03.27.16 MitchMadeNotes

In this message, I talked about the value of your freedom to God and how He was willing to kill and raise His Son so you could be free. You can watch the message here

My Sermon Transcript is below: 

How many of you have taken an international flight? Many of you.

My guess is that you can identify with me on this: The worst part of an international flight is how long you’re locked in. There’s no going for a stroll around the block or running a quick errand. Once those doors are shut you’re confined in a tin can like a bunch of sardines just hoping the guy on the other side will open you the can quickly on arrival.

While there may be many things that can make an international flight miserable, one of the worst is the middle seat. No one wants that seat.

On one of my trips back from Israel, I had been given a middle seat. No matter how hard I tried to change it, I was told, “I am sorry sir, there are no other seats available.” Dreading the flight and feeling as if I would do anything to get through it, I decided to pull out a few sleeping pills a friend of mind had given me.

As the flight was getting ready to take off, after the rest of the sardines had all jammed their bags, bellies and you know whats in my personal space, I was ready to be knocked. I text my friend in the US a picture of the pills and wrote, “These are sleeping pills, right? Can I take them for my flight?” and all he wrote back was, “Yeah, be careful.”

I didn’t think too much of it. It was really the pilot that had to be careful, not me… now I realize he was saying, “Be careful with the sleeping pills.” Wish he would have written that out.

So I took the pills out of the case, yes pills and popped them in my mouth with a big swig of water.

To my right was this little elderly Israeli lady seated by the window. To my right was a business man, probably Israeli, but obviously not up for any conversation. No problem, I really wasn’t either. Especially as the pills started to take effect.

The plane hadn’t closed to the doors yet, but I thought I would just lay my head back to relax. To be honest, that was the last think I remember.

I think those pills were the same thing that Steve Martin in Father of the Bride took when the second Movie when Franck said, “Bye-Bye George, See you next Thursday.”

About eleven hours later I was woken up by a “Ding” and the captain saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve started our initial decent…”

That’s not the worst part… I was grateful to sleep through the flight. But what I didn’t understand was where the lady went that was to my right. I don’t remember her getting out and when I woke up I realized I was not only occupying my seat, but I was occupying most of hers.

I tried to play it cool, like nothing happened. Although I did figure out that shirt was so wet from drooling all over myself. But I still wondered where the lady went. I pretended to stretch as I looked around to see if I could see her. I glanced at the lavatories to see if she was in there, but they were all “Green” and unoccupied. Now I was nervous, did she move because of me?

SO I ask the gentleman on the isle if I can get up. As I make the way to the bathroom I didn’t see the elderly lady in any seat. She was seemingly gone off of a packed flight. Or that is what I assumed, until I got back to the lavatories and saw her sleeping and strapped into the one of the crew fold down jump seats. I was so embarrassed. I snuck in the bathroom and right away figured out, she must have moved because of me.

After returning to my seat I finally got the nerve to ask the guy to my left what happened. He just laughed and said, you don’t remember? Oh man, I knew this was going to be bad. He proceeded to tell me that I had fallen asleep so hard that I kept falling on the lady to my right. They tried to prop me up, but couldn’t. Finally I was laying on top of her and she was screaming for help.

He told me that several men had to lift me up out of my seat into the exit door area so they could get her out. And as he laughed telling me the story, he said all you kept saying was “my legs don’t work, my legs don’t work.” And then a vague memory came back, that I thought was a dream and I was mortified with embarrassment.

I was caught in a scenario where I was literally helpless. There was nothing I could do to help and anything I did try to do made it worse. Can I tell you something? That is exactly what our lives are like without God: our efforts are helpless and sometimes even tragic and the only way out is for God to intervene.

Your life without God is hopeless, bondage and meaningless without the miracle of Easter. The Bible calls us “Sleepers” literally translated “out cold” when it comes to the love that God offers us. Without God sending His Son, taking His life and then raising him again, we would have no hope of being free.

Yet God believed that your freedom was worth whatever it cost to get it. At the beginning of time, God created a perfect world for humans to live in a perfect relationship with Himself. But because the first humans tied their own plan and disobey God, they messed up what God originally designed. That is when sin entered the world.

Because God is perfect and humans were sinful, he had to separate Himself from them. In fact, the Bible says that the cost for sin is death. But you and I both know that we sin all the time, and we are still here, so what does that really mean. It means that there is a spiritual death that happens because of our sin. God is the source of true meaningful life, and because of sin we are cut of from that life and we are basically “Living dead.”

But God believed that your freedom from that death (or life without God) was so worth fixing, he did whatever it cost to set you free to know Him as true life again. He even sent his own son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth to die. He was born to die. And for the last few weeks here at Grace we’ve been talking about how Jesus Christ is the one true God, because He saved us and brought us back into a relationship with His Father.

Today I want to give you 4 reasons WHY Jesus is the real God AND HOW that gives us eternal freedom. If Jesus was just some crazy middle eastern man, we would have no reason to trust him with or salvation. But if he was really God, we have every reason to believe that he can free us from the gerbil wheel of religion and effort and allow us to have a meaningful relationship with God.

You got to get this right out the gate: Jesus is the only God to ever predict his death and resurrection and actually do it. All other gods have claimed to have some stake on life or a means to make us better people. But all other gods or leaders of religions came, proclaimed and then died, and stayed dead. Not our God. I don’t know about you, but anyone that can predict their own dead and resurrection and actually do it is someone I will follow.

4 reasons why Jesus is the true God:

The first proof is that Jesus fulfilled God’s promises made before He ever came.

The books of the Old Testament contain many passages about the Messiah—all prophecies Jesus Christ fulfilled. For instance, the crucifixion of Jesus was foretold in Psalm 22:16-18 approximately 1,000 years before Christ was born, long before this method of execution was even practiced, the Bible told us this would happen.

Some Bible scholars suggest there are more than 300 prophetic Scriptures completed in the life of Jesus.

Passages of Scripture written hundreds or thousands of years before Christ tell us that God promised a Messiah, a savior would be sent to lead us to God. It was promised that he would be born to a virgin woman (that specific!) but then rejected by his own people. The old Testament told us that he would claim to be the son of God, which He did, and then be falsely accused, which he was. The Psalms told us he would be crucified with criminals and no bone would be broken in his killing, and they weren’t. Then, the Bible promised that he would rise again from the dead, proving that His sacrifice for sins was accepted. All of these things were promised and foretold by God and all of that was fulfilled by Christ.

I’ve stood with Jews in Jerusalem that don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah sent by God to save us, but they believe the Bible. I always say, “How can you believe what the Bible says, especially in the Old Testament, but deny that Christ fulfilled such specific promises!?” When a statement made hundreds of years before is fulfilled specifically and in detail, I have no choice but to say, “It’s true!” This is God’s means to freedom. Jesus is the true God. There is comfort to us to know God keep His promises.

The second reason I believe Jesus is the real God is because He frees us from guilt and shame. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you know what I am talking about. He doesn’t just free us from the eternal consequences of our sin, but he frees us from the guilt and shame associated with our sin.

We’ve all got ‘em – those secret mistakes we never want anyone to know. The things we delight in when we are in private, but would die of embarrassment if they ever came public.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Unless you are a superhero — or at least superhuman — you’re probably ashamed of something. There’s a past failure or present fault that is excruciatingly painful for you to acknowledge and admit. There’s something you wouldn’t want anyone to know about, something you keep buried way down deep within yourself.

Shame and guilt is a weight we carry everyday unless Christ sets us free. I think it’s like this: Shame is a sumo suit on our soul. It keeps us from feeling and experiencing the true love of Christ and the freedom He brings.

Over the years, I’ve spoken with hundreds of people who have opened up and told me their secret failings, chronic struggles, and agonizing wounds. In moments away from eavesdropping ears or in email exchanges away from prying eyes, people have expressed their sense of being weight down, constricted and constrained, and their desperation to break free.

There’s a good chance you experience the sumo suit of shame on your soul if you’ve ever thought things like what others have said to me:

  • I don’t measure up to other people’s expectations, not to mention God’s expectations.
  • I don’t like the real me, so why should anyone else?
  • I act like I’ve got it all together, but beneath the polished surface I’m a phony and a fraud.
  • I may be smiling on the outside but dying on the inside.
  • I imagine God up there on his throne looking down on me with a disappointed look on his face.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of shame: The kind we deserve and the kind we inherit.

  1. The first kind of shame comes from the guilt we feel for the wrong we’ve done. God created feelings of guilt as internal indicator that our lives are veering off track.

For example, If I hurt someone because I was selfish – until I make that right with them and God, I am going to feel guilty.

But if I take that too far and start thinking of my self as worthless and trapped, I’ve let shame win. Jesus came so we can have freedom.

  1. The second kind of shame is that which is given to us – usually when we don’t deserve it.

Let’s face it, human emotions easily get tangled and twisted. If we could X-ray our feelings, they would probably look like a huge bowl of spaghetti or a fifty-car pileup on the highway.

Since our emotions are rarely neat and tidy, it’s not surprising that lots of people feel unreasonable shame. In these cases, unhealthy feelings are distorted, exaggerated, and most of all untrue.

Unjustified shame comes from many sources: our culture, our misbeliefs, our parents or past relationships.

If this has touched a painful nerve, let me give you a dose of strong anesthetic. God never intended us to stay in the sumo suit of shame for our mistakes. He sent Christ to forgive us and give us freedom.

He certainly never wants us to experience false shame, and he wants us to seek healing for our deserved shame quickly so we can move forward in abundance. The good news is that shame can be removed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day, shame is the insulation around life, not allowing the mercy, love and care of God to enter and make us whole. But you can be free! We must step out of your shame stand in the light of Christ.

In Bible we are told in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We must not let our own condemnation keep us from the freedom that can be found in Jesus. I am telling you this morning, you have to let go of your shame and cling to Christ.

Why do I think that Jesus is the real God and he can really free us? Because he came back from the dead. You have heard that he came and died for you, but I think the more powerful message is that he ROSE AGAIN from the dead for you! He didn’t stay dead. It is one think to know that a person died for, anyone can do that.

I could jump in front of a moving semi for you or take a bullet for you. Christ did more than just save our physical life when he died, but he saved our soul. But how would I know that if he stayed dead?

You see, the fact that he came back from the dead proved that what he did to die for me really worked. The fact that he died to appease God’s wrath so that I can have life is PROVEN by the fact that he didn’t stay dead. He came back to life guy God’s power to prove God accepted his payment for my sins.

There are still some who don’t believe he came back.

Ever since the first century, there have been sceptics to believe that Jesus really came back to life. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 15:12, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

Paul, who was at one time Christian hater (even killer) and then his eyes were opened because he saw Jesus after he had died, was saying: If Christ did not rise from the dead, then the proclamation of the gospel is pointless. What is the Cross without victory over death? Mortality would remain the eternal vault for the soul and punishment for all mankind if there were never victory over it.

Paul made claims that if Christ had not been raise from the dead, then not only were the apostles preaching in vain, but they were just really good liars. If Jesus didn’t come back then those who claimed He was in the Bible were just blabbering fools were misrepresenting God—a fatal mistake. When we speak of the resurrection we are speaking about God and His ability to keep promises. If we error on the side of thinking it was just some theory for the growth of Christianity, but not a reality, we are making God out to be no better than a promise breaker; not the divine promises maker… and keeper.

The resurrection was about God keeping his promises and proving Himself. It is not just a made-up about rumor of a dead man walking passed down through the generations.

If there is no resurrection, then there is no payment for sins and therefore faith in the cross is futile, the belief of forgiveness is erroneous, and any hope of rising from the dead is just one big joke. However, because the resurrection is true, the empty grave yields life after sin and life after death. The living Christ is proof for our souls that we can cling to the hope of not only being forgiven and with God again, but that we reunited with those we love who also gave their faith to Christ.

Without the resurrection our hope is only in what we have during the years we are here on earth; beyond this life there is no hope if there were no resurrection of Christ.  If you’ve lived any number of days, you already know that life goes fast and is full of hurts, setback, drawback, and dead-ends. If our only hope is what is right before us, then we will be nothing but live-for-the-moment kinds of people who strive appease our current craving. There would be no need to look beyond what I currently desire because everything is for the moment.

And if we are honest, when we live for the moment we are almost always left empty handed.

Which brings me to the final reason I am sure that Jesus is the true God; He offers us more than a good life, Jesus promises us eternal life.

In His life, death and resurrection, we were promised a future “Paradise” Now don’t let your Sunday School coloring book pages inform your theology here. Paradise is not just some cosmic good place with nothing but grapes, pearly gates and gold streets. Paradise is the reality of all God applied to your soul forever.

Before he even died, he said that he was “Going to my father’s house…” (John 14:2). Then, as we looked at last week, Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus did indeed go and is “Seated at the right hand of the thrown of God.” All this was to make clear that he was living after death and we can know and be known by Him again. His life proclaimed that we can know God AND THEN His resurrection made that promise a reality.

I’ve heard it said that the accountants and merchants of ancient times would write in the front of their accounting ledgers “Memento Mori,” meaning “Think of Death.” I would assume they placed this statement on the first page of their books as a consistent reminded of how fleeting life is and all that is within it.

I hardly ever think of death because I cherish this life and the people within it… and if I am really honest, I probably cherish some of the possessions that come with this life too. However, the very reason the ancients encouraged this kind of thinking was so that they didn’t get too attached to the possessions and money their ledgers were keeping on account. The strove to remember that eternality was a reality.

It is right for us to “Memento Mori” to keep a right perspective on life. But we must not JUST think of death. We must also ponder the eternal place we are propelling towards. Those of us that have faith in Christ have the promise of eternal life. Jesus promised us a life that would be divinely joined with him for now and for all of eternity. Heaven is not just be some cloud in the sky, but a place entirely center upon God and all of His amazing attributes.

There is great encouragement that come in these fleeting days when we think about the eternal goal and promise of being with God forever. Jesus sets us free forever.