January 29 // ReEngage week 4

Allen Jessee - 1/29/2023

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- Well hey everybody man, I wanna welcome you here. And every time I see a video like this with some of our young people, we have so many incredible young people at every location. You know what that does for me that helps me to know the future of our church is in good hands. We have just some amazing young people. Smith girls, they don't come any better than that. I wonder sometimes about their daddy. I hear he's a Dallas Cowboys football fan and that concerns me a little bit. But anyway, man, the rest of that family, they're top notch. Well, hey, if you missed last week, you won't really know what I'm talking about. But this past week I got so many dog pictures and a lot of them were actually smoking dogs. Okay? So you'd have to go back and catch up with me, but I wanna share one with you. This is from our worship leader down in our Bristol location. It's Bethany Martin and John's two schnauzer pups. And she sent me this picture and you may not be able to tell, but I think they're really cigarettes that they're smoking, but she says they're pumpkin teething sticks. So whatever Bethany, you know, makes you feel better, I'm okay with that. But anyway, thanks for all the feedback that I've been getting over this past series. Been incredible. You guys are amazing. Actually, hundreds of you have already shared with me that this series has resonated with you and you are part of those folks that desire to ReEngage. So you received an email from me this past week and I'm so thankful to report to you that many of you decided to actually not only belong at Highlands, but to go deeper, take another step in your Christian journey and join and become a member here at our church. So welcome, thank you for doing that. And today I'm gonna continue to sort of challenge you to do that. This series, and as we approach 2023, has really caused some excitement in our church. I think when we talk about mission, it creates passion. Passion creates momentum. Momentum is our friend. And so at every one of our locations and those of you that watch online and on TV each week seems like God is unlocking something within you that is basically calling you for more. And that's exciting to me because I think it resonates that we're hearing from God, that we're exactly teaching on what we need to teach on, and that we will be able to see who really is with us, who's really on the team, who's joining the movement as we move forward to change our local communities, our region, and literally around the world. So let me remind you about our mission. Our mission that we started 2023 with is, I want all of you to know this, all right? I want us to all be on the same page. So the reason why we exist, our mission at Highlands is we exist to help people experience life with Jesus. We are a people of truth and love. We are a place to belong. And we are a church with purpose. Now here's what we know. Every human being desires truth, we all desire a place to belong. And every one of us, we want a life with purpose. And we know that these needs, these basic human needs. They're only meant through Jesus. He's the only one that can give us truth. He is truth. He's the only one that can give us a belonging to his family and he's the only one who can give us true life with purpose. Now, over the last couple of weeks we've talked about how our church is unapologetically, we teach the truth, the word of God, and we do that in love. Last week we talked about this idea of honestly, we're a family. We call Highlands home and we want you not only to belong, 'cause everybody can belong, right? I mean, doesn't really matter where you are on your spiritual journey. We want to create an atmosphere whether you're online or in person where you feel like you're valued, you're cared for, you belong. But you know, really as we become followers of Jesus, he challenges us to go deeper with him. And in the church, in the local church setting, that's a step for us to decide. This is the place God's called me, this is the place I want to drop the anchor and actually become a member of a local church. And when you do that, then obviously from our end, we can care for you in such a greater way because we know you, we see you, we engage with you, and you engage with us. We all go after the same kind of goals and purpose and it pretty is neat what God is doing. So today is a great day for you to ReEngage with our church. And I would say whether you've been here for decades or whether you're brand new, this is a day to say, you know what, I'm gonna take the challenge. I'm gonna join the movement. And I'm gonna do that. I hope you will. Now, there's a lot of talk today in our modern culture about purpose. Today I wanna wrap up the series and I want to talk to you about purpose in your individual life. And I want to talk to you about the purpose within our church. And when you start talking about this word purpose, I mean my goodness, you know, you go to a bookstore and there are shelves of books that have been written on how to know and how to find your purpose. Everyone that I talked to today, especially after coming through the pandemic, is sort of refocusing, recalibrating, if you will, about their purpose in life, his or her purpose in life. Now, as followers of Jesus, we really think about purpose in a whole different way than the rest of the world thinks about purpose. Now I want you to sort of gather in, I want you to listen to me on this 'cause this is really important for us as followers of Jesus. Now why is this? Why do we as followers of Jesus, why do we look at purpose differently? Well, because not only are we looking at purpose for this life, we're looking at purpose for all eternity. And that is a huge game changer. So today I want to connect this idea of purpose. Our purpose as a church, our purpose as individuals with the word sent. Jesus says, we are sent ones that is a follower of Christ. We've actually been sent and our sending identifies our purpose. Now we find this scripture in John, Chapter 20, again, fascinating passage of scripture for me to teach on. And John, Chapter 20, actually resonates a lot with the purpose that God has given to us as individuals and as a church. And a little background on this particular passage here. This is a post resurrection passage of Jesus. Alright, so this is the first Sunday after his resurrection. Now try to put your mindset in what was going through the disciples minds first Sunday after the resurrection. Alright, think about this. So here we find John, Chapter 20. Let's read together. "On the evening of that first day of the week when the disciples were together with the doors locked." That's interesting. "With the doors locked for fear of Jewish leaders, Jesus came." And it basically alludes to he didn't come through the door, alright? He just shows up. "Jesus came and stood among them." And these are the first words now after the resurrection that Jesus says to his disciples, and he says, "Peace be with you." My, I love that, don't you? And after he said this, he shows them his hands and his side. You remember he was speared with a sword in his side and the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. And again, Jesus said, "Peace be with you." He wants them to get this truth. "As the Father has sent me. I am sending you." Now this is a really important phrase that Jesus gives to his disciples, as the Father has sent me now, alright, I am sending you. And with that, he breathed on them and he said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven. And if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." There's a lot to talk about in this passage, but let's try to break this down. So again, just take yourself back. This is, you know, very quickly after the resurrection, and Jesus comes where the disciples are locked in this room. And can you just put yourself in the mode, in the mindset of what those disciples are feeling. I mean, think about this. They had watched Jesus, their savior, their Lord, just a few days earlier, they had watched him be falsely accused. They had watched him be beaten with the cat of nine tails almost beyond recognition. They had watched him on that gruesome and horrible death as he was nailed to the cross. They had seen all this and that had to rock them, right? I mean, they had given their life, they had given up their professions, their jobs. I mean, and they had been following him. They had been with him day and night for almost three years. And they just seen this horrible, gruesome death of the one that they had pledged their life and their obedience to. And they're fearful, now we'd be fearful too. They're actually fearful. The scripture says that what happened to Jesus, they're thinking is eventually about to happen to them. I mean, that's what they're thinking. Now we assume that they knew the tomb was empty, but somehow because of all the things they had been through, they just hadn't been able to put the pieces together and to experience any kind of joy up until this occasion that Jesus appears to them. And the reason we think they knew the tomb was empty, at least Peter and John did. Because remember they went to the tomb and they saw that it was empty. And now here they are, the 11, Judas of course is not in the room, and they're locked in this room and they are all in this stage of fear for their life. And Jesus appears to them in his resurrected body. They recognize that as Jesus eventually. And his first words, "Peace be with you. Peace be with you." Knowing their fear, he wants to try to help him here. And he says, "Guys, peace be with you." And the scripture says, and I don't know, you know, I mean you just have to sort of put yourself in that room, in that setting. Maybe they had seen an empty tomb, but they had not realized that he had resurrected, that he was among the living, these kinds of things. Maybe they thought he was still off the planet in some place. But they see him, they recognize him, he says, "Peace be with you." And all of a sudden their fear turns to joy. And it's just very quickly their fear turns to joy. And I don't know about you, but I love how Jesus, and he's the only one who can do this, actually can change our disposition from being completely full of fear to just by the words that he says, to being full of joy. And I would just say over these past few weeks, so many of you have emailed me and you said, man, I appreciate the challenge. I know I need to get reengaged. And so many of you have shared with me that you're struggling and a lot of you are struggling emotionally. And so many of you have said, you know, Al, I just have so much stress and anxiety. I just want to give you some words of encouragement today that if you will see like these disciples, that Jesus is with you. And what Jesus would say to you in your fear and your anxiety is the same thing that he says to these disciples who were fearful they were gonna lose their life. Peace be with you. He gives peace. It's incredible peace that the world will never understand, but is true lasting peace. And then he doesn't, you know, he doesn't allow the disciples sort of wallow in their grief and wallow in their pity and wallow in all the things they were thinking about within their fear. He basically goes straight to purpose. And this is what he says, as the Father has sent me today, right now in this moment I'm sending you. And then the scripture says, he does something rather unusual. He breathes on them and he says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Now, honestly, that brings a host of questions for us, right? Because if you've read the Bible, you know that when the Holy Spirit comes, was actually at Pentecost, that the early church, as Peter is preaching, the scripture says the Holy Spirit descended in tongues of fire. And 3000 people, 3000 men got saved that day. But it was incredible. I mean it was this outpouring of this movement, this powerful demonstration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. And it was crazy. And people came to know Jesus by the droves that day. So what's happening here, and this is before this. Well, most theologians believe that Jesus is giving his disciples this inner core, a glimpse of what is gonna happen at Pentecost. And what he's doing for these guys here is he was sending them, but he is also empowering them with the Holy Spirit. So he makes this comment in verse 23 because he wants them to know how and where he is sending them. Now I'm sending you and here's what you're to do. And this is true for us, alright? This is what he says, verse 23. And you gotta catch the meaning of this. "If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." Which is an amazing statement of authority that he gives these disciples. Now he says, "Guys, empowered by the spirit, if you go and if you preach the gospel to people and you guys say to them, your sins have been forgiven because of the finished work on the Christ, on the cross of Jesus." What Jesus is actually saying then is that it's a fact. You can actually go in my name and you can share the gospel and you can declare that a person's sins are forgiven. Now real quick, he's not saying that these disciples, neither do we have the power to forgive. Stay with me here. We don't have the power to forgive people's sins before holy God. But what he is saying is this, and I want you to catch this, because if you're a follower of Jesus, this is for you. He says, "Guys, if you preach the gospel, if you share the gospel, if you share the good news and someone you share the gospel with repents of their sin, puts their faith in Jesus and believes that Jesus is the son of God, he died on the cross, he saved them from their sin and they trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, when they understand the gospel's story, they can truly be forgiven." It's amazing. He gives the power, the authority to all his followers. And he says, "You go in my name and as you go in my name, and as you share the gospel, when someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ, their sins are forgiven. You can declare that as fact." And equally, if you've never put your faith in Jesus Christ and you refuse when you hear the gospel, then we can declare, and those disciples did declare that their sins, those folks sins were not forgiven, they had not been forgiven. And Jesus sends those disciples out for that purpose. That's the reason we're here today. Alright? They didn't fumble, they didn't drop the ball. I mean they took the message of Jesus. They agreed they had been sent on this mission, it was their purpose. And many of them, as you know, gave their very lives sharing the gospel. So the purpose is still the same, the mission is still the same. It is to share the gospel. It is to shout that forgiveness is available from our sins through the person of Jesus Christ. And I remind you what Jesus says "As the Father has sent me. So I am sending you." Now, we don't talk about this much because we think, well that's a job of pastors and church staff and those kind of things, but I'm a follower of Jesus. But that he's not, surely he's not sending me out to share my faith story. 'Cause we know that statistically only about 2% of believers in Jesus ever share their faith with a non-believer. So we've sort of come to the conclusion in the church that that's the pastor's job. That's not the average follower of Jesus' job to be sent on mission for Jesus. But I would declare to you that just like those disciples, they weren't pastors, alright? Some of them became pastors. They were just ordinary people. But make no mistake about it, Jesus was saying, "As a follower of mine, you're being sent." So here's what I would say, we can't really understand how we've been sent until we understand how God sent Jesus. And I think when we sort of understand that on how God sent his son, then we can begin to better understand how he is sending us. So what did it mean for Jesus to be sent? Have you ever thought about this? I mean, this is sort of, as I was working on this series, I don't know that I've thought about it that much, but it took me back to think about, have you ever thought about his identity? When God sent Jesus? I mean, Jesus lived with a constant awareness that he had been sent to accomplish his father's will. And he never veered from that. In John 1:18, it says, "No one has ever seen God, but the one and only son in Jesus, who is himself God, and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known." In other words, what's he saying? He's saying, if you've seen Christ, you've seen God. So Jesus had come to reveal God to a lost world. And that through his death, the world in our lostness could be reconciled to a holy God. That is the identity of Jesus. That is the reason He was sent from heaven to the cross. Because we were broken. We had no way of forgiving our own sin. And Jesus became the perfect sacrifice so that we could find forgiveness and acceptance in a holy God. We could become like last week, part of the family for all eternity. What about his intentionality in this? Ha have you thought about how Jesus was just intentional in his purpose? Jesus, he made the first move to us. That's humbling, isn't it? I mean, he made the first move to come and to be with us in his intentionality. Philippians Chapter Two is amazing passage that Paul reveals through the Holy Spirit to us about how Jesus took on this form of human and God. And he says, "Who being in the very nature God yet did not consider him equality with God. Something to be used for his own advantage. Rather, think about this, Jesus, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." A baby, right? "And being found in appearance as a man. Jesus, God, he humbled himself and he became obedient even to death." He didn't have to die. I mean, he could have called what? What's that old song? 10,000 Angels to rescue Him. No, he humbled Himself and he became like us to the point of even death on a cross. What was he doing? He came so that he could rescue us. We've been rescued by Jesus. He was the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. He was extremely intentional in his coming. Now, I think thirdly, his compassion. You know, when Jesus came, I mean he was born like one of us. That's the reason so many people missed him. They weren't expecting Jesus to be born in Bethlehem in a, you know, a little feeding trough in a barn. They were expecting the king, right? I mean, that's the king that they would, it was gonna be an influential king. It was gonna be somebody. There was no doubt. This is who he is. And he comes in this humble form, born like one of us. And his whole time while he was here, you know, Jesus, he had such compassion, meaning he helped people, he healed people, he fed 5,000 people at one time. He helped those who were lame. He gave sight to the blind. You know what, when you studied Jesus, the reason that maybe you've been hurt in the church, but I wanna tell you something, just clinging to Jesus, cling to Jesus. Don't deconstruct from Jesus. That's a horrible thing, because Jesus Christ loves you. He came and he rescued you. He gave his life for you. And when you study Jesus, he had incredible compassion. And then ultimately his sending was his sacrifice, it was his sacrifice. His love was not talk. He died on a cross for us. A lot of times we can talk a good game, not Jesus. He fulfilled the intention His father sent him. In Romans 5:8, one of the greatest verses in all scripture for us says, God demonstrates his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. You know, when you look at the cross, I mean, you've gotta see the love of God. No one has loved us like Jesus. So, I mean, we could talk about lots of other things about the character of Jesus in his sending, but when God sent Jesus, he stayed focused on his purpose. And I think that really helps us to know that now Jesus fulfilled his purpose, right? And we now, he says, we've been sent by Jesus. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, you have been called to be on mission. You have a purpose. And often we miss this. We just don't think, wait a minute, you know, I feel like I've been forgiven of my sin. You know, I want to go to heaven when I die, but I gotta do something, again, we don't wanna be bobble-headed Christians, right? I mean, we want to know, but we want to put our feet to action. This is the reason that you're saved. If you would've just been saved, so heaven would be your home, then as soon as you got saved, you know, he'd probably taken us to heaven. No, he's left us here in this muck, in this lost world, so that as we've been rescued, we can rescue others. We've been sent, how are we sent? Well, I think two or three things. Our purpose is God's mission to see people saved and experience life with Jesus. I mean, that's the reason that we're here. Now, I know you have jobs and I know you got families. I know as followers of Jesus, you've got all these other things that take up so much time and so much of our thought processes. But I wanna help you to understand from God's perspective today, our purpose, and the reason he has left us here as a follower of Jesus is we're on a mission to see people saved. We're on a mission to see people experience life with Jesus. And this is important to our core. Jesus sent us out because we have the cure, right? And we have the cure. And the cure is Jesus. It's the good news of salvation. And that's so important. We are sent ones today. We have to move, we have to go, we have to take ground. Secondly, we have to understand God's purpose will cost us. And sometimes I think we make salvation really easy, and you know, Jesus made it in such that a child can understand. But sometimes I think we should probably take it another step and say, now, if you decide that you're gonna commit your life to Jesus, you're gonna become a follower of Jesus. I want you to understand it's gonna cost you. Because in so many circles today, it's as if, if you give your life to Jesus, oh man, that's no problems. Heaven on Earth. And those of you that have been following him for a while, you know, it's not Heaven on Earth. There's a cost. You know what I've learned? And I've been doing this, you know, for a long time as a profession, you know, I feel like God called me. But it is hard to share the gospel with a friend that's lost. I mean, let's just be honest. It is. And we have all these things that fight against us and we think, oh, you're gonna do that. Well, it's a private matter. You're gonna do that. Is that really your business? You know, it's just difficult to actually go and share the gospel with a neighbor. God's created this passion, this heart, this purpose within you. But you know, for some of you it might, you need to go on a mission trip. You need to go to a third world country. You need to take the gospel to some place that is off the beaten path. And we have opportunities for that here. You say, well, I could never do that. You mean I would've to give up my vacation to go on a mission trip? Yeah, that's what I'm saying. There's a cost to following Jesus. And since you're a follower of Jesus, is there any cost involved in your following of Jesus? I would just say it's not always easy to be God's light in a dark world that's getting darker by the moment. There's a cost. But the third thing I would say is God's purpose is so worth it. I mean it, there is nothing that compares, when you finally get over you and what people are thinking about you. And you realize you're not God and life is not about you. And you've been saved for more than just you and your puny little earthly existence. And you get over your pride and your ego and you decide, you know what, I don't care, that you're gonna live for an audience of one. And it is gonna be the God who rescued you by sending his most prized possession to die on a cross for you. Nobody has loved you like God loves you. And you just decide, you know what? I'm sick and tired of always trying to be peaceable and trying to be say the right thing. Never have any confrontation. Never go against things that I know are totally wrong because I don't wanna break this or break down a relationship and you decide, you know, I gotta stand for Jesus. I'm telling you, we've been so fortunate in America that we haven't had any darts thrown at us for so many years. They're coming. They are. And I would just say, where are you? Are you willing to take a stand for the one who gave all for you? You have been sent. That's the purpose. That's the mission that we all have to experience, help people experience life with Jesus. So again, I just wanna challenge you. Would you ReEngage with us, would you join this movement that we believe is extremely exciting right now as God has given us so many opportunities around our local communities, our region, literally around the world? Man, I don't know about you, but I wanna be a part of a movement that is bigger than me, bigger than myself. I wanna be a part of a movement where I see God working and moving and people's hearts and lives being changed, people coming to faith in Christ. I wanna be a part of that. I want you to be a part of it. And so I just wanna encourage you, man, go to the website, sign up, join. You're gonna say, I know I belong. But today I want to take it a step farther. I want to actually join, become a member at Highlands Fellowship and new collective. And man, I want to be God's agent being sent around the world, fulfilling the purpose that he's called me to do. Hey, would you pray with me, let's pray. God, thank you so much for this series where we've looked explicitly about the call that you've placed on all of us as followers of Jesus. No doubt when God sent Jesus and he looked at his disciples after his resurrection, he said, now guys, I'm sending you. And they went and there was a cost involved, but it was so worth it. We're all here today. The church, billions of people around this world have denied themselves, repented of their sins and trusted Jesus Christ. And God, I want nothing more than for our church to take new ground, to be a light in the darkness in a world that is getting darker by the moment. We'll do that by sharing truth and love. God, we will create a place to belong. And Lord, we will move forward with the purpose of helping people experience life with you every day in our workplaces, in our dormitories. In our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our region, and around the world. May we take ground for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lord, if there's one here today that's never trusted you, I pray today at least some seeds have been planted in that person's life. Scripture says, today is the day of salvation. We all need a savior. And until we deny ourselves and trust you, we'll never be able to experience life like you desire for us to experience it with you. And so right now, if you're on TV or you're online or you're one of our in-person gatherings and you want to trust Jesus, just say, "Lord, today I do repent of my sin. I ask you to come into my life. I ask you to save me, Jesus." And God I pray right now as I surrender my life to you, that I commit to being sent from this day forward to help others experience what I've just experienced, the forgiveness and the liberty that we have in Jesus, whom the sun sets free is free indeed. If you prayed that prayer, man, let us know. Click that little raise hand button. Let somebody know at one of our in-person locations, and for the rest of us that know you, Jesus, may we understand we have been sent. May we go into this world helping people experience life with you. Trust you'll do that in Jesus' name. Amen.

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