Let’s commit to being with Jesus by meeting with his church every week.

So this last week, if you weren’t here last week, Pastor Joe started us in a new series called The Deeper Life. And he started with a talk that the deeper life is an unhurried life. Who is here to hear that talk? Was it so good or what? Man, it’s so challenging, and in just a minute, I’m going to share what really challenged me from that talk.

But the next five weeks, we’re continuing this series called The Deeper life. And we’re going over five things that will help us experience the deeper life, and these five things are all things that we find the earliest disciples of Jesus doing. These five things will help us enter just like those earliest disciples did into the life that Jesus wants for us, the deeper life.

So these five things are called meet, seek, serve, give, and share. Meet, seek, serve, give, and share. So meet together in church and in groups to meet with God. We seek God daily in prayer, Bible, and journal. We serve just like Jesus came to serve. We give our lives away just like Jesus gave his life away. And then we share the good news just like the first disciples did. They were always sharing the good news. So these five things will help us experience the deeper life that Jesus has for us.

When people come and ask about membership at Life Center, they say, “How? How do I become a member here at Life Center?” We say, “Well, we don’t have formal membership, but we have functional membership.” If you’re doing these five things, if you’re meeting, seeking, serving, giving, and sharing, you’re a functional member, a functional owner here at Life Center. But I want to challenge you.

You can do all of these things, all five of these things and still not experience the deeper life. You’re like, “Why did you waste your intro talking about them then?” Here’s why I think so often we’re focused on what we’re doing, but God is more focused on our being. We’re so focused on what we’re doing going from one thing to the next, we’re thinking about meeting and seeking and serving and giving and sharing. And we forget that God is more focused on who we’re becoming rather what we’re doing because what we’re doing is an overflow of who we are becoming.

See, out of the overflow of your heart, the mouth speaks. And we’re supposed to guard our heart. For everything we do flows from it. See, God is concerned, is most focused on who you are becoming, not what you’re doing because what you’re doing is an overflow of who you’re becoming.

So I have a question, who are you becoming? We can easily name what we’re doing, right? Oh, I’m doing these things today. But who are you becoming today? You can name what you’re doing this year. I’m doing these things this year. I’ve got this planned. It’s on my schedule. But who are you becoming this year? What is your being? Where are you moving towards?

So Pastor Joe talked about the unhurried life, and I hope that as a church we’re becoming more unhurried. That we’re able to slow down and be with Jesus. But here’s the thing that really stuck out to me. So he talked about how you can slow down your life, you can even be laying on the couch doing nothing and still your internal RPMs are high. It’s like you’re revving your internal engine. Did anyone hear him when he said that?

When Pastor Joe said that, it’s like the holy spirit punched me in the face and was like, “Wake up, bro.” Because that was the reality for me. When he showed me that I’m almost always revving my internal RPMs, then I’m thinking about what I’m going to do, the next thing. I could be in a conversation with somebody, and I’m thinking about what I’d rather be doing or thinking about the next thing that’s coming up or thinking about what I want to eat that evening. I’ve realized that with my kids, I’m so often trying to get them to go faster. What I’ve found out is that the faster I go, the more that I miss. See, when I’m faster and I’m constantly trying to go forward and do the next thing, when I’m more focused on what I’m doing, then who I’m becoming. What I do is I end up missing out on God in the present moment. Does anyone else besides me do this where you live hurried, you live quickly, and you end up missing out on God in the present moment?

How many of you love to see Christmas lights during Christmas season? You go out and drive around. So we love to do this as a family. And we did this several times this year over the Christmas season, and it was so awesome because when we saw a house that was just lit up as we’re driving, when we came up to it, we would just speed right past it. Go as fast as we could past it. That’s not what you do, right? No. What you do is when you see a house like that that’s all lit up, what do you do? You slow down. You stop so you can take it in. But, man, in life so often we’re just speeding past things, and we’re not able to take it in. The faster you go, the more that you miss.

Did you know that nowhere in the Bible does God command us to hurry up? But he does say to slow down. He does say that we’re supposed to wait on him. He does say we’re supposed to trust his timing. He does say to be still and know that I am Lord.

See the deeper life isn’t the result of what we’re doing. It’s the result of being with Jesus and then becoming like Jesus.

For anyone not following Jesus, if you’re here today and you’re wondering who Jesus is, you’re not sure about this whole thing. I believe that he is inviting you today to be with him to experience the deeper life.

For those of us who are followers of Jesus in the room, so often we want to be like Jesus, but we have a hard time making time to be with Jesus. And that’s backwards, isn’t it? You can’t become like someone or be like someone who you don’t spend time to be with. But when you do it the right way, when you be with somebody, when you’re with somebody, then you start becoming like them. And this is what Jesus is inviting us into. He’s inviting us to be with him first and then we become like him. But in our hurried culture, we can’t carve out time to be with Jesus because we’re too busy doing our own things, or get this, we’re too busy trying to be like Jesus to be with Jesus.

Act 4:13. It talks about in Acts 4:13, it talks about how the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council after Jesus death and resurrection and ascension to Heaven. The Jewish ruling council looks at some of Jesus disciples and they take note about something. Acts 4:13 says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled and ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Does anyone take note that you’ve been with Jesus? Does anyone notice that you have been with Jesus? What they didn’t notice, they didn’t notice that these were extraordinary men or men of great learning. In fact, they noticed that they weren’t. They noticed that they were ordinary men, unschooled men. But they saw that they had been with Jesus. Can people see that you’ve been with Jesus?

The deeper life is found in being with Jesus who came to give us life to the full. So if you’re tired of the shallow life, if you’re tired of shallow relationships, if you’re tired of shallow faith, it doesn’t start with what you’re doing. It starts and continues and is completed in being with Jesus. Whatever you do, being with Jesus.

So my goal today, my goal is to help you commit to being with Jesus by meeting with his church every week. So those five things: meet, seek, serve, give, share. Today, we’re talking about meet. Meeting together as his church and in groups, what happens when we meet together? How do we experience the deeper life when we meet together?

So we’re going to open our Bibles up to Hebrews 10, starting at verse 19. So if you want to pull your Bibles out, and as you’re getting there, I want to give you a little bit of context about what we’re going to be reading. And what I hope to do is I hope to paint a picture of the passage we’re going to read and highlight some things. So as we’re reading the passage, things are going to jump out at you because hopefully we’ve explained them well enough.

So as you’re flipping there, it’s on page 1039. The author of Hebrews is speaking to a group of Jewish Christians who are seemingly being pulled away from Jesus and the church by the previous way of life. See, these Christians were becoming more influenced by culture, by whatever culture it was than by Jesus. So much so that they were giving up meeting together. These Christians that the author is talking to, they just stopped coming to church. They weren’t meeting together anymore. Now this may not sound like a big deal. You can follow Jesus and not be part of church, right?

Well, the author of this says no. He says, “No, no, no. Don’t give up meeting together. Whatever you do, don’t give up meeting together because there are incredible benefits of meeting together.” This is how we experience the deep life when we meet together. If you don’t believe me that you need other people in your Christian walk, listen to Genesis 2:18. Just when the Lord God made Adam, this is how he made human beings. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.'” And in the same way, it’s not good for a Christian to go alone. It’s not good for a Jesus follower to try to follow Jesus alone because when Jesus called his original disciples to him, he didn’t say, “Hey, you come and follow me in isolation.” He said, “You come and follow me in this group.” And this group was well known together that they became known as the 12.

Then the same way when Jesus calls you and I together, he’s not calling us to follow him in isolation. He’s calling us to follow him together, and that we would be so visible as a group that we would be known as the church. His church. This is what Jesus is calling us into. He’s calling us into deeper community.

So as you’re reading this, you’ll notice three sentences that start with let us. And these three sentences are going to be the foundations for the three points that we’re talking about today. So we’re going to go through, we’re going to break this passage down kind of verse by verse. So the point one is we’re going to read 19-22, point two is going to be on verse 23, and then point three is going to be on verses 24-25. So we’re going to start with Hebrews 10:19-22. Does that sound good? Here we go.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way open for us through a curtain that is his body and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscious and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

So we’re going to pause right there, and there’s a lot of language in here that may leave you scratching your head. Why are we talking about curtains and the most holy of places, and why is there so much about blood in this passage? What is going on? Now remember the author is speaking to a group of Jewish Christians. So there’s a lot of Jewish religious terms in here, and what the author is doing is he’s saying, “Look, here’s all these Jewish religious terms, and they’ve been transformed by the work of Jesus.” So look, he says, “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.”

So in the Jewish religion, there was the temple in Jerusalem, and the temple had these different layers of rooms. And the inner most, the deepest layer in the temple, the deepest room was the Most Holy Place called the holy of holies. And a priest could only enter the holy of holies once a year, and they had to enter it through the blood of an animal sacrifice. If they didn’t sacrifice an animal and the blood wasn’t shed, then they could not enter the Most Holy Place. And he says, “Look, we don’t have to enter timidly like they did. We can only go in once a year. We can enter to the Most Holy Place, into God’s, the holiest part of God’s presence. We can do that anytime we want to with confidence because of the blood, not of animals, but the blood of Jesus.”

Then he says that we can enter by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain that is his body. Do you remember when Jesus was crucified that in the temple, it tells us that the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple. This curtain that kept people away from God’s presence, this curtain was torn from top to bottom in two when Jesus was crucified, when he died. And what it symbolized was that there was no longer a dividing wall between us and the presence of God. So now here the author is reminding them, he’s saying, “Look, they’re used to be this curtain that divided us. But now we have a new way into the presence of God that has been open through us, open for us through a new curtain, which is the body of Jesus that was torn so that we could enter into the presence of God.”

So again, he’s using all this Jewish language and saying, “This has been transformed by Jesus.” So why would these Jewish Christians be going back to their previous culture when Jesus has made it so much better? The author is baffled. So he says, “Look, we even have a great high priest, a better high priest over the house of God, which again is Jesus.” So in verse 22, after all of this, he says, “Let us draw near to God. Let’s come close to God. Let’s get connected to God because of what Jesus has done for us with the full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscious.”

Again, why is there this Jewish imagery of sprinkling? When you offer to sacrifice on the altar, you would sprinkle the sacrifice with blood. And now Jesus is saying, the author is saying, “Look, we have been sprinkled by the blood of Jesus, and this has taken away our guilt so we can come to God with confidence because we have been cleansed. We no longer have to be guilty when we come to God. God has washed us.”

And then finally, washed with pure water. There is ceremonial washing for the Jews that before they could come to God, they’d have to be washed. And the author of Hebrews says, “Look, you’ve been baptized once and for all. You don’t have to keep getting washed over and over again. You’ve been baptized so you can come to God with confidence. Let us draw near to God,” the author says.

Okay. We’ve broken that part down. We need to pray so God can help us understand this. Don’t you agree? Okay.

Lord Jesus, we ask that you would open our hearts to your word. Help us to understand, Lord. Help us to get closer to you, Jesus. We pray this in your name, and everyone said, amen.

So Monday, last Monday, my wife and I had our Sabbath, our day of rest. And we went out on a date to this awesome little breakfast restaurant. And while we were there, she asked me a question, and she said, “Hey, honey. As you’ve been praying, has God given you a word for our church for the year?” And I was like, “Nope.” I felt really unspiritual at that point. But God used that, God used my wife to speak to me because Friday while I was praying for this weekend, I was praying, “God, would you speak to us?” I was asking the Lord, “What do you want our church to feel when we leave this weekend? After people have come and experienced your presence, what do you want them to feel, God?” And I immediately heard God say, “Connected.”

He wants us to feel connected. He wants us to feel connected to him. He wants us to feel connected to hope. He wants us to feel connected to each other and to each other’s love and encouragement. I felt like God said, “I want them to feel connected.” And then God reminded me of my wife’s question, “Hey, as you’ve been praying, has there been a word that God’s given you for our church for the year to help guide us as we’re moving forward with Jesus?” And I felt like God said this is that word. I wasn’t looking for it. I wasn’t asking for it. But God is good and sometimes he gives us the things even that we’re not asking for, right?

And I felt like he said, “This is a word that will guide our church forward this year.” I believe that God wants to get us connected this year because so many of us feel disconnected, do we not? We feel disconnected from our spouse. We feel disconnected from our kids when we got them those stupid smartphones. We feel disconnected from joy. We feel disconnected from our friends and our family. We feel disconnected from peace and our purpose. We feel disconnected from God. But I believe this is a year where God wants to get you connected. Whatever is disconnected in your life, I believe this is the year where God is saying, “I want to connect that.”

Does anyone have a lamp in their house? Do you know those things? So have you ever gone to turn on the lamp and it didn’t work? So you’re like, “Oh, it needs a new light bulb.” So you go and you get a light bulb, and you change it out. And you try it again, and it still doesn’t work. And so you’re scratching your head. You start looking at it, and you realize, “Oh, I haven’t laid hands and prayed on it yet.” So that’s what you get your whole family around. You pray for a lamp. And then while you’re praying, someone looks at the cord and notices that it’s not plugged in. And you feel like… All you have to do is plug in the lamp, you get it connected to power, and the lamp comes on.

I believe that there is something in your life this year where God wants to just connect you to his power, and the thing that hasn’t been working that you’re wondering, “Why is this not working,” God wants to just connect it for you this year so that the light would come on for you. Come on, wherever you are with Jesus, I believe there’s something in your life that is disconnected that God wants to connect this year. So I’m praying that this would be a year where you get connected deeper with Jesus, deeper with each other, deeper with hope. I’m praying that God connects us this year.

So we’re going to do something a little different that we normally don’t do. We’re going to alter the outline. Is that okay? Even if it’s not okay, we’re doing it. So you see the three points, and the points start with a word. So I just want you to cross out the first word on each point and replace it with connected. It’ll make sense as we go along, and then we’ll fill in the blanks in just a minute. But I really want to shape this talk around this idea of becoming connected, more connected to God. And that’s what I believe happens when we meet together with God. We get connected with him.

So why would we be using this connected language with this passage? Well, these Jewish Christians were stopping meeting together. They were disconnecting themselves from the presence of God, from the power of the God, and from the people of God. And the author is saying, “No, no. Don’t disconnect yourself. Stay connected. Don’t give up meeting together. Keep meeting together.” And he gives us these three incredible benefits of what happens when we meet together as a church.

So let’s go back to verse 22. So grab your Bibles and look at verse 22 with me. The author says, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with a full assurance that faith brings. Let us draw near to God.” One of the things that happens when we meet together, when we come together is we get connected to God. This is point number one, connected to God. Let us draw near to God. Let us get connected to God. I believe that there is more of God for you this year. There is more of God for you when we meet together.

For some reason, these Jewish Christians in the passage had given up meeting together. Why is that? Why would they do that? Why would they go back possibly to temple worship and animal sacrifice? We don’t really know why they did it or even what exactly they were going back to. Maybe they just wanted to watch the Seahawks on Sunday. We really don’t know. But for some reason we don’t know something was distracting them, diverting them, and disconnecting them form meeting together and meeting with God.

I believe each and every one of us is here because we want to connect with God. I don’t think you’d come here if you didn’t want to connect with God. But if I want to be honest, I can come to church wanting to connect with God, but I can have very different mindsets sometimes when I come to church. Sometimes when I come to church, I have this feeling like, “Yeah, I do want to connect with God.” But my mindset really is indifference. Like, “Okay. Whatever. What am I going to do? What am I going to hear? Do I really care?” Sometimes I come with this indifferent mindset when I come to meet with our church. Sometimes I come with a distracted mindset. But even though I’m sitting down, my mind is racing. Does anybody else ever have that?

You can be sitting down, but your mind is running all over the place. It’s a distracted mindset. Sometimes my meeting mindset when I come together with all of us is I’m hurting. Honestly, I could be nursing emotional wounds or walking with a spiritual limp, and that’s my mindset when I come here is that I’m just hurting. This is hard. But other times, I come with a hungry mindset where I recognize my need and my desire for God. And I know that he’s ready to meet me, and I’m expectant for what God wants to do.

I want to ask, what’s your meeting mindset? When you come to church, what is your meeting mindset? Are you indifferent, are you distracted, or are you hurting? Are you hungry? The good news is that you don’t have to all of a sudden change yourself from hurting to hungry because we can’t do that, can we? We can’t just heal ourselves and go, “Okay. I’m not hurting anymore. I’m just hungry now.” That doesn’t work like that.

The good news is that you just have to acknowledge where you are and make a choice to move towards God because James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” It doesn’t say that you have to get yourself all the way to God, that you have to make all the moves, that you have to change your mindset so much so that you can get 100% to God. It just says, “No, no. If you draw near to him, if you make a move towards God, he’s going to make the move towards you.” We have a good God who doesn’t require us to go all the way. He just says, “Look, if you make the choice to make a move, I’m going to meet you where you are.”

Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For wherever two or three gather in my name, there I am with them!” Isn’t that a great promise for us as a church that when we make the choice to move towards God, when we come to church and we have this mindset of I want to be near God, I want to draw near to God. He comes and meets with us. So however close or far from God you are, there’s more of God for you when we come together. He promises to be here with us.

We get connected to God in several different ways when we meet together. One of the ways that we get connected together is through worship. How many of you just feel like, “Oh, man. I get so connected in worship.” I’m not going to ask for how many don’t. It’s okay. But this is one of the ways that we connect to God is that we’re making a move towards him. Physically even, we’re lifting our hands. We’re lifting our voice to God. We’re making a move towards him, and when we make a move towards him, when we draw near to him, he draws near to us.

Another way that we get connected to God when we meet together is through scripture. That we believe that God is speaking through his word that everything in here is God breath… It’s literally coming from his mouth to us. So when we come together and we open his word, we hear his speaking to us, and we learn to listen to his voice and recognize it more. So we get connected to God through worship. We get connected to God through scripture. But we also get connected to God through each other, through his people.

First Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is part of it.” Theologically, when we come together, we form the physical representation, the visible, physical representation of God on Earth. So when we come together, we become the body of Christ. It doesn’t say you singularly are the body of Christ. This is a plural, you plural are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it. So when we come together, I don’t know if you’re like the little pinky or you’re a toe or you’re a nose. But each one of us is a part of the body of Christ, and when we come together, we form that physical representation not just for the world around us, but so that you and I can see Jesus right next to us.

So when we come together, we’re not just looking to God. When we look up, we’re looking at God when we stare at the person’s face right next to us. We’re seeing the body of Christ in front of us, and in this way, when we come together, there’s not just more of God for us, there’s actually more of God through you. That when you come to church, you are becoming part of the body of Christ, and the person next to you is getting God through you. They’re seeing the physical representation of Jesus body on Earth, and they’re experiencing more of his presence through you. So this is amazing that we get to a part of this, isn’t it? That God would trust us and compel us to become his body on Earth and love each other through that.

So this is the three ways. The worship, scripture, and his people that we get connected to God. And we try to help each other here at Life Center to get connected to those things in lots of different ways. So Cory already said our discipleship pathway, which is church, rooted, and groups. And whether it’s in church, rooted, or groups, we’re going to try to help you to get connected to worship, scripture, and his people.

So I’ve got a story. My friend Abe, I was talking with him just yesterday, and he was sharing this story with me. So Abe grew up in a broken home, and he’s a member here at Life Center. But he grew up in a really broken home. And Abe admitted that that created a lot of brokenness in him. So he, as he grew up, he started chasing money and substances and visible representations of success. And he said by 2017, he had a great job in Seattle at JP Morgan, but he hated it. And he said, “I was absolutely miserable.” He had everything that he thought that would make him happy, and yet he was not happy. He was completely dissatisfied with life.

So he gave up his job, and he resigned. And he moved to Arizona on a whim. He needed to figure out something in his life. So he changed everything, and while he was in Arizona, his brother happened to give him a Bible. And so Abe started reading the Bible slowly, and as he was reading the Bible, he felt like, “Man, I should really get to a church. I need to get to a church.” So Abe started going to a church down in Phoenix, Arizona. And through the relationships that he built in the church, through worship, scripture, and God’s people, Abe on August 8, 2019 gave his life to Jesus and was saved. Isn’t that awesome?

Whoa! Yeah. Everyone’s like, “Wait, should we?” Yes, you should.

Now through an unfortunate circumstance, Abe had to leave that church in Arizona, and he didn’t know where he was going to go. Fortunately for us, he landed in Spokane. So when he got here, he called his brother and said, “Hey, do you know anyone in Spokane and where I could go to church?” His brother was still in Seattle, and he said, “You know, I know a guy in Spokane. His name is Nick Young.” And Nick Young is a member here at Life Center. He’s an owner here at Life Center.

So he called Nick Young, and he said, “Hey, man. Where should my brother Abe go to church in Spokane?” And Nick said, “He should go to Life Center, and you know what else he should do. He should go through Rooted.” So Abe came to Life Center, and in September, Abe came up after one of the services. And he came to me and said, “Man, that sermon was so good. God spoke to me so much. It just impacted me.” I said, “Man, you know what you should do, you should get into Rooted.” And Abe did Rooted. He got into Rooted, and God has been transforming Abe’s life.

What I love is that in Abe’s story God used a church in Arizona and a church in Spokane to get Abe connected to God. And my prayer is that we would be a church where people can get connected to God. Wherever you are in your faith journey, that you’d be able to come here. Whether you’ve been following Jesus for so long or you’ve just started your journey with Jesus, that this would be a place where you could draw near to God. That’s my prayer for us as a church. We would recognize that we need God to make a way for us, that we could get connected to him.

Can I tell you something about our church? And I love this about our church. This is not a self help church. This is a God help church. Amen? We recognize that we cannot do this on ourselves by ourselves, we need God to make a way for us, and God has made a way for us to connect to him and it’s through the church. It’s through meeting together that we get connected to him, that we get to draw near to him.

So verses 19-21, look back at these. It says, “Therefore brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened to us through the curtain that is his body. And since we have a great high pries the over the house of God, let us draw near to God.” He’s made a way for us to get connected with him. It’s through coming together. It’s through meeting together every week.

Have you ever forgotten something? Anyone? I forgot the offering. So ushers, if you’d like to come to receive today’s tithes and offerings, thank you so much. And if you forgot your offering, you can give online or you can text to give. Thank you so much for you generosity. Thank you, Jesus, for your reminders and all the people in back who flashed the signs at me through this little TV that saying, “Offering. Offering. Offering.”

God has made a way for us to get connected to him and it’s by meeting together. So let us draw near to God. That’s the first benefit of coming together as a church, not giving up meeting together. It’s connecting to God.

Let’s look at verse 23 together. Look at your Bibles again verse 23. The author gives us this second let us sentence. He says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. For he who promised is faithful.” “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess. For he who promised is faithful.” When we meet together, it gets us connected to hope. This is point number two, connected to hope. When we meet together, it gets us connected to hope.

If life is battle right now, I want to encourage that there’s hope for you in Jesus. If you’re going through something, if you’re in darkness, you’re confused, there’s hope for you in Jesus. And I love that this is a hope filled church. Has anyone else noticed that? I don’t know what it is or why this is. Actually, I do. It’s God. He does that. But what I’ve been talking with our church, with different members of our church whether it’s here or around our city, for some reason there’s this hallmark about people who go to Life Center is that we are hope filled. This is a hope filled church. And I love that about us. That God has filled us with hope, and over and over again, God has filled me with hope through you. And I pray that the same would be true that as we come together, God would fill you with hope through the people that you interact with.

The author tells us to hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess. Have you ever swerved in a car? Right? You’re like driving in a straight line, and then something gets in front of you. Whoa. That can be like that in life. You’re holding on to the hope that you have in Jesus. You’re driving straight forward, and then something in life gets right in front of you. And you have to swerve away from it. Sometimes in life it feels like someone is grabbing your steering wheel and just jerking you all over, yanking you all over. Has anyone else ever felt like that? Like my goodness, it is hard to hold onto hope right now. I feel like my life is getting yanked all over the place.

So when I was the high school pastor here, I had the privilege of having a guy named Jack in my high school group. And I got to mentor him a little bit and hang out with him. And this last year, just this September of 2019, he went to college. And to be honest, he had a really rough go. So he didn’t connect with any friends, didn’t connect with his roommates. He became really lonely and started getting depressed, and then the bottom dropped out of his life because his girlfriend dumped him. Do you remember how that feels? As like an 18, 19 year old, it’s like, “My world.”

So at this point, Jack calls me, and he’s like, “Man, I am struggling, Michael. I don’t know what to do. I’m so hurt. I’m so confused. I’m so discouraged. I don’t have any hope.” You know what I told Jack? I said, “Dude, whatever you do, do whatever you can to get to church. Do whatever you can to make it to church every single week.” And so Jack did that. Over the next month, he started making his way to church, doing whatever he could to get to church. And this is what Jack told me. Jack said this, he said, “Dude, since I’ve been coming to church, church is the only thing that has been keeping me going and has helped me so much.” Because when Jack came to church, he got connected to hope. This hope that we profess.

When we come together, we’re actually professing, proclaiming, and declaring hope to each other and to the world around us. See every church meets. Whatever church in Spokane or around the world, every church gathers because we have hope that Jesus has all authority in Heaven and on Earth. That no matter what is going on around us or outside of us, that Jesus does have all authority. That he is working, that he is for us, that his kingdom is advancing through us and in us. And even though the darkness seems to be prevailing around us, we know that the full dawn of Christ kingdom is on its way when Jesus comes back again.

We declare this hope that Jesus is coming, that he’s going to make everything right, and that he does have all authority in Heaven, on Earth. And because we profess this hope to each other and to the world around us, Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord,” because of this hope we proclaim, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

When you’re struggling in life, when you’re struggling to hold on to hope, it’s so easy to feel weak. It’s so easy to grow faint. It’s so easy to want to give up. Just like the Christians were doing in this passage, they were giving up meeting together. But he says, “Look, hold on to hope, and when you meet together, you actually hold on to hope, and you’re strength is renewed.”

So let me describe this hope for us more. What does this hope that we have in Jesus? It is this that in Jesus life, death, and resurrection, we are saved. Amen. We’re saved not just like a ticket to Heaven. Like, “Oh, one day I’m going to go to Heaven, and I’m going to be saved.” But we are saved in three dimensions. We’re saved from the penalty of sin in the past. So we are saved because Jesus went to the cross, the wages of sin is death, and Jesus died on the cross for the penalty of our sins so that we wouldn’t have to face it. So we’ve been saved from the penalty of sin in the past. We’re saved from the power of sin in the present.

Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall no longer be your master because you are not under the law but under grace.” Sin doesn’t have to be your master anymore. It doesn’t have to have those chains wrapped around you. The addiction, the obsess… Whatever it is doesn’t have to be your master because you aren’t under the law. You’re under God’s grace that is freed you from the power of sin.

And then finally, we’re saved from the presence of sin in the future. Revelation tells us that there is a day that is coming when Jesus will wipe every tear and heal every hurt. That the presence of sin will be put to death once and for all. That God’s new creation will be free from the sin that has been plaguing this creation. So we’ve been saved in these three dimensions. Saved from the penalty of sin in the past, the power of sin in the present, and saved from the presence of sin in the future. This is the hope that we hold onto. That the things that have been discouraging us, the sin that has weighed us down has been disarmed by Jesus on the cross.

It says, “Hold on to hope, for he who promised is faithful.” So there’s a worship leader named John Wild. Isn’t that a great last name? John Wild. I’m thinking about changing my name. Michael Wild. So he tells this story of one day in his life when he was young. So when he was young, his family was really struggling. They were poor, and they’d be homeless before. And now they’re in a house, and they were about to be evicted. So this one night while he’s this young boy, seven or eight, he’s in his bed and he hears his mom crying in her room. So little John pads down the hallway and he goes to this mom’s door. And he listens, and it’s cracked open.

So he here’s this boy who’s concerned for his mom. He knows what’s about to happen, that they’re about to be evicted. And he hears her crying, and he wonders if he can help. So he pushes the door open and he goes in. But the crying that he thought he heard was not the crying that she was doing. She wasn’t crying out of sadness. She was on her knees praying, and she was saying this, she was saying, “Even though…” She was thanking God for his faithfulness and saying, “Even though we don’t see the situation changing,” she was declaring that God is still good and thanking God for all that he had given them in Jesus. She said, “Even though we don’t have all the things we’re asking for. We have enough because we have Jesus.” Amen.

Even though you don’t have everything you’ve praying for, even though you don’t have the things in your hands that you think you need, we’ve been promised by he who is faithful that we have everything we need for life and godliness. That Jesus is the answer. For the world today and for our problems today, that with him, we have hope because he is faithful. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead is the God who promised you that he’s going to save you, that he’s going to heal you, that he’s going to help you, that he’s watching over you, that he’s for you, and that he’s with you. Because of that God, and that he promised us we can hold onto hope unswervingly. Amen.

So whether you are going through good times or bad, God’s faithful. He’s faithful in your pain. To be with you and to help you. He’s faithful in your darkness. To be a light to your feet and a lamp to your path. God is faithful to help you. So we can hold onto hope, and that’s what happens when we come together is we get connected to hope. The hope that we profess in Jesus.

Let’s look at verse 24 and 25. Verses 24 and 25, the author says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Now verse 25, look at this, I’ve been saying that these people are giving up meeting together, and here it is. He says, “Not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. Don’t give up meeting together, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

See, the author says, “Look, some people are in the habit of giving up meeting together, but you don’t do that. I’m encouraging you to continue to meet together, to think about how you can spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” See, when we meet together, we get connected to each other’s love and encouragement. This is point number three. When we meet together, we get connected to each other’s love and encouragement. We spur one another on toward love and good deeds. We encourage one another all the more as the day is approaching, the day of Jesus return.

So I believe that when we come together, there is love and encouragement for you. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, there is love and encouragement for you here because of Jesus. Because Jesus is taking care of our past, we can come to him right now and be loved and encouraged by Jesus. We want to get connected together to each other’s love and encouragement. And we try to do this in so many different ways. Love each other and encourage each other. And at the end of this service, we’re going to do it. We’re going to love each other and encourage each other in a unique way that we do sometimes around here.

But one of the things that we’ve been doing over the last two weeks is we’ve been encouraging one another to spend time with Jesus daily through prayer, Bible, and journal. And we gave those Bible reading plan journals that Cory talked about. How many of you got one? How many of you didn’t? Oh, I’m so sorry. But again, there’s those guides. We couldn’t print more of the journals because that would be crazy expensive. So we made something cheaper. Again, it doesn’t have a lot of those journal pages, but we’d love to give that to you to help you jump in with us.

If you have grabbed one of those journals and you have missed some days, and you’re like, “I don’t know. I’ve missed too many days.” Can I tell you just start where you are. Just start on today. Don’t let your past stop you from moving forward with God in the present, and that’s what happens so often in our lives is that we let our past define what we can do in the present and in the future. We let the past sins and our past failures define what God can do in us and through us for the future. And I just want to say right now with this Bible reading plan journal, if you’re letting your past, the days that you’ve already missed, define your present and future, you need to stop that because Jesus is taking care of all of it for you. Just move forward with God in the present moment. Okay? There’s the encouragement for you today.

So that’s one way we encourage one another is to encourage each other to spend time with Jesus, which is the great commandment of love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. We’re connecting to each other’s love and encouragement. But for so many of us, church is hard because we feel disconnected. And we desperately want to get connected to other people in the church. If that’s true, if you’re like, “Man, I’ve been trying everything, and I don’t feel connected in this church,” I want to tell you exactly what the author did in Hebrews. He said, “Don’t give up meeting together.” Whatever you do, don’t give up meeting together. Don’t disconnect yourself from the power of God, the presence of God, and the people of God. Be with his people and continue. Don’t give up meeting together.

Do Rooted. If you’ve been coming to church and you can’t get connected at church, jump into Rooted. If you’ve done Rooted and you’re still looking for more connection, jump into a mission group. If you’ve done all of that and you’re like, “Man, I did all the things. What do you want me to do now?” I want to encourage you that we’ve got a Next Steps meeting right after this service just in the Welcome Center over there. And there’s plenty of people there who are ready to help you figure out how to get more connected here at Life Center.

When I was thinking about this, I felt like God asked me. He said, “Michael, what does it look like for you to be connected? What does it look like in this season for you to be connected?” How many of you know that your connection with other people changes through the season of your life? Because when you’re in college, when I was in college, connecting with people was watching Lost until 4:00 AM. And then after seven years of my life, when I got to the end of that show, I was like, “Why did I waste seven years of my life?” Anyone else with that show? That’s every show ever by the way. By the end, you’re like, “This is the stupidest thing.”

So God was asking me, “What does it look like right now in this season for you to be connected?” And as I thought through that, I thought, “Well, God, right now, the thing that makes me feel connected is when a friend just texts me or calls me just to ask how I’m doing. Not to ask me to do something for them or to give something. But just to say, ‘Hey, man. How are you?'” That makes me feel so loved and encouraged. Anyone else when that happens to you where you’re just like, “Yes, I feel like a million dollars. Somebody cares.” It is so nice.

I love it when people do that for me, but how often do I do it for others? Am I doing what I want people to do to me? Jesus actually says something about that, doesn’t he? In Matthew seven, I think it’s 13. 7:12 sorry. Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them to do to you.” So if you want someone to call you or text you, if you want someone to invite you over for dinner, if you want someone to grab you at church, to say, “How are you really doing?” Are you doing that for someone else?

It’s because I believe when we do this, when we care for God’s children, I believe that God is faithful to care for our needs when we care for his people. So if you’re saying, “Man, I feel like I need connections and I’m not getting them,” are you looking to give connection to somebody else? What’s your meeting mindset when you come? Are you just looking to get from people, or are you looking to give to God’s people?

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