A Crossroad Called Communion

crossroads

John 6:53-59 ESV

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as He taught at Capernaum.

• Jesus is masterful at making sure people don’t stay in the valley of decision for long. People can’t stay in the middle, they just can't. He went for the most graphic language to make sure people understood the importance of it all. Jesus was saying, “Either it’s all Me or none of Me.”

COMMUNION IS A DECISION REMINDER: Have you embraced the good idea or the God identity that’s yours as a follower of Jesus Christ?

Up until this, people might have thought it was just a cool thing to follow Jesus
— He walks on water, does miracles, et cetera, but then He comes out of nowhere with this language. This can’t just be a good idea. You have to identify with every part of Jesus. People get caught up in the good ideas but ideas fail. It needs to become a part of your identity.

Example: Having children is a good idea but becoming a parent is a whole different story. The idea of love is fun, but real love is a war. Having a good marriage is not just a good idea, it’s a vow.

The idea of Christianity: The religious feeling, coming in and feeling good about yourself... this isn’t just a social replacement instead of going to the club, it’s not just something you do. It’s who you are. Letting go of bitterness is not just a good idea; heaven and hell is not just an idea.

If you ever find yourself caught in the middle ground, in the crossroads, don’t get hit by this train called life. Communion reminds us that we’ve crossed over from the middle ground. Don’t get caught living on the fence. It’s uncomfortable.

TWO THINGS YOU GAVE UP THE RIGHT TO DO (IF YOU CROSSED OVER):

1) When you cross over to following Jesus, you give up the right to give some.
• A rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22) has a lot of things going for him. He did great things, but Jesus says, “Yeah you did good but I want that too.” And he hung his head. Jesus doesn’t want just some of the good. We don’t know what happened to him. God wants one thing: E V E R Y T H I N G.

BIG QUESTION: Is there still some of you in you?

• Keep in mind, we did not cross over to follow Jesus to carry any of us with us.
• Is there a little of the old habits, poverty mentality, old bitterness, et cetera, that’s crossed over with you?

GIVE ALL OF WHAT YOU HAVE NOW AND LIVE LIKE THERE WON’T BE A LATER.

• Communion reminds you that this is a "now" faith. Don’t say that “someday” you’ll give when you have more. “Someday” you might be just like you are right now: stingy. “Someday” and “almost” are curse words in our church. What you have right now is what God wants to use. He’s not interested in what kind of account your keeping for down the road. He wants you to use what’s in your hands now. Jesus gave it all so we can give it all. He gave all His grace so we can convey all His grace.

• Move from the land of the forsaken to the land of the forgiven.

2) When you cross over to following Jesus, you gave up the right to give up. 
• Silent scripture in the rich young ruler story is that he gave up when he hung his head. Jesus didn’t give up on anyone so we’re not gonna give up on anyone either. You can’t give up on your marriage. Your dream that got delayed, don’t give up. Your friend that keeps falling and you want to walk away, you gave up the right to give up on them. You might hit something that’s so heavy that it’ll make you want to give up. If you don’t have this revelation then you’ll give up too soon. Even when you fail, God doesn’t. His grace is sufficient. The cross is a high blinking light that says, NEVER GIVE UP.



CARL LENTZ

More Than You Bargained For

bargain

Have you ever gotten a gift that was pretty good at face value but then it ended up being way more than you bargained for? You can underestimate something when you don’t understand the full story—like Christmas.

What can come from a manger? 
It was more than what people bargained for. It was a baby, but it was grace in flesh. He became a man who healed people, telling religious people they were wrong, and telling prostitutes that they were redeemed. Salvation is more than you bargained for. You get His grace, His favor, et cetera, not just fire insurance.

Matthew 1:18-25 ESV

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being just a man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

NEVER REJECT THE RIDICULOUS

When God puts something in your spirit, it will not return void. This story sounds ridiculous. When Jesus shows up, everything changes. What we believe is ridiculous. We can’t judge Scientologists about what they believe because we believe some crazy stuff too. Can you imagine how ridiculous this would have been for Mary?

• Some people reject and run. Please, give God give at least as much time as you gave the world.
• If God gives you a dream, you should be showing signs. When Jesus invades your life — not church or preaching — extreme change follows. It’s not gonna feel normal to give with faith instead of giving with expectation of receiving back or to serve even though it won’t be seen.

What will you allow to develop in 2013? Will you allow it to come full-term? This will be the year you go all the way through it, even the morning sickness. When you do things that are new or if you haven’t done them in a while, it will feel ridiculous. Remember how ridiculous it was to worship in public the first time? But then you realize it’s more ridiculous not to. It’s funny how your appetite changes. Can you promise that when God puts something ridiculous in your way, you’ll see it fullterm? This is not a polaroid, but a movie. We go through seasons that change. Just when you think you’ve got God figured out, he switches it up on you.

THREE THINGS TO EXPECT WHEN JESUS INVADES YOUR LIFE:

1)  EXPECT MORE PROBLEMS — But the promise often lies within it.

Matthew 1:20 ESV

But as he considered these things, BEHOLD, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…


• “as he considered these things” = “as he was going crazy”

• “Behold” means to highly elevate above all else


• Joseph was going down the wrong thought train. You need a “behold” moment. You think you need a divorce? Behold! You’ve built this marriage on the rock and nothing can put it under.


• If it’s God’s will, it’ll be His bill. If he gives you a job, He’ll help you keep it.


•People would’ve thought, “What an inconvenient pregnancy.” — BUT! There’s a promise in that pregnancy.

DECLARATION: Be more consumed with Christ than you are with the current crisis in your life.  • Don’t ever be so heavy with grief and pressure that you tell God, “Not now! Behold later.”

2) EXPECT MORE POWER — If God said it, you can believe it.
Some people may be battling discouragement or spiritual fatigue. What you’re doing isn’t just a good idea, it’s a God idea.

Matthew 1:21 ESV

“…She WILL bear a son, and you SHALL call His name Jesus, for He WILL save His people from their sins.”

• These are promises. “She will… you shall… he will…”

• There’s power in what God said.

If God’s power is flowing through your life it should change your perspective. 

• Joseph was going about it the wrong way—“I’ve got no job, no food, etc.” But when God shows up, he realizes how much power he has.

• You have power to stand right here. Problems that used to give you fear, will now give you faith.

• Get a little bolder. “I know I got a bad report from the doctor…” but then you remember, “Wait, God is my healer.” Or your problem may turn out to be just a closed door but God created the building.

• God has given you more power than you think. • God changed your profile with his power.

• Mary was a nobody who became a somebody. Before you were just a proud, arrogant person or a jerk, but after Jesus, you’re a sinner saved by grace—you have authority, you’re forgiven, etc.

• You may be waiting for things you could do right so you could change your own profile. But Jesus already did everything. Your profile has already been changed.

3)  EXPECT MORE PEACE — If God is in it, you will walk through it.

Matthew 1:23 ESV

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means God with us).

• The name of Jesus literally means “peace”.

Bette Midler had it wrong. God’s watching us from a distance? No. God doesn’t want to be distant. That’s why he sent his Son. The man upstairs came downstairs. A lot of people mistake peace with comfort. Peace is the ability to walk through fear and uncomfortability to do what God wants you to do. Jesus had peace while he was suffering on the cross. A lot of people want understanding. What if you could understand it?

Beware of Christians who always have an explanation. Don’t let someone put a label on something that God did not. Ask God for peace that surpasses understanding. The peace of God will pull you through it no matter what’s going on. When Jesus shows up, He brings peace with Him. Whenever you see pain, know that there’s more peace coming. Whenever you see tragedy, there’s more triumph coming from God because he’ll never let the world have the last word. Logic doesn’t get you through. The peace of God does.



CARL LENTZ