In Between Week 4: Re-Read
There are many paths we take throughout our walk of life. During our walk, there are moments when we can feel God's presence. We can see Him moving, answering our prayers, opening doors, making our lives flourish abundantly. There are other times where maybe He's meeting us when we need Him the most, taking us from the valley to the mountaintop and showing His power and victory in our lives. But, what about the moments when God seems silent? It may seem as if this in between path lasts forever. How do we stay faithful when everything is still? It may be easy to live for God when He's speaking to us, and it may be easy to live for God when we've been fulfilled, but what do we do in between?
Well, good morning to everybody and also to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. You know, one of the things that we oftentimes overlook as humans, just in our walk through this life, is some of the common experiences that we all share that no matter where we've come from, no matter where we were born, what nationality we are, there's certain things that we share in common that oftentimes we don't think about or don't even talk about. One of those things, and I think you'll all follow along with me here as we talk about this is, remember maybe you were five years old, seven years old, ten years old or maybe fifteen or sixteen, but remember the time, maybe it was over a report card grade or maybe the report card in general or maybe it was that you were graduating high school or maybe you had done something really good on your sports team or whatever and your mom or dad or maybe you grew up with your grandparents or a foster parent or whoever it may be, but somebody who was raising you and loved you looked at you and said, "Hey, because you did this thing, I'm going to do this for you."
And at that time, it was big. Maybe it was 50 bucks or something and you're like, "Man. Fifty bucks?"
Like, my kids today, 50 bucks, they don't think that's nothing. I'm like, "That's a lot. Go back in your room."
Anyway, the deal is we all remember that and we remember what we said. It was like it was so big and so awesome when they said, "I'm going to do this," you were like, "Do you promise that you're going to do that? Do you promise?"
And it was like we just wanted so bad to believe that what was being said was true. We wanted to believe that. And then we grew up and, a lot of times, we've had promises broken. People have said things to us and have hurt our feelings. Maybe we've been the one that said something to someone else and hurt their feelings. But, deep down inside, we all know what that's like to have that moment of, "But, do you promise?" And holding on to that.
And I think if we step back for a second and are just honest with ourselves, it gestures about something the way we've been created. It gestures that we really want to believe that there is a word that has been spoken to you and me that is a promise; that is something that we can truly believe. And we're going to talk about that today. But, before we do that, I'm going to bring everybody back up to speed and talk about what we're doing here in this series called "In Between."
We're in a six-week series. This is week number four. And what we're doing – because, if you're new here or maybe you've missed a couple of weeks and you're thinking, "Oh my gosh. Am I going to know what's going on," I want to make sure that you feel at ease. I'm going to make sure that everybody feels like we're doing the same thing here and everybody's on the same page.
What we're doing is looking in the are in our life that we live the most in. We live in the in between. We live in between being single and getting married and we live in between being in college and getting that degree. We live in between getting that degree and hopefully getting a job. We live in between a sanctuary that's like this and with a thing back there to get bigger. We live in between. That's where we live. Spiritually, we live there as well, because we have those moments in our lives where God's like really real, passionate about God, He's spoken to us, we've got goose bumps. I mean we're just like, "Man, God, I love You so much."
But, those are not the moments where we normally live. We just live in the in between. And the unfortunate part about the in between is that it's just the grind of the in between and it so often eats our lunch, living in the in between, because it seems like no matter what we do, no matter what we say, no matter what we think, it just is what it is and we wish we could solve some problems, especially if we're in between something that maybe a doctor told us we're in this particular thing with our physical health and we don't know if we're going to get cured or maybe we're in a relationship that we want to get better and we're in that in between.
Sometimes it's just so tough. "God, where are You at? What's going on?"
So, what we're doing in this six weeks is we're looking at tools that you and I can have in our lives, in our toolbox, so that we can live in the in between. So, we've done a few things up to those point. We've talked about the need to reorient our life. We looked at Psalm 73. We talked about recommitting our lives to prayer in the in between. We've talked about revisiting intimacy and connection with God in the in between. And what we're going to do today is we're going to talk about the need to reread the stories in the Bible or reread the Scripture or, maybe for the first time, to read what God has said. Because, what God's Word says to you and me is what He will do.
So, that's what we're going to do. Let's get after it here. If you're new and maybe this is your first time here or maybe you haven't been in church for a long time or maybe you've been in church for a long time and you may know this, but there's four Gospels. There's Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke are called "the Synoptics." It's sort of an English word that's a derivative of a Greek word that means to see with the same eyes. Syn and optic. What that means is that if you read Matthew, Mark and Luke, like if you're a brand new Christian or maybe you start to read the Bible and you read Matthew and you go, "Okay. I get it." You read Mark and you're like, "This is sort of cool. Same thing. Story's a little bit different here, but sort of the same deal." You read Luke and it's sort of going the same thing. They're sort of saying the same thing.
Then you get to John and you're like, "What was this guy on?"
You know? I mean, this guy's crazy. So, you've got these four Gospels and each one of them is telling you and me about Jesus. It's telling us theological truths about who Jesus is and each of the writers felt very comfortable with moving some stories around to make these theological points so that we could understand who Jesus is. Now, Matthew, what he does, and scholars have seen this for many, many, many hundreds of years, is that Matthew sort of depicts Jesus as the new Moses. He is the guy that's going to deliver Israel in a way that Moses never could. And Matthew starts off his Gospel with a genealogy and he takes us from Abraham to David, to this great King David the leader so it's like all the way out of Babylon into Jerusalem to a great king. But, that great king falls. And then we get all the way back to the deportation to Babylon.
What's Matthew saying? He's saying that there's no real human king that can ever deliver us to where we need to go. We ended up back in the same exact spot as where we started off with Abraham. And then he takes the next 14 generations all the way to Christ; Christ being our new leader. And then the mosaic themes pick up. Moses was born, as you know. He was under a death threat. His mom had to save him by putting him in a little arch thing and putting him into the waters because Pharaoh was killing kids. Then we know that eventually Moses fled to Midian and he came back to Egypt and then he delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt through the Red Sea, through the waters, into the wilderness and then to Mount Sinai where he gave the Law.
We see that in Matthew. Jesus starts off under a death threat as a young boy. Herod's trying to kill the kids and then Jesus has to flee with his family to Egypt. And Matthew tells us that out of Egypt he's called his son. And if you understand that back then, that was Israel was called his son. Now he's calling Jesus his son. Jesus is fulfilling all of the stuff that Israel didn't fulfill. He comes out of Egypt and what does He do? He immediately goes through the waters of baptism in chapter 3. Then what does He do? He goes into the wilderness. Then what does He do? He goes up on the mountain and gives the Sermon on the Mount and gives the new Law. There's a lot of stuff going on in these particular Gospels.
So, we're going to look here in chapter 4. So, if you're in chapter 3 and you know that God has said, "This is my beloved son," when He's baptized, if you're following the logic here then you're expecting for there to be a test. You're expecting for there to be, "Is He going to follow God's Word? Is He going to do what God has said?"
So, we're picking up here in chapter 4. It says, "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."
So, here we go. Now He's going into the wilderness and it's pregnant with all of these thoughts of Israel and the Old Testament and it says, "And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry."
Can I get an "amen?" I don't need to fast for forty days and forty nights to be hungry. I'm hungry when I go by the bake sale. But, the forty days and forty nights obviously is reminiscent again of all the Old Testament things. Forty days; forty nights. He was hungry. So, as you know, the devil, he comes when you're hungry, when you're tired, when you're weak. So, he comes after Jesus has been fasting forty days. And I like what Matthew says. He says, "The tempter came."
In other words, he's wanting you and me to read that yes it was the devil and yes it was all that stuff, but he's the tempter and you and I are going to be tempted as well.
He says, "The tempter came and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God,'"
"I mean, you're the Son of God, right? I just heard the voice there in the waters. God said you were His son."
"'If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.'"
"I mean, if you're really the Son of God, if you're really God walking here in the flesh, if that's who you are, you know what comes next, baby. In the wilderness it's the manna. It's the bread. So, just go ahead and do it, man. I mean, it makes sense. You're hungry. I know you're hungry. I know that you've got to be famished. You know that God's going to provide bread for you. He did in the Old Testament for the children of Israel. So, why don't you just go ahead and command these stones to become bread? In fact, not only will that be good for you, but there's a lot of stones out here. And if all these stones become bread, you can feed everybody in Palestine. They'll love you. This would be a great gig, man. Just make them right now turn to bread."
It's interesting here what Jesus does. He answers the temptation with the Word of God. He says, "It is written."
I don't know how you deal with your temptations in the in between, but Jesus deals with it by quoting Scripture. He knows Scripture well. He says, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone,'"
Carrabba's had not been created by that time.
He says, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
He says, "Listen, I know God will provide for me. I'm God's Son. But, here's the deal: rather than trying to figure out how to get what I want right now and trying to figure out how God's going to do for me what I want Him to do, what I'm going to do is I'm going to do what the Word of God says. I'm going to trust God to provide for me when He will provide."
Then he goes, "Okay." So, he takes Him to the holy city; takes him to Jerusalem. He sets Him up on the pinnacle of the temple. He sets Him up there and He's looking down. He says, "Hey. If you're the Son of God, why don't you throw yourself down, man? Just throw yourself down. You can quote Scripture? So can I."
He says, "Cause it's written..." – didn't know the devil quoted Scripture, did you? There's a lot of devils in church that quote Scripture. Come on now. Come on now. You get that. I know it's cold.
"For it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,'"
He's like, "Listen. You want to quote Scripture? That was pretty slick. You quote some Scripture. I'll quote some Scripture. You're up here on the temple. Why don't you just throw yourself down because the Word of God's very clear He's going to command His angels concerning you and on their hands they'll bear you up lest you strike your foot against a stone."
He's like, "You want to quote Scripture? Let's go, man. I can quote Scripture too. Let's go. Good Scripture right here. Throw yourself down. You want to trust God? Trust God. Here's what His Word says. Trust Him at His Word. It's no big deal, Jesus, if you're the Son of God. You know He's going to take care of you."
Jesus responds back though and says, "But again, it is written."
I want to stop here for a minute. Jesus was well enough verses in Scripture that He knew when it was being used wrong. He says, "You can't put the Lord God to the test." He's like, "Satan, I know you're quoting Scripture, but there's more to it. Scripture coheres. There's more to it. It's not a matter of throwing myself down. There's also that you shouldn't put the Lord your God to the test. So, you can quote Scripture to me, but that's not what the Scripture says. This is what the Scripture says."
And I always wonder if I would've put something on the screen that wasn't the Bible and just preached it like it was the Bible whether everybody would just sort of flow with me or not, which shows the need for you and me to know what the Bible says. Jesus obviously knew how to do His Bible very well.
It says, "The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory."
He showed Him everything. And here's what he said: "'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'"
"Listen, I don't know exactly what you're doing, Jesus," because it's not like the devil knows all of the things that are going on. He lives in the moment like you and me. And he's like, "I know you're going somewhere here. But, if you want to just rule the world and have everything, we can remedy that right now. All you've got to do is fall down and worship me and we can get there."
Now of course, as we read it, we see the temptation. We know Jesus is going to go to the cross and the bottom line is, "Hey, you can circumvent the cross." Jesus is sort of feeling, by just doing this right now that you don't have to go through all that mess and do all that stuff.
"Jesus, fall down and worship me."
This is what the Bible records. It says that he said, "Bye, Felicia, you punk, Satan."
See, I told you you better know the Bible. I told you. That's not what He said. Some of you are going, "Aw, man. I thought He pulled out the King James."
No, no. It's not the King James. That's not in there. This is what it says right here. It says, "Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! For it is written,'" – once again He quotes Scripture – "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
Three times He quotes from the book of Deuteronomy. Three times He quotes from the book where the children of Israel flunked as God's Son and Jesus is holding fast here and standing on the Word of God and resisting His temptations and His testing with Scripture.
And it says, "Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him."
So, let's do a little debrief here for a second, because this is important here. Number one, Jesus knew His Scripture. We need to know our Scripture too. Second, Jesus knew His Scripture well enough to know when it was being read wrong. Listen to me. It's important that you know the Bible well enough to know when it's being taught wrong. Paul. I mean, seriously, if the Apostle Paul beamed in right now I'd be like, "I'll stop. Paul, share, buddy. Let's go."
I mean, I would totally think Paul would lay it down. Okay. There was a church at Berea, they're called the Bereans in Acts 17. It says that these people at this church, when Paul would speak to them the Word of God, they would go back and study the Scriptures to make sure that what Paul said to them was right. Let me tell you something: it is incumbent upon you, whether you stay at Grace Community Church or you go to another church or wherever you go, don't just listen to your preacher. You need to make sure that you read the Word of God for yourself so that you know if it's being used wrong.
He knew the Scripture well enough to know when it was being used wrong. Third, Jesus knew His Scripture well enough to know that we can't truly live any other way. He knew that He could sort of fast forward with some bread or maybe do something, a miracle, that would get everybody excited. But, He knew that that wouldn't be life. That the way to really live life is listening and reading and knowing what God has said to you and me so that we can live that in our life. Jesus knew His Scripture well enough to know that we cannot truly live any other way. You want life, you want to live life to the fullest, you want to do what God really has for you, then you and I have to be people that listen to God's Word.
Which brings us to the last point: we better know our Scripture too. So, here's what I want to do for the rest of the sermon. I want to do everything I can – I want you to lean in here – as your pastor to inspire you and to pump you up to where you really want to go home and reread these stories and get into your Word like you've never gotten into it before because, in the in between, in the living of life, the thing that you and I are going to stand on more than anything is what God has said to you and me. And I want you to listen to this. This is awesome. Many people would say the book of Romans is the greatest book in the New Testament. Some people would argue it's the greatest book in all of the Bible. But, the bottom line is it's an awesome book.
Listen to what Paul says to the Roman church and, by way of them, he says to you and me today. This is powerful. Let this sink in. He says, "Whatever..." – Whatever. What ever – "...was written in former days..." – in other words, "all of it." All of the stuff that was written – "...was written for our instruction."
Look at that. All that stuff. All those books. All that stuff was written for our instruction. Which means it's an instruction book. It teaches you what to do. When you feel like, "Hey, you know, my family sold me out. That's what they've done," read the story of Joseph and watch how God takes the twists and the turns but fulfills what He said to Joseph because His Word will come to pass. Maybe you feel like you've made a lot of bad choices in your life. Maybe you feel like you've done all kinds of bad things and you feel like you're so bad off that you just can't even see. I mean, you're just blinded by the bad choices. Read Sampson and watch how a blinded man who made a lot of mistakes, God still gave him grace and let that hair grow so that he could finish out his life doing something good for God. Because, what God says He will do, He will do.
It's written for our instruction. It's written so that we go back and read them and reread them in the in between. We start to see a pattern that it don't make a difference what people do, we've all got flaws and failures and issues. What matters is if God speaks something over you, He will do it, and that's why it's for our instruction. He goes on to say that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. Check that out, man. We've got hope. You read those stories and, even when you're in the in between, you start going, "Man, God's going to do what He says He's going to do."
"Man, Abraham, he lied, he sold out his wife and took Lot along with him."
You know, we do that, right? You all agree with me. God says, "Go alone," and he took Lot with him. Right? We usually take a lot with us too, don't we? You know what I'm talking about? So, the deal is he says, "Look, read the Scriptures because they're going to give you hope. They're going to show you that God does what God says He will do."
Now, here's what I want to do. I'm going to have some fun now. Because, this is so true. What God says He will do, He will. Mark this down. We're going to have some fun right now. What we're going to do is we're going to look at a couple of stories in the Old Testament and I'm going to just sort of talk to you about them. And I'm hoping with everything within me, because I've prayed over this and I've prayed for every seat in this building, "God, just absolutely give some IVs of Mountain Dew to everybody so that they're just excited about Jesus and reading the Word."
So, here's the first story. It's like Uncle Chip. It's cold today. So, you've got the fireplace. We should have a fireplace. We should've brought a fireplace up here; don't you think? Have some chestnuts roasting and all that good stuff. Some Bible time with Uncle Chip. You know? So, here's the deal. The first story I want to talk about is the experience at Sinai. I'm only going to quote on Scripture, but I'm going to tell you a little story here and I think you'll enjoy it. So, listen in. This is good stuff.
Moses goes up on Mount Sinai for forty days and he's gone. So, the people, in forty days, they figure, "Where'd the pastor go? Charleston?"
So, he's gone. What they do is they go, "Hey, I've got a great idea, man. We just got delivered through the Red Sea. Let's take a bunch of gold and melt it down and build a golden calf and have an adulteress affair with some other gods and some people and dance and party. That's a great idea."
So, Moses comes down from the mountain and it says in Exodus 32:19 that as soon as he came near the camp he saw the calf and the dancing. Moses' anger burned hot. "I've been up on the mountain. I've been with God."
Very specific. It says the God took His finger. I mean, the words of the Bible, focus in on them. He took His finger and He wrote ten words. In the Hebrew, it's ten words and not ten commandments. It's the ten words. He writes ten words. The Word of God on tablets of stone. Moses comes down with those tablets of stone with the Word of God written on it by God's finger. He comes and he sees the calf, the dancing, his anger burns hot, and he took these tablets, these stone tablets that had the Word of God on them and the Word of God was shattered, broken right there because of the sins of the people. Emblematic also of judgment of throwing some stones, these people, out of his hands and he broke them at the foot of the mountain.
So, here we have the Word of God has been broken. The story continues, though. Moses goes back up and God takes His finger again – the only two places in the Old Testament where the finger is used and people will say, "Chip gave us the finger at church today." That's not what I did. Don't do that to me. That's how those bad rumors get started. Anyway, so God takes His finger again and He rewrites the same exact words. Listen: which means the Word of God can be broken, but it cannot be destroyed.
There's going to be another man that comes along called "the Word of God," and His body's going to be broken, but it's not going to be destroyed. Because, if God says He'll do it, He'll do it.
Let's talk about another story here and see another great story. Jeremiah. This is in Jeremiah 36:9-26. Jeremiah's in prison and he calls Baruch, which is his scribe who we would call an amanuensis in the academic world. And he says, "Hey, I want you to get some animal skin."
He gets some skin. It's a scroll. It's a scroll of skin. He says, "I want you to write down what I'm going to tell you," because Jeremiah's just sort of downloaded from God some prophecies that need to be read to Israel. And I'm just going to tell you something: when you read your Bible, the Prophets are tough. Just get your hard hat on and your asbestos pants when you read them, because they're tough. You know? So, he starts to dictate to Baruch the words of God. Baruch then takes them out into the temple to be read publicly and everybody's like, "Oh, yeah. This is not like the guy on TV. This is tough stuff here."
They're like, "Oh, yeah. Mmm. Mmm. Yeah. Mmm."
Because Jeremiah's saying, "You guys don't turn, it's going to be tough."
And they're like, "Yeah, this is not very good. I don't like this one very good."
So, what happens is a guy named Jehudi – which sounds like a Star Wars character, doesn't it? Jehudi the Jedi. Anyway, Jehudi comes and he gets the scroll and he takes it to the king because they all figure the king needs to hear what's being said. So, here's what Jeremiah records for us.
He says, "As Jehudi read three or four columns," – on a scroll, you know, they would scroll it out and he'd read three or four columns there in Hebrew on that animal skin. The king, he didn't like what he was hearing at all. So, he would take a knife and he would cut that skin, cut the flesh, wad it up and throw it in the fire.
It says, "He would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed..." – same word as a burnt offering. The Word of God is cut and pierced in the flesh and consumed – "...in the fire that was in the fire pot."
So, the king's like, "I don't like that word. I'm going to just toss it into the fire."
Well, Baruch goes back to Jeremiah. Jeremiah says, "Well, how did it go?"
He's like, "Yeah... it wasn't a best seller. You need to work on your delivery a little bit. It wasn't very good. They cut it and threw it in the fire."
Jeremiah says, "Great. Get some animal skin."
Baruch says, "Come again?"
He says, "Get some animal skin. Sit down."
And the Word of God says that Jeremiah dictated the same exact words again that were on that long scroll. You can cut the Word of God, you can burn the Word of God, you can do all of that stuff. But, you cannot destroy the Word of God. Somebody needs to hear that. Somebody needs to hear that this morning. Those longings that you have for a word that's spoken over you that's a promise that you can take to the bank, your heavenly Father, when He tells you He'll do something, He will do it. Even when it doesn't look like it it'll resurrect.
You read all those things in the Old Testament. The Word of God's cut, it's broken, it's torn, it's all this stuff. Jesus is the Word of God. He was broken and He was cut and all of those things. But, on the third day, He resurrected because God's Word cannot be destroyed.
So, here's what we're going to do now. We're going to do the take-home part. This is where you write down the stuff that's important, that's practical, that you can take home and talk to your spouse or your kids or your grandparents or your friends. This is the real practical stuff. Write these down. Take some notes. I want to make sure that you put these down, because this is really important. Here's the take-homes.
The first one is this: standing on God's Word is what sustains us in between. When we're living in the in between, we need to stand on God's Word. Now, this is a little tough here what I'm getting ready to say, but it's medicine; it's good medicine. It doesn't taste too good, but it's the truth and everybody needs to hear this in this room here. We cannot stand on that which we do not know. So important for you and me to know what the Word of God says, because when we're going through the in between and we need to know what God has promised you and me, what is not going to be destroyed, what He's going to perform, if we don't know what He said, we're not going to know what to stand on. So, it's imperative that we stand on the Word of God. We can't stand on that which we don't know.
Secondly – and this is huge – we all decide at some point on which word we will stand. I'm going to get very real here. I want you to lean in and I want you to hear me on this. God has chosen the medium of His Word to speak to you and me. He could've chosen whatever. He could've done whatever. But, that's the medium He chose. He chose words to speak to you and me for me and you to get from Him what we need. So, if you don't think that words are going to get used in our lives and spoken over us that are going to be wrong and corrupted to lead us in the wrong way rather than letting God's Word lead us in the right way, you would be gravely mistaken.
And here's the deal: you and I are going to stand on some word. And it might be the words your dad spoke over you and told you that you couldn't do it. It might be a word that an ex-spouse said to you or a girlfriend or a boyfriend or a friend that said something like, "You never could do this. You can't make it. You're no good. You're ugly. You're this. You're that." Or whatever.
It might be somebody you know like a coworker or a boss that said, "You're not smart enough. You can't do these things."
And we stand on these words and we carry them around like baggage. That's what we tell ourselves. At some point, though, we're going to decide on which word we listen to. And I'm going to encourage you as your pastor to listen to the Word of God, because what God says to you and me is "yes" and "amen." What God says to you and me is that you are the apple of my eye. What God says to you and me is that Jesus plus nothing is everything. What God says to you and me is, "I love you with an everlasting love and you are my son and daughter and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you."
It's okay. You can clap. It's good. There's people behind the Hefty bag going, "Yeah!" My posse back there. You know? People online are clapping their computer. "Yeah!" Y'all are cold. I get it. But, here's the deal. We're going to stand on something and I want to encourage you to stand on the Word of God and to listen to what God has said to you and what He wants to do in your life.
Thirdly, we must realize that no matter what things look like to the eyes, God's Word is going to come to pass. This is the whole story. The whole story is we read and reread and we read and reread these stories and we see that, "They go this way and go that way and they zig and they zag and they go this way and that way."
The bottom line is God always performs what He says He will do. He always does it. If He says, "I'm going to provide," He provides. Even though it don't look like it, even though it don't look like it's going to make it, even though it looks like the widow is going to die, the bottom line is if God says, "You're going to have food," you're going to have food because His promise is something that cannot be destroyed. And in our lives, we look so much and go, "This is what the Bible says, but it don't look this way." That's why it's called faith. At some point, we've got to go, "Man, all these stories, every one of them, there's all kinds of messes going on. People in lions' dens and fiery furnaces and all this stuff. But, man, like a champ, God comes through every single time."
The more you and I see that and the more you and I recognize that, the more we start going, "I believe You, God. I don't care what I see. I don't care what's going on in my life. I know You're going to provide. I know You're going to heal me. I know You're going to restore this. I know You're going to bring that to fruition, because that's who You are. That's who You are."
Now, I want to end here with this. I want you to lean in. This is really important. Very important. I told you about this adulterous situation in Israel and God takes His finger and writes on this tablets twice. Twice. John tells us a story in John 7:53-8:11. An adulterous affair has gone on. The religious leaders, they don't care about this lady. They catch her in the very act, which means they watched. They waited until she got in the house and looked through the windows to make sure they've got them in the act. They drag her out with probably a sheet on her in front of Jesus there in Jerusalem. An adulterous affair right in front of Him.
John records that Jesus steps down with His finger and writes in the sand. "You going to stone her, Jesus?"
He stoops back down, second finger, and writes again. No stone's going to be broken today. No stoning going to take place. Because the Word of God is there right in front of them and He says, "Woman, I forgive you."
She didn't even ask for it. And what's interesting is John, who wrote the book of Revelation, shows the great hailstones, the stones actually coming down on the temple of the religious people. The religious people are the ones that probably need to be stoned, not the woman caught in adultery. And that means, for you and me, that God's Word is a word of grace. Because, every single one of us has done something like that. Every single one of us walked away from God. Every single one of us has done something and God's word over you is, "I love you with an everlasting love," and when you get ahold of that grace, it's going to charge you up to get into the Word of God, to see, "What has God spoke to me? Because, I've got to hear those words because those words give life when I hear those words."
It's not to read it so we can tell everybody how to live, it's to read it so that we can become like Jesus and be so charged up with grace that we change the city that we live in.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You this morning. And God, I pray in Jesus' name for Your glory and for Your glory alone that Your people in this auditorium would hear Your word over them; a word of grace, a word of "yes," a word of "amen," a word of, "I can provide and I can heal and I can restore."
God, let that be the word they hear today and let us walk out of here charged up to want to reread the stories of Scripture so that we can live in the in between the abundant life that You've called us to live.
So, Lord, I pray that as we leave here today that You'd watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us. I pray, God, that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again so that we can continue to get equipped in our toolbox to live out the life that You've called us to live and to be the church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.
We thank You for everything. Watch over us, God, and guide us as we go. We thank You for it in Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."