Embrace the Way of Jesus

Sermon Series:

Embrace the Way of Jesus

Transcript

This week is not only a very cold week, it is also tomorrow the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr's life. Martin Luther King Junior Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Is a person who among many things was committed to following the way of Jesus and there were pressures, untold pressures on him from all different directions to compromise that, but he stood fast to the principles of Jesus, to the teachings of Jesus that all people were created equal and relying on a peaceful demonstration of what does it look like for all people to be created equal and because of his life, the world has changed. So that's what we celebrate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and that's what we celebrate to when we come together each Sunday. One, how one person changed the world and many who have come after that. I was thinking this week that a new practice that I'm going to try, I found myself just thinking about some different things and becoming a little anxious, becoming a little stressed, and in that I thought perhaps one of the things that I should try, whenever I feel stressed, whenever I feel worried, whenever I feel frustrated or angry even that I would try to pause and think of several things that I'm grateful for and in those moments to the best of my ability, try and give thanks to be grateful for the things that aren't frustrating or the things that are peaceful and not anxious and hopefully in diverting my attention to the things that I am grateful for will remind me that whatever the situation is that is causing the stress or the anxiety or the frustration or the fear or the anger, that there are other things that are going on for which to be grateful and to be able to move past that to trust in Jesus.

 

One of the things that I'm most grateful for is this community and for all of you and the way in which you love Jesus and serve Jesus and are a part of this church to make it what it is. So thank you all. You're one of the things that I think about whenever I practice gratitude. Thank you for that. If you were here last week, we began the year 2024. Last Sunday was the first Sunday of the year. We began by highlighting three truths that we should consider making the foundation of our lives for 2024. Those three truths are this, that Jesus gets you. Jesus is with you that you can trust in Jesus. These sound very simple and they are very simple concepts to understand, but yet I think profound as a foundation for our lives understanding and realizing and keeping at the forefront of our lives, the solidarity that Jesus embraced with us to show us a better way.

 

Jesus gets you. Jesus is with you. You can trust Jesus. This week is going to be a bit different from most of our Sunday morning sermons. I'm going to share with you from a verse that is going to be my guiding verse for 2024, and then we're going to do an interview with one of our own and then I'm going to give an introduction to the sermon series that will start next week. So first thing verse for the year, to be honest with you, this as far as I can remember is the first year that I have ever selected a verse for the year or in the new year selected a verse that I was going to sort of hold as the banner for whatever the next year it was. I've never really made that a tradition, but late in 2000 December of 2023, I was reading through Titus actually a conversation from Jeremy and myself where I was saying, I don't know that I've ever really preached a sermon using the book of Titus.

 

And so I sat down and actually later on that day and read through the Book of Titus just as a reminder, and I came across this verse in chapter two and I thought, well being that the new year is approaching, if this next year this verse could be the theme of my life, it would be a good year. And so I wanted to share that with you. We actually read this verse at the end of last week's gathering, but I want to read it to you and I want to read it from the message translation and then we'll talk briefly about it. Here's what it says in Titus chapter two verses 11 through 14, God's readiness to give and forgive is now public salvation's available for everyone. We are being shown how to turn our backs on a godless indulgent life and how to take on a God filled God honoring life.

 

This new life is starting right now and it's wetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior Jesus Christ appears, he offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark rebellious life into this good pure life making us a people he can be proud of, energetic to energetic in goodness. The NIV translation says, eager to do good works. Just thinking through some of the main points of this scripture, I want my life in 2024 to be characterized first and foremost by turning my back on the patterns of brokenness. Oftentimes, the pattern of brokenness can be sort of the defining realities of the world. We look at the world and we see brokenness and we see how the world continues to work and the power people gain power and influence and how they yield power and influence or wield power and influence and the ways of brokenness can become the defining realities.

 

But as we have said before, I want to be a person who looks on scrutiny, who looks with scrutiny on the patterns of brokenness and sees the way of Jesus as the defining reality or as the standard procedure. I want to trust that what Jesus said is the truth and that any narrative that competes with the way of Jesus will ultimately end up in brokenness. I want to live a life in 2024 with a deep hunger for Jesus to be revealed in both my life and in the world around me. I want to live a life in 2024 that seeks to rely and trust fully on God's grace and I want to live a life in 2024 that is energetic in goodness. Not only do I desire this for myself as a person, but I desire this too for our church, for our community of faith.

 

Imagine how great it would be if at the end of 2024 we described journey in this way. Those people really trust Jesus. They possess an extravagant generosity and hospitality giving without ever expectation of return, being hospitable without any expectation of return. When you interact with the people of journey, there is a joy and a peace that radiates through them even when things in their lives aren't going great. There is just a peace that doesn't quite make sense, but you can see it in their lives. They aren't worried about doing anything perfect, but they are totally relying on God's grace, the journey. People, they don't just serve in their neighborhood, but they are energetic about doing good. It simply radiates from them.

 

The reason why I desire for journey to be this type of community is because there are people in our neighborhood who whether they realize it or not, whether they are able to express it or not, whether it is on their radar or not, people who need a community such as this and can simultaneously contribute to a community such as this. With that all in mind, I want to invite one of our own forward so that he can illustrate this for us in real life. I'm going to ask Jesse, if you'll go ahead and come on up this way, and as he's coming, I'm going to give you a little bit of context for this conversation. Jesse came to our church on December 25th, 2022. If you don't remember what happened on December 25th, 2022, it was Christmas day and Jesse walked in our doors. I remember that it was on Christmas day when we were planning for Christmas season in 2022, we realized that Christmas was going to be on Sunday and we had a conversation with our leadership team if we were going to have our service or if we were going to do something different.

 

And one of our leaders, Ms. Amali, made a declaration in that meeting. She said, if we have a gathering, someone will come who is looking for a place to worship? And I have since then understood that that was a bit of a prophetic proclamation because that's someone who came, was Jesse and I. Like many of you connected pretty quickly with Jesse. We're about the same age. We've both given up on the Cowboys, although I hate to admit it, I tried with everything that I could to resist, but they sucked me back in this year. But what really drew me to Jesse is that from the start, he was one of the most honest and resilient persons that I have met. It hasn't been all roses since that day, but I am really proud to know Jesse and to have him here a journey and to consider him a friend.
So I wanted this morning for him to share a bit about all of the good things that God has been doing in his life, how he has been contributing to this community, and how this community has been a blessing for him. I'm going to give you this mic. It is hot and ready to go. Why don't you come stand over here so everybody can see your beautiful face in the light. Alright, so I'm going to, just going to ask Jesse a couple of questions and let him respond to this. But as we've said, you have been here for about a year now, a little over a year. Do you remember what it was that led you to come to Journey on Christmas Day in 2022?

 

Jesse:

Well, I don't exactly remember what it was. All I know was I was looking for a place to come to church. I had been going to the Catholic church and there wasn't one anywhere around that I fit in. So I kept seeing this place. So I just decided to walk through the door and I was greeted with open arms and I've been here ever since.

 

Pastor Jonathan:

That's great. Simple is good. Simple is good. So over the past year you have had a tremendous amount of growth in your life. How has being surrounded by this community blessed you in your personal journey this last year?


Jesse:
It's blessed me in a lot of ways. It helped me to realize that Jesus is present. It helped me to learn to live in the present. This place has been more personal to me than any other church I've ever attended. And everybody knows me on a first name basis as a small congregation and not everybody knows, but I went through a pretty bad addiction throughout my life and Pastor Jonathan here helped me to get over this addiction with positive words, positive reinforcement, and for once in my life through this community, I was able to realize that putting my trust in God does work. I've never done it before. I try to rely on my own smarts, my own wits or whatever you want to call it. And it just didn't work out for me obviously, and putting all my trust in Jesus and in God, it's really changed everything. I just do the next right thing for the next right reason and everything else falls in place.

 

Pastor Jonathan:
Yeah, so good, so good. Out of all of the things that you have accomplished over the last year, and we'd be here for a while if we talked about them all, but what's the one thing that you are most grateful for?

 

Jesse:

I'm grateful for Jesus' presence in my life and for all the help he's given me for not giving up on me and for this community as well.

 

Pastor Jonathan:

That's good. That's good. Alright, so we know that all of us face difficulties when we decide to follow Jesus. It does not mean that everything is going to work out the way that we want it to. So for those whose life is heavy, maybe they're in a season where life is just a bit difficult. What is one thing that you can share with them from your story to help them not give up hope?

 

Jesse:

Well, like I said, don't give up the faith. Just keep the faith and everything will fall in place. Just trust God. That's all you have to do. That's it.

 

Pastor Jonathan:

Yeah, very good. Sometimes the simple answer is the best answer. Yeah. Yeah. Jesse, we love you so much and are so grateful for your presence here. You have been an inspiration to me and I'm so thankful that our doors were opened thanks to a bit of a prophetic vision and that you came through it and changed a journey for the better forever. Thank you so much for that and thank you for sharing with us this morning.

 

Jesse:

I love you too.

 

Pastor Jonathan:

 

As I said earlier, there are people in our neighborhood, in our backyard, whether they realize it or not, whether it's on their radar or not, whether they ever walk through these doors or not. People who need a community such as this and who can bless a community such as this. And so that is why we do what we do. So earlier, Jeremy read John one, chapter 43, or sorry, verse 43 through 50. And actually I've studied this passage for a couple of weeks now and there was a verse in there that captured my attention today that I have read obviously, but not really thought about. So I wanted to read that and then we'll get back to what all my studying led me to. But in verse 44, or sorry 45, it says this, Philip found Nathaniel and told him. So Philip is talking to Nathaniel and he tells him, we have found the one Moses wrote about in the law.

 

Again, going back to what we have been talking about here at Journey, that since the beginning Jesus's way has always been the way. The way that Moses wrote about in the law was the way of Jesus, whether it was fully fleshed out in the life of Jesus or not. But if you continue in this passage, we read about Philip and Nathaniel being called by Jesus to come and follow him. And if you zoom out a little bit from this particular section of scripture, there is several other instances where people proclaim Jesus as Lord and his response to them is come and follow. Now that you see that I am who I have proclaimed to be, come and follow me. So before Philip and Nathaniel, we read about John the Baptist and he is with some of his closest followers. He looks at Jesus, looks to Jesus and tells his disciples the Jesus is the Lamb of God.

 

One of the two that John tells this to, his name is Andrew had a brother who is formerly known as Simon, and Andrew told his brother, we have found the Messiah. And so then Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus and Jesus said to him in John 1 42, he said, you are Simon son of John. Oh, sorry, I got too antsy. There you are Simon, son of John, you will be called CFUs, which is translated Peter. So there's a lot is going on in these few verses, but I want to point out just one thing in particular. Well, we don't always consider this in our understanding of who Jesus is, especially in the very beginning of Jesus's ministry. When he came about, he was a rabbi and a spiritual teacher amongst many rabbis and spiritual teachers. Now of course, he was always unique in that he was Jesus the son of God, but it took time for everyone to trust and understand this.

 

So Jesus was a rabbi and a spiritual teacher for these individuals. He was a leader and spiritual teachers and leaders have disciples. Now, when we think about the disciples, sometimes, at least for me, I think of the term disciples as sort of the name of their group, right? There were these 12 or so people and they were called the disciples like we are called Journey, or your favorite band is called the Foxy, morons or Aerosmith. But the disciples is not the name of their group. It's actually a descriptive term. They were Jesus' disciples. When you hear the term disciple, I imagine that for if you're like me, then you think of that term in the religious context. But actually that term comes from the philosophers. Socrates and Plato and the ancient Jewish rabbis adopt their understanding and their philosophies about what does it mean to learn from someone to be a disciple of someone. They borrowed that in their formation of one another. The concept of a disciple is one who is an apprentice. Under a master, like you would apprentice under someone to learn anything you apprentice under the spiritual teacher or a rabbi in order to learn from them to learn their habits, their teachings, their priorities, their skills, and then to seek to emulate them to do what they do.

 

So when Andrew says to Jesus in John one verse 38, rabbi, which means teacher, where are you staying? Andrew is in a sense asking Jesus if he can be his apprentice. He wants to remain with Jesus, to be with Jesus, to stay with Jesus, to go with Jesus, for Jesus, to be his rabbi, to follow him, to learn his habits, his teaching, his priorities, his skills, and to do what Jesus did. In response to Andrew's prompting of Jesus, Jesus says to him, come and you will see, and I love what it says next. It says, so they went and they saw where he was staying and they spent that day with him.


Jesus, we want you to be our rabbi and we want to be your apprentice. Jesus says, come and spend the day with me. Come and go with me and watch what I do. This is the invitation that Jesus offered to his first followers, and it's the invitation that He offers to us as well. It is a beautiful invite to all of us to come and to simply spend the day with Jesus. At Journey. We say that we want to be a community of people following the way of Jesus and learning to be present. By the way, Jesse, you get an attaboy because you said all the right things earlier when we were talking about what does it mean to be a part of journey. He said that very thing we aspire to be people who never take for granted are never unresponsive, and who are constantly awakening to new wonders of God's goodness.

 

We say that we want to be people who leverage our abilities and influence and resources to bless our neighbors. We say that we want the fruit of the spirit to be the fruit of our lives, and all of this amounts to proclaiming what we believe it means to apprentice under the way of Jesus, to be who Jesus desires for us to be. And so we take all of that and sort of boil it down to its most simple form, the most simple form that we have come across to understand what does it truly mean to be Jesus's apprentice? And it boils down to this, for us to be present with Jesus and to be shaped by Jesus, to do what Jesus did. So over the next few weeks, this is what we are going to spend our time covering, and the thing that I'm most excited about is that we're going to get to hear this from unique perspectives.


We have three different people who are going to share their understanding of each of these things, to be present with Jesus, to be shaped by Jesus, to do what Jesus did. So I wanted to offer that introduction of what does it mean to be a disciple? What does it mean to apprentice under Jesus? To learn what Jesus taught, to see His skill, his abilities, how he used his influence and resources to bless his neighbor and to emulate that and all for the purpose of us doing the same. So as we bring today to a conclusion, I want to invite us to pray this simple prayer. Come Holy Spirit, lead me to be an apprentice of Jesus. Come Holy Spirit, lead me to be an apprentice of Jesus. I'm going to take just a few moments as we draw to an end here and give you an opportunity to just spend a little bit of time with Jesus in your seat you desire. You can come over to our prayer corner, spend some time in prayer there, but just as time simply to say, Jesus, we want to be your apprentice. Take a few moments, maybe take a few deep breaths and offer that as a prayer today.

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