Good morning. As many of you already know, Sarah and I are expecting our third child on February 20th. Which we’re also excited about, but also very nervous about, because that’s three and three is more than two. So we’re going to be outnumbered. But because of this, because we’ve got this third baby coming, we’ve had to make some changes, and we’re currently in the process of making changes in our home. So the play room that our kids use right now is going to be turned into the nursery. So we’ve got to move things out, move things in, we’ve got to make room, we got to make space for this baby, because this baby is coming.
The Christmas season is not just a day where we celebrate the arrival of Jesus. It’s also supposed to be a season where we prepare our hearts for his arrival in us. So in the Christmas season, it’s not just my wife and I who are expecting a child, everybody is expecting a child. We’re all expecting Jesus, right? This is a season where we prepare ourselves once again to receive Jesus anew in our hearts. And so today we’re talking about this prayer of availability of saying, “Here I am God.” making yourself available for Jesus to come in every day and dwell in you. And it’s a prayer that is difficult at times. Like I said at the intro, but I believe that it’s incredibly powerful.
So right now, is there room in you for Jesus? Is there room in your heart? Is there room in your family? Is there room in your friendships? Is there room in your life for Jesus? You know, when Joseph and Mary… We’re jumping ahead of the story that we’re going to read, but when Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem, Mary is about to have baby Jesus, and they’re looking for anywhere that will take them in, but nobody has room. No one has availability to receive Jesus. I think often in the Christmas season, we can end up being like the people in Bethlehem. We’re in the midst of Christmas. We’re in the midst of his arrival, but we have not prepared for him.
We’re not ready to receive him when he comes to us, and so in moments where Jesus is saying, “Can I have space in your life?” We don’t have any room because we haven’t made it for him. So we’re going to learn today what it looks like to pray this prayer of availability from Mary, who says to the Angel Gabriel, “Here I am. Let God’s will be done to me.” So let’s pray that prayer before we dive into this scripture. Jesus, here we are. We want to be used by you. We want to be filled by you. But most of all, God, we want to be with you. We want to know you. We want to experience your love, and we want to hear from your words. So God, would you teach us as we submit to your word, speak to us words of life. We pray this in Jesus name and everyone said, amen, amen.
So, if you’d open your Bibles to Luke 1, starting at verse 26-38 it’s on page 879, so pass those Bibles down the row. Make sure everybody’s got a Bible. If not everybody has a Bible then scoot next to the person next to you, and share your Bible with them. We want everybody to be able to see this, and engage with the text. So 1:26-38, page 879. As you’re flipping there, I’ll tell you what we’re going to read. We’re reading again the story where the Angel Gabriel comes to the Virgin Mary and says, “You are going to have a baby.”
And she goes, “Whoa, timeout. I’m a Virgin. How does that work?” And he says, “The Holy spirit will overshadow you, so the baby to be born from you will be called the son of the most high God. He’ll literally be conceived by the power of God. So he will be the son of God.” And I love that Mary says, and what we’re going to read, she says, “Here I am.” See, God isn’t looking for the most capable people. He’s looking for the most available people. God isn’t looking for people who have it all together. He’s looking for people who are giving it all to him. So if God is going to bring revival to Spokane through us, it’s not going to be because we’re capable or famous, it’s not going to because we have Hayes and Holy spirit sent. It’s because you and I each and every day would pray the same prayer that Mary did, which is, “Here I am God, I’m available to you.”
This is what God is looking for and this is what he found in Mary and the story that we’re going to read right now. Luke 1 starting at verse 26. “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a Virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings you who are highly favored, the Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be, but the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the most high. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever. His kingdom will never end.” “How will this be?” Mary asked the angel, “Since I am a Virgin.” The angel answered, “The Holy spirit will come on you in the power of the most high will overshadow you. So that the Holy one to be born will be called the son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month, for no word from God will ever fail. I am the Lord’s servant.” Mary answered, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”
So Mary’s response to the angel is, “I am the Lord’s servant.” It’s interesting that our NIV translation actually leaves a Greek word, which I think is a key Greek word. The untranslated, the Greek word is eídō, which normally is translated, behold, see or hear. So Mary is saying, here to God, she’s saying it eídō, behold, look, see. The NRSV translation translates it, “Here I am, the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary makes herself available, but what is she making herself available to? What is she saying here I am to? Point number one is this. Here I am to receive what matters most to God.
Mary says, here I am to receive the favor of God. The angel says, “You who are highly favored, the Lord is with you.” And she when she does that, when she says, “Here I am,” she receives baby Jesus in her womb. She conceives baby Jesus by the power of the most high. I love that the Old Testament tells one big sweeping story, and in the Old Testament where we see is that there’s these prophecies that point forward to this very event. Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah prophesies this. He says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call him Emmanuel, which means God with us.”
In Isaiah 9 just one page over, it says, “For to us, a child is born. To us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, Prince of peace, for of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne, and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this.” So when Mary says, “Here I am,” she’s saying, here I am to receive the fulfillment of proxies. She’s saying, here I am to be the culmination of what the Old Testament has spoken about.
She’s receiving the favor of God. She’s receiving this child that was prophesied that would be born. She’s receiving what matters most to God, Jesus, His son. But why Mary? Have you ever wondered why God chose Mary? Why did he come to her at this time? You know, as I was looking at this, I was asking myself the same question. Why did God choose Mary? Why did he come to her? Because for all intents and purposes, she seems like a pretty choice. Seriously. Here’s why. At the time when the angel Gabriel came to her, she was probably 13 years old. She was a woman who was marginalized by society. She was a juicer. She was oppressed by the Romans. She was young, so not much was expected of her.
In fact, nobody would probably want to be Mary, and so when the Angel Gabriel comes and says, “Greetings you who are highly favored,” Mary’s probably looking around saying, “Who else is here? Because that can’t be me. I’m a woman. I’m a Jew. I’m young. I’m marginalized. I’m unimpressive. I don’t have much to offer,” and yet the angel comes to her and says, you’re highly favored. Why is that? I don’t think it’s because of what she had to offer. I think it’s just because she was offering herself. She was making herself available, and if you’ve ever felt unimpressive, if you’ve ever felt like you don’t have much to offer, if you’ve ever felt like what you have, that your talents and skills, how could God use those? I want you to know that God isn’t just looking for someone who can do all of these amazing things, He’s looking for someone who will offer themselves with fullness, with full availability. That’s what God is looking for.
God is looking for, here I am hearts, not here I am resumes. God isn’t looking for someone who has it all together. He’s looking for someone who’s giving it all to Him. 1 Samuel 16-7, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God’s looking at your heart, and wants to see if you are available, and I believe that Mary made a habit of being available to God. That’s why he came to her at this time and said, “You know what? You may not have all the skills. You know what? You may be a Jew and oppressed. You may be from nowhere, Nazareth, which is only population 400, but you’re the person who’s been making yourself available to me and that’s what I want.”
Because of that, she received Jesus. She said, “Here I am. There’s room in me.” More often than I’d like to admit, I don’t make a whole lot of room for Jesus, but right now I’m going to make a whole lot of room for the offering, because I forgot it. You’re welcome. So ushers, you can come to receive today’s tithes and offerings. Now because you laughed, you can give generously because God loves a cheerful giver. [inaudible 00:11:36] says that. Thank you so much for giving generously. When you give, it’s an act of worship.
It’s a way that you’re going to say, “Here,” to God. And God then uses that worship and it’s no act worship for you, but it’s an act of work for God because God then takes your generosity, and sows seeds of life and the gospel into the hearts of people that we love who are near to us. And so thank you for participating in worship and, work in this moment as you give generously. So back to what I said before, I remembered the offering. More often than I like to admit, I don’t make room for Jesus or as much room as I’d like. I get distracted, I get busy, and I’ll forget to spend time with Jesus.
Now I give Jesus the first portion of my day every day, but sometimes it’s like checking the box and once I’ve done that, I just move forward without him. I don’t listen for him. I don’t depend on him. I don’t look for him in my life. I don’t say, “God, what do you want me to do in this moment?” And I don’t make room for him like he wants. Often I end up giving Jesus lip service when he’s asking for room service. Does anyone else do that? Where we can say one thing, but we’re not actually making the space for him, in our lives? We all face this reality that we’re trying to follow Jesus, we’re trying to make room for him in our life, but there’s so many other things that come bombarding into us that it’s hard to figure out, how do I offer myself to God? How do I live my life following Jesus?
What we end up doing is we end up living our lives without Jesus, without that close connection that he wants with us, and we end up going through out our days. Instead of receiving him and receiving his best, his favor, when instead of receiving Jesus and his Holy spirit, we end up receiving knockoffs. Instead of receiving his incredible unconditional love, we receive conditional love. Instead of receiving his unshakeable joy we receive from the world momentary happiness. And instead of receiving his transcendent peace, we receive moments of calm in the chaos of life. We receive knockoffs of what Jesus has to offer us.
Listen, the world is full of knockoffs, but Jesus is the name brand. Cheap love and cheap grace abound in our world, but love that paid the highest price and grace that can [inaudible 00:14:07] a heart of ice is only received from Jesus. God doesn’t give knockoffs. He gives His very best. When you and I make ourselves available to Him, just like when Mary made herself available, she received Jesus. Now through Jesus coming into the world through Mary, we get to say, “Here I am,” and also receive Jesus as well. This is what she’s done for us. She’s allowed us to experience this reality of receiving Jesus whenever we say, “Here I am.”
I believe our Heavenly Father is waiting to pour out His favor, His blessing, His Holy spirit on us, if we would just make ourselves available. Now this is true. We should be saying things like this, “Here I am, save me. Here I am, forgive me. Here I am, heal me. Here I am, help me. Here I am, lead me. Here I am, fill me. Here I am, empower me God, because I can’t do this without you. I’ve been praying this prayer a lot, here I am, empower me. I’ve been facing some big challenges that allow me to see my own limitations in life and I’ve realized I cannot do this without Jesus. I have to be filled by him to parent the way that my kids need me to parent, to, to be a husband, to live in my neighborhood the way that he would have me do I need his power, fill me up God with your power, here I am.”
And as I’ve been praying this this week, there was a moment where a thought snuck into my brain. And I’m embarrassed to say it, but I thought this, I thought maybe I’m finally leveling up to be a better Christian. Because I’ve been praying this prayer lot, right? Like maybe, I’m finally reaching this like a tier Christianity that I’ve always wanted to be at. I’m finally a Saint, right? And then the truth pierced my heart like an arrow that, “No, I’m not praying this prayer because I’ve leveled up. I’m praying this prayer because I’m realizing my own brokenness, my own desperation for Jesus.” So friends, this is not a prayer of elite Christians. This is not a prayer of people who have it altogether. This is the prayer of people who realize that they are broken and they can’t do it without Jesus.
So I believe that’s all of us here today. We can pray this prayer and simply say, “Here I am God, I need you.” We should be praying. Here I am, give me vision. Here I am, lead me. Here I am, I want to know you, Jesus.” I believe that Jesus took care of our sin on the cross. So the only thing standing between you and God is your availability. Will you say, “Here I am,” just like Mary did. We say this a lot, that Jesus didn’t come to make you more religious, he came to make you more alive.
If this is true, that God wants to pour His favor, and give you His best, He’s not just trying to get you to follow a set of rules, He’s trying to get you to follow His spirit, to receive His blessing, to receive His love and His joy and live in a radically different way. If this is true, Jesus came to make you alive, and what we should be doing, the attitudes of our hearts, if this is the route of the attitudes of our heart, should not be, “Here, I am God, you can use me.”
The attitude is our hearts should be this, “Here I am, God, fill me up.” We should be eager and expectant for the favor and blessing of Jesus through his Holy spirit. We should be coming every day to him and saying, “Here I am,” not just “Here I am God, okay, what do you want this time?” I think of the movie Shrek and there’s a scene where Shrek has this band of characters around him, and he’s talking about, “Hey, we need to go and do this and save this, who’s with me?” And everybody is quiet except for one character, which is donkey, right? And what does donkey do? Donkey jumps up and down says, “Pick me, pick me, pick me.”
Because he wanted to be with Shrek. Wherever Shrek went, he wanted to be because he had this friendship. He developed this love for Shrek, and he wanted to be with him wherever he went. Even if he was going into battle, Donkey was saying, “Pick me. Here I am. I want to go with you.” That should be the attitudes of our hearts towards Jesus. Here I am. Pick me. I don’t care where you’re going or what you’re doing, but I want to be there. I want to be with you. I want to know you. I want to receive you. And instead we end up being like the other characters in that scene. But when Jesus says, “Who’s with me?” we stand there and don’t say anything, because we’re preoccupied, we’re distracted, we’re scared, we’re anxious.
We fear offering our lives to him, but we don’t realize is that when we say, here I am, he gives us his best. I’ve encouraged you that you’ve already said here to God just by showing up, just by being in this moment you’ve said, “Here I am God, speak to me. Use me, fill me.” But for some of you here, you’ve never said to Jesus, “Here I am. I want to receive you. Here I am, save me. Here I am, forgive me. Here I am, I’m turning from my sin and turning to you Jesus.” And right now some of you are experiencing this quickening of your heart, where God’s moving and you’re recognizing, I want to say yes to Jesus. I want to follow him. I want to receive him. I want to say, “Here I am to Jesus.”
And I’m going to give you that opportunity right now as we pray. Would you bow your heads and close your eyes? If that’s you, if you want to say yes to Jesus, for the first time, you want to give your life to him. You want to receive forgiveness for your sins. You acknowledge that he’s Lord. You acknowledge that Jesus has raised, that God has raised Jesus from the dead and you say, “Well, I don’t know a whole lot, but I know this much that I want to offer myself to him.” If that’s you, I’m going to ask you to repeat this prayer after me and your heart.
Say, Jesus, here I am. I turn from my sin and I turn to you. Please forgive me. Please fill me with your Holy spirit. Please seal me until the day of redemption. I don’t know much, but I want to know you. While everyone else’s heads are bowed and eyes are closed. If that was you, if you just prayed that prayer, I want to give you a moment to acknowledge that just to me in a private moment where you say, “Hey, I said yes to Jesus.” And I’m not going to embarrass you. I just want to celebrate you. And it says when we acknowledge him in public that he will acknowledge us before the heavenly father.
And so if that’s you, if you want to just say, I said yes to Jesus today, you prayed that prayer, then would you do the opposite of everyone else? Would you lift your head and raise your hands so I can just see you and say, “I see you.” I see you right there. Thank you so much. And you right there, and you there, and you there, and you there as well. You in the back, and you in the back, and you in the back, and you in the back. Thank you so much. Back is on fire. I see you and you, thank you so much and all two of you right there. Thank you so much and you in the back as well, thank you. And you there and you there. Thank you so much. You as well and you as well. I see you. Thank you so much for saying, “Here I am to Jesus,” and you in the back. Thank you so much. Thank you for waiting till I saw you.
Wow Jesus. I am in awe of your saving power. I am in awe of the movement of God that’s happening right now. Jesus, we thank you for the people who said yes. We ask you to help us to be a good family to them as they begin their journey with you. Would you open your eyes, lift up your head and we’re going to stay in this moment of making space for Jesus. You know, this is a little bit different. Normally we’d make this sort of response time at the end of a sermon, but I thought it’d be appropriate to do it right in the middle, just to shake us up a little bit to say, “Here I am Jesus. In the middle of this, I’m yours. I want you.”
There’s a story that Jesus tells in Luke 11, it’s a little parable. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. He says, if one of your children comes you and says, “Can you give me some bread?” You’re not going to give them a stone. Instead, or if one of your kids comes to you and says, “Can you give me a fish to eat?” You’re not going to give him a snake. Instead, he says, “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your Father in heaven know how to give the Holy spirit to those who ask Him?”
I believe that every Christian cannot operate without the Holy spirit. That we were made to run on the Holy spirit. Just like an engine is made to run on gas, we need the Holy spirit, we need that relationship with him to empower us to do what Jesus called us to do. And Jesus repeats this. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened you,” because I believe that he wants us to keep coming back and asking for more of the spirit. Ephesians 5:18, Paul tells the Ephesian church to be filled with the Holy spirit, but the Greek word there is a present active verb, which means keep being filled, not just once in your life, not just once a week, but continuously come back to Jesus and ask him to fill you with his Holy spirit.
The prayer here I am, this prayer of availability, is for those who know that they need it. So I’m going to give each of us a moment right now to just have a private conversation with Jesus to say, “Here I am.” So would you once more bow your heads and close your eyes, and ask Jesus to fill you with his Holy spirit. Ask Jesus to fill you with the love that comes from his Holy spirit, and the joy that comes from his Holy spirit, and the peace that comes from his Holy spirit. Have that conversation with Jesus and say, “Here I am. Fill me.” Would you pray?
Here we are, Jesus. We may not have much to offer in this moment, but we do want to offer ourselves and ask you to fill us. God, would you make your home in our heart? Would you baptize us with your Holy spirit, so that your power would be made evident to those who most need it? Jesus, would you gift us? Would you bear fruit in us? And would you seal us God so that we are certain of your love, even in the ups and downs of life. Here we are Jesus, fill us. We pray this in Jesus name and everyone said, amen, amen.
So we just made space for God. We made room for Him. Just like Mary did when she said, “Here I am,” she received Jesus and we have received Jesus as well. But she also said, “Here I am to do something else.” She made herself available in another way. When she said, here I am. This is point number two. Here I am to give God what matters most to me. Here I am to give God what matters most to me. God wants to give you what matters most to Him, and He wants you to give Him what matters most to you. When Mary said yes, when she said, here I am to God in that moment it cost her a lot.
She was risking everything by saying, here I am to God. And Matthew 1:19 we know that Joseph, when he heard about that she was pregnant, he said, “I didn’t do that, so she must’ve been unfaithful.” Therefore, he was going to divorce her. So she risked her marriage. She was also risking her family, her family could denounce her and send her away. She was also risking death, because by the Jewish law, a woman could be stoned if she had sex outside of marriage. She was also risking revilement by her community, they would cast her out and not want to be with her. She would be an outcast among the other women and the girls of her age. Her child would always be viewed as illegitimate.
She was risking all of this and so much more, to say yes to God, to say, here I am. And yet she didn’t hold those things in her hand and try to control them herself. She simply said, “Here I am. I’m the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to your word.” In order to receive what matters most to God, she had to give what mattered most to her. Dallas Willard, a theologian calls this the great exchange. That we would give God what matters most to us and He gives us what matters most to Him. But there’s no comparison between the two. What matters most to us, what we care about, doesn’t come close to what God has given us in the person of Jesus, so this is a great exchange.
This is an exchange you want to take part of. It’s an exchange you should gladly say, “Yeah, you can have my sins.” You can have this. You can have that, because you’re going to give me so much more, and in your hands it’s going to be so much safer than it would be if it was in my hands.” Is there anything in your life right now that’s really hard to say here to Jesus about? Maybe it’s your family, and there’s some things going on in your family and it’s hard to say, “Man, here God, be in this, deal with this. Would you help me with this? This is yours. I’m yours.” Maybe it’s your health. Maybe it’s some obsession that you have that you just can’t give up to Him.
You know, one of the hardest things for me to trust God with, to hand over to Him and say here, is my image, is what people think about me. Constantly going through my head is what do people think about me? Do they care about me? Do they like me? Do they think I look good? Do they think I smell good? What do people think about me? I’m sure I’m the only person who has this problem, right? But I’ve realized that the more that I try to control my image, the more frantic and obsessive I become. But when I stopped focusing on my own image, when I hand that to God and instead I work on reflecting the image of God, Jesus to the world around me, then I realize that God handles my image.
Ad I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have God as my image agent than me. I’d much rather have Him managing that, when I can just hand that to Him and then start reflecting Jesus to the world around me, reflecting his image, that’s when God takes care of me. Martin Luther says this, “I’ve held many things in my hands, and I’ve lost them all. But whatever I’ve placed in God’s hands that I still possess.” You know when you squeeze the things in life that you love, like sand, it starts falling through your fingers. You start losing the things that you’re trying to hold tightly to. And so often we grip things tightly in life because we think by our strength, we can protect and preserve what we love.
My kids love animals, and when we’re at the park, they’ll get right in an animal space and start petting it. And if I’m, if I don’t stop them because they love animals so much, if I don’t stop them, they’ll start squeezing the animal. Like, “No, no, no, please don’t do that. Please don’t.” I think in life we can be like that a little bit, where we find things that we love and we start squeezing them, because we’re just so enamored with them. And we want to have them and keep them and protect them. But the harder we squeeze, we start squeezing the life and the joy out of the very things that we love.
See, I’ve found that the safest place for the things that matter to me are in God’s hands. If not in my hands, it’s handing it to Him, because what I’ll end up doing is squeezing the life out of the things that I love. If this is true, I believe that God asks us to hand things over to Him, because they’re safer in His hands. Because he knows he can do better than we can with this. So God is saying, can I have your marriage? And I hope you would say, “Here God.” God’s saying, “Can I have your money?” And I hope you’d say, “Here God.” God’s saying, “Can I have your health and the health of the person you love?” And I hope you’d say “Here God.”
It’s hard to hand these things over to God because we fear that when we hand them over to Him, we’ll lose them. But the opposite is true, that when we try to keep them, that’s when we lose the things that we love. But when we put them in His hands, that’s when he preserves them. Craig Groeschel says, “What we fear the most often reveals where we trust God the least.” What do you fear losing? What do you fear is going to be taken from you? It’s often the thing that you trust God the least with. The thing that you’ve been keeping back from Him. The thing that you’ve been withholding from Him, and God is saying, would you just hand that to me, because I’m the one who can preserve that for you.
So how do we get rid of fear? This fear of losing things. How do we get this fear of losing control? What do we do with it? If we want to say here God, here I am, how do we operate, in this desire to give God ourselves, and these things but still having fear? I believe that the antidote to fear is God’s promises. A promise builds trust in God, and when we focused on His promises instead of on our fear, it builds faith in Him. Psalm 40:5 says, “Many Lord, my God are the wonders you have done, the things you have planned for us.”
See, God’s promises that just as He has done wonderful things in your past, so will He do wonderful things in your future when you hand it to Him. So will He do wonderful things in your present when you give it over to Him. So will He do wonderful things in your singleness, in your marriage, in your family, with your finances, if you would hand it to Him. God’s promise is that he will do good for us. Another thing that God asks for is our time. God says, “Can you give me your time?” And I hope we would say as a church, “Here I am. You can have my time.” In his book, the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer, Pastor John Mark Comer says, “Our time is our life, and our attention is the doorway to our hearts.”
When you give God your time, you’re giving Him your life. When you give Him your attention, you’re opening the doorway of your heart for Him to enter in. Are you Him your time? Can you hand it over and say, “Here God, you can have my time.” About a month ago we did a Bible reading survey. How many of you remember that? Where you did it on your phones and you answered… So not many of you here were here that week apparently. But we got over 1,100 responses of what people said about how they engage with Jesus through reading their Bible.
And one of the questions we asked, is how often do you read? I mean, how often are you giving God your time through prayer, Bible and journal? So 19% of you said that you read daily. 16% said that you read four to six days a week. 23% said you read two to three days a week, and 42% said you read zero to one day a week. Now, if you’ve ever struggled with giving God your time, and spending a daily time with Him in his word, then this tells you that you’re not alone, right? That we’re together in this. That it’s not an easy thing to do to say, “Here is my time,” but it is a beneficial and impactful, an empowerful thing to do when we give God our time.
I know this because, when I was a sophomore in college, January 1, I decided I’m going to spend every day this year reading my Bible, so I can spend time with Jesus through that, and I did that. I spent every day reading the Bible. I had carved out a portion of my day to give to Him, to offer that time to Him saying, “Here I am.” And God changed my relationship with Him through that. I mean radically different. I was so much closer to Jesus. I was more empowered by Jesus. I heard him more. I obeyed him more, because I was giving him my time and saying, “Here I am.” I discovered that when I was doing PBJ, it created this highway into my soul by which God transported His power and His presence and His fruit in my life.
I want for each and every one of you, I want this highway into your life where God can transport His presence and His power and His love. And I want you to develop it by spending time with Him every day through prayer, Bible and journal. This is my hope for you. You know, one of the things that we asked in this survey, why is it hard for you to read the Bible? What barriers do you have? And a lot of you said that you’re not sure where to start. A lot of you said that you don’t understand what you read, so why read it anyway, right? If you don’t understand. And then some of you said that you’re not sure how to develop a habit, you’re not sure how to just make it a habit in your life.
So we thought and prayed about a this, about how can we engage our church? How can we together spend more time with Jesus in 2020? How can we do that every day? And so we developed a resource that we’re launching, our church is launching on December 28th and 29th the weekend after Christmas, and it takes all of these things into account. So it’s a Bible reading plan, that’s put all together in a quarterly journal, that we’re giving out to our whole church. And then the journal has these QR codes that lead you to videos that explain what you’re reading for the day.
So we’re trying to help you start somewhere. We’re trying to help you understand what you’re reading and we’re trying to help you develop a habit. So each quarter we’re going to launch this and celebrate. And then at the end of it we’re going to celebrate again that so many of us have made time to be with Jesus each and every day. I hope that this 2020 you would say, “Here I am to Jesus.” That you would offer Him your time. And maybe you’re thinking like, “I’m so busy, I’m so busy. I don’t know how I could do that.” But would you put your busyness in His hands and give Him some time? Maybe you’re saying, “I’m stressed by my schedule. Would you put your schedule in His hands and give Him that?”
Would you offer the best part of your day, whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening, whatever it is, but just your best part to be with Him. And when you do, watch Him bless the rest of your day. I hope that you would reprioritize your life in 2020 around spending time with Jesus. And if you’ve already done that way to go, keep going, because it will change your relationship with Jesus. So as we end this series, I want to give you something really practical to do. And it’s this, I’ve been doing this this week and I did it this morning, right when I woke up, is I prayed these four prayers.
So I want to encourage you this week as you wake up, pray these four prayers. Thanks, help, wow, and here. Say, thanks God, thanks that I get to be alive, that you’ve given me breath in my lungs. That God would you help me to follow you? Would you help me with this and that today?” Say, “Wow, I’m amazed by your goodness and your grace to me God.” And then, “Here I am, I want to be used by you, I want to be with you, I want to know you. Here I am Jesus. I’m yours today.” As I’ve been praying these four prayers, I’ve discovered that God has developed attitudes in my heart. Four different attitudes as I’ve prayed the prayer of thanks, I’ve seen Him develop an attitude, I’m not trying to rhyme an attitude of gratitude in my life.
As I’ve prayed this prayer of help, I’ve seen God develop humility in my life, realizing that I can’t do it by myself. As I’ve prayed this prayer of wow, I’ve seen God develop this attitude of wonder in my life, where I’m more easily able to see his amazing character, and His amazing work in my life. As I’ve been praying this prayer of here, God has been developing this attitude of availability in my life, where I’ve been more able to say, “Sure God, whatever you want, whenever you want it, I’m yours. I’m available to you. Here I am.”
And if you would pray those prayers, if you would pray, thanks, help, wow, here, I think God is going to develop those same attitudes in your heart. An attitude of gratitude. An attitude of humility. An attitude of wonder, and an attitude of availability. You know, we can say here to God because Jesus first said here to the father, in the garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus was just about to head to the cross, he spent this time in prayer where he said, “Not my will, but your will be done.” He’s saying, “Here I am, God. I don’t want to do this, but I’m going to do it because I want you. I’m going to offer myself to you.” And then he went to the cross, and paid for our sins and died in our place. And then he went to the grave and three days later he was resurrected so that one day we too could be resurrected to new life in him.
See, Jesus now is saying, “Here I am,” to us. He’s saying, “Here I am will you go with me today? Here I am, can I empower you today? Here I am, can I give you my Holy spirit?” And all that he’s waiting for is for you and me to say, “Here I am too. Let’s journey together Jesus.” No, we don’t say, here I am to a distant God. We don’t say, here I am to a God who is above our problems and our pain. We don’t say, here I am to a God who’s withdrawn, or a God who doesn’t listen to us. No, we say, here I am to a God who has come near to us.
We say, here I am to a God who has come into a body. Who has experienced the human experience just like you and me. We say, here I am to a God who’s gone through your pain and your struggle, so He knows that just like you do. We say, here I am to a God who’s giving us breath. To a God who sustaining us. To a God who’s inclining his ear. To a God who loves us. To a God who’s waiting to pour out his grace into our lives. To a God who is with us. To a God who cares. This is the God that we say here I am to. He’s a God who’s waiting for us to be available.
Throughout the Bible, one of the ways that they made themselves available was in worship. They would come together and they would praise God and they’d say, “Here we are God. Would you fill us up? Would you empower us?” And so we’re going to do that in this moment. Would you stand up with me? And this is our last application of this message here in this service. Is we’re saying, here I am to God. Here I am to the one who loves me. To the one who sustains me. To the one who’s redeemed me. To the one who cares for me. To the one who fills me. To the one who can empower me. To the one who help me through what I’m going through. To the one who’s with me. Here I am God, I am yours. If you’re comfortable, would you lift up your hands and say, here I am God, I’m yours to be used. I’m yours to be filled. I’m available for you. Here I am. Let’s sing together.