A Year of Seed

Pastor Deone Drake - December 27, 2015

God's Word is planted in our hearts each and every time we gather together as a congregation. Looking back on this year, we realize just how faithful He has been in teaching us. We want to remember what God has shown us so that we can obey Him going forward.

Community Group Study Notes

  • One thing God taught me in 2015: ____
  • How I'll live differently in 2016 as a result: ____


Memory Verse

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:18

Sermon Transcript

So, perhaps that video that you just watched reminded you of a parable that Jesus told, probably one of the most familiar ones that he told. Certainly the first one that Matthew tells us that he told, the parable of the sower.

So, a farmer went out to sow his seed. Now he probably had a burlap bag around his shoulder, much like a paperboy would have delivering his Buffalo News to your home. Filled with seed, he would take out some seed, and he would begin to swing his arms left to right and right to left releasing the seed. Now you gotta' know something about the terrain in which Jesus is speaking. Israel is very, very tough ground. I've been to Israel and it's not really an exaggeration to say, I probably did not take two steps consecutively on level ground. So if the seed is thrown so indiscriminately, it is going to land on different kinds of soil.

And the best way to understand this parable is that the seed, it represents the word of God as it goes out. The places that it lands represents the soil or the heart of the person who's receiving the soil. So Jesus said, as the farmer scattered his seed, some of it landed on a path. Now you know how a path is created. Lots of feet trampling a particular ground. And when you throw out seed, if you've ever tried to plant grass you know this, the seed just stays on top of the soil, and birds come and take it away. And Jesus says, this represents the activity of the enemy. And because of the condition of some of our hearts, the seed just stays on top - it never penetrates the soil, and the enemy comes and snatches it away. Sometimes before we get out of the parking lot. Let me tell you something, Satan has absolutely no problem when you hear a great message on Sunday, provided he can get you to do absolutely nothing with it. That's the seed that lands on the path.

Then he says some seed lands on rocky places, and because it lands on rocky places it springs up very quickly but because it has no root, the sun scorches it and it withers away. And Jesus says, this represents the heart that hears the word, gets excited about it - might even post this afternoon on Facebook, wasn't that a great message. But trouble comes, difficulties come, and you default to the old pattern, and the word, the seed has no change in your life.

Then he said some seed gets scattered on thorns, maybe a better word for our understanding, falls among weeds. And if you tried to grow your special flower in your garden, you know that when weeds get there, they choke out the life of that thing that you really want to see. And Jesus says, this is the soil, this is the heart. When the seed is planted, there's competitors to the word. Maybe some misplaced priorities. Maybe some life decisions that cause the word to have no effect.

And then finally, the seed does fall on good soil, fertile soil, rich in nutrients, ready to receive the word - the seed - and because of it, it bears much fruit. And Jesus says, this relates to the person who hears the word with an active ear, understands it, and puts it into practice.

Now, what's interesting in this parable is that Jesus is teaching us something really important. The issue is not the quality of the seed; the issue is the condition of the soil. The issue is not the message that you hear Sunday by Sunday. The issue is the condition of your heart. And I can say that starting off, that you and I have been privileged Sunday by Sunday, to hear wonderful truth communicated by a multiple of communicators. Watch.

[Pastor Leroy Wiggins:]
We talk about it here really, really all the time about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and you should be able to just spout that off after a year of the Discipleship Resource, but being a disciple is daily following Jesus and compelling others to do the same. That's great for the compelling part, but if you and I aren't daily following Jesus Christ, it's awfully, awfully hard to compel someone to do something that you and I are not doing ourselves. So our Christ-likeness is directly related to our Christ-nearness.

[Jay Perillo:]
We misplace our affections so then good things become god things and then become a bad thing. Good things become a god thing, and then they become a bad thing. You see, our hearts, man they're just a factory for idols, aren't they? When we look at the Old Testament, we look at them and say, oh my gosh, look at the Israelites, I mean they experienced God, he set them free from the Egyptian empire, and it didn't take them long where they fashioned themselves a golden calf and started worshipping. And you're like, what are these people doing? You look at them and just laugh and say this is so primal, so stupid. Reality is, you and I do the very same thing. God blesses us with good things but then, and that's where we put all of our heart, that's where we put all of our affection, and it becomes an idol. And when good things become god things, then they become bad things.

[Ryan Kozey:]
If you were to ask me growing up where my confidence is found, here is the reality as I was walking in an understanding of what I thought I would inherit the kingdom with, it was not in Christ alone. Now I'm speaking from my own personal perspective. Baptism would have come to mind. Participating in the Holy Communion, so that I could now receive the Eucharist. Confession, believe it or not, I actually liked confession. I didn't like confessing you know, my sins necessarily, but there was an aspect of being ceremonially clean after confession. Okay? At least the sins I wanted to tell my monsignor, right? Now you don't tell them all, cuz' it's like, I don't want Father Moran to know that, you know? Confirmation, all right? Practicing for confirmation. Regular faithful participant in the sacrament of the Mass. That was, these were things that, I would not say Christ alone, I would throw these at you, and say that this is what makes me qualified for the Kingdom.

[Pastor Daryl Largis:]
And because he had no sin, the offering of himself satisfied everything. And so when we, by faith accept the grace that God has given, that he offered, that he explained, that he sent in the letter in flesh, we have a righteousness, a complete righteousness that doesn't go away. It's not because of what we did, it's because of who Christ is. That is an awesome letter. That is the letter God sent in the flesh and here's what it said. It said, dear world, I love you.

[Pastor Wes Aarum:]
But when I sit and think about this, when I realize this, when I realize the God of the universe, who needs nothing, has everything, looked at me, a messed up self-destructive sinner and sent his Son to pay for my sin so that he could make me his treasure, it'll change you. It'll change you from the inside out. Your behavior will change because your heart had changed. Cause any behavior that doesn't come from a heart change is only going to be superficial and temporary. But when your heart is changed, when God grabs ahold of your heart and you realize his truth, man you'll want to serve. Why? Cause you realize you're serving him. You'll want to serve others, cause you realize you're serving him. The one who served for you. The gospel is not about God telling us what we need to do; it's about God telling us what he's already done for us.

[Pastor Jerry Gillis:]
They nailed his feet, but he was not running. They nailed his hands, because he was not fighting. They pierced his side, but he would not turn his back on us. And they crowned him with a curse, so that we could be crowned with righteousness.

[Pastor Deone Drake:]
So you see, the issue is not the quality of the seed, there has been great seed tossed out on us, week by week by week. It's not the issue. The issue is the condition of your heart. Every educator knows that truth just learned up here is just theory. It has to be lived out. Go back to your math tables. Two times two is four. Two times three is six. Two times four is eight. But if you're 55 years old, and you can't balance your checkbook, that truth is just theory.

So, you and I have, week by week, learned if you will. We've heard great teaching. The issue is how has it landed in your heart, and has it made a difference. You see, you really haven't learned something until you've lived it out.

So, this past couple of weeks I was given the assignment to go back through this year. I can't even imagine if I did not have a journal in front of me taking notes as I do Sunday by Sunday, where I would go and all this is, is just samples. Just to give you some questions to remind yourself of some of the things that God has taught us. And if you've been here, you've heard these, and maybe you're hearing them today for the first time. It still doesn't matter. The issue is this. What kind of soil is it going to land on?

So, I'm going to give you five questions this morning, and they're all going to start off with this: have we learned? Meaning, as you heard them or as you are hearing them, are you living them out? Here's the first: Have we learned to be a family member and not a consumer? Have we learned to be a family member and not a consumer?

I'm not sure if this is your experience. Fortunately it wasn't mine, but at Christmas time, you're gathered around a big giant table with all your family having this great meal, and the meal is over and it's time for clean-up. And there's always a family member who disappears. Right? And they got like this sixth sense, they know when the clean-up is over, because they appear again. I guess you know what it's like. That's not family. And so week by week we sit here and we enjoy a great meal together. The seed is tossed out and we enjoy this great meal. And some who have been here a while - between Sundays, they disappear. That's not family. That's a consumer. We need this reminder, watch.

[Pastor Jerry Gillis:]
We need to understand it's not just about common cause, it's not just about common interest, it's about a common Father. This is ultimately what makes family, and here's the thing. Family is different than other things.

So, when you're having a family dinner, o.k. when I'm having a family dinner. When we sit down to the dinner table, before we get there, everyone actually has a job. So maybe I'm outside, my job is grilling the burgers. Right? I'm a master. Master. Master burger griller. So I'm out there grilling the burgers, right? Well, Edie's in there preparing all the sides and doing all that. Tanner has a job of getting the plates and setting them out. Trace has a job of preparing all the drinks and getting the ice in the drinks and all that stuff, and then we sit down together as a family and we all eat. And guess what?  When we're done eating, nobody just gets up from the table and is like, Dad, clean it up. Cuz' what happens is, Dad goes, you're now dead. No I don't. I don't kill anyone in my family. I don't think it's wise. They don't tell me what to do. We all clean our own stuff up. I go wash my plate off, I put it in the dishwasher. So does Edie, so does Trace, so does Tanner. They start picking up stuff like the ketchup and the mustard and all the stuff that's got to get put away and everybody's got a job. Why? Cuz' we're family. That's what families do.

When it comes to cleaning in the house, everybody's got a job. Right? Trace and Tanner have responsibility for cleaning their room, making their beds, doing some of those things and then some additional jobs, like taking the trash out every single Monday night. That's their job. They go and dump all the trash and they take all the trash out. It's great having two teenagers. Edie and I also clean, Edie more than me, but I still do some. I am an all-star vacuumer. That's what I do. That's what I bring to the table. I bring vacuuming to the party. I'm good at it. I make good lines. I make cool little shapes. I can do this thing. But we all have got something to do. It's very different, see? Why do we do that? Because we're family and that's what we do.

It's very different than going to a restaurant. Your family goes to a restaurant, you don't prepare any of the food. You don't clean up after yourself. You just eat and are served. Why? Because you're a consumer. It's very different than going to a hotel. You go to a hotel, you stay there and you don't clean up. You don't make up your own bed. You don't have to fold up anything. You don't even pick up pillows that were on the thing, you throw them off and you don't even pick them up. Why? Because you're a consumer.

Why do people treat this, not like family, but like a consumer. If you are family you've got a job to do. And it is not, this is not a restaurant or a hotel. You've got a job to do because this is family, this is what family does. You can clean up after yourself. So all of you people who leave all your worship folder and stuff just laying all over the place, there are actually people that stick around afterwards who volunteer to clean up after you. Do you know why? Cuz' you're not acting like family. {chuckles} Oh boy. I'm just sayin'. Listen, you come and you sit and you soak and you enjoy and you don't contribute anything. That's not family. That's a consumer, and that's the problem we have in the United States. That's the problem.

So when I talk to someone who says you know Jerry, you know, ahh, The Chapel just doesn't feel like family. Oh really? Let me ask you a couple of questions. Oh, sure. Of course they don't want these questions. Tell me where you're relationally connected in a small group Well, you know I really haven't had time. Okay, cool. Tell me where you're serving. Well, you know, I've just kind of busy. Okay, yeah. Tell me what you're giving. Well, yeah, that's really between me and the Lord. Which means nothing. Right? I understand, and I'm not asking for numbers, I'm just saying are you participating, you giving or whatever. Well that's just between me and... That's usually just a blah, blah, blah. I'm doing nothing, I just want to frame it somehow that makes me look better. Um, so here it is, right? I'm shocked that you don't feel like this is family when you actually contribute nothing, you're engaged with no one, and you make no investment. What? You don't feel like family? Are you for real? Right? This is not rocket science people. The church is family and we need to get over ourselves and understand what we need to do.

[Pastor Deone Drake:]
So I am not going to imitate him. Just so you know, I am not going to imitate him. So there's a second question I want to ask this morning. Have we learned to ask a better question? Many of us - because we live in a religious community - many of us grew up religious. And what religion is all about is the outside trying to conform to some kind of standard to make us look good. We're really good at knowing how to behave. How to conduct ourselves. And so we ask a question that's a good question, it's just not the best question. And the question we ask is tell me what the right thing to do is. Just like the Pharisees, the religious leaders in Jesus' day. Just tell me where the chalk line, mark the line, there's the line between right and wrong, and I'm not going to step over it. And what it causes us to be is really good people on the outside but it never touches the heart. I think Pastor Jonathon reminds us to ask a better question. Watch.

[Pastor Jonathan Drake:]
This is Paul speaking. As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you've received. As a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you, live a life that's worthy. I hear, I talk to a lot of Christians, a lot of believers and I hear some of the same things, the same questions. Is it a sin if I ... blank. Is it okay if I ...blank. Where's the line with this? How far is too far with that? And all of those questions - all of those questions - are good questions. What's right and what's wrong? But here's where they come up short. Those questions get at our behavior. So tell me what to do, tell me what not to do. Don't ask me to think about why that's important, just give me the checklist. Alright, give me the Christian checklist, and I will do it. I'll take it from here. That's the lie of religion that says you and I can even do that. That's the lie of religion.

But to be a part of the new community asks a different question, and I think a better question. And it's something I don't even hear anybody ever ask. I don't know that I've ever heard anyone talk about this. The better question to ask, according to Ephesians four verse one: What's the worthy thing to do? When was the last time you heard anyone ask that? What's the worthy thing to do? But Paul asks it. I urge you to live a life that's worthy of the calling you're received. What calling? Well, everything he's been building in Ephesians so far - in Ephesians one, Ephesians two, Ephesians three - he's saying, in love God chose you, in love he predestined you, in love he adopted you. Because of his great love for you he has made you alive with Christ. You were dead in your trespasses and sins, but because of his love he's made you alive. He has saved you by grace.

And so all of this gets at the calling, and then the necessary question that we must ask is what is the worthy thing to do? Because to ask what is right and what is wrong, and what is the line, and how far is too far - those are questions that help us with behavior modification. They get at the action but they do not get at the heart of the action. To ask what is worthy gets at the heart behind why you do what you do, why I do what I do - the heart behind it. You just want to be a good rule follower? You just want to be a good citizen? You don't want to cause a stir? Or is your allegiance to Jesus the most important thing you value? Because you can tell a lot about what a person treasures by what they think is worthy. If you want to know what someone thinks is worthy, look at what they treasure.

And here's a problem that we all have. The thing we treasure more than anything else is our personal individual freedom. I can so I will. I can do whatever I please. I have a right to... That's the thing we treasure most. And so that's why we get into trouble with, what's the worthy thing to do? Well, to be a disciple, to be a part of the new community means that above everything else in your life, you treasure not a thing but someone. To be a part of the new community means you treasure Christ.

[Pastor Deone Drake:]
To ask ourselves the question, what is the worthy thing to do? There's a third question. Have we learned to live life under King Jesus? This speaks to our allegiance. You know, in other areas of our lives we're really, really good at declaring our allegiance. Some of you perhaps have come like you do every Sunday in the fall - garbed with your Buffalo Bills stuff. You have no issue at all declaring your allegiance. It's good, it's cool. Look at somebody's bumper sticker and that will tell you what and where their allegiance is. I'm declaring my allegiance to my honor role middle school student, to my family, to my favorite sports team, to my dog, to the person I voted for in the last election and I want to make sure you know I did not vote for that person in the last election. We're good at that. But what we need to get better at is declaring our allegiance so that people around us know exactly that we know what it means to live life under King Jesus. Watch Pastor Jerry.

[Pastor Jerry Gillis:]
If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Now let me pause there for just a second. For some people, this particular truth that Paul is teaching has become no more to them than some idea of a sinner's prayer that people pray in a church building in Western/United States civilization. That's kind of what it is and it goes like this: All you have to do is just say Jesus is Lord. It's like that simple. That's all you got to do. That is not what Paul was getting after.

Where was this passage? Where was this letter being written to? Rome. Roman empire. Roman empire that had an emperor. A Caesar. And guess what, ladies and gentlemen - it was popular to say in that context and meant very specifically - Caesar is Lord. Paul says, on the contrary, Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. These are the things that get you killed in that society. This is not some, ah I just think...this is just so simple. Just say Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. You see? That's not what we're talking about here. He is talking about an allegiance that is so rich and so deep to the Kingship of Jesus, that no thing and no person will ever take over his throne, regardless of what kind of power he wields, and even in his ability to put us to death, Jesus is still Lord.

Now, this is what it means to start living life under the Lordship of King Jesus. Because our priority allegiance and our priority loyalty is to him above anything and anyone. Now, I'm not suggesting, you know, Jerry, are you talking about political upheaval right now? No. Because when we love Jesus, we act like him. And we do the things that he's told us to do, like pray for those who lead us. Like submit ourselves to the governing authorities, as long as that is not inconsistent with the leadership of Jesus of course.

But how does this play out? What is life under King Jesus actually look like? Well, it should affect our relationships, every single one of them. When we say, I live my life under the lordship of King Jesus, that means something for the way that we conduct ourselves in a marriage relationship. Because a marriage relationship is designed by the King himself. In fact, the King knew exactly what he was going to do in rescuing the world through the Son, Jesus. He knew that before any of us existed. He knew exactly what he was going to do, and so he created an image that would give an impression of that called marriage. So that there could be a demonstration to the world of the faithfulness of the bridegroom, Jesus, to his bride, the Church, or the New Community.

And now, what we do as people under the Lordship of King Jesus is we give evidence, we give evidence of Jesus' faithfulness to his Church when we demonstrate faithfulness to our spouses. When we recognize that we now singly can do more together to glorify God because he's called us in that regard - he hasn't called everybody in that regard, and I'll get to you in just a minute single adult, hold your horses. But we have an opportunity now, glorify God and we give people a picture of this. We can show people the Kingship or the Lordship of Jesus in the way that we parent, in the choices that we make as an employer or an employee, in the choices that we make friendships in the context of our schools, in the way that we choose how to conduct ourselves under King Jesus in a dating relationship or a courtship.

You see, single adults in the room, high school students, college age young adults - listen very carefully for just a second. You've been called to live life under King Jesus, and if that means that you are involved in a dating relationship that is inconsistent with what the King would desire for you, you need to decide which master is better for you - you or King Jesus? Because sometimes what we've been fed is this: well, man, you know - the heart wants what the heart wants. Right? Selena Gomez theology. I'm here to help you. I'm sure she's a sweet girl. I'm just talking about the song. The heart wants what the heart wants. Or John Mayer and Katie Perry who tell us you love who you love who you love. Literally. Kind of like we're running around going, I don't know what's going on. My heart just keeps taking me everywhere. Help me! This is not, this is not what we're supposed to be about.

It's not just a scenario of the heart wants what the heart wants. Ladies and gentlemen, when we have life in the kingdom we live life under King Jesus now - here's what that means: it means that we submit our hearts and train our hearts to want what the King wants.

[Pastor Deone Drake:]
Fourth question, fourth question: Have we learned to walk in our identity as a temple? One of the things that Pastor Jerry emphasizes throughout the years is that we need to get our identity right. Ephesians one tells us that we have been chosen in Christ and that's a wonderful term. But don't stop there because Paul tells us that we have been chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless. Why? Because in Ephesians three, he will tell us that we are the temple. Many of us grew up probably in an environment where we learned to have respect for the building, and we were told this is the house of God. Paul will say no, this is the house of God. And it makes every bit of difference when I understand that. How I live out my life, understanding my identity as the temple of God. Watch.

[Pastor Jerry Gillis:]
Listen, for now we are the temple. We are to be holy and sacred so that God can fill the earth with his glory through us! That God dwells with us - that we are a place where heaven and earth has come together. That God dwells through us. So what does that mean for us? It means this: you can stop being so casual with your bodies and passing them around sexually, because you are holy and sacred and bought by the price of God's own blood. You are the temple. So you can stop being so casual.

It means that you can stop moaning about the fact that you have no purpose, because you were made to fill the earth with God's glory. This is how you were designed. You are a dwelling place of the Holy God inside of you, and you are made to fill the earth with his glory. So there is no moaning anymore about I don't know my purpose. You got a purpose. You've always had a purpose. God has designed you with purpose, and it is to fill the world with the aroma of Christ, which is the glory of God.

You have...there's more. Father's Day - I figure I'll get us all in. Thank you for staying with me. Some of you are just clapping, going, man, all that theory - I'm just glad you're applying this. This is fantastic. It means you can knock off the idols, because there are no idols in the temple. And we are the temple of the living God. It means your idols of money or lust or power or personal glory - they need to be cleaned up. You might need to invite Jesus into the temple to turn over a few tables. You are a temple of the living God and no idols belong there. There is only one satisfier of our soul and it is God himself. That is why when we were made in the very beginning it was to dwell with God and he with us, and when all things have come back in new creation it will be so that God will be our complete all in all and our satisfaction. No idols in the temple. Let Jesus come in and flip some tables if he needs to in your own heart.

It means you can stop with all the God's left me, he's forgotten me stuff. His purpose has always been to dwell with people on the earth. And he has not forgotten that purpose from the very outset of when he made everything. In fact, all of history is running toward the time when he will dwell with his people, and he with them, so stop it with the God's forgotten me. Stop it with the God's left me. God has been exercising a plan throughout all of eternity, so that he might dwell with you and you with him. He's forgotten nothing. In fact, so much so that when Jesus came he was given a designation, right? Emmanuel which means God with us. The one who came to die on our behalf, to take our sins so that we might be reconciled to God. Stop it with God's forgotten me. Jesus came to die. He came to die for you, for your sins, for my sins. He's not forgotten anything. He loves you! He wants you to dwell with him. He's invited you into his presence. He's made the way for reconciliation that you could never have done. You have forgotten him. He has never forgotten you!

[Pastor Deone Drake:]
One more, one more. Have we learned to see Jesus in His Word? I want you to watch a clip from the series in Revelation. And I'm just being honest with you. There was so much that I appreciated about Pastor Jerry's taking us through Revelation. Lots of things but one of those things - I just got to be honest with you - I'm a Bible teacher. And I've communicated the book of Revelation many times academically, and so I was tracking with him, like I'm sure many of you were as he was teaching. And one particular Sunday it just hit me, and I wrote it down in my journal as he was talking. I don't study to know. I study to adore. I study to worship. And I began to think, wouldn't that be a great question for us to ask as we open up his word every day, as we come on a Sunday morning and we open up his word - I'm not here just to know, I'm here to adore, I'm here to worship. What is the vision of Christ? Pastor Jerry so effectively communicated that to us. Watch.

[Pastor Jerry Gillis:]
Revelation is a letter to Christ's people that reveals God's perspective on events in the present and the future using symbolic language, and calls Christ's people to obey him in the present and trust him in the future. That's what the book is.

The big idea from these two passages, these two chapters is this: The Lion who is the Lamb teaches us about who God is and how God rules.

You want to grab something - a rich truth here from Revelation one? Here's one for you. The only way we will ever see what God wants us to see, is when we clearly see Jesus.

By the way, the same one who walked among the golden lampstands then, walks among us now. Right here, right now. He is walking among us now, and he knows.

The centering vision of Revelation is in chapter four and chapter five, giving us the true face of God in the Lion who is the Lamb who sacrificed himself willingly, so that sinners might be reconciled to God. This is a God who put skin on, came and lived among us and sacrificed himself even though he was sinless. He bore our sins so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. This is the heart of God. Don't lose that, because the true face of God is a Lion who became a Lamb. So even in his judgment, God is demonstrating extraordinary mercy.

The one thing that we can never let go of is that we have to know and adore the presence of the one who walks among us, the living one. We cannot miss that.

And we see as well that in the midst of all of the hell that may transpire in the world that we live in, and all of the craziness, when it seems to get nuts, and with all of the people making decisions all over the world, it seems like this thing is careening off the tracks; he says, I'm the hope giver. You need to look at me because I'm the First, and I am the Last. I was dead, and now I'm not, and I hold the keys of death and hades in my hand. You can trust me. Don't be afraid.

In the midst of everything that happens in the world, if all hell is breaking loose around us, God knows who his own are because he has sealed them with his Spirit.

Some of you are just messing around in this life, playing around with the kingdoms of the world and fulfilling all of your lusts instead of being a faithful witness to Christ because God is using your life and desires to use your life to call people to himself.

Because some of us have read this book all wrong. We've read it as a book. I'm reading Revelation. I want to find out who the anti-Christ is. The book of Revelation is so you can find out who the Christ is. That's what its about. It is a Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. This is what the book's about.

[Pastor Deone Drake:]
So let me just close in a couple minutes, and just make sure that you understand why we did this. We did not do this so that this would be, like you go out and tell people hey - when they ask you what happened in church - well, it was a Jerry highlight reel. O.k.? That's not what this was. This was actually an examination of your heart and mine to see whether or not as you have watched these clips, and they perhaps remind you of some of the things that God has taught you. Has my heart been so hard hearted that it hasn't made a difference? Or have I been as receptive as many of you have been in your response to what you've been watching? What is the condition of my heart as I hear truth and not just hear it, but am transformed by it?

Let me tell you a story and give you one example. The banquet hall was filled and to speak, the nation's number one orator had been flown in. After thrilling the audience with as many recitations, he said in closing, if there would be a request from the audience and I could, I'd be happy to fulfill it. From the back of the room an elderly retired old minister raised his hand and said, sir, would you quote for me the twenty-third Psalm. Somewhat surprised by the request, the orator said, yes sir, but if when I'm done you too, quote the twenty-third Psalm. The minister agreed and was seated and the orator began. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. When he was finished, thunderous applause and standing ovation. And then the orator turned to the minister and said, now you, sir, you recite the twenty-third psalm. The minister feebly arose, his voice shaken by years in the ministry, began. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. When he was finished there wasn't a dry eye in the place. The orator said ladies and gentlemen, tonight I have reached your ears but he has reached your heart. And the difference? I know the twenty-third Psalm. But he? He knows the Shepherd. Do you know God's truth that way? There's a difference between just hearing it and thinking that you know it and actually live it out.

That's the story. Here's the example. There's one message that no one in this room heard this year except for me. You remember a couple of weeks ago, actually the week before Thanksgiving I was communicating to you and several times in the message I said God is good. I believe that. And if you remember I even gave you biblical verses to back that up - that God is good. But prior to that service, the message that you never heard from anybody - we were back in the room, waiting to come out, you know, prepare our final thoughts and we pray. And Pastor Daryl came back and prayed for me. And if you're new, you don't know Pastor Daryl has been struggling and battling and fighting cancer all year long. And we're praying that God would continue to fully heal him. But he prayed for me. And when he was done praying I said, Daryl, how are you doing? How was your week? And he proceeded to tell me some things and then he said this: God has been so good to me.

Do you understand the difference between the way I said it when I was preaching, and the way someone who has learned to depend on it day by day? I want you to know that is exactly the experience God wants you to have when the seeds are thrown out. That you would have a wide open heart. Receive it and allow the Lord to produce his fruit in your life so that you can say, not only did I learn this in Sunday or learn this everyday as I'm opening up his word, but I've experienced it and God is exactly who he says he is in his word. So the concluding question not on the screen is this: How about your heart? Where's your heart right now?

Let's pray. God would you see fit to speak to us as we close this service? Recognizing, Lord, that your Spirit can penetrate our hearts much better, much greater, and much deeper than any communicator that we've heard today. You are able to pierce through into our intents and our motives and even though we might seem to be on the outside receptive, Lord, you know our hearts and you know the intent of our heart to actually put into practice what you teach us day by day. Lord, maybe some of us have such a hard heart that we need to give our lives to Jesus. Maybe some of us have allowed sin to creep in and cause our hearts to become hardened so that we're not hearing the word like we used to and we need to repent. And for all of us, as the prophet Hosea said, we need to break up the hard ground and allow the word to get deep into our hearts and change us. Lord, I thank you for the year we've had. I can't wait to see what you're going to teach us in the future. And may we be hearers of your word and doers because that's what glorifies you. We love you and we thank you for all that you've done this year in our lives. In Christ's name. And everyone said Amen.

Go in peace. God bless you. Happy New Year to you. We'll see you next Sunday.

Worship Set List

Glory is Yours

Elevation Worship


Ever Be

Bethel Music


The Rock Won't Move

Vertical Church Band


This I Believe

New Wine Worship


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