Category Archives: Messiah

Christ, Our Blessed Hope

Title: Christ, our Blessed Hope

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4.1-5.1

Introduction: This morning we reach the conclusion of this Summer’s Sermon Series: HiStory. Last week we ended the 9th sermon in this series with an empty tomb. The tomb is empty because Jesus is risen. And what’s more… we have this hope that we will rise again in like manner, should we face death before he returns.

Our text for this morning’s sermon is found in 1 Thessalonians 4. We’ll be there this morning, so go ahead and turn there: 1 Thessalonians 4.1. A 2nd place we’ll be is in Titus 2. So, if you’d like to put a bookmark there…

This sermon is the last sermon in a series entitled: HiStory. The premise behind the series is that the whole of the Bible is one story. From beginning to end, the story is all about Jesus. God’s intention from before the foundation of the world was to save his people and to send his son, Jesus, to be the savior of his people.

We opened this series with a look at the perfection of creation and how it was ruined in Adam and Eve’s rebellion. As they were banished from the garden, God gave them a promise of someone who would come and restore things. Gen. 3.15 was the 1st indication that Jesus would someday come. In the future, somehow, someway, the snake crusher would come and restore what was damaged.

We saw how life in the fall was a continual downward spiral, until God destroyed it all in the flood, but saved 8 people and a bunch of animals through the Ark. Creation was destroyed  and God started all over.

This 1st section of the series was my favorite. I loved how our Community Group spent extra time in this section observing a film entitled: Genesis: is it history? Del Tackett was our guide and narrator. I highly recommend this documentary if you’re looking for help in strengthening your biblical worldview.

In Genesis 12, God picked a man from whom he would build a nation and from whom the Promised One would come. This nation would be his people (Israel) and he would be their God. The problem was that they, too, rebelled, like Adam and Eve. Instead of serving and following God, they chose to worship and serve idols.

God sent them Prophets, Priests and Kings, but somehow, someway, they still rejected the God who loved them. Their priests didn’t intercede like they should have. Many of these priests were worried more about themselves than teaching the people and interceding for the people. Their Kings never lived up to the role. One came pretty close – his name was David. He set an example of what the true King would one day look like. But he wasn’t the promised King. No, these Kings led the people astray. God sent them prophets to tell the people His words. But the people rejected the prophets. They beat them, shamefully mistreated them and in some cases, killed them.

In so many ways, many of these prophets pointed to the Promised One, but none of them were him. After many years of being caught up in a cycle of following God, not following God – God grew silent. There were no prophets to tell them God’s Word. No kings either. The people entered a time of darkness and silence for 400 years.

Then one day, after those 400 years of silence from God, the Promised One finally came. God’s voice broke the silence. God’s son lit up the darkness. He came and lived a perfect and sinless life. Then, he died on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for the sins of the world – to restore that which had been damaged. And, after three days of laying lifeless in a tomb, he rose again.

Many of his followers thought that the Kingdom would be restored when he rose from the dead, but instead, he delayed the coming Kingdom. Instead, he commissioned his followers to share this good news of redemption with the world until he does return for his people.

Titus 2.11-13: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

There is so much to unpack in these three verses, and that isn’t even our task today! It is an outline for our lives in this era: God’s grace Saved us, God’s grace is Sanctifying us, preparing us for glory. For now, what I really want to focus on is what Paul calls our Our Blessed Hope, which is Christ’s Glorious Appearing.

  • The hope you and I have as believers, as we live out our lives in this present age, isn’t the rapture to escape the tribulation.
  • The hope you and I share as believers as we live in this present age isn’t perfect health and untold riches of materialism.
  • The hope you and I share as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as we live godly lives in this present age is Christ and his glorious appearing!

Let’s break down Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica:

  1. 1st, he tells the Thessalonians how to live while we wait for his appearing (4.1-12).
  2. 2nd, he tells them what to expect when Christ returns, especially for those who already died (4.13-18).
  3. 3rd, he tells them of the Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11). He’ll finish his comments on this in his next letter, 2nd Thessalonians when he teaches them about the lawless one, the antichrist.

Transition: let’s look at this 1st section, which outlines for us how then we shall live…

How then shall we live?

I. We Walk with our Lord (4.1-12)

exp.: rd v 1-3a; Sanctification is often seen in two phases. There is the immediate phase and the process phase. In a very real sense, we are sanctified at our conversion. And, in a very real sense, we struggle with sin throughout our lives – not experiencing total sanctification in this body until this life is through. Our statement of faith teaches this better than any other document. Let me quote from the BF&M 2000:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior
  2. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  3. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  4. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Glorification is what we’ll experience at his glorious appearing. For now, though, how then shall we live?

I think it helps to understand that there is in one very real sense the sanctifying process that God is at work in us and on the other hand, there is a very real sense that there is our responsibility to be at work in the sanctifying process. Many Christians call this ‘the walk’. In Philippians Paul told the Christians at Philippi that they were to be “working out” their salvation with fear and trembling as God was “working within” them to will and to act according to His good purpose. Look what Paul says to Thessalonians here:

  • Be holy: rd v 3-7; avoid immorality, impurity;
  • Brotherly Love: rd v9-10; and then he gives them some instruction on neighborly affairs: rd v 11-12
  • Walk properly before outsiders: live quietly, mind your own affairs, work with your hands, and be dependent on no one.
  • Being Holy is how you live within yourself – it manifests itself externally, but it is an internal quality. Brother Love is the display of your holiness within the church. But there is contact with the real world, too. That is your … as he calls it …‘walk’ as seen by outsiders.

app.: We walk with the Lord and our work is a witness to those who are lost. Not that our walk saves us, but that rather our walk is a demonstration of what we believe to a lost and dying world.

t.s.: How then shall we live? 1st, we walk with the Lord. 2ndly,

II. We Wait for His Glorious Appearing (4.13-18)

exp.: waiting means that life goes on – day after day, month after month, year after year as we walk with the Lord; And, a big part of life is death; this was a concern for the Corinthian church we looked at last week – and, it is a concern for these folks in Thessalonica, too. They didn’t have a lot of doctrine to go with their newfound faith. Remember, the Jews had a foundation for their faith. The Gentiles, not so much! So, they had a lot of questions. For them, they wondered what would happen when their loved ones died. Would those who passed on miss out on Christ’s return?

Let’s read what he tells them; rd v 13-14; Paul told the Corinthians in his final letter to them that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord; Paul tells the Thessalonians here something very similar: that as their loved one’s body lay in the grave, their spirit was with the Lord; Then, when Christ returns, they will accompany Him.

ill.: As I quoted from Joni Eareckson Tada last week: One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed. Paul says, that those of us who are still alive will certainly not precede those believers who’ve gone before us.

app.: Rd v 15-16; And so, while we continue in this body, we wait. As our loved ones die and are buried, we wait. We wait for his glorious appearing where we will … rd v 17-18: 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

t.s.: We have this hope – not a hope like it is going to rain, but a certain knowledge and faith that communicates: at his glorious appearing we shall be with him.

So, How then shall we live? we walk with the Lord, we wait for his return, and..

III. We Watch for The Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11)

exp.: why do we watch? Well, read with me v1-2; we watch because it is unexpected and we don’t want to be caught off guard. Rd v 3-4; look at these three phrases that describe the suddenness of Christ return:

  • Like a thief in v2
  • Sudden destruction in v3
  • To surprise you in v4

Exhortations: (in v6-11)

  • Stay sober and awake! Because, it will come suddenly and without expectation!

Transition: there are many terms and teachings on this doctrine called eschatology. And, in preaching a message like the sermon this morning, I’m ever aware of the differences of opinion when it comes to End Times. That’s right, I said opinion. There are those who would disagree with me: they are so dogmatic, that they think they’re the only one’s who are right!

Let me take some time to lay out four truths that we should all agree on and avoid the hot topic areas of disagreement. This Wednesday night, our Community Group will be discussing these different views and I’ll lay out for you there what I see in these passages and in Revelation. In that meeting we will look at the areas of disagreement. For this morning, I arrange these doctrinal truths on which we should all agree from the book on systematic theology by Wayne Grudem. Bruce Demarest, a mentor of mine at Denver Seminary, also has a wonderful systematic theology in 3 volumes. It doesn’t read as easy as Grudem’s, but it is a wonderful indepth look at the end times. I’ve chosen to use Grudem’s outline because it was handy.

  1. There will be a sudden, personal, visible, and bodily return of Christ. like a thief in the night… Note all four aspects of his return:
    1. Sudden and unexpected
    2. Personal: he is coming with his army of angels
    3. Visible: this isn’t some spiritual type of return, we’ll see it.
    4. Bodily: Christ Body isn’t in the grave and he didn’t have just a spiritual resurrection after his death. He was raised physically, and he’ll return physically.
  2. We have no idea when Christ will return. The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mt 24.44); for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Mt. 25.13); Jesus said that no one knows the day, not the angels, nor even the Son – only the Father knows the day he has chosen. (Mk 13.32-33). You and I can know the season – we can see the time for his return, and I believe that it will be soon and very soon. But as for that day… no on knows.
  3. We should eagerly long for Christ’s return. Maranatha, Even so, Come Lord Jesus. And as Titus records: 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Christians should be eagerly and expectantly longing for Christ’s return. For someone to hope for his delay because he loves this world and his life in this world demonstrates a tremendous misunderstanding of what this life is to be. If this is all you hope for, you’re missing something very important. You’re not understanding sin and its effects.
  4. No matter how you get there eschatalogically, Evangelicals pretty much all agree on the final results: we will all stand before the Son of God – unbelievers to judgment and believers to their reward. Believers will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth. In this place – this new heaven and earth – believers will worship God in a never-ending kingdom where there is no more sin, no more sorrow and no more suffering.

Conclusion:

Dr. Harry Pritchett, Jr. tells the story of a friend he had, who taught 8 year olds in Sunday School. In a Sunday school class of 8-year olds Philip stuck out because of his Down’s syndrom. Eight-year-olds can be cruel. The third-graders did not welcome Phillip to their group. Not just because he was older. He was “different.” And because he suffered from Down’s Syndrome, he had many difference that were quite obvious: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of what we used to call ‘mental retardation’.

One Sunday after Easter, the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle — the kind in which some ladies’ pantyhose used to be packaged. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child. On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of “new life” and place that symbolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each youngster would explain how his find was a symbol of “new life.” So … The youngsters gathered ’round and put their eggs on a table, and one by one, the teacher began to open them. 

One child had found a flower. All the children “oohed” and “aahed” at the lovely symbol of new life. In another was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls said. Another egg opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. “That’s crazy!” one said. “How’s a rock supposed to be like a new life?'” Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, “That’s mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different.” Everyone laughed. The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing in it. “That’s not fair,” someone said. “That’s stupid,” said another. The teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Phillip. Looking up he said, “It’s mine. I did it. It’s empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty.” The class fell silent. From that day on Phillip became part of the group. They welcomed him. Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again.

Phillip’s family had known he would not live a long life; just too many things wrong with the tiny body. That summer, overcome with infection, Phillip died. On the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boys and girls, confronted the reality of death, marched up to the altar–not with flowers. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love – an empty egg …

You see, believers get it. They know the meaning of the empty egg story. Like Philip, they say I have life because the tomb is empty; they know the hope of life after death because Christ is risen. And, they know the hope of His Glorious Appearing –

  • And so, they walk with God every single day of their lives;
  • They wait patiently, knowing that one day he will return and
  • They keep a watchful eye out, because it will happen when this world least expects it.

Let’s pray…

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Filed under 1 Thessalonians, Eschatology, Messiah, Resurrection, Scripture, Sermon

The Messiah Finally Arrives

Introduction: In Shakespere’s history of Henry the V, the king takes the cloak of a commoner and walks amongst his men. It is 3.00 am and the sound of hammers hitting against metal ring out in the night. It is a somber sound of what is to come and the men know it. Soon they will be in battle against the French, who outnumber them by a large number. In the course of his walk, and incognito, he stops and chats with some of the men. Shortly, their conversation grows terse. One of the men tells the king that if they weren’t getting ready to battle, he would box his ears. Of course, he doesn’t know he’s the king. The king tells this man to give him something that he would recognize later on. He tells the man that he’ll wear it “on his bonnet”. So then, when he sees him again, and recognizes his property on this man, he can do just that – box his ears. As a reader, you know this guy would never threaten to beat up the king. But this guy has no idea who he is talking to… he has no idea who is in his presence.

1 Corinthians 2.8 says: None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The religious leaders who killed Jesus failed to see who was right there in their midst. They had all of the information, but their minds failed to process that information.

Which brings me to the task this morning:

  • Identifying the Messiah.
  • And 2ndly, properly presenting him to the world.

t.s.: this morning, I want to help us fix our eyes upon Jesus… and see him for who He really is. And then, present Him to the world. The text I’ve chosen to do this with is Philippians 2. Look with me at Philippians chapter 2.

In Philippians 2.5-8 we learn some important doctrinal concepts about who Jesus is. Rd Phil 2.5-6a;

1st we see that Paul is teaching us that…

I. Jesus is God (5-6)

exp.: Can I preface my remarks with the statement that it is most difficult to describe a spiritual existence with physical terms; Paul writes that he is ‘God in form’; μορφή; you’re most familiar with the word metamorphosis meta: change; Μορφή: form

ill.: Mark 9.2: μεταμορφόω

Here, Paul is teaching us that Jesus is God. Before we know him any other way – He is God. His nature, his form, his essence, his position is God. Let’s continue; Rd 6.b; 2ndly, Paul says that Jesus is equal to God, that is: ‘God in equality’; if a=b and b=c, then a=c; if the Father = God and the Son = the Father, then the Son = God. John brings this out multiple times in his Gospel; in Jn 1.1; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Two uniquely individual parts or persons in the same Godhead. In Jn 5.18 this very clear concept was a very real problem for the religious leaders: 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

app.: Paul’s teaching is clear: Jesus isn’t partly God; he isn’t from God or of God; Jesus is God – 100%

t.s.: notice 2ndly that Paul teaches us that…

II. God became a Man (He condescended) (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6b-7a; God becoming man is really an incredible action; and hard to fathom; there are certain traits Paul uses to describe this action; the one trait he magnifies in this passage is Humility (v3, 8): rd 6b; though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped… look at this humility displayed:

  1. Though he was equal with God, he let that go; he condescended, he stooped down, rd v 7a;
  2. Though he was fully God, he Poured himself out; κενόω; Emptied himself; This word means to pour out until empty – to empty out something, like pouring our everything within a pitcher. Jesus was fully God, but made a choice to empty himself of those divine qualities, characteristics and become a man. But there is more…rd 7a-b;
  3. Though he was master and King, he became a slave; δοῦλος; BTW: same word here, μορφή; Talk about a swinging pendulum – talk about a major transformation! Not did he just go from God to Man, but he went from God – the highest place, to the lowest place, a slave. Rd 7c; being born in the likeness of men.
  4. Being born means that he became human. Our text last week focused upon the fact that he was born of a woman – the fulfillment of prophecy. He could have arrived in pomp and circumstance in God form, but he would not have been able to die for the sins of man.

app.: Before we move to v 8, I’d like to clarify a couple of misperceptions about what we’ve just read.

  1. Jesus never stopped being God. Even while he was in the flesh as man, he was and is still God. His form may have changed, but who he is never did. Having emptied himself of certain divine characteristics it did not limit his ability nor his function as God. Jesus, becoming a man, never stopped being God.
  2. He wasn’t a mixture of both (say 50%-50%). He was 100% God and 100% man. James 1.17: 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. We probably first learned this doctrine from the song: “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

So, if Jesus never stopped being God and he isn’t a mixture of one part and another part, how is it that he sometimes seems limited?

  1. His glory as God was hidden beneath or behind his human nature. So well hidden was this phenomenon, that some people actually thought he wasn’t a very good man, let alone, that he was God. Others saw it clearly (John 20, Thomas: My Lord and my God). Still, those who couldn’t just could not get past this idea that Paul says: he emptied himself. For them, Jesus wasn’t anything near what they had expected – a mere man, as they saw him. He hid his glory beneath or behind his human nature.

t.s.:  now, let’s read v 8; Paul is teaching us that God sent us His son to die for us.

III. Jesus was sacrificed for our sin.

exp.: Jesus is the One who was to come. He is the Messiah. We would know that he was to come because for centuries God had told all about him. The information is there… we just need to process it.

His one purpose, as we looked at it last week in Galatians 4.4-5, was to redeem us.

1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. You see two parts in this verse:

  • The sacrifice of Christ and
  • Our call to sacrifice for others.

Let’s deal with this 1st part: Christ’s sacrifice.

Why? Why would Christ die for us? Truthfully, that is an ocean too deep and too broad for us to comprehend. When you consider the sum of its parts, you’re left undone. Really, you are! Consider the 1st part of that verse: By this we know love.

  1. God is love… it is who he is… and so, he loves us. That in itself is almost too much to take in: that God in perfection would love someone like me – a sinner. Someone who rejected him. Someone who is selfish and can be so unkind. 1 Jn 4.8 says point blank: God is love; I don’t mean to imply that God is touchy-feely or that he is akin to humans. We must never take our human traits and place them upon God. True, we are made in his image, but please remember the he is not to be made in our image. He loves differently than we do. His love is a perfect love. Our love fails in so many ways. Which brings me to my second application.
  2. His work to save us comes to us totally free and undeserved. God’s love is unmerited. Eph 1.4: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. You and I don’t love that way. We try, but we fail. Not God – in his perfect love, he offers this precious gift of salvation through the sacrifice of his Son, free and unmerited.

Ill.: In our Community Group I asked our folks to ponder the lengths God went to in order to save us…in order to save you! Let’s do that for a moment. Move beyond this moment in time we’re looking at – when Christ was sacrificed and consider what God was doing to get to this place. God was at work before the creation of the world to restore what would go wrong. God was always… God has always been at work bringing about the restoration of what was destroyed in the garden.

Which brings us to our second goal this morning: properly presenting him to the world. In Mark, Jesus is quoted as saying: Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

In our video, Kevin DeYoung said: as you’ve probably heard by now and should definitely tell someone else…

See the verse above and when you consider this word world (Go into all the world), I want you to think ‘badness’ over ‘bigness’ (D.A. Carson in his little book, The Difficult Doctrine of Love brings this out so beautifully). The word world is often times used to describe the evil that has infiltrated God’s creation because of sin. There is not doubt that at times this word means the earth, but at other times it is used to describe the sinfulness of man.

  • Be in the world, not of it.
  • Paul said of Demas in 2 Timothy: 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Paul isn’t saying Demas loves this big planet, but rather the wicked ways of this world.

When you hear 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Think badness, not bigness.

The word So is not a definition of God’s love, but rather the demonstration of God’s love. I’ve used the terms manner and measure before. Then, consider the world not in its bigness, but in its badness. And, let that settle over you. Oh, how amazing God truly is, that He would work to restore what has been destroyed.

When you look at the whole picture from Creation to today, stop at the flood. God was so repulsed at the world, that he destroyed it all and started over. This time though, he sent his son.

The 2nd part of 1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. This is our call to sacrifice for others.

For sure, there is no place on this earth that we should not go to take this message. But don’t think of it geographically, but rather as demographically. Infiltrate all of its badness with this good news to every single person. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the only antidote – the only hope against evil.

Lisa was telling me this week that one of her messages, Bible studies for the children during VBS was John 3.16. One task with the kids was to answer why Jesus came.

Why did God the Father send Jesus? Jesus came to Restore what had been damaged at Creation through Adam and Eve’s rebellion.

What did he do for us? Their 2nd task was to Recognize what Jesus did. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin; thereby, making this restoration possible.

3rd, they were asked, “How should you Respond to this Good News?” Believe and Receive. 2ndly, go and tell. Because they don’t know – they’ve not heard. It is as if Jesus is right there in their presence but they just don’t recognize him.

Transition: All of what happened from the very beginning has pointed us to this moment – the virgin would be with child and give birth to a baby boy, who would be called Emmanuel: God with us. This baby would grow into a young boy and into a young man. He would live a perfect and sinless life, thereby making him the only one who could pay the penalty for sins: yours and mine. He would die on a cross, making atonement for our sin. He would rise from the dead and ascend to the Father where he rules and reigns in glory as we await his imminent return.

Why did he come? He came to restore that which had been damaged. Our part then is to recognize the lengths God went to restore what has been damaged in sending his son to die for our sin. And, then we should respond appropriately with that Good News.

Conclusion: I met Jesse as a young man in the Army. We were stationed together and he had just been reassigned to my company. He was to me, larger than life. He had a personality they just drew others to him, including me. What was truly amazing to me was that he wanted to be my friend. I’m not sure anyone has influenced my life like Jesse did. Sure, many have had an influence, but Jesse influenced me as a total person.

He could always tell a good joke. He made me laugh so hard. I wanted to be able to tell jokes like he did. So, I practiced. Sometimes, I could just look at him and he’d make me laugh. He could just make a certain face or movement and he would set me off.

We went to the same church. Jesse could give me the giggles and that’s bad during a sermon!

He was so outgoing – not afraid to talk to anybody. I liked that in him. So, I tried to be more like him when I met people. I think some of that was already in me, but Jesse brought more of that out in me.

Jesse was very much an outdoorsman. He could scuba dive, skin dive, surf, boogie board, snorkel, sail. He could hunt and fish. We would go night diving and spear fish while they were sleeping. Sometimes, he would go down and pet a gigantic fish while it slept. He could reach out and grab a lobster with his hands. I could never do that. Jesse could hold his breath for what seemed like endless minutes. He would go down, find a lobster or gigantic eel, like those in the Little Mermaid, and then call me down. I would swim down, holding my breath. He’d point out something fascinating and then I’d have to go back up to catch my breath. He’d stay down there for a while and then swim back up. Amazing.

Jesse was the best friend I think I ever had. In many ways, I wanted to be just like him.

As I look back on that relationship, I worshipped Jesse in many ways. I know I have to be careful when I say that, because it can be misunderstood. But that is probably a good word to describe the relationship we had.

App.: When you worship something or someone you begin to take on those characteristics and manners. When you take someone or something and hold it out there before you – and, it consumes your focus and attention – a part of you changes. Now, that can be really good or that can be very bad.

What or who do you worship? What or who influences your life? Your decisions? Your actions? If Jesus is your idol, your object of worship, you will become more like him. And that, my friends, is one of the ways the people around you will see him. Then, when you tell them about him – it will all come together.

How will you respond to Jesus? I hope he will become the center of you attention and life.

Invitation.

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