like a bad deal because we're not ready for You to die because that's not what Messiahs are supposed to be doing and we would like for You to be the Messiah because that means, if You're the Messiah, we're with You and we're in on this thing and we're at the bottom level on a rising business here and we want to be a part of that. So, Jesus, are You sure You want to go back there?"
Then Jesus says this and it sounds a little cryptic. You've sort of got to focus here a little bit. He says, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
What He's saying here is this: He's taking an idiom of the day that they understood. Roughly 12 hours you had light. Roughly 12 hours you had darkness. That's just the natural world. Jesus says, "When do you do what you do? You do it when you can see, because you don't want to do it at night when you could stumble."
He's like, "You guys don't get it. You're not following me here. The deal is this: we're not going to Judea for me to die, because I am following the Lord's will."
I would encourage all of you – and those who watch via the mobile app and internet too – to read the Gospel of John and actually immerse yourself in it. It's fantastic. This is the seventh miracle. It's the final miracle. It's the most grand miracle in the Gospel of John. John is an incredible Gospel. In John you'll see Jesus says all the time: "My hour is not yet," or, "My time is not yet."
All the time. Underline that. "My time is not yet. My hour is not yet. My hour is not yet. My time is not yet."
Then He says, "My hour has come."
See, Jesus is completely, 100% walking in the will of God. He's only doing what God wants Him to do. He's like, "Guys, listen. You get it in the natural world. I'm walking in the light, man."
And here's the deal, and after saying these things when He talked about the light, He says, "Listen, our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep and I'm going to go wake him up."
And, of course, they misunderstand that too, because John says, "The disciples said, 'Well, Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he's going to recover.'"
But Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He meant taking rest in sleep. Can I get a big – before you say "amen," can I just get a big "amen" that the disciples misunderstand Jesus on a regular basis, because that gives me hope. Can I get an "amen" on that one? Man. I'm glad, man. I'm glad these people are real like me. I mean, maybe it's only the 9:00 pagans, not the 10:15 people that miss out on God every once in a while, but I can tell you I do every once in a while. Okay?
Some of you are all like, "What? You're the pastor. You're supposed to hear God."
Listen, just because you're the pastor doesn't mean you get it all right. So, here's the deal. If you hang out at my house, I can absolutely convince you that pastors don't walk on water. Okay? Get my 35 kids running around acting like hellions, you'll see.
Anyway, they take after their mom. Anyway, Jesus is – Shh. Don't tell Mindy. She comes at 11:30. Hey, and scrub that out on the internet. I don't want that out there. You know? They like to pull videos out of people lately. So, anyway, Jesus had spoken of His death and – I knew you all would like that. Come on.
Anyway, Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He meant taking rest in sleep. Okay, so the deal is that they're blundering. Because here's the deal. Listen: they all believe Jesus can do miracles. They all believe that Jesus can do great things. They all believe He can do all that stuff. But, death? That's final. Death's final. Except for Jesus. He's the only one in the passage that death's not final to. They thought He meant taking rest in sleep.
So, Jesus lays it on them. He's like, "Hey, man. He's dead. It ain't like he's taking a nap."
They're like, "Jesus, man. The guy's taking a nap. We'll go wake him up, man. That sounds like a plan."
He's like, "Guys. He's dead."
And can I take a moment here just for a minute even though I wasn't planning on doing this? Can I tell you something when you're reading the Bible? You know how everybody talks about, "How do you take the Bible? How do you take the Bible?"
What I can tell you is John tells you how to take the Bible. Jesus says to Nicodemus in chapter 3, "Hey, man. You've got to get born again."
Nicodemus goes, "Oh, man. I've got to get back up in the womb again?"
He's like, "No, buddy. I wasn't saying that."
In chapter 4 He says, "I've got living water."
She goes, "Really? I've drank out of this well before."
He's like, "No. You misunderstand me."
John 6, He says, "If you don't eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no part in me."
They're like, "Dude, we don't wanna be around a cannibal."
He's like, "That's not what I'm talking about."
He says here, "He's asleep."
They go, "He's taking a nap."
"No, he's dead."
One thing I can tell you is you might want to pay attention when you're reading the Bible and not be so incredibly, woodenly literal, because there might be other things going on in the passage that you're missing by just taking Jesus at face value. That's good preaching whether you all like it or not. I'm telling you.
Y'all are still worried about my 35 kids. I know that. So, anyway.
"Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I wasn't there."
Actually, the Greek word there is "rejoice." He goes, "I'm rejoicing that I wasn't there."
It's like, "Really?"
Yeah, because He goes, "That you may believe. See, you guys aren't there yet. You've got your hopes and dreams in this world. You've got a Messiah that you think's going to overthrow Rome. I want you to see that I'm a Messiah that overthrows death."
"'But let us go to him.' So Thomas," – and this is a beauty. You've got to love Thomas here. – "Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples," – "Well, alright, guys. Let's get over here in a huddle. This guy's crazy. We're all going to go die. Let's go die. This guy wants to go back to Judea. We're going to die."
He didn't listen to a thing about the 12 hours and the 12... none of that stuff. "We're going to die. Let's go."
So then, they head back and it says, "Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days."
This guy is good and dead. I mean, he's good and dead.
"When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house."
And we don't know exactly why Mary remained seated in the house. Maybe she was more upset than Martha. But, the Bible doesn't tell us. In fact, you would be reading into this. If you want to be technical, we don't even know that she knew. We know that Martha knew, but we don't know about Mary. She just remained seated in the house. A lot of times we read the other passages in the Gospels into the Gospel. It's called conflation, and oftentimes we need to stay with the Gospel itself to see what it's sort of unraveling to us. So, Martha comes out and here's what she says:
"Lord, if you had been here," – if only. If only. If only you'd been here. And I know none of you all have ever done an "if only" in your life. Those Pagans at 11:30, they do. But she said, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."
"Jesus, it's sort of my hopes and my dreams a little bit here. You know? They're crushed."
She still loves Jesus. She still thinks greatly of Jesus because she says this: "But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."
I know that. Basically what this says in a nutshell is, "I know that You still have great power and You still do great things from God."
So Jesus goes, "Okay. Let's probe on that a little bit."
He says, "Your brother will rise again."
Now, you'd hope that Martha would go, "Great. Let's go to the tomb and get him up," but that's not what she says. She says, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."
"See, Jesus. I've got this thing down. I've got the belief system. I've got the check mark. I know that out there in the by and by it's going to be good. I know that. I've got the check mark."
And then Jesus says maybe the most profound thing in the Gospel of John, maybe the most profound thing in all of Scripture. This is what He says: "I am the resurrection and the life."
It's not a belief, it's a person. It's not a check mark, not a creed, it's a person. "I am the resurrection and the life. That thing you're looking for out there? It's right here in the now. It's right here now in front of you."
"Whoever believes in me [a person], though he die, he will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
Listen to me. Jesus raising from the dead, Jesus having power over the dead changes everything. See, you and I can't love enemies because they'll kill us unless this world is not all that there is. You and I can turn the cheek seventy times seven unless this world is not all that there is. We can't give to those who ask unless this world is not all that there is. And I'm not trying to get on anybody's toes, I'm not trying to give you a hard time, I'm trying to preach you the authentic, genuine Gospel.
Jesus getting up from the grave is not something that you leverage your bets with in this world and hope to God that somewhere in the future in the by and by there is a resurrection. It transforms you in the now.
So, now that we've got people going on here, we've got Mary and Martha, we've go Lazarus and we've got all these people that have got stuff going on. We've got disciples. We've seen some hopes and dreams cracked a little bit. What we're going to do here is just a practical side. This is called the "what." This is where you want to get out your sheet of paper and write down the stuff because this is the practical part. Normally I call this the "take-homes," but this is called the "what" for this message because we're looking at, "God, what is it that You want me to learn when these things happen?"
Not "why," but "what." Here's the first one:
When our hopes and dreams are shaken, it's a reminder of where our true hope should be. Oftentimes the hopes and dreams that we have – and this is going to be tough. Anybody ever been sick and the doctor tells you, "Hey, you're going to take this medicine and it don't taste very good?" Anybody ever had that one? The one that doesn't taste very good? But, it got you better. So, you need to take it. Okay, this is where it gets a little raw here. But, I've got to tell you this because I'm not a good pastor if I don't.
When our hopes and dreams are shaken, it's a reminder of where our true hope should be. Oftentimes the hopes and the dreams that get shaken in our life are tied to our culture, our comfort and our security. Those are our hopes and our dreams. They're there, tied to our culture.
"Oh, but I can't believe this is going on in the world. I can't believe we've got all these hopes and dreams."
And people get so caught up in all of this stuff. Even in a political season everybody gets so caught up and then if it doesn't turn out the way you want, I mean it's like you're down and out and you're whatever. Listen to me: Jesus wants our hopes and our dreams sometimes shaken because He wants us to see that the hopes and the dreams that we have are in a misplaced place. Culture, comfort and security.
And here's a big one. Write this one down. This is huge:
Hopes and dreams get crushed when we try to leverage our safety or comfort with following Jesus.
Man, it's quiet in here. I love you all. We do try to leverage it. We're called to be people that follow Jesus, we're called to be people that love people extravagantly the way He loved us, we're called to love people radically the way He loved us and we're called to reach out in the way He loved us. And here's the deal: if He got up from the grave, we can.
See, the early Christians could go into the town when there was a plague. They could go in and take care of people and everybody else was like, "Why are you going in there? You go in there and you're going to die. You're going to catch it."
It's not like they had walk-in clinics back then. And they said, "No no on." They went in there and buried people and took care of people and put their lives at risk. And we go, "Why would they do such a thing?"
Because they had seen a man get up from the grave on the third day and they knew this world was not all that there was and it changed the way they lived. It changed them forever. Man, give me 10 people that really believe Jesus got up from the grave and we'll change Lakewood Ranch forever. It's just okay, church, to clap. You know what I mean? Some of y'all, I don't know. You're like, "Is it okay?"
Secondly, when our hopes and dreams are shaken, it's a reminder that sometimes we just need patience. Now, I know you all probably are not like me. But, you probably are. This is a joke, okay. But, this is the way it is for me. I'll take on the deal of showing some real honest stuff and then you all can decide if you like it or not.
I like to get stuff done. I mean, I'm like, strung. Like, tight strung. Like, really tight strung. Like, Mountain Dew calms me down. That's how tight strung I am. Okay? People are like, "Why are you drinking Mountain Dew?"
It calms me down. So anyway, I get on my train, you know? It's on my train, man. I'm doing my train. Like, God, I know you've got power, man. If you could get on my train here, we could get this thing done. We'd do it, Lord.
And He's like, "Bennett. Son. You're supposed to be on my train."
I'm like, "Yeah, but it would be better if you'd get on my train because my train's where I want to go."
And He's like, "No no no no no."
Because, see, the thing that we need to understand is this: Jesus wasn't coerced by any external factors other than God's will. Maybe we should learn to live the same way. See, the disciples didn't get Him going. The people didn't get Him going. Lazarus didn't get Him going. Nobody got Him going. What He did is, "I'm going to do God's will."
Sometimes we need, when our hopes and dreams are shaken, to take a moment and reflect that maybe we just need to chill out. Maybe we're just pushing stuff and pushing stuff. Maybe we need to chill out.
Thirdly, when our hopes and dreams are shaken, we need to learn to stop asking "if only" and, instead, "when, Jesus?" If. If. If. If only this would have happened. If only this would've gone on. If only this person, only that person. Maybe when we really take a moment to be patient and realize that it's really God's will that we're supposed to be following, maybe we can start asking the question in our life, and it's a bold question, "When, Jesus?"
God, I'm willing to wait the extra two days before I go. Not so that the miracle can be bigger, but so that I can follow You. I'm willing to say, "When, Jesus?" in my life. Not "if" and "how I can figure it out." I'm willing to really submit to You.
And lastly, this is huge:
Hope and dreams that are dead are not the final say. I want you to lean in here, because I really believe that this is a word for somebody today. And you all who have been with me for a long time, you know I don't play that hokey-pokey stuff and, you know, God told me this or whatever. Usually it's a bad burrito when I do that, it's not God.
So, it's not that at all. But, I really believe that this is for somebody with all of my heart. Jesus walks up to the tomb. The literal language is that the stone was lifted up. It's emblematic of resurrection. And He says, "Lazarus, come forth."
John says, "The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his faced wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
I want you to lean in here. The reason He had the people go unbind Lazarus is because the ones who put him in the tomb had wrapped him if only Jesus would have been here. If only Lazarus could have lived a bit longer, he could've met this person. If only this would've happened. Jesus wanted them to see that those hopes and dreams that they had shelved in that tomb and rolled the stone over could still come to fruition because He is the resurrection and the life.
Some of you have some hopes and dreams that God gave to you. Not that ones that are maybe temporal or cultural or those things. I'm talking about the ones that God spoke to you. You know God spoke them to you and you shelved them. I want you to believe with me today that He is the resurrection and the life and He can resurrect some of those hopes and dreams in your life.
And not only that, I want us to see that it's the job of the church. Jesus is the one that resurrects people. He's the one that brings people to life. He's the one that saves people. But, it's our job as a church to go unbind them and get them ahold of where they can start walking again and doing what they've been called to do, and that's part of what we do as a church. That's why the person to your left and your right is important, because they may be the very person that you can reach.
So, what happens when our hopes and our dreams are shaken? We ask why. We say, "God, what part of this is misplaced? God, what part of this do I need more patience? God, what part of this do I need to really trust You and say 'when?' And God, what part of my hopes and dreams that are shaken right now are the ones that You gave to me that You're going to resurrect to show me that You can do that?"
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come to You right now in the mighty and wonderful name of Jesus. I believe there are people here and also people watching via the internet and mobile app that need to hear that You are a God who can restore hopes and dreams. But I also believe that we need to, especially in our affluent society, in a society that has so much, we need to realize that sometimes our hopes and our dreams are in a misplaced spot and we need to really take inventory of that. And when we're shaken, we need to ask the real hard question. What is it that You want me to see and learn?
So, Lord, I pray right now in Jesus' name for the person in here or for the people in here that maybe are trying to live their life without You that today heard that You are the resurrection and the life and they want that in their life.
God, I pray that they would make that step today. And Lord, for those of us maybe who have walked with You for a long time, I pray that we would really take inventory in our lives and realize all the areas that we leverage our own safety and security and comfort against truly following You and truly believing that You got up from the grave and you have power over death. God, help us to live the life that You've called us to be. Help us to be the church that You've called us to be. Help us to be the people that You've called us to be.
So, Lord, I pray that as we leave here today that You would watch over us and protect us, that you would lead and guide us, Lord that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. Lord, I pray that nobody would leave here today the same as when they came in. Help us to bring others next time we come. Bring us back, Lord, safely so when we meet again we can lift you up. And Lord, we just pray that You would help us to continue to be the light that You've called us to be to Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Bradenton for Your glory and for Your honor. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, "Amen."