8/9 What’s Your Story?.......Expectations & Rewards Luke 19: 1-10
Expectations – they can wear on a person with the demands to meet them. Expectations – they can power us up, get us excited, for what’s in it for us or others involved. Expectations – can be our own, can be what another wants of us. In the end it’s kinda like getting your grade. A how well did I do kind of feeling. We’ve been in this series for seven weeks now of What’s Your Story? What are we learning? Are we expected to be doing something? Okay, I get it, I’m to share my story but I’m still not comfortable in doing that. Jesus conversations scare me. Regardless if I know the person or not. I’m scared of rejection, especially of me since I’m the one talking, and I sure don’t want to be the reason they reject Jesus. I’m scared of speaking in error to the Truth, to be challenged by what I’m saying. And I really don’t want to be labeled as a ‘Jesus’ freak. So now I’m struggling inside. I’ve been listening and learning these past weeks from Pastor George speaking on What’s Your Story?, sharing my story, there it is, that expectation, but do I really need to, want to, or feel obligated to? Can you relate? We may never be an evangelist like Billy Graham or a Mother Teresa. Great people, one who spoke to the masses on Salvation, and the other who ministered in action to the masses. How about just sharing your story with the person(s) who cross your path. Your life experiences, telling of what you know of from first-hand experience. We are all sinners, we all need a savior, we should want to share what’s going on in our lives, the change in us for knowing Jesus. That should be an expectation that we all can achieve easily. As Pastor George said to tell of our rescue story. God has interacted with our story, let’s share it.
We learned from the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 about expectations and rewards. Zacchaeus went looking for Jesus, Jesus said to Zacchaeus, I must stay at your house today. The towns people knew Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, the worst of the worst, a sinner. Being in the presence of Jesus Zacchaeus changed from within. He stood in the Lord’s presence and declared I willingly give half of what I have to the poor, I’m willingly returning to those who I defrauded quadrupled of what I’ve taken. He wanted to exceed what was expected of him. To show his sincerity to change he took immediate action. The story ends by saying that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. And that’s just what happened for Zacchaeus. He was a sinner, but no more for Jesus also said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” Well just what does that mean? A Son of Abraham means those who are of faith are Sons of Abraham. In Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. God’s promise to Abraham, that “all people on earth will be blessed through you.” One way this prophecy is fulfilled is through the salvation that God grants to us, by grace through faith. That is our reward, our blessing. As we prayed Sunday: God, thank you from whom all blessings flow. You are my testimony – you are my rescue story!
Hunter shared with us on Sunday his testimony giving the GOSPEL presentation: G God created everyone to be with Him. O Our sins separate us from God. S Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. P Paying the price for our sins, Jesus died and rose again. E Everyone who trusts in Jesus alone has eternal life. L Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. This acronym Pastor George uses as an easy way to share our testimony of faith of what we believe and why we believe in Jesus. This is something that we can use in our Jesus conversations. Jesus Conversations is a series that we watched this week in Right Now Media by Dave Sterrett. In this series we learned of ways to become courageous in engaging conversations, telling our story. We must evangelize says Dave. An evangelist, he says, is a faithful servant bringing Good News in the circumstances right where God has placed you. It’s having courage to speak up, take a risk and it starts with a hi, says Sterrett. In his series he also gave examples that we can become familiar with to use. Some use the bridge visual. Using John 5:24, The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. It’s the visual of the cross making The Way from our sin nature mountain, to God’s holy mountain. He also gave us the acronym SALT S-start a conversation A-ask a question, get to know them, L-listen to their story, T-tell your story, your testimony. Whichever you chose, however you feel confident to open up about your faith, is what matters. Allow God to use you, by the power of the Holy Spirit you too can share your story. Imagine the reward in that!
Another good series that we watched this week was Second Hand Jesus by Glenn Packiam. He addresses our behaviors and habits of our God relationship. We all begin relying on the God Professionals or the God Experts, or the God Specialist that he likes to call them. He referred it to us saying something like, I myself don’t need contact with God, I just need you (the experts) to tell me what I need to know, as long as I make it to heaven. Glenn calls this a second-hand knowledge, a substitute for our own relationship with God. Which this can then lead us to thinking of God as a ‘lucky charm’, or thinking my God is a God of second chances, I can get a another chance to get it right or to work harder to please God. With the God professionals telling me what I need to know it frees me up for other things that are more important to me right now. Um, like my other idols, those things that push God back. This seems to work out fine until a crisis hits our lives, Glenn calls it a what-the-heck moment where life seems to be pulled apart at the seams. Instead, Glenn taught us that what we need is a first-hand faith. Ask yourself, Do I know Jesus more this year than I did the year before? What is happening with me and Jesus? Is Christ in our house?
With Jesus our lives change. In the series Face to Face with Jesus by RC Sproul in RNM, there are twelve accounts of people throughout the Bible that had face-to-face encounters with Jesus. We all will one day says RC. Face-to-Face is reading scripture, biblical accounts, personal accounts where the heart and soul are awakened. Just like Zacchaeus had when he was face-to-face with Jesus. As Pastor George said, He changes us, the Jesus that never gives up on us, that’s our reward.
Sunday’s sermon points are that in Expectations 1. Jesus calls for a response. It’s our continual rescue story, day by day by day by day. The Rewards 2. Jesus offers salvation. This Jesus who repairs where we’re broken, a restoration to what’s good, right, and true. He has bridged the gap for us to God. Our behavior and habits are rescued with God’s help. We now have a new lifestyle of love, grace, and hope. It’s this that we reflect. As we sang, This is my story, this is my song, praising my savior all the day long. As we’ve been learning in the series What’s Your Story? a changed life – changes lives. Share your story, it begins with a hi.
Larry and Darlene