by Brian Campbell
Thank you for checking out this sermon. If you are moved by what you hear and are in the Boston area, consider visiting in person!
Well, guys, it's great to be together today. Fall is certainly in the air and our wardrobe needs to change. I was fighting at this last week continuing to wear shorts, but I gave up over the last couple of days. But it was a special week in the metro region, wasn't it?
Last week we had a bring your neighbor day game the yard game Sunday. That was a ton of fun. We got to honor the Van Akins and their 20 plus years of service last Wednesday. We had an epic men's night last night that was so much fun. Games played, jokes shared, memories made, and appetizers treated like dinner. It was awesome. It was, so many friends came out.
There was three of my neighbors that came out. Just loved getting to meet my friends, getting to meet people in my church. And one of my neighbors who serves as police officer in Framingham, he's like, this was so good for my soul. And I'm like, yeah, in what way? And he's like, I deal with the worst part of Framingham. It was so good to be with just good people, people that love each other, that want to do good. I feel so encouraged. He gave up his birthday evening to come with us last night. I just feel like that's what people experience when they get to see Jesus's church and body together. But it was a special week. It was an awesome time together.
I have just a couple of important announcements for us. One, our Kids Kingdom rotation just ended and there was a group that we're serving this summer and they need to be held in high honor. If you served in Kids Kingdom this last rotation, would you please stand up at this time?
Yes. Thank you. Thank you for giving your summer to serve with our kids. And I'm so grateful that Aspen gets to call you guys big brothers and sisters and loves going to Kids Kingdom. She does. It's probably her biggest event of the week is church and she loves it. I may or may not have tricked her a couple of times, and other things are church to get her excited, but hey, another disciples were there. Two or more gathered. It's similar but different. But thank you so much for serving. There's a couple of announcements that you want to make sure you get straight or else you'll be very disappointed if you don't. The first one is next Sunday we're having an All Boston church congregational service, okay? Up in Lowell. You got a budget time to drive up there and they have an incredible kids program for all the kids. But you got to realize that the kids program is like, across the river and around the corner from where church is. So you want to plan to drop your kids off around 1030 if you plan to get to the service at eleven. So you just got to budget time. The addresses, we will resend the addresses out. You guys will get that. But you just want to budget some time. There's going to be 2000 plus people there. You want to budget parking time and all that stuff.
But it starts at eleven. So if you leave at your normal time, you get a dunkin in your hand and be a happy camper by the time church starts up. So that's next Sunday. If you show up here you'll be really disappointed because those doors will be locked and nobody will be here except maybe somebody else who forgot this announcement. Okay?
So that's important. And then as we saw in the EMS video, special Missions is coming up. And guys, that's no small feat. The churches in Europe are counting on us, as they have for 40 plus years. And what the goal is if each member gives ten times what they normally do for a regular contribution. That's about the goal that we were trying to make here in Metro. And so that takes planning. And now many of you, this is not your first rodeo and you've been planning and saving for some of you might be like it's two weeks from now. You want a plan, you want to be sacrificial. People are counting on it.
So you want to be praying about this. It's cool to participate with your family, get your kids involved just to participate in this grace of giving in such ways. And then also this week we'll be sending out, we have an incredible teaching ministry here in the Metro region. Let's get for our teaching ministry, shall we? Okay, we have an incredible teaching ministry and this fall they're going to be presenting a series on one another passages from the New Testament.
And so there's going to be four lessons that are going to be sent out over the next couple of months. And they're designed to be watched in our discipleship groups because they're talking about one another passages. And so you and your discipleship group and your small group leader, you guys can discuss when to watch the video and to discuss these topics. But we're going to be taking on different one another passages in the New Testament and figure out how do we apply them to our relationships today. So the first video will be coming out hopefully by the end of next week and you guys can get this material and start watching it, discussing it.It's really special coming down our way.
Let's say a prayer and dive into the sermon this morning. God, thank you so much for the call to follow you. Thank you that we could spend an entire year, we could spend an entire lifetime studying this out and honing in our heart our time, our talents, our commitment to following you. I'm grateful this is a lifelong pursuit. Who I was when I was 18 and began this journey of following you and who I am now. You've molded me. You've shaped me. You've molded and shaped all of us.
This call to follow you is for all of us. It's the heartbeat of our church, and we want to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. I pray that as we look at the adventure today, the adventure following Jesus, it is scary and it's also exhilarating. I pray that whatever we get met with as we read these passages and as we hear Jesus calling this morning, that we could respond with faith, that we could respond with commitment, and that we can respond unified together on this journey. We ask this in Jesus name.Amen.
Well, we're in our third week of the series called Follow Me, and we've been looking at what does it mean to follow Jesus, because everything in Christianity begins and ends with this call to follow Jesus. If you could boil down Christianity to its simplest phrase, it's to follow Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This call is unchanging, and it's completely worthy of your time, your talent, your all, your family, your being to follow Jesus in a whole hearted way. Sadly, church organization, traditions, people, rules, progressive theology, they've all been trying to water down to nullify to dumb down what it truly means to follow Jesus. And the sad thing is, if you miss the true calling and you miss the whole heart of Christianity and the heart of what it means to be close to Jesus in a series, we really want to clearly hear Jesus to follow Him.
We want the Scriptures, his words, to orient our hearts in the right direction individually and collectively. The first week we talked about this invitation, about how Jesus invites us into a relationship with Him, that this is a close, personal, deep relationship, that he's calling us to follow Him on. Last week, we looked at just the overall calling, like, what does it mean to follow you? You guys remember my two point slogan there? Okay. What would Jesus do? And just do it. We combine the Nike sign together. What does it mean to just follow Jesus? It's to think about what he'd be doing and to just do it. And that is part of answering this call.
Going on an Adventure
But today we're going to talk about the adventure. Following Jesus is by far the wildest adventure you could ever sign up for, because you're no longer in control. You're leaving everything and all that you are in your life in Jesus hands and your following him to where he goes and where he's calling you to be.
It is the road less travelled. It is not a mundane, routine life. It is a go anywhere, say anything, serve anyone, do anything for the sake of Jesus in the calling. I have always been a sucker for adventure. When you're growing up, they always ask you, what do you want to be when you grow up? Mine was National Geographic explorer.
I've been a sucker for adventure movies, anything with adventure. I mean, as a matter of fact, my teenage years and young adult lives and even to today venture continues to get me in trouble because I always wonder what's over the next ridge? What would this be like in the dark? What if we did this and it's got me in so much trouble? It also creates so many memories and my best friend Nick, we've done a lot of foolish and exciting things in the name of adventure. Our 20 plus years of friendship, we've gotten trucks stuck, laws have been bent and some have been broken, but not as a disciple. Scars near death experiences, from hypothermia, from falling through ice, from lightning, from dangers of cars being rolled over. I mean, this crazy things that you don't want to tell your mama about.
But yet, no matter what adventure life has offered me, it does not compare to the adventure Jesus has offered me. This adventure of following Jesus has far fulfilled my wildest hopes, dreams, and purpose. Nothing that the outdoors could give, nothing a career could give, nothing no accolades could give. But truly, only Jesus can give and provide is following him.
And it's no wonder it captivated me as an 18 year old as I wanted to figure out what did it mean to follow Jesus? And I saw this adventure, I saw what he was calling me to. It captivated me. And I remember becoming a true Christian and then a year later, my friend Nick becoming a true Christian. And we've been on this adventure together doing good things instead of just caring about the outdoor things. It's been a good twist in our relationship and friendship there.
Adventures of the Early Christians
But when you look at just the gospels and you look into the book of Acts, the first 35 years of Christianity, you get to see that they were on a wild adventure. Let's read about some of those, shall we? For some, this will get you amped up. For others, your anxiety may rise a little bit as I read these, but it's good just to see the adventurous spirit of Jesus and his disciples and where God called them and what God did with them.
And some are first century circumstances, but many of them are just things that we can imitate and do today as well. But one of the first adventures things I think of is literally Jesus walked on water and called Peter to walk on water, right? In Matthew chapter 14, what a moment that would have been. The storm is raging, waves are crashing, and Jesus walking on water. It's hard. Was he inching? Was he levitating? I don't know. And he calls Peter out to go with him. Everybody else was in the boat chickening out, and Peter walked on water. I mean, it had never been done before, never been done since.
But what an adventurous night that was. I mean, guys, they saw people raised from the dead. Lazarus was dead for several days before they arrived. They were worried about the stench, and yet Jesus called his name, and he walked out of that tomb. He saved, he raised Jairus's daughter back to life, who was dead.
Jesus himself was dead. And three days later, God raised him to life and appeared to hundreds of people. Peter raised Dorcas, this widow back to life. Paul raised this young man who fell out of a building dead back to life.
I mean, this was crazy. You never knew what was going to happen when you're around. Food was always an adventure with Jesus. You didn't know if you were providing lunch or if he was providing lunch or some stranger was providing lunch. Am I getting invited? Am I invited myself over. Are we just going to sit down right now and eat? Like, you never knew what was going to happen. I mean, he fed 4,000 5,000. Multiple occasions, multiple masses. You never knew what was going on and where it was going to come from.
But hey, it was exciting. Like, even little things like that was adventurous. Healing the sick. When you read through the gospels, Jesus healed the blind, the lame, the deaf, like people who are paralyzed. He did crazy things. There's people literally insane and possessed with demons. He cast it out, and he never knew what method he was going to use. Sometimes he used his own spit. Sometimes he touched it. Sometimes he just shabam.
Sometimes he said words, and it happened. I mean, if I'm the disciples, we're kind of casting some friendly bets behind the scenes, like, how's he going to do this one? How's he going to handle this one? Because each moment, each day, you didn't know who was coming. He didn't know what they wanted.
But Jesus was just randomly, in a way of just loving and helping people and healing people. They randomly saw dead people. I mean, Peter, James, and John had a quiet time with Jesus on a mountain, and dead people showed up. Elisha and Moses. Like, wow, what a quiet time here. Or after the crucifixion, they said there were people who were dead around, alive. What would that have been like?
Their lives were constantly threatened. Jesus, from the day began his ministry to the day they killed him, his life was threatened and on borrowed time. All his disciples barely escaped death. His apostles, I mean, it was crazy some of the things. They were lowered through the walls of surrounding a city in the middle of the night in a basket. I mean, they escaped in the middle of the night. They were snuck out at different times. They were on the run. Their lives were threatened.
They went through earthquakes, shipwrecks. I mean, even Paul got bit by a snake. I hate snakes. I would scream like a little girl if a snake appears. But just the things they went through and record in the book of Acts, you're like, wow, this was an adventure.
And then all the apostles gave their life for the calling of following Jesus. Were either killed or sentenced to death by jail cell. It's amazing, but yet they had this courage about them. Jesus was courageous and his disciples were courageous.
Listen to this. In Acts, chapter four, verse 13, it says, when they saw the courage of Peter and John and they realized they were unschooled ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus. When people saw Peter and John, they saw this courage that could only be linked to one person, Jesus. If you spend time with Jesus, you're courageous because you need some courage for adventure, don't you? They were beaten. This is not my favorite form of adventure, but people used physical force to shut them up, to stop them from speaking about the Gospel.
It says in Acts, chapter five, verse 40, they called the apostles in and had them flogged and they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin Rejoicing because they've been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name. Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Physical force and beatings and sufferings could not shut them up. They considered themselves an honor to participate in sufferings for the Gospel, this was an adventure.
No consequence, no threat, no beating could stop them from sharing what they had seen and what they had experienced. They were in danger often. Just Paul, in one sentence here in two Corinthians, chapter eleven, verse 26, writes this: I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in anger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, in danger from false believers.
You get this feeling that if you follow Jesus, what's following you? Danger. When was the last time you felt danger knocking at your door? Your following Jesus, danger pursues you as well. Great victories came from these wild adventures. They weren't just for excitement's sake. They worked to spread the Gospel is to change the world.
And great victories came. I mean, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of souls saved, churches planted, people healed, miracles performed. I mean, culture in the world shaped before their very eyes. Things that mankind said could never happen were happening right before their eyes. Leaders raised up, nations changed, answered prayers.
These adventures were daunting. The stakes were high, the consequences were eternal. That's the adventure that they were on, and it's the adventure that we are on. Following Jesus is like the Wild West.
I grew up in the west. I love the west. When you watch Westerners, you just never know what's happening next. That's how you know you're truly following Jesus. Because if you're in control. You're not truly following Jesus.
The Calling is the Same Today
Like I said, for some of you, this gets you amped. For some of you, it makes you feel like can Brian stop yet? Because this makes me uncomfortable. Does it make you uncomfortable to hear how they lived in the first century? Too often we talk about following Jesus in a church building like this, or in comfortable seats and air conditioned room. And we talk about things in the first century and we can lift them up and we can share, that's what we should do. But we don't think when we actually leave the building that we jump in the same arena, that we're called to the same seats, the same standard of following Jesus. It's not different today, 2000 years later than it was back then. Some of the circumstances and some of the direct callings are different. But it remains the same to follow Jesus, to go anywhere, to serve anyone, to love people, to share our faith, to make the Gospel known.
I'm here to say that following Jesus is not a first century thing. It's a today thing. And what you read about in the Gospels, what you read about in the Epistles, the Book of Acts, like we get to join the same adventure. Now, we're in Boston and Bostonians are different creatures, but man, the adventure is the same. The calling is the same. You don't have to join a mission team to go on this adventure.
You have to go no further than your front door for the greatest adventure of your life. It awaits you. It beckons you, it calls you by name. And you can't ignore it because you've been called by Jesus. This is what it means.
It awaits you. No one is too old and no one is too young. Doesn't matter if you're single, doesn't matter if you're married, doesn't matter if you have kids or no kids. This calling is the same. Old, young. Does not matter. If you have a heartbeat, you are qualified to follow Jesus seriously.
Get Rid of Your Fears and Excuses
We think sometimes that our circumstances in our life disqualify us to have fallen Jesus wholeheartedly. And that's just a lie from Satan. No one's excused. All are needed, all are valuable, all are important for this adventure. Jesus says in John, chapter twelve, verse 26, whoever serves me must follow me. And where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. We are called to be where Jesus is, to do what Jesus did, to serve like he did, to love like he did, to care like he did. And when we do that, we are truly following Him. It's good to pause and ask yourself, what is the Spirit already been pricking of your heart in the last ten minutes?
What has the Spirit been convicting you of? What made you squirm a little bit? What made you feel uncomfortable about?
It's good to think about maybe what excuses come to mind when you think about this calling and the adventure Jesus wants to take us on, it's good to think about what could be holding you back from entering this arena of discipleship fully.
Like I said, the calling is the same today as it was then. I can use my life circumstances. My wife has genuine health issues. I have a second child on the way. I got a two year old I got to think of. My late nights, where I go, what I do. It affects my family. It affects my wife's health. COVID is still a real thing. People are getting sick and dying from it.
I have duties that I have to do for the church. I got duties and responsibilities. I got things that depend on me and adventure distracts me. I could think about excuses that come to my mind about sleep, about comfort, about finances.
I don't want to get hurt. I used to not care about getting hurt. I do now. I think about the last time I tried it and the effects it had on me. I think about defeats. I could think about hurts. All that affects how I participate in the adventure of following Jesus. Don't we all have our own list of things that are some are just excuses, some are real, and some are just fears. And we have real limitations. We have real stakes. I mean, we're not immune to these things. But what you do with them? How do you answer the call?
Jesus says drop everything to go after Him, to follow him, to go after this. If the disciples we just read about in the first century, even to their fears and excuses, there would be no church today. And if we in the 21st century, given to our fears and limitations and excuses, there'll be no Boston Church in the 22nd century. What we do now determines the next generation. The faith and convictions that we live by get passed down.
Will they be strengthened or will they be watered down? Will they be bold and courageous? Or will it be sheltered and comforted? We in this room are shaping the future. And how we live and how we answer this call determines what's ahead.
The Purpose of Hardship
Now, why does following Jesus have to be hard? Why do the stakes have to be high? Why does it have to be so adventurous? Why?
Well, it brings you to the end of yourself, and it makes you depend on God. I don't know about you, but when my heart starts beating and I start getting nervous, I want to grab onto something, and Jesus wants us to grab onto Him. It's supposed to be risky. It's supposed to be daunting. So we rely on Him and depend on Him, and his power can move and work through us.
It brings us closer to Him and closer to each other. You ever notice that nothing that's valuable in life is ever attained easily? Nothing of value, nothing that you care about goes down easily or achieved easily. This disciples are supposed to cost you everything. It should cost something.
If it doesn't it's the wrong game that you're trying to play. And I think lastly it keeps us from getting comfortable. Adventure keeps you on your toes. The world is lost. People in the church need you, the world around us needs us.
You can't retire from discipleship, you can't take like plan B, the more comfortable road. It's the one road, it's the one way, it's the way, it's the calling, it's to the very end. We all know people who began this journey and are walking the path no longer.
None of us are above getting sidelined from following Jesus. We got to follow him so closely.
The Guarantees of Jesus
I'm grateful that Jesus gives us some guarantees to this adventure and it helps me to want to participate in the adventure more. We're just going to look at two reef guarantees Jesus gives us on this adventure. You ready for them? I think he'll give you some more courage. I think it'll give you some more encouragement going after this.
Jesus is With Us on the Adventure
But Jesus guarantees that he is always with us. We're never alone. He is always with us on this journey of following him. We know Matthew 28:18 to 20 very well and I'm proud of the church for knowing so we could all recite it together, which I'll read in just a moment. But there are some key parts I think sometimes we just get out of touch with.
It says in verse 18, Matthew 28, verse 18, Jesus came to him and said, all authority in heaven on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples all nations. Baptizing them in the name, the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I've commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.
In this game of going to make disciples of all nations, this calling, you got to remember the game is rigged in your favor. Jesus, who's the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, who has all authority on heaven and on earth, is the one who's sending you out. What can mere man do to you? You know what I'm saying? Like he has all authority, he can make anything happen and he's the one sending you.
And if that's not enough he says, and by the way, I'm with you always on this adventure to go make disciples, this wild adventure, seeking and saving the loss. I am with you every single step of the way and I'm not going to leave you and I'm not going to forsake you. And you got me.
I can forget that promise, can't you? Especially when you start getting nervous, especially when you start getting fearful, when you start making excuses. It's easy just to think I'm by myself, I'm on my own, protect myself, take care of myself. Jesus is saying, no, I'm with you, and I got you, and I got all authority, and I am not going to let I'm not going to let this go beyond my control.
He's right there in your anxiety. He's right there in your fear. He's right there in your embarrassment. He's right there in your excuses, and he says, I got you. I've been trying to teach my daughter about adventure.
She's only two years old, not even two years old yet. But I'm trying to teach her that it's fun because it's risky. Her heart beats more because there's a danger involved in it. And when it's dangerous, it's more fun.
It's true. It is. And that's why she wants more. She'll sign more and ask for more because it got her heart racing, and she didn't die, so she wants more. Now, if a bad experience happens and she bumps her head or something, then she never wants to do it again, but she gets excited, and she wants more.
And so there's different feats you try with kids. All summer long, we're trying to get Aspen to go down a slide. How scary is a slide? Well, to her, it's very scary. And we started we started, like, going down in my lap. We going holding both hands, holding one hand, having my palms, and we were just putting that finger in it, going down. We've tried everything, but she would not go without touching me. And I remember it was this evening about a month ago, Christina was just randomly filming it, and we're, like, getting closer, we're getting closer. It's just a little slide this big. And I tricked her.
I pulled the hands away, and she just went down. She was so fired up. She started dancing and moving. She went between my leg. She cartwheeled, and then she tried to go up the ladder again and fell because she was so excited.
She did the step. I mean, it's months of trying, hundreds of attempts, and she did it. And I was right there. And it's those moments that you get excited. Now, we had a leaders meeting a week later, and she went down the slide by herself and bumped her head, and she's a little afraid of the slide again. But it was progress. It was baby steps that happened. I'll take it.
But when I'm there, I got her. I don't want her to do adventure without me because she's not old enough for that yet. Jesus, even regardless of your age, says because I'm not going to send you on this adventure alone. I'm there. I've got you.
If you need a hand held, I'll hold your hand. You need me to get your back? I got your back. You need a finger? I got you. I'm with you. I'm not going to leave you. That's why you can go on this adventure.
Nothing's lamer than trying to get someone to do something adventurous, and they won't budge. Maybe like trying to get your spouse out on the dance floor or something like that. But you know it's going to be fun. You know they're going to love it and they will not go, that is so lame.
Don't be like that with Jesus. Don't be like that with Jesus, with sharing your faith or being hospitable or loving people or getting involved in sticky situations or helping encourage someone or serve someone. Don't be that way. Jesus doesn't care if he's got to hold your hand, doesn't care he has to push you. But don't just stay in your seat. Don't not budge. If we're going to do this, we got to think about it.
Think about what you need to start budging in more in this adventure, and you need to quit being reluctant and you got to start trying it with Jesus.
Jesus Gives You More
The last guaranteed is this: he gives you way more. Way more than it costs you, he gives you. In Mark chapter ten, we got this situation where Jesus is talking to a rich young man, a religious man and sincere man who had it all. And Jesus called him to give up the things that he was in control of and the things that gave him worth to follow him. That man refused to and walked away sad. And Peter and the other apostles, they're there and they're wondering, wow, that guy turned down the greatest invitation of his life. But we haven't. We've given it all up, what there is for us. And it says in Mark chapter ten, verse 28, and Peter spoke up as he always does, we have left everything to follow you. Truly I tell you, Jesus replied, no one has left home, brother, sisters, mother, father, or children or fields for me and the Gospel will fail to receive a hundred times much in this present age homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields, along with persecutions in the age to come, eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last first. This rich man walked away. And Peter says, I'm not going anywhere.
What are we going to do? We gave it all up. What's next, Jesus?
He says, Peter, I know you've given up financial gain. You gave up your boat, you gave up your career. We know Peter had a wife, you brought family with you. You're on this adventure. You're all in. You've broken ties, you're following me. As a matter of fact, I'm going to build a whole church. And you know what? Whatever you've given up, whatever it's cost you, whatever you've had to overcome following me in the kingdom, it's 100 times better than if you held onto this stuff. It's 100 times better if you never gave it up.
Whatever it costs you, it's 100 times better that you're following me. It's 100 times better in the long run. He says, in this age, in this time on earth, sometimes we think, oh, yeah, this will be better in heaven. No, he's saying, on this earth, the Kingdom. And what you get in the kingdom is 100 times better than that dating relationship, 100 times better than that financial gain, 100 times better than that people pleasing, 100 times better than impurity.
It's so much better. He says and to top it off in the age to come, second coming, heaven, you think of eternity, you have eternal life. Sometimes I just think, oh, I'm just going to grunt it out and sacrifice now. And when I die, I'll be better. Jesus is saying you live fully now in the Kingdom wholehearted. Follow me. Whatever you've given up, whatever you've lost, whatever had to change, you'll be amazed by how much more fulfilled you are by following me.
Whatever you give up in this life to follow Jesus, you won't regret it after one day in heaven, after 100 years in heaven, after 1000 years in heaven, after a million years in heaven. But whatever you hold on to in this world that costs you your soul, you'll regret with 1 second in hell, instantly regret it. Not to mention a year, eternity separated from God. You're only going to be grateful. Whatever you've had to lose in this world, you won't regret it.
Are you playing for right now? Or are you playing for the end game for eternity? It's going to cost some suffering, it's going to cost some pain, it's going to cost some persecutions, but it's worth it. He says the first, well, they're going to be last. The rich young ruler, he thought he was first. He had what he wanted. And that last day he's going to find out that he's last. But for those who broke their ties, those who paid the cost, they're truly first.
There's no like middle number if you're wondering. Can I be in the middle of the pack? Either in the front of the line or in the back of line, either you're all in or you're holding on to your kingdom.
Have you ever noticed that as life goes on following Jesus, it doesn't actually get easier to give things up because it got 100 times better? You know what I'm saying? Your relationships, wife, children, spouses, friendships, job, career, god gives you more. And it's actually hard to remind yourself that you're just the manager and not the owner. And you ever wondered how people stop following Jesus?
Well, they lose sight of that it's still Jesus's. You don't just give it up once, you give it up for the rest of your life and really put Jesus in control.
It's 100 Times Better
There's two things that help me with this. One, I got to remember that it is truly 100 times better.
Why couldn't it be easier that it's 100 times better. It's like eating fast food and you haven't had in a while. Do you remember how good it was when you were a kid and then like an hour later you're like, why did I do this? Your stomachs and knots. Sometimes we have weird memories. We think it's going to be good. But yet the same effects happen again and again. Why is it so hard to remember the good things that are actually good in our lives? When I was studying the Bible, just like you, there's many things I had to give up. In the moment, it seemed so big.
Like I was in this dating relationship with this girl I thought I was going to marry. We grew up together and I remember giving up that relationship to become a true Christian. And I'm so glad I did. One, I got my soul right. A few months later, she became a Christian too.
But we both went on just different paths once we let go of control of a relationship. And I'm so grateful I married Christina and I'm like, what would my life have been like? I don't even want to think about it if I didn't make that decision. And she went on the mission field in Denmark and married a Danish guy and he's in the church and has great kids and I'm like, wow, I'm so glad. 100 times better, no doubt.
I think about my family. It really hurt my family to break some ties and make decisions that they didn't want me to make in becoming a true Christian. But the son I became from following Jesus was way better than the son I was. The brother I became was way better than the brother I was. And it's amazing how time changes their perspective. It's a hundred times better than it ever was. Even though it was a really hard decision in the moment.
We go through it's changing my career path. Yes. I was in education. I'm going to the ministry. That had some changes in it. Freedom to fish and hunt whenever I want.
All of a sudden I got Bible studies and responsibilities and discipleship groups. Wednesday night midweeks, church Sunday morning. No fish is worth my soul. No fish is worth somebody else's soul. You know what I mean?
At the end of the day, I'm like to give up some freedom to what was obtained and gained. 1000 times better than what it could be. I mean, sin. I'd much rather be pure than impure. 100 times better.
Freedom from lies. Freedom from the slavery of pride. I mean, I think about forgiveness over bitterness. 100 times better repenting was.
I think about friendships. Oh, my goodness. My friendships are way better as a disciple then they ever were before I was a true Christian. Night and day difference.
Right. We can go down the list of things that Jesus has done once before that is 100 times better now. I want to challenge you this week is to just make a list of your past. What are some costly things that you had to give up for the sake of following Jesus and where are they today?
Do the test for yourself.
Is it 100 times better? I think you'll be amazed. We take some time to remember what Jesus has already done. And it gives us fuel to believe what he's going to do. When I think about what he's already done the purpose, the joy, the excitement, the victory is unfathomable to what I could have imagined when I was 18 years old when I signed up to follow Jesus. Soul saved, memories made, exhilarating moments. I wouldn't trade them for anything. They have become my life.
But make this list of your past and then I want you to make a list of your present things that you're just iffy about. It could be your family situation, it could be a kid's situation, it could be a career situation, it could be a financial situation, it could be a time situation, a limitation of health situation. Write down the things you feel like, Jesus wants you to still follow Him in, but you feel limited in. You feel like, I don't know if I can. I don't know if I could really go in all in again. And I want you to share these lists with your household this week. It could be if you're married, you're family, share with your kids too, obviously age appropriate stuff.
But if you're single and you're household, if you don't live with someone, share in your D group. But just take some time, share what Jesus has done and how he's given 100 times more than what you've given up and look at the things that you're still afraid of giving up. And let Jesus let the promises, let some of these guarantees move you along, move your heart to really trust Him and then move forward there.
In preparing for this lesson, I got to make both those lists. It was really good for my heart. It was. It's good for my family, it's good for my future. I think it's good to do every so often. But Jesus can make these guarantees because he paid the price on the cross. How can he guarantee he's always with you? Well, he conquered death and the grave, he rose from the dead. That's how he can promise you eternal life.
How can he promise 100 times more? Because he's gone before you. He's your king, he's your master. He's the One who paid the price that you should have paid. How can he set you free from sin? Well, he died for your sin and he set you free from the punishment that you deserve. How can you not fear death? Because he paid the death penalty for your sin so you could be born again and live a new life. When you think about how can such a man make such promises, it's because he's already fulfilled every part of them. We just got to simply trust them.
And that's why we have time for communion to remember the cross and remember Jesus death and the promises and the guarantees that can bring into our lives when we follow Him wholehearted. Let's pray right now for a time of communion and reflection.
God, so many times I wish I could rewind and go back to when I was first studying the Bible and if I could have just told myself how much better my life would be following your son, maybe I would have done it sooner. I would have done it quicker. When I look back on the last 18 years of how you've moved in my life, how you've worked, how you've answered prayers, and how whatever I've had to give up or overcome in my life, you've made it 100 times better. The victories are that much sweeter, and the defeats weren't that bad.
Now, do you have a way of holding my hand and shelter me through each storm, through each challenge, through each twist and turn that cost me something that forces me to grow, that forces me to hold your hand tighter. I'm grateful for them. I wish somehow it was easier. But at the same time, I know that the outcome wouldn't be as sweet. And I pray as we wrestle with what you've done in our lives and what you are calling us to with our present and our future, and we can get back to just the cross, that it is our motivation for following you.
It's why we're all in. It's why we give you our whole heart and our best. It's because you died for us and you love us, and you traded your life for ours, and we want to live our life to give you glory and praise. That the cross and sacrifice. It's the center of the calling to follow you. It's the why. And I pray that we can all get a deeper connection to that and appreciation for that right now as we take the bread, as we drink the juice and we can remember your son. Praise in Jesus name. Amen.