Church in The Lot


Pastor Jerry Gillis - June 28, 2020

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Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching. 

  1. What is one thing that God taught you through this message? 

  1. Read James 1:2-3 and Romans 5:3-5. Based on these verses, what does God want to produce in our lives through the testing of our faith? Why are we resistant to the testing of our faith? What is uncomfortable about this process? 

  1. What is one area that you have seen God grow in your faith during this time of testing? What is one area of weakness that you’ve become more aware of during this time? How can our group help you in both? 

  1. What is one action step that you can take in response to Sunday’s message and our conversation today?  


Sermon Transcript

We have got something to celebrate this morning, don't we church family. Right on. I love it that you have made your way out here. I recognize that it is a gorgeous day. Thank you, Jesus, for the opportunity to be able to do this on such a beautiful day. Thank you for coming, all of you who are filling up this parking lot, like they did in the last worship gathering and for all of you who are watching online or at home or you're watching on television or listening in on the radio, we just want to thank all of you for joining us this day. It is a beautiful day for us to be able to celebrate Jesus together and I'm super grateful for everybody who's gone to every effort to see this happen. So thank you all for being here and thank you all for every effort that you have made to be able to do this event here today.
So in every story, in terms of literature, in every single story, there are always similar elements in every single story. You've got language, you've got plot, you've got characters, you have all of those things, right? In every single story that you hear. But one of the things that you remember in every single story is conflict.
In other words, to see actual movement of the plot, the main character always has to come into some kind of conflict. It could come in a variety of different forms but it's about how the main character actually deals with the conflict or as they call it, the time of testing or the trial, that that's actually what shapes the arc of the story, is somehow this conflict or it's what shapes the narrative of the story. You can see it all the time in various stories. Like if, for instance, you're watching, or if you were reading Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and maybe you would see inside of that piece of literature, Doctor Holmes, who would be finding a suspect in a particular case that he was trying to solve and he might present them with a particular scenario. Then if they respond to that scenario rightly, Sherlock Holmes would say, "I was only trying to test you."
Now, the reason that he was trying to test the suspect is because he wanted to know if he could trust the suspect, right? That's exactly why he did it. He tested him to see if he could trust him.
You see, just like in the story of our lives, every single one of us comes into times of testing. We come into conflicts. We come into times of trial and it's what begins to shape the narrative arc of the story that we are actually living in.
I don't think that this would be a surprise to you that over the last three months, we have been in a time of testing. Every single one of us recognizes that over the last number of months, this has been a time of testing and do you know what times of testing do? They reveal things. Times of testing actually reveal things that are going on in our world, things that are going on in our very lives and it's important that we actually pay attention to what those are.
Now, when I talk about revealing things to us, I'm not talking about silly, like superficial things, like all the men who decided in this three month time period, when they were staying at home, that they were going to grow their hair out because it was a high school fantasy for them. That they could grow their hair out, thinking about them looking like their favorite Hollywood star, their favorite rock star, when what actually happened when you grew your hair out is that you look like you were alternating nights, sleeping in the washer and the dryer. That's actually what happened.
For ladies regarding your hair, let me go ahead and say this. I'm not saying anything. And do you know why? Because I'm not stupid. That's why. Yes and everybody said, amen, at that point.
Now I'm not talking about superficial things at this point, in terms of what, what are revealed to us. I'm actually talking about things that get down to the core of who we actually are. I'm talking about our faith. I'm talking about our priorities. I'm talking about the things that actually are going down deep inside of us that actually start to bring themselves up to the fore whenever we face a time of testing. Maybe as well, you'll find that there are some things that you learn about yourself that you're happy about. But my guess is, you'll also learn some things that you weren't overly happy about.
You might learn some things that you are struggling now to realize because they've been uncovered in this time of testing and you've been thinking to yourself, what do I do with this? You see what the time of testing does, is it reveal some things and I think maybe if we would just maybe take a look backwards in the rear view mirror of history and walk our way back into the time of Jesus and his disciples in a real time of testing, I think it would be instructive for all of us. Here's what I mean.
The setting is Jerusalem, more specifically, the setting is the Mount of the Olives. The characters are Jesus and his disciples. The time is just after the last Passover meal that Jesus will have had with his disciples. So what's the conflict? What's the time of testing? Well, the time of testing is that Jesus is now about to be arrested in this particular story.
Jesus is about to be arrested and hauled off to be crucified and he's there just before this time with his disciples and what I want us to see is I want us to see some insights from what Jesus says to them just before he's arrested and just before he's taken away in this time of testing that I think will help us and be instructive for us.
So we're going to find this story in Mark's gospel chapter number 14. And here's what it says in Mark 14, beginning in verse 27.
"You will all fall away," Jesus told them. "For it is written. I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. But after I've risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not." "Truly, I tell you," Jesus answered. "Today, yes tonight, before the rooster crows twice, you yourself will disown me three times." But Peter insisted emphatically. "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others, meaning the other disciples said the same.
Now I want you to pay attention here because there are four quick insights that I'm going to give you. I'm not talking for very long this morning. So I want you to stay with me. I'm going to give you four insights as to what the time of testing actually reveals in our lives. Here's the first insight.
The time of testing reveals what Jesus knows and what we don't. Can I just assume that everybody in this parking lot and everybody watching us online or on television or listening on the radio understands this truth, that Jesus knows things about us that we don't know. Jesus knows things about us that we don't know. Let me see if I can give you a glimpse into that.
For instance, notice what he says in the very beginning in verse number 27. Listen to what he says. "You will all fall away," Jesus told them. "For it is written. I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered."
So Jesus is telling them something that they not only don't know but that they don't believe. Jesus actually says to them, "You will all fall away," and then what he does is he quotes Zachariah chapter number 13, and he quotes verse number seven. He says, "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered." That's out of Zachariah 13:7.
Now what's interesting about this is that when Jesus quotes that passage, he's saying in this way, he's revealing the sovereignty of God. Think about it. Jesus is quoting a passage that's messianic from the book of Zachariah and he's actually saying that that passage is actually happening right in these moments. That this drama that had been promised that would happen in Zachariah hundreds of years before Jesus was even born of Mary and entered into our world, hundreds of years before that, God had sovereignly said, "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered." And Jesus says, basically, "Today, that's, what's going down. Today, that's what's happening." Jesus knows that they are going to abandon him. He also knows that this is a time of testing for the disciples.
Now, part of the reason that I know that is because in Zachariah 13, it is a reminder for the remnant that remains, that they would also be tested. In fact, listen to what Zachariah 13:9 says.
It says this third, talking about a remnant of the people, I will put into the fire and I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them. I will say they are my people and they will say, the Lord is our God.
You see, Jesus actually knows in the sovereignty of God, that this was going to be a test of the disciples and that they were going to fail. Jesus says, "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered," and he begins by saying, "You will all fall away."
Now listen carefully to this. The word all way in the Greek text, that actual phrase, it means to be a stumbling block or to defect or to desert someone. You see the sovereign God already knew something that the disciples didn't know and Jesus, as a result, knew something that the disciples didn't know and that was this. That they were going to desert him. They were going to fall away.
Have you realized in your life that Jesus knows things about you that you don't know because here's, what's important. In the time of testing, lots of times those things begin to be revealed to you by Jesus. Listen to what I'm saying. He already knows how little patience you have and over these three months, he shown you how little patience you have. Or listen to this. He already knew that you were harboring and coddling anger in your heart and now through this time of testing, he's shown you that that anger is there and he wants you to do something about it. Or he may be knew already, he certainly did, he knew already that our perspective we're off with all of this whole time of testing, but now he's helping us to see that our perspectives are off. Like for instance, we're the first generation ever to go through a pandemic. We're not. In fact, the generations of churches before us that could not get together because of pandemics, did not have the blessing of technology to be able to at least in some way, stay connected during such a critical moment.
We are a people most blessed to live in this time, and in this place, to be able to still stay connected to some degree, even though we are in a time of testing. It's about perspective, isn't it? Or maybe, Jesus already knew how embittered and complaining we already were but now he's revealed to us that we can see it ourselves. Now I'm not going to leave you there and I'm not going to leave you there forever because by the time I wrap up in just a few minutes, I'm going to give you some really, really good news. But this can be devastating news for us because if we're paying attention, the time of testing may have revealed some things that we didn't really want to see in our own lives.
Why? Because what the time of testing does is it reveals that Jesus knows things that we don't. But there's a second insight and it's this. The time of testing also reveals that proud talk won't help us. You see in the time of testing, all of our boasting about who we are and what we do and what we'll never do, that doesn't do us any good in the time of testing. That's all things that we do before the actual test happens, where we blow smoke but when it actually happens, things change.
I still remember when Mike Tyson was interviewed years and years ago, they came to him and they said, "Mike, the guy that you're fighting, he said, he's got a plan. He says he knows he can take you down." And Mike Tyson said, "Everybody's got a plan until I hit him in the face."
You see, all of our proud talk, by the way, I'm not recommending hitting anybody in the face. Kids don't do that. But all of our proud talk, all of our boisterous talk, it doesn't matter once the time of testing hits. In fact, you can see it very clearly in our text, listen to Peter's words in verse number 29.
Peter declared, "Even if all fall away," Jesus had already said, everybody's going to fall away. And Peter said, "Even if everybody does, I will not." And Jesus said, "Truly I tell you today, yes tonight before the rooster crows twice, you yourself will disown me three times." But Peter, listen to this. Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And listen to this. At the very end, it says, "And all the other disciples said the same." You see this, wasn't just Peter. Peter said, "Even if everybody falls away, I'll never do it and if I have to die for you, I'll do it," and all the other disciples said, "What he said. We're in on that." So listen to this.
Jesus has already, listen, he can reveal to us things that we didn't even know that he already knows. He already knew they were going to fall away and they didn't believe it. In fact, they didn't believe it, that Peter so much that Peter said emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you," and then all the other disciples said, "Yep, us too. We'll never leave you. We will die with you if we have to." But we know how that turned out, right?
I mean, let's be honest. Courage is not measured just in boastful proud words. That's not how you measure courage. In fact, I've found that boastful words and proud words are one of the weakest indicators of courage. Courage isn't just about what we say. Courage isn't just about how much smoke we blow. Have you ever been around people? You know them, right? Maybe you've been one of them we all have at times. Have you ever been around somebody who has just told you what they would never in their life do? I would never do this or they've told you, "I would do this if I were in their position." You've heard that right? Sometimes then the time of testing happens and they just kind of blow away, right? Because oftentimes big words don't really matter.
Courage is bigger than just our proud talk. Courage is the realization that there is something more important than fear. Sometimes when we just blow smoke, it's a coping mechanism because we're scared. Or it's a reminder. It's a reminder that we don't actually know ourselves very well and we're trying to make ourselves into something that we know we're not, that's why we speak proud words. But courage itself, it's the realization that there's something more important than fear and you know what that is? Loving and trusting and obeying God. That is the most important thing. That's what courage actually looks like at its heart.
Now I wonder sometimes, I don't really wonder about Peter and his disciples because I believe they meant it. When they said we'll never leave you, we'll die for you, I think at the time they meant it. They just didn't know themselves. Jesus knew them but they didn't know themselves. I believe that they actually meant this, but understand this. Tough talk doesn't get the job done. That's not what does it? In fact, we saw what happened to Peter, right? Peter ended up coming out into the courtyard when Jesus got arrested and then they said, "Hey, you're with him." And he said, "No, I'm not. I don't know him." Then the young girl says, "Hey, no. You were with him." "No, I'm not. I don't know him." Then somebody else says, "Yeah, you're at Galilean. You've got to be with him." "No, I've never met the guy. I don't know who he is," and the Bible actually tells us when you read the Greek language, he started cussing. Peter just started cussing to make his point. "No, I bleep bleep bleep. I've never seen the guy." That's how serious he was about his denial.
Then remember what happened in verse number 72 of Mark 14. It says immediately the rooster crowed the second time and then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken to him. "Before the rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times," and he broke down and wept. All of his tough talk. all of his proud words, did not get him anywhere in the time of testing. By the way, it didn't for the disciples either. Because if you remember, when they came to get Jesus to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane, notice what happened. Here's what Jesus said.
Jesus said, "Am I leading a rebellion that you've come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you teaching in the temple courts and you didn't arrest me but the scriptures must be fulfilled." Then listen to this. Then everyone deserted him and fled. He told them that from the very outset didn't he? He told them that that was what was going to be the case. They were going to desert him and they were going to flee and they didn't believe that and none of their tough talk actually helped out at all.
You see, when we start making proud boasts and proud statements about what we would never do and what we would do, that doesn't do us any good in the time of testing because do you know what proud words actually are? They're an indication of how out of touch we are in our need for Jesus. That's what proud words are. They're an indication of how out of touch we are in our need for Jesus.
So what are you replace proud words with if you're in the time of testing? How about prayerful ones? In fact, that's the third insight that I want to give to you. The time of testing reveals how imperative prayer actually is.
Just before Jesus was arrested, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane, there on the Mount of Olives and he brought Peter, James and John with him a little bit further and he told them, "I want you to pray. I want you to watch and pray right here," and then Jesus went a little further to pray. Then when he came back, what did he find? They were snoozing.
Listen to what it says in verse 37 and 38. Then Jesus returned to his disciples and he found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter. "Are you asleep? Couldn't you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
You see, prayer is, listen to this. Prayer is what Jesus told them to embrace in this time of testing and what prayer does, prayer should be the opposite of proud words. Prayer is a reminder of how dependent we are on Jesus and Jesus says this about prayer. Listen to this. He says, "The reason I want you to pray Peter and James and John, the reason I want you guys praying is because I want to make sure you don't fall into temptation."
Now, some of you may be thinking to yourself, what was the temptation that they would have been falling into? Well, I think Jesus actually says it. He says, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." The temptation was to live in accordance with the flesh. When I talk about the flesh, I'm not just talking about our skin. That's not what I'm talking about.
What I am talking about is that part of us, that though we may have been redeemed, though we may have been transformed, we still have this remnant in our members that still is inclined toward living the old way, toward being accosted by the narrative of the world, instead of being swayed by the spirit of God. That's the flesh. Do you know what the flesh does? Listen to this. The flesh is self-interested and self-reliant. And Jesus says, "If you want to avoid temptation, you can't live self-reliant and self-interested. Instead, I want you to pray to demonstrate that your life is actually caught up in the dependence on Jesus and on his Spirit's work in your life." That's the only way you're going to avoid the temptations, ultimately, of the flesh.
You see, when Jesus is revealing all of this to his disciples, when we're seeing it now in the text of scripture, understand this. The time of testing is not to grow our flesh. It's to grow our faith. This is the whole point. That's why if we miss it, we've made a tremendous mistake. If we find ourselves prayerless during the time of testing, we are wasting the opportunity to be able to grow in faith and to be able to grow in the likeness of Jesus. But instead we fall into the temptation of our flesh, which says, "I'm just feeling better, that I can complain, that I can moan, that I can bellyache, that I can demonize other people, that I can dehumanize other people, because I've just got time on my hands and all I'm doing is coddling the flesh instead of finding myself at the feet of Jesus in prayerful surrender and dependence so that he can shape me in the spirit."
So don't fall prey to that because this time of testing that we're in is not, listen to this, is not meant to crush us. It's meant to build us. It's not for us to grow in the flesh. It's meant for us to grow in faith, but there's a fourth insight and it's this.
The time of testing reveals that Jesus' victory is bigger than our failure. I told you that I had some good news coming and there's good news in our text and want you to see it because sometimes what we can do is we can dash right by it if we're not careful because what we've learned is this. Jesus knows things that we don't and some of those things that Jesus knows about us, that he's now revealing to us, they're not real pleasant for us to have to deal with.
But here's what I want you to know. Jesus victory in what he did on the cross and through his resurrection is bigger than our failures. It's bigger than our weaknesses. Let me explain what I'm saying to you. Remember what Jesus said at the very beginning of this text? He said, "You will all fall away," Jesus told them. "For it is written. I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered." Now don't miss this part. "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Now listen, if you and I were in the role of Jesus, not that we ever could be, but let's say you and I were in that role and we already knew that our disciples were going to check out on us at the moment that we most needed them to stick around, to walk with us, to pray for us, to be able to support us, but they were just going to run away, man, I'd be thinking to myself, I'll tell you this. After I've died and after I've crushed death and after I get up from the grave, Oh, I'm coming to Galilee. I am coming to Galilee and I'm going to find your tails and I'm going to give you the business. That's what I'm going to do.
But that's not what Jesus was saying. Jesus was saying, my victory in going to the cross, listen, he knew why he was headed there. It was to rescue sinners like them and rescue sinners like us. He knew that he's the only one that could stand in the place where we needed to stand but could never pay the price, yet he stood in our place and as a result of that in dying for our sins and rising from the grave, his victory is stronger than our weakness, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
How gracious is our God? Jesus has been so gracious to us, my brothers and sisters, my friends that are watching online. Jesus has been so gracious to us and his victory is bigger than our weakness. That's why he said, when I get up from the dead, I look forward to seeing you in Galilee because you know what he was going to do in Galilee. He wasn't going to crush them. He was going to build them. He took Peter aside and he restored Peter. "Peter, do you love me?" "You know I love you." "Peter, do you love me?" "You know I love you." "Peter, do you love me?" Three times he asked Peter if he loved him. One for every time that Peter said he didn't even know him. You see, Jesus was being gracious because he was going to build him, not destroy him.
So even sometimes in our failures, even though in this time of testing, some of us have failed the test. We always want to be used by God in great ways, don't we. We want to be used by God in great ways but we fail the smallest tests of faith. How is God going to use us in great ways when we can't pass the smallest test of faith?
Here's the great news. His grace is bigger than our weakness. His grace is bigger than our mistakes and maybe in this time of testing, you have found in your own life some things that you didn't love to see, that he's brought up to the surface that you didn't really recognize. Do you know what? His grace, his victory, it's bigger. And so what it does is it turns us toward him because in the time of testing, Jesus was faithful even when we weren't. Jesus completely obeyed the father. He sinlessly went to a cross, died in our place, rose from the grave. Jesus was always obeying the will of his father and he did it perfectly and he did it always in every way; in word, in thought and in deed. In ways that we could never do. In ways that we could never obey. In ways that we could never please God.
Jesus has done it on our behalf because he was faithful even when we are faithless and when we realized that my friends, when we realize that, we will become a people of humility who are so grateful for the grace that Jesus has shown to us.
Let me ask you this question. I take all those horn honks as amens. Let me ask you this question. Do you think that this mattered to Peter and to the disciples that Jesus says, "When I rise, I'll meet you in Galilee." Can you imagine how heartbroken they were after Jesus' death when they had all fled, when they had all left and even guys like Peter, who said, "I don't even know you." Do you imagine how bitterly heartbroken they were, yet when Jesus meets them again after resurrection from the dead and he begins to restore them and he begins to build their faith, not crushed them, do you think that made a mark on them? I guarantee you it did. Do you know how I know that? I know it not only because it just makes sense, but because when Peter was old, Peter wrote about it. Listen to what he said when he's writing as an older man.
1 Peter 1, he said, "In this, you rejoice. Though now for a little while, if necessary, you've been grieved by the various trials, so that," listen to it. "So that the tested genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold, that perishes though it's tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. And though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
Did you hear what Peter said? He talked about the tested genuineness of our faith. This is important for us, ladies and gentlemen, because ultimately times of testing are not meant to crush us. They're meant to build us. It's not for the purpose of building our flesh. It's for the purpose of building and growing our faith and that's what we see Peter actually talking about.
Maybe I would say it this way and if you want to jot this down in your car there and do this.
Times of testing are about growing our faith. Why? Because if our faith can't be trusted, or if our faith can't be tested, it can't be trusted. If our faith can't be tested, it can't be trusted. You see, this is where Jesus is actually helping Peter and the disciples because in their test, in their time of testing, he is building faith in them because a faith that can't be tested, really can't be trusted and what God wants, what God wants is a people of faith. A faith that can be trusted. A faith that learns what it means to trust him in the ups and the downs and recognizes the glory of what he has done on our behalf.
So what do you do with all of this? Well, a couple of things for you to maybe think about. One, are there some areas of your life that maybe Jesus has revealed to you that you need to deal with? Maybe you need to repent and seek him and learn what it means to abide in him. Maybe the prayerlessness of your world has been exposed and that means that you've given into the temptation of the flesh to be self-reliant and self-dependent, instead of dependent on he and his spirit. Maybe what's been revealed in your heart is a lack of empathy and a lack of understanding during this season of people who are not like you and as a result, Jesus wants to do something in your heart and he wants to help you in that process when you turn to him and recognize that. I don't know what it may be, but cooperate with him as opposed to retreat from him.
Or maybe, maybe you feel like you haven't reflected on his graciousness enough or you've not really given thought to how good he's been. That he's been so faithful, even when we've been faithless, and what that will do is that will build not only your faith, but it will build humility and gratitude in your heart.
Or maybe you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus. Maybe you're in this parking lot, or maybe you're watching us online or on television, or maybe you're listening by way of radio on WDCX. I want to say this to you.
Jesus is the only way to the father. There is no other name by which human beings can be saved. There's no other philosophy. There's no other person. There's no other path. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life and no one, not any man, not any woman, not any boy, not any girl, no one comes to the father except through me."
When Jesus said that he meant it. He meant it so much that he put skin on and came and lived with us even though this was God. Listen. God, the eternal son, putting skin on.
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God and the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of God. You see in Jesus, in him and through him and for him, are all things. He is the agent of creation and he is the only one that can save because he is the only one, listen to this, who has satisfied the justice of all mighty God against sin when he became sin for us. So that in him, we could become the righteousness of God.
This is the way home to the father. It is through Jesus and if you've never received Jesus, then maybe right here in this moment, I would encourage you to do that very thing with all the faith that you have. Maybe you could simply pray something like this in your heart.
Lord Jesus. I realize that I've sinned and I can't save myself. I believe Jesus, that you died for my sin and because of my sin. But I believe you rose from the dead, conquering sin and death and hell and judgment. And so with all the faith that I have, I surrender myself to you and put my trust in you and receive you as my Lord and savior. I confess Jesus, that you are Lord and believe in my heart that you have been risen from the dead.
If you prayed that prayer, just now, I want to encourage you, follow up with us so that we can help you in your journey of faith. It's not about what we need from you. It's about what we want for you and so you can do that in one of two ways. You can either log on to the and do it by your phone or on your computer or wherever. You can go to the and we'd love to be able to connect with you there. Or if you want to pick up a phone and speak to somebody personally, we'd be delighted to do that. (716) 631-2636. We have people waiting to receive your call, who would love to talk to you about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.
Father, I pray that in all of our hearts, we would receive your word this day, that teaches us that times of testing reveals much. And Jesus, thank you that even though you already know what's in our heart, you are kind enough to reveal that to us, so that we can deal with that and be now shaped more into your image to glorify your name in the world that we live in. Would you help us to be that kind of people in this body of believers I ask in Jesus' name.

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