Episode 3
|
27 September 2021

Together Again | eternal life


Just as Christ rose from the dead, we too can live a new life, now and forever. Join us to discover the Gospel and what it’s all about.

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[Music]
[Applause]
well good morning
hey i want to say a special good morning
to those of you in the room also good
morning to those of you who are in
saginaw and monroe and then those of you
who are joining us online you know we're
in week three of together again and if
you're new around here you may be asking
the question what is
together again
you came on week one you saw that we had
this big huge block party and so you
might have thought to yourself together
again is an event where we gather we do
community types of things or you might
be thinking together again as a teaching
series
you know i think that you might have
come today because somebody invited you
but you also might have come to church
because your interest was peaked when
you saw this video of me and one of our
other teaching pastors grant agler
online watch this
we've been isolated and apart from each
other but now it's time to be together
again
[Music]
[Music]
how's it going man
we've all missed being together but
distance and time away has only made us
realize how important gathering really
is there's no complaints that's good
it's good
yeah cool
for sure yeah
nice day
nice day yeah
yeah i agree
yeah
but we might be a little out of practice
i mean yeah i gotta
you gotta go yeah
kinda yeah yeah
you know
when people have seen that video people
have been blowing up my phone and they
typically ask me two questions the first
question people always ask me when they
see that video is
why
why
why do you have two middle-aged guys
running towards each other and here's
the second question people always
ask me is what's wrong with grant in
that video
what's wrong with him and my answer to
that is we don't know we've been trying
to figure that out for years
but all joking aside here's what
together again is all about it it's if i
was to define it i could define it one
in three ways
i could say number one it's our fall
initiative we believe as a church that
we should gather
you know we talked about this in the in
the weeks previous but the word church
that jesus is going to use in matthew
chapter 16
verse 18
is when he looks at peter he says
peter's going to say you are the christ
and then what what jesus is going to say
he's going to say upon this rock the
revelation that i am the christ
i'm going to build my church
and the word that he uses for church in
greek is where ecclesia
it's compounded of two greek words you
have act
which is the word out
you have cleo which means i call so it's
a called out assembly for a mission so
so we believe that this is our fall
focus to gather together
but i think the simplest way that i
could explain what our
mission and our focus is together again
is all about it's kind of like a family
reunion
you know in normal times whatever normal
times are
we have this moment on the calendar
where 364 days will go by well we
haven't seen friends and family
but there's that one day
where we re-gather and we connect
and there's something inside of us that
feels this excitement when we see people
that we haven't seen
in a year and little terrence who used
to be this tall is now this song and
then katie or khanisha are now graduated
from college and they're engaged and
uncle bob is retired and there's
something inside of us that says
i like this
and the same is true for us as the
church you know for the last 16 18
months there's a lot of us who've gotten
out of the habit of going to church
there there's a lot of us who have been
maybe afraid to go to church and if you
have a health restriction we understand
that
but this is like a family reunion
and and doesn't it feel good when when
reunions happen
i can prove it to you for those of you
who are a little bit younger
there was a moment where you felt
heartbreak
it was when the jonas brothers split up
but i want you to think about how you
felt when this happened
when they reunited there's something
inside you that said man this is good
or
for those of you who are a little bit
older when this happened when new kids
on the block got back together
anybody remember the new kids on the
block
step by step don't make me sing it here
i guess what i'm trying to say is that
if you cry when one direction broke up
there's still hope for a reunion
but here's my bigger point
see there's something inside of us as
humans that long for reconnections
because we are wired that way
it's in the fabric of our society as an
american group of people
but it was also that way for the jewish
people i want you to look at this this
is in deuteronomy chapter 16
starting in verse 16.
god is going to say to his people three
times a year all your men must appear
before the lord your god
at the place he will choose at the
festival of unleavened bread
the festival weeks and the festival of
tabernacles
so right there on the plains of moab
right before god's people go into the
promised land moses is going to give
them the law a second time
that's what the word deuteronomy means
second law
and when he gathers them together in the
plains of moab he says listen
a lot's going to happen in the years to
come
but on your calendar there should be
these three family reunions number one
is the festival of unleavened bread
a lot of jews would consider that to be
passover because the festival of
unleavened bread was a
seven week or a seven day festival
and passover was a one day festival so
they would celebrate that together
then 50 days after that they had a
festival called the festival weeks or
pentecost
but then in the fall they had a festival
called the festival of tabernacles and
what tabernacles were is they would camp
in these little tents and they would
remember what it was like to be in egypt
and i got to tell you
i would have been great with the first
two that the festival of weeks and the
festival of unleavened bread but
camping
in a tent
to me that's like what purgatory is that
i i just can't do the campaign intent
but they would celebrate these three
times and god goes on to say this in
verse
and the end of verse 16 going into verse
17.
it says no one should appear before the
lord empty-handed
each of you must bring a gift
in proportion to the way that the lord
has blessed you
so three times a year they would reunite
and when they would reunite they would
remember who they are
and where they've been
and when they reunited they would come
together and they'd go wow i haven't
seen you in a gear i haven't seen how's
your family how's your kids and they
would connect and there would be this
sense of joy because they are
reconnecting
see that principle in the old testament
we see a practice in the new testament
in john chapter 2 and john chapter 3.
if you've got a bible or a bible app i
want to invite you to get there
because in john chapter 2 and john
chapter 3 we see jesus at one of those
festivals
he's at the first of the three
he's at the festival the passover and
he's there
and people are intrigued by jesus
he's the talk of the town
for better or for worse because jesus is
the kind of guy who stirs up controversy
everywhere he goes
because of the miracles that he does
i mean
jesus's miracles are so extraordinary
that he doesn't even have to be in the
same place to perform a miracle
there's one particular time
where a guy has a servant who's sick and
jesus just sends his word and that man
gets healed
there's another time at this particular
passover that we're going to talk about
where jesus is going to heal the man
who's been sick for 38
years
jesus was miraculous
but he was also
deep and insightful
the way he taught scripture the way he
communicated it people were amazed at
his teaching
well that's where we are in john chapter
3 or in the john chapter 2 going into
chapter 3. here's what it says
now while he was in
jerusalem at the passover festival
many people saw the signs he was
performing and believed in his name
but jesus would not entrust himself to
them for he knew all people
here's what made jesus interesting and
so hard to understand
on one hand he had popularity but he
never allowed himself to become a
celebrity
because everywhere he went people were
like wow that's interesting that's
amazing and people kept trying to follow
him and they kept trying to understand
who he was
but i want you to notice it didn't say
that jesus didn't trust
people he didn't entrust himself to them
because jesus lived with a purpose
and when you have the purpose of god in
your life
when you know why god's created you why
he's put you here then you begin to live
with a sense of confidence and a sense
of focus and you don't need other people
to validate who you are
thank you and so what you have here
is jesus living in that reality and then
here's what happens in john chapter
3. it says now there was a pharisee a
man named nicodemus who was a member of
the jewish ruling council he came to
jesus at night now his name is nicodemus
he came to jesus at night i call him
nick at night he comes to jesus
here's what he says in verse 2.
he says rabbi
we know that you are a teacher who has
come from god and no one can perform the
signs
you are doing
if god were not with him
can you see what's going on in
nicodemus's mind
i don't quite get you but what i cannot
do
is invalidate you
because we've never seen miracles like
this
we've never seen a guy who's been sick
for 38 years and you just speak to him
take up your mat and walk and all of a
sudden he's walking and he's running and
we just ain't never seen anything like
this
here's how jesus is going to respond
so he gives jesus a compliment and jesus
is then going to answer the question
he's really asking
verse 3
jesus replied very truly i tell you no
one can see the kingdom of god unless
they are born again
oh i just came to pay you a compliment
but this is what i love about jesus
he sees what's going on in the heart
so then the man is going to ask this
question verse 4
how can someone be born when they're old
nicodemus asked surely they cannot enter
a second time in their mother's womb and
be born
nicodemus is like confused
he's like hey jesus i saw the curious
case of benjamin button i thought that
was a work of fiction i didn't think
that was a documentary what are you
talking about
and jesus doesn't back down
i i imagine if nicodemus is kind of
saying yeah okay if you're saying to be
born again if all i got to do is if to
get into heaven i got to look like brad
pitt sign me up for that i'm in for it
but here's what g is going to do
instead of
backing down
he doubles down
in verse 5 jesus is going to say this
verily truly i tell you no one can enter
the kingdom of god unless they are born
of water
and of spirit
verse six
flesh gives birth to flesh but spirit
gives birth to spirit
you should not be surprised at my saying
that you must be born again the wind
blows wherever it pleases you hear it
sound but you cannot tell where it comes
from or where it's going
so is everyone who is born
of the spirit
jesus says listen nicodemus
see in verse one what we learn about
nicodemus is that nicodemus is not your
average joe
he's a member of the jewish ruling
council he's a pharisee he knows the law
backwards and forward
not only does he know the law backwards
and forward nicodemus has power and
authority and nicodemus is so intrigued
with jesus he's going to come to him at
night
now we don't know why he comes to a
midnight maybe he comes to him at night
because
he's scared
that somebody who's in power will see
him talking to this kind of rebel rabbi
maybe he comes to him at night because
he's trying to understand
what does jesus have
that he's missing
you know that's why i think a lot of
people come to church
it's because there's a lot of people who
have a lot going on
some of you have influence
some of you have affluence some of you
have popularity some of you have money
some of you have success but you feel
like there's something missing
you've achieved the american dream but
there's still something missing and
that's what's going on with nicodemus
and jesus said
i know what you're missing
it's not more loss
it's not more principles
you got the laws of both of 613 laws
what you need is not laws you need the
life of god living on the inside of you
and so what's going to happen for him is
jesus is going to say everybody who's
born of the spirit
they exist in these two dimensions kind
of like the wind
you can not see the wind but you can see
its effects
what jesus said is somebody who's
experienced the life of god
they're hard to quite understand
because on one hand they look just like
you and i you can see the effects that
god's spirit is working in their life
like you have somebody like we'll just
call him mark
and mark has had anger problem all of
his life
but then he meets jesus
and now mark has peace in his life and
even though he has the same problems he
still have peace
or we'll just call somebody like
margaret
all her life she's struggled with low
self-esteem
but when she meets jesus all of a sudden
she's taking risks all of a sudden she's
going after it she's living for a bigger
purpose and you can't quite understand
what is it about margaret
it's not that she got a makeover she got
jesus
and and so what jesus is saying he says
this is
the difference maker in your life you
need to experience this life change
and then jesus is going to say this
or in verse
9
nicodemus is going to ask this question
he's going to say
how can this be
how can this be
i i imagine some people who are
listening to me right now
that's the question you're asking
like my life right now it feels like a
hot mess
i've made so many decisions that have
broken my heart
that have broken the hearts of others
and every time i do a reset every new
year i say this year is going to be
different every time i try to make
changes and adjustments and it feels
like i just keep messing it up
if i can experience a second chance
if i could get a fresh start a new
beginning i want that
how can this be
here's how jesus is going to answer that
question verse 10
jesus is going to say you're israel's
teacher jesus said
and you do not understand these things
for very truly i tell you we speak of
what we know and testify what we've seen
but you people do not accept our
testimony i have spoken to you of
earthly things but you do not believe
how then will you believe if i speak of
heavenly things
no one has ever gone into heaven except
the one who has come down from heaven
the son of man
this last statement that jesus makes is
worth the risk
nicodemus had to put a lot on the line
to go visit jesus
the whole time i imagine his heart's
beating fast because he's from the he's
a member of the jewish ruling council
he's kind of wondering what are people
going to say if they see me talking to
this rebel rabbi i don't know
if i'm going to lose school points
but he interacts with jesus
and jesus says listen
you're trying to figure out what you've
never experienced and what you've never
seen but i'm the one who can show you
how to get there because i'm from there
in this moment jesus is going to reveal
that he's the messiah
and what i imagine for nicodemus
is he goes huh
the whole time we as jewish
faithful jewish people we've been
praying and we've been crying out and
we've been believing to see the messiah
and hoping that we'll see him
and here he is
there's a reasons why your miracles
cannot be understood
there's a reason why every time you talk
i don't know if i understand or agree
with but i'm drawn to know more
and then we get into verse 14 drop down
to verse 14.
jesus is going to move from being
confusing to being extremely clear as he
lays out
what he's talking about
in verse 14
since just as moses lifted up the snake
in the wilderness so the son of man must
be lifted up and everyone who believes
may have eternal life
now we get to verse 16.
this is the verse that some of you have
a tattoo of
this is the verse that you see in the
end zone when you're watching
michigan's best college football team
michigan state this is that verse
for god so loved the world
that he gave his one and only son
that whoever believes in him would not
perish but would have
eternal life
god did not send his son into the world
to condemn the world
but to save the world
through him
he knows his old testament
what jesus is going to do he's he's
going to take him back to numbers
chapter 21.
in numbers chapter 21
we have a story
in this story we have the children of
israel who are going to sin
and when they sin when they
flagrantly disobey god they start
getting bit by these snakes
what moses is going to do is he's going
to take a bronze snake and he's going to
lift it up
and everybody who's been bitten by the
snake because of their sin all they have
to do to experience life is look at the
snake
which as i was thinking about that this
morning as i was on my drive over here
i have this thought most of us don't
really understand sin
because oftentimes when we think about
sin we we see it as something that we do
whereas the
scriptures always look at sin as a
sickness that starts to rot us from
within
and the more that we engage in sin the
more it makes us sick emotionally and
spiritually
it ruins our relationships it ruins our
family it ruins our mental health it
ruins every part of us
but here's the
struggle
it's the same question that nicodemus
says how can this be how can i get out
of this situation that i'm in
that i can't fix myself
i've been the counseling
i've been to self-help
i don't know how to get better and what
jesus is saying
is the first thing you have to do is you
have to look at
the very thing that you've been
participating in
the snake
the serpent
all throughout scripture it's a symbol
of evil so you remember adam and eve
there in the garden everything is good
everything's perfect everything's fine
and then comes the serpent into the
garden and says
it's not as good as it seems
really
yeah no it's not as good as it seems and
they follow the serpent and the serpent
leads them to sin
in number chapter 21 you have the same
thing
these people are now in sin they're in
immorality and it feels good in the
moment but then it bites them this is
what sin always does to us
it bites us
but the answer is to just look up to
believe
this is why
there was a guy who lived in a fourth
century by the name of augustine this is
why he said this
the old testament is the new testament
concealed
and the new testament is the old
testament revealed
i'll say it one more time
the old testament is the new testament
concealed it's pointing to this reality
of something to come
and then the new testament is the old
testament revealed
we understand why that story is in there
is because jesus said it is a
foreshadowing of what's going to happen
for me i'm going to be lifted up
in the wilderness
and the son of god who has never sinned
is going to be made and covered in our
sin
when we look up
and we see the reality of what he
suffered for us
what we're going to see is the love of
god
you know
there's a lot of people who are looking
for a lot of things in life
some some people are looking for more
twitter followers some people are
looking for more instagram clicks
but at the core
what i think we're all looking for is
for love
and we will never be truly satisfied
until we find a love that's bigger than
this world can offer and that's why many
of us are not satisfied right now
i i meet a lot of people and they will
tell me you know pastor i'm just looking
for love
and i can't find it
and i'm frustrated because i believe in
it i want it i go after it
but the greatest love is the love that
jesus is displayed on the cross
that the son of god who never knew sin
was covered in sin and when we look
and we believe
we experience life
all of a sudden nicodemus says man
it finally makes sense
i spent my whole life performing and
trying to be better i spent my whole
life
trying to live up
to what
causes me
to feel sad and guilty
you know i think there are a lot of you
who are here today
and you don't wear it on your face but
you
carry it in your soul and it's guilt
because you try it really hard
and you're constantly trying you're
constantly doing everything you can to
perform to be better
but what jesus says to this really smart
guy is
look
and live
look at the reality of what i came to do
for you on the cross believe
then it brings the question what does it
mean to believe
what does it mean to believe
is believing just mentally connecting
and saying something's true or does it
mean something more in the new testament
to believe means
to put your weight on it
it's for me to put all
150 well no
i'm lying up in here in church it's for
me to put
none of your business on this seat and
trust
that's
believing
and it's in that moment
that nicodemus
has a light bulb moment
he goes home thinking wow
i don't have to try so hard
i can experience some kind of life
change
and the way people express that belief
around here at 242 it's in baptism
in baptism what we say is that it is a
symbolic representation of a spiritual
reality so when i put my faith in jesus
what i say it's a private decision and i
make that jesus i love you
but publicly in baptism
symbolically i bury that old life under
the water
i say i'm done
how does it happen how do you experience
change how do you go from who you used
to be to who god's called you to be is
in baptism
i bury that old life
as i bring this message to a close let
me just give you three
things that happen when you get baptized
here's the first thing that happens when
you get baptized is in romans chapter
six it talks about this is you proclaim
something
it's a public proclamation
it's kind of like when i got married i
got this ring that i wear on my finger
many of you have heard my proposal story
so i won't tell you again
the proposal was a private decision
but publicly me and my wife we stood
before our pastor our pastor happened to
be pastor paul
and we made vows
he said for better for worse
he said keith are you going to be there
for her on a good days and her bad days
and that was the moment i said how many
bad days you plan on having because uh
it depends
but then when he asked me this question
he said do you
take this woman to be your lawfully
wedded wife i said i do
i was proclaiming a decision that i made
in private to the world
when we get baptized we're proclaiming
i'm changed i'm different
but here's the second thing that
typically happens
is not only do we proclaim something we
receive something
when we get baptized we receive like a
new
sense of hope and confidence
here's what happened when jesus got
baptized bring up matthew chapter 3
verse 16 and 17.
it says as soon as jesus was baptized he
went up out of the water and at that
moment the heavens was open
and he saw the spirit of god descending
like a dove a lighting on him
and a voice from heaven said this is my
son in whom i'm well pleased
i want you to leave that up for a minute
i want you to notice this before jesus
did any miracles
this is before jesus was the talk of the
town when he gets baptized he receives
the approval the favor the blessing of
god
now we have other pastors who do a lot
of baptisms around here i don't do a lot
of baptism but most time when i meet
somebody in the back before they're
getting baptized
i pray
that they would have this experience
that when they come up out of the water
they would just sense the approval of
god
and for most people what happens is this
pressure to perform is lifted
because all of our lives here's what
we're told
if you perform better you'll be liked
better
so that's what we live our lives doing
trying to perform in business trying to
perform in life in society trying to
perform trying to show off who we are on
our social media profile on our dating
profile
but when we meet jesus when we say jesus
i'm surrendering my life to you
in baptism i'm making that decision i'm
expressing my faith
what happens is
we just experience god's pleasure
you know last night we had a baptism let
me show you a picture of this family who
got baptized you can bring up a couple
pictures this lady here had been going
to church for years
and as she started to get deeper into
the bible she said you know i was
baptized as a baby
but now i understand what that means
that it's about walking with jesus
expressing my faith and all that he is
and so
today i'm gonna go public and then i
think we got another picture of her and
um yeah just the other picture of her
daughter getting baptized
and that amazing can we just celebrate
that
but let me bring this to a close with
this
here's the last thing that happens in
baptism
it's most time we experience something
in galatians chapter 2 verse 20
paul says this now i'm going to quote it
out of the older translation because
when i was a youth pastor i named my
youth group 2 20.
paul says i've been crucified with
christ
nevertheless i live
but the life that i now live in the body
i live by faith and the son of god who
loved me and gave himself for me
paul said
i used to be a bad dude
like their stuff when i think about my
past i don't even want to
i don't even want to remember it
but thank god for jesus
because that all me was crucified i left
the old me in the water
i die
but then he says i live
but i don't have to do this by myself i
can do this through the power of god's
spirit and i change
i change through god's power and i'm
committed to changing the world
you know there are some of you who are
here today and what i'm talking to you
about right now it's a revelation you're
thinking
i don't need better performance
i don't need another self-help book i
don't need another sermon what i need is
i need to trust god to believe and be
baptized
but for others of you
this is a reminder
and the reminder is you don't have to
live life alone
the power of god is inside you he's
changing you he's making you new you
have a purpose to live out
and that purpose
is really
the reason to live
let me let me just say this last thing
you know
the first week of the series i was at
the lansing campus
and while i was at the lansing campus
here's what i said
the pandemic has been destructive in so
many different ways and it's disrupted
our lives in so many different ways
but i think what the pandemic has
brought to all of us is an understanding
that life is short
and there's two ways you can live life
you can live to just survive
or you can live for significance
you can you can live and say i don't
know how long i have but but i'm gonna
take every minute that i have and i'm
gonna live it to make a difference in
this world
i think when we totally say god i'm
gonna follow you that's what happens
and why you thinking about that i want
you to see a story of a lady who that
happened for name emily watch this
i grew up in a christian home and i grew
up going to church really involved in
youth group i had all these really great
mentors and people and church people in
my life but i just
started down a not so good path and my
priorities really shifted i
began experimenting at first just with
like drugs and alcohol and then
eventually really became
kind of overcome by that
i really tried to keep the facade and
the outside image like everything was
cool i was like you know still had it
together but when i got to college i
really embraced that identity as like a
party girl and really struggled for a
number of years with that
for me there was a lot of like self
like hatred almost like i knew what i
was doing wasn't what god made me to do
but i
just
like i couldn't stop doing what i was
doing and i hated that about myself and
there it got really dark honestly
one specific day
i just woke up and knew that i wanted
something different and that i wanted to
change so i called my mom and told her
kind of what had been going on with me
and then i sought treatment and kind of
got immersed in a 12-step recovery
program
there was a lot of work to be done and
like overcoming and learning how to live
a life that was like healthy and sober
and all of those things but i feel like
god just came in and took away the
struggle and that was
just huge freeing like this this weight
lifted off of me
i chose to do it on easter just because
the story of easter has always just been
so powerful to me your old self is
crucified with christ and then you're
raised again a new life and i just
thought that was really like
powerful and that really that's what i
desired out of the whole experience was
to just like let that old life go i
really think i still again like four
years you know removed from my old life
i think i still carry that guilt and
shame and so the experience of just
being baptized and
just being buried in risen was just like
so incredibly powerful
i would say the number one thing about
me was that like i was an alcoholic or i
was an addict and coming to 242 in the
community around here that i those
things were true about me but i felt
like my primary identity started to be
just that i was a child of god and they
just loved me for the sole fact that
like i was a child of god
god has just blessed my life in so many
ways and this community has blessed my
life in so many ways and now i know that
i'm never alone because god is with me


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