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Introducing Jesus: Week 26


Audio Transcript: Good morning church. That is if you are watching it live on premiere. But if you're not, then good afternoon or good evening or good whatever time you are watching this. I'm so glad to be here speaking God's word to all of us, including myself, as Pastor Jan pointed out two weeks ago. I'm preaching to myself today and it's an encouragement to be with you all and speaking with you. Today we're actually going back to a series that we had started a while ago, going through the book of Luke and we're picking up right where we left off, Luke chapter 9. And we're going to be looking at verses 18 through 27. And what we're going to be talking about today is this idea that I call outliers of faith. Now, many of you have heard this term outliers before, many of you may be haven't. And it's something that when I looked up the definition actually had somewhere around 10 different definitions. So it could mean a lot of different things. So I want to be clear about what I'm talking about. And I'm going with more of a mathematical statistical definition of outliers, which is something that is seemingly distant or distracted from the main body of work. And so for an example, going back to high school mathematic, bringing you back to those good old day, if you are plotting a graph and you're expecting it to have a linear correlation, a line, and this is where you expect your data, and there's a point way over here, you're going to be wondering why is that there, that doesn't fit with the data I expected? And that is what we call an outlier. But outliers aren't just in mathematics or science or statistics, outliers are actually in almost everything that we do. And I think the clearest example is relationships and not just romantic, in also friendships, working relationships, family, or yes indeed romantic relationships as well. We go into those relationships with a preconceived understanding of what they are, what we have been taught to expect in these relationships. And that is sort of our line. And then in relationships, sometimes things pop up that we think, "Whoa. Where did that come from? That doesn't fit in the data of what I expected this relationship to be like." And quick side note, don't ever talk about relationships as data points. It does not work. It will not go well. I'm only doing this because I have asked my wife for permission to do so. And she said it's okay. So don't talk about relationships as data points. But I was thinking back to when we were dating, my now wife Alison, when we were dating we lived pretty far apart. I lived in the North Shore and she lived in Charlestown. And so we spent a lot of time driving back and forth to each other. And with that, I would drive to class, have my clothes for that, then drive to work, have my work uniform and then drive to her house to pick her up for a date and go out on a date and then come back home late at night and I'd be tired. And so naturally over time, completely out of my control, my car got a little bit messy. There were clothes piled in the back seat, there were bags of Dunkin' Donuts and cups in the cup-holder from the times I was eating on the road and it just got a little bit disorganized, I'd say. And very lovingly, my wife Alison pointed out she really would appreciate a cleaner car when I was driving her and taking her on a date. Now, when I was going into a dating relationship, I expected things like driving to visit her. I wanted to spend time with her, you had to drive. But I expected love commitment, compassion. These are the things I was told about dating. Not once did anyone ever tell me I needed to clean my car and that that was a factor or data point in dating. Now, when you come across these outliers, you have options of what you can do. You can do one of two things. And this is the same exact thing they do in mathematics and science as well. The first option is human error. In mathematics, it's taking the measurements wrong or not being precise enough. And in this situation, if I wanted to count this data point of cleaning my car as human error, that would look like me saying, she just has a different calibration of cleanliness for cars. It's just not measuring up to the same. So that's that. Or this is her feeling on this, but that doesn't affect my understanding of cleanliness of cars or of dating, and so I can discount it as human error. Now, if any of you at home are thinking that it was possibly human error, just ask her about the time that I had a Christmas tree in the back of my car for five months. So clearly it was not human error. Clearly it is the second option that we have to look at this data point, this point that seemingly is disorganized or disjuncted from the rest of the main body and say, "How does this fit in with my understanding of the rest of the data? How does this point fit in with my understanding of dating?" And it fits in in that part of dating is serving, part of dating is welcoming and loving the other person in ways that they feel loved. So rather than discounting her point, it is my job to clean my car as part of dating and now of marriage. And it is something I am still working on. But this is what we're going to be looking at with faith. A lot of us have this focus on faith, a really simple, clear definition of faith, which is good and true. A lot of us when we think of faith, we think of things like faith is believing without seeing or a faith is belief and trust in God. And those things are true and those things are good. And that's what we expect the rest of the discussion of faith to revolve around. But throughout scripture, there's a lot of different factors and components and you could say data points that show us what faith is actually like. And we can foolishly reject those as errors or we can lovingly and welcomingly accept them and say, "Maybe I need to rethink how I think about faith. Maybe I need to adjust my understanding of what faith is." And so that's what we're looking at today in our text of Luke chapter 9. But before we get into that, will you pray with me over the preaching of God's word. Heavenly Father, Lord, we come to you and we praise you and we thank you that you give us faith. We ask that you strengthen our faith, that you grow our faith, that we can grow in trusting you more and loving you more and that we can have a faith that overcomes this world. That nothing in this world can hinder our faith and love and trust of you. I ask that in this time you speak through me, use your Spirit to speak through the text and challenge each and every one of us to grow in faith to strengthen our faith in you. Through Jesus' name we pray. Amen. So Luke chapter 9 verses 18 through 27. If you have your Bibles at home with you, feel free to bring them out. If not, you can follow along, the text will be on the screen with us. And it says in Luke chapter 9 verse 18. "Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, 'Who do the crowd say that I am?' And they answered, 'John the Baptist. But others say Elijah, and others that one of the prophets of old has risen.' Then he said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' And Peter answered 'The Christ of God.' And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one saying, 'The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised.' And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the Holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.'" Amen. So this text, we're going to be looking at five different what I call outliers of faith. The five of them are first that faith is unpopular. And then faith is from the Father, faith is patient, faith is daily and faith is unashamed. And so we're going to be looking at how these outliers of faith, these different data points of faith, focus and point us back to the root of faith. And so the first one is faith is unpopular. And this comes from the very first verses where Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they're like "Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, others say other prophets." And then Jesus asks, "Who do you say that I am?" And this part right here, this verse where Jesus asks Peter, "Who do you say that I am," this is the core of faith. This is what faith is based in. It's saying that Jesus is the Christ of God. We say today that Jesus is the Messiah. He is our savior. He is the son of God. These are all saying the same thing. This is the root and core of faith, is in who Jesus is. Now. We're going to be faced with times where people disagree with us, and actually our belief that Jesus Christ is our savior is unpopular. I remember back in the day when I was in high school, I was taking a biology class and the teacher was very smart, very well-educated, had all of the degrees and he made an offhand joke about how science disproved God, or that you could not use science to support the existence of God. And as a Christian that upset me. I love science, and so after class I spoke with him and I shared with him about my beliefs about God and that I believe science is something created by God and it's good and all these things. And it seemed good to me. I felt good about what I said. And his response to me was, "Don't you think that's a little naïve?" That really hurt me then. Because I like to argue, I like to give support and reasoning for things, and to hear that someone thought my beliefs were naive really hurt. But what it was really coming down to was that he did not like my beliefs and my beliefs about who God is, were unpopular and were against what he thought. And this is just one of many examples that I'm sure you guys have experienced and know of where our belief and faith in Jesus is unpopular. But what I find really interesting is that in this text, they give three examples of who people say Jesus is. And it actually reveals a lot to us about some of these more popular statements about who Jesus is. What we find is that a lot of popular statements about Jesus are either missing some information, are either philosophically trying to be intellectuals and come up with some new thoughtful idea or are passive and say "It doesn't really matter." And that's what we see in these examples. The first is John the Baptist. Well, this is missing some critical information because there are hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus with John the Baptist. And so if you saw them at the same time, you would know that Jesus is not John the Baptist. And so it's missing some critical information. And then with Elijah, this is the philosophical, this is the intellectual answer. I know of a verse somewhere in scripture that talks about Elijah coming back or one that'll be like Elijah coming back so clearly this is him. But the difference is that Jesus said and claimed that he is the Father, the Father and him are one, that he is God, I should say. And that he is the Lord. And so, Elijah never claimed that, it was clear Elijah was not God, and so we meet sort of a distinction here that this can't be right either. And then a really popular belief is, "It's one of the old prophets. I don't really know. Someone else will tell me what to believe." And we see this today, right? We miss information. We say this historical Jesus maybe wasn't who the Bible describes, or maybe that historical Jesus doesn't really even exist, but he definitely did not claim to be God or did not do the things that he said he did. Well, that's missing some critical information because if you study history outside of the Bible even, even though the Bible is good historical accurate information, if you read the works of like Flavius Josephus, he was an author for the Roman empire taking historical accounts of the things that were happening in the providence of Israel at that time. He accounts the works of Jesus that come perfectly in line with the works of scripture, that show what Jesus said, the things that he did and that people believed he was the Messiah, the Christ of God at the time, historically. So to say that historical Jesus is different from the Jesus in the Bible is missing some critical information. We like to be philosophical and say, "Jesus was a great teacher. He was a good man who said good things, and that we should follow after him because he was good." But again, Jesus claimed to be God. Good men don't claim to be God. And also good men don't die on the cross. So we can't just philosophically talk about Jesus or try to intellectualize and make Jesus who we want him to be. But we also can't be passive. We can't just say, "I don't know. Whoever people say Jesus is that's who he is. He was probably someone from sometime that's important maybe. Who knows?" We can't do that. Having faith in Jesus means at the root declaring that he is the Christ, he is the Messiah, he is our savior. And that belief is often unpopular. But then this leads us perfectly into this next idea that faith is from the Father. And maybe you're thinking, "Yeah. That makes sense. That doesn't seem like an outlier." But where it really becomes an outlier is where we live this out practically. And this is actually coming from the parallel text in Matthew chapter 16. So if you don't know, there are four gospels, and a lot of times each of the gospels talk about the same events and each one adds some to the story. And in Matthew 16, we get a little bit more information about Jesus's response to Peter when Peter declares that Jesus is God, is the Christ. And in verse 16, it tells us "Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." So Jesus says to Peter, "Blessed are you." Why? Because he didn't believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah because of his own intellectual thinking, but it was because it was a gift from the Father. Now this is really important. And this is really critical because one thing that this does is it clarifies that there's no room for spiritual arrogance or superiority. No room for spiritual superiority. Because what it says is that our faith is a gift from the Father. And so Christians, do we have an air of spiritual superiority? Do we look at others and say, "Oh. My faith is stronger than them," and so we puff ourselves up. Well, what that says is "No. Your faith isn't from you. You can't boast yourself up with your faith because it is a gift from the Father." When you think about the faith that you have turn to God and praise him, because he has blessed you with it. Or even worse do we look at non-Christians and say, "Oh. They don't understand because they don't have the faith that I do." Remember faith is a gift from the Father. Praise him for the gift that he has given to us if we have faith. Now, maybe you're watching this and you're not a Christian and you're saying, "I'm looking at these things, I don't believe this, I don't have faith in this." But maybe you want to, but maybe you're learning and you're saying, "This is interesting. I want to know more." Well, this is actually a huge encouragement to you because what it shows us is that the Father is the one who gives it. So run to him, pray to God, ask him for faith, ask him to reveal himself to you. God loves to reveal himself to those who seek him. He loves to. So run to God. Ask him to reveal himself to you, to give you faith. And Christians, ask God for more faith. Right? He blesses us with faith. It is a blessing. And so when we are feeling down, when we maybe feel like our faith isn't strong enough, or it needs to be better, that's okay. Turn to God, seek him, ask him for more faith. And the Father loves to give faith to us. And this relates back to the unpopularity of faith as well, because it shows us that it's not something we can master up only on our own. We can't just look at facts and be like, "This is the fact, this is the fact, therefore I have faith." That's what society wants us to do, is just reason ourselves into things. And there is logic. There is reasoning in believing in God, absolutely. But faith is a gift from the Father. Trust in him, seek him, desire faith from him. The next point is that faith is patient. And faith is patient in two ways. It's patient in timing and it's patient in method. And we often talk about love is patient. And I love this idea that love is patient, that is true. But faith is also patient. And we see this in our text and also in the Matthew text. But in our text in verse 21, it tells us, "And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one saying, 'The son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes and be killed, and on the third day be raised.'" Jesus, your disciple just said that you are the Christ. He gets it. He understands. Why are you telling him not to go and tell people about it? This is what we do all the time at church. We talk about proclaiming the truth of who Jesus is, sharing the gospel with our friends and family. This is something we talk about a lot. Jesus, why in the world are you commanding them to not tell anyone? It's because he wants us to be patient with his timing. He says that these things still need to happen. I still need to be rejected. I need to suffer and die on the cross and three days later, be raised from the grave. These things still need to happen. So I'm asking you to be patient in my timing. But also, he asks us to be patient with his methods. Because a lot of times God's methods for bringing about his will are different than ours. We see this in Matthew 16 in verse 22, it says, "And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him saying, 'Far be it from you, Lord. This shall never happen to you.' But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me Satan, you are a hindrance to me for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'" Now, this is immediately after Jesus says that he needs to suffer and die. And Peter, the one who just said you are the Christ says, "No Jesus. Not this way. I believe you are the Christ, I believe you are my savior and you are God, but not this way. It's not going to happen that way. I have a different plan than yours." And we have to be patient with God's methods because when we aren't, what Jesus's response to Peter is "Get behind me Satan." But not just that, he says, "You are a hindrance to me." And this one hit me really hard. This word "hindrance" was like... Am I a help to God and to his will and to his plan or am I a hindrance to him? Patience is something we talk about with faith that we have to have faith that God will bring about his will, his way. We talk about that a lot. But, we often grow impatient still. Think about a time where you have asked God for something and it hasn't happened in your timing, or it hasn't happened in the way you thought, have we grown impatient? Has that hurt our faith in God because we said, "You know what, God didn't answer in the time I wanted, in the way I wanted, and so now I'm struggling with my faith." Now this is why it's so important that faith is patient in timing and method, because this is how God works his will. We know that God's will is good. In this story, it's what was necessary for Jesus to live and to go and to die on the cross, to save us from our sins so that we can have an eternity with God. This is what we put our faith in, is these events. But it had to happen in his time, in his way. If Peter tried to force his will, then he would have blocked the salvation for all of us, but because God is so powerful, he did not let that happen. He could not have let that happen. And that brings us back to the word hindrance, right? We're not stopping God. We can't prevent God from bringing about his will and doing what he wants. We're not powerful enough. But are we going to be a hindrance, are we going to be fighting against him, are we going to be pushing back or are we joyfully going to be running along with him, fighting for his will, bringing about his will, submitting to his will in his way. We also see this idea of Jesus commanding people to be silent and not to speak a lot throughout scripture. This was something that I was really focusing on in the book of Mark. Eight different times, Jesus says that... It says that Jesus commanded them to be silent and to speak nothing of what had happened. There's only one time in Mark chapter 5, where Jesus says, "Go and tell. Go and tell." And what's the difference there? It tells us in Mark chapter 5, verse 18, it says, "As he was getting into the boat," Jesus, "The man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him, but said to him, 'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.' And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him and everyone marveled." This is the story of a man who had a legion of demons cast out of him, and afterwards he runs to Jesus and says, "Jesus, I'm going with you wherever you go. Let me follow you." And Jesus says, "No. Instead, go and tell people what had happened." What is the difference? Why does Jesus tell him the only one go and tell? Well, he's the only one that wasn't in Israel at the time. He was a Gentile. So what does this mean? This shows us again, that God's methods are different than our own. Jesus knew that if in Israel word of who he was came about, he might be killed prematurely. He might be stopped prematurely. And he wanted to bring about God's will in his way, so he patiently told others to hold off and not speak now. But to this Gentile man, he says, "Go and tell." And what a lot of the Jewish people who were told, "Don't say anything. Be quiet," might've been thinking was, "Well, why does he get to go and tell? Jesus, why did you give things to him that I was asking for, that I wanted to do?" And I think another really important thing about faith and patience in faith is not comparing ourselves to others. Not being like, "God, why did you do this for them, when I asked you the same thing. God, I asked you for a husband or a wife and I haven't gotten that yet. Why did you bless them with it? Or I asked you for this job or this promotion why didn't you bless me with that when you have blessed them with that or..." Whatever it might be we ask God for something, it doesn't happen in the timing and way we want and then we see it happen for someone else and we get jealous. And that can hurt our faith as well. It breeds doubt, it breeds insecurity in our faith. And what we need to do is to overcome that by saying, "No. My faith isn't in my circumstances, my faith isn't in the things going on around me, my faith is in the person of Jesus Christ. I trust in him no matter what is going on in my life, in the world around me, with other people, I am trusting and I have faith that God is going to work his will his way." And sometimes that's really hard. I'm not saying that's easy. I'm not saying that when we ask God for things that we should just be like, "All right. That's it. Done?" It is hard, but that's why we need to continually go to Christ. That's why we need to be like that man in the book of Mark and run to him and say, "Jesus, I'm following you." Because it's when we go to Jesus, that he gives us clearer instructions as for how to go. And sometimes it's just have faith, have patience, trust. Number four, faith is daily. And this one I was thinking about because I was thinking about the way I talk about faith in the most common times I use the word faith. And that most common time is when I say, "We put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be saved." True. Amen. Hallelujah. However, it doesn't stop there. Faith is not something we do once that puts our faith and trust in Jesus and we are saved and then, "Great. I'm done with that part of faith. That part of faith is over. I've completed. Check." No. It's daily. And this is in verse 23 of our text where it says, and he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will save it." The word, "Daily," take up your cross. This is the one of the four gospels that uses that word "Daily." But it's really important. It's really important here that daily we need to pick up our cross. What does it mean to pick up our cross? We have romanticized this idea of the cross in our culture, right? Because it is the thing that Jesus died on to bring us salvation. That is good. And so we wear necklaces with crosses, we have crosses on top of steeples and in paintings and pictures. And those things are all good and fine and there's no issues with that. But then we start to think about the cross solely in the positive, in like, "This is good." But when Jesus is speaking to his disciples and says, "Take up your cross daily" what Jesus is saying is saying, "Be prepared to die every day and look back at your day and say, 'Was that day worth it? Did I live my life today to glorify God? Did I not seek to save my own life? Did I not do everything selfishly, self-preservingly or did I do things for the kingdom of God?'" This is also really hard to do. But when I was in college, I was part of a Christian group, and one of the leaders at the Christian group was giving a lesson on overcoming temptation and overcoming sin. And one of the things that he said that has really stuck with me, he said that every single day he wakes up and he commits that day to God. He says, "Today God, I'm going to be obedient to you." And this has a really stuck with me because I don't know about you, but for me, longterm goals can be something that is hard to complete daily. It's something that you say, "It's longterm, so if I mess up today, it's okay because longterm it'll come true." But daily goals are the harder ones. Daily goals are the ones that you have to do it every single day. And so to wake up each morning and say, "Today, I'm committing today to you Jesus, I'm following you now," that puts it in the immediate presence, and we're not able to say, "Well, if I mess up today, it'll work out longterm," because, no, you're committing today. And this is what Jesus is getting at when he says, "Take up your cross daily." Is he's saying, "Follow me daily, have faith in me daily, trust in me daily, all of the time." And again, we have seasons of doubt, we have seasons where life is hard. But again, this is why we have to remember that faith is from the Father because it's when times are hard, when it's hard to follow him daily, when it's hard to pick up our cross daily, we can go to him who is powerful enough to carry it for us, to strengthen us, to give us encouragement, to lift up our spirits so that way we can have faith even in difficult times. And lastly, point number five is that faith is unashamed. And this is actually bringing it partly back. This is closing the loop with unpopular. And he says in verse 25, "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself. For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words of him will the son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the Holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God." Are we ashamed of Jesus? Or are we ashamed of his words? It's telling that Jesus makes a distinction. A lot of people might say, "I like Jesus. Jesus seems like a nice guy to me." But then when we read his words and say, "Do you agree?" say, "I don't know. Maybe. I have to think about it." Or, "I don't really like that part of it, I would change it slightly to this." No Jesus says, "If you're ashamed of me or of my words, I will be ashamed of you when I return." And this word ashamed is really challenging. Maybe we don't feel it as piercingly as we should because this word ashamed is the same exact word that is used to describe the feeling of Adam and Eve in the garden when they sinned and they realized they were naked and they felt ashamed. It was stunning, it was piercing, it was heartbreaking this feeling. Do we feel ashamed of Jesus and of his words? Do we cower back? Do we like Adam and Eve go and hide ourselves from his presence when things get tough, when things get challenging, when popular opinions about who Jesus is pushed against the true view of who God is? Do we hide? True faith is unashamed of Jesus and his words. And I looked at three different times in the New Testament where Paul used this word, the same word for unashamed. And I think it's really telling and really encouraging to us about what it means to be unashamed. The first is in Romans chapter 1, verse 16. He says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith." Unashamed of the gospel. This is the story, this is the life, this is the work of Jesus Christ that he died on the cross to save us from our sins. He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, bringing us into a perfect relationship with the Father. Paul says, "I'm unashamed of that. I'm unashamed of it because this is how we are saved." It is unpopular to believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved today. Are we ashamed of that? When people ask us what we believe about God or what we believe about salvation, is Christianity the only way, are we ashamed to say, "Yes. Jesus is the only way to salvation?" That is the only way. Nothing else works. We can't be ashamed. We are unashamed of the gospel because it is what saves us. The next time Paul talks about being unashamed is in 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 12, he says, "But I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what he has entrusted in me." Are we ashamed of how we are saved? Are we ashamed of who Jesus is? And the second part, are we ashamed of his power to be the thing that sustains us, to keep us with what he has entrusted us? Do we say, "I don't know if I'm willing to trust him fully that he is providing me with the strength. I'd rather rely on my own strength to follow him. I'd rather rely on myself and my own intellect to follow him." Paul says, "I'm not ashamed because I know who he is and I know that he will keep and protect me and keep what he has entrusted me to do." The work that we do for God is only because of the power of God in us. And the last time, this is actually a Hebrews chapter 11, verse 15, and the author of Hebrews says, "If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared for them a city." And so what does it mean for Jesus to be ashamed of us? It says that God is ashamed of us when we look back at the world and say, "I want that," rather than looking forward to the kingdom of God and saying, "I want him." You see, God is ashamed of those who look back at this world and say, "I cannot. This is where the good stuff is. I'm holding onto these things. My joy, my goals in life are all focused on my job, my career, my life, here are the things that I have, that's where my ambitions lie. That's where my focus is." Jesus says, "Be careful because there's another country, a better country, and it's specifically a heavenly one and it's coming. It's the kingdom of God, and it will be here." And this is actually the very last verse of this passage, where it's Jesus says, "But I tell you some who are here today will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God." What that means is the kingdom of God is here. It is present. What does he mean when he says this? The very next section of text in this book is the Mount of transfiguration where they get a glimpse of Jesus in his glory. But we're also told that his kingdom is here now. That the church is his kingdom, is spreading his kingdom in this world. The kingdom is here. And so are we more focused on the things of this world or are we heavenly focused, focused on his kingdom, trusting in him and seeking his will. And with all of these things, are we unashamed of it? And there's actually a poem/song that is becoming very popular right now that fits this idea perfectly. And the reason why I want to talk about this is because I can see it is already being used for the gains of political countries, of the country here. And that's fine. Whatever you think about that, I'm not commenting on that. But what I want to point out is that this poem is one meant to be discussing the kingdom of God. This is a poem written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900, and then his brother five years later made it a song to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's birthday and specifically the freedom of slaves in America. And James Johnson was actually a trusted advisor to Theodore Roosevelt, and he was the representative of America to Venezuela and Nicaragua. And he wrote this poem looking at American slavery, and those who have come out of slavery and said, "This is what I see in it." And here's how the poem ends. He says, "God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far on the way, though who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee, shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to our God, true to our native land." This song actually really embodies everything that we're talking about today. Faith is unpopular. That the American slaves were enduring slavery, silently crying, they were alone crying, but still having their faith in God, even when it was unpopular for them to do so. Faith is from the Father. It says, "Thou who has by thy might led us into thy light." God you're working through your power to bring us to salvation. God you have saved us, you have given us faith. This is from you. Faith is patient. It says, "God of our weary years," not minutes, days, years of enduring slavery. God you are still God through all of that. I still have faith in you in spite of the circumstances. Faith is daily. It says, "Lest our feet stray from the places where we met thee, and may we stand here forever." Let's just stay with you God, I don't want to wander a single footstep away from you. I don't want to be enticed by the world, says "Be drunk by the wine of the world." I don't want that God. I want to follow you daily. And God I'm unashamed to say that I'm standing beneath your hand under your power and that you are the true God, and that I'm remaining faithful to our... what they say, our native land. What is that? It's specifically talking about the kingdom of God. If you don't believe me, that's why it says standing under your hand, where are they standing? Where's their native land? It's under the hand and power of God. It's the kingdom of God. And this is the kind of faith that I want. I don't know about you, but I want the kind of faith that no matter the life circumstances, no matter how hard it gets to the point of having to endure slavery, nothing can waiver my faith in the one, true God. Nothing. And it's only when we look at all of the aspects of these faith and we try to incorporate them into our lives, these outliers of the faith, that we can really have a lasting faith that endures all things and overcomes the world. So I challenge you today, have this faith in God. Have faith that is unpopular, that believes who God really is. Faith that is from the Father, trusting in him, praising him for the faith that you have. Faith that is patient and it is enduring in time and method of the will of God. Faith that is daily. That you pick up your cross daily and say, "Today Jesus, I'm having faith in you." And lastly, faith that is unashamed to boldly proclaim who God is, to boldly live for him, to boldly trust in him and submit our lives to him no matter what. That's the faith I want. I hope you do too. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, Lord, we praise you and we thank you that you are the God that gives us faith. Lord, we ask that you give us more faith to live out your faith, to strengthen us in faith, that we will be bold to follow you, bold to live for you, that you will give us and grant us with a faith that overcomes all trials that overcomes the world. Lord we thank you. We thank you that you give us this kind of faith. Through Jesus' name your son we pray. Amen.


Listen to Balm Psalms: Week 3

Balm Psalms: Week 3

Listen to Jesus Roots

Jesus Roots

Listen to Balm Psalms: Week 1

Balm Psalms: Week 1

Listen to Introducing Jesus: Week 28

Introducing Jesus: Week 28

Listen to Introducing Jesus: Week 32

Introducing Jesus: Week 32