Last Sunday, we had the privilege of hearing a sermon from James McPherson, senior Pastor of Calvary Christian Church, in Queensland. Each week, we walk away from the sermons at Energizer Church feeling inspired, as Pastor Dave and the entire preaching team build on powerful messages and the Word that God is speaking.I always walk away feeling refreshed and revitalised, and this week I felt that James’ message cut through to us at all at a time of real breakthrough for Energizer Church. With that said, here are 7 key messages that I took away from James’s sermon today:
God speaks into familiarity.
Can you think of a situation in your life where you’ve become really comfortable? Perhaps it’s a career path, a favourite coffee shop, a relationship, a location you live in, or a style of music; whatever it may be, I’m sure you’ll agree there are periods of life when we settle and it feels great! Why? Let’s face it, we humans love the feeling of certainty.
However, God in his infinite wisdom programmed us to enjoy moments of uncertainty too. Take surprises for instance…do you like surprises? Of course, but only the ones you love! The ones you don’t love are often called ‘problems’ or ‘challenges’, which aren’t as nice as the others…
Listening to James’ sermon helped me to become more aware that when familiarity sets in to my life, I mustn’t be surprised if God begins to move and shake everything up! Sure, change is going to be uncomfortable, but I also know that it’s necessary! Let me explain why…
In Genesis 12:1-5 it reads: “The Lord has said to Abraham, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth Will be blessed through you.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he set out from Harran.”
Can you relate to the story of Abram?
Ps. James by touching on these words in Genesis, and the uncertainty that Abram faced setting out on such a remarkable journey. Keep in mind that Abram was 75 years old when God spoke this message into his life, so no matter what age or period of life you’re going through, rest assured that God will call on you; it’s necessary that you embrace it when he does!
Just because you’ve come to Jesus doesn’t mean life is going to be smooth sailing!
Ps. James recounted that when he first came to Jesus, there was a belief that his life was going to be filled with instant certainty. I definitely resonated with this, because I remember what the concept of ‘salvation’ sounded like when I first heard it. It was exciting…the thought of just letting all of the crap in my life go, so that I could be free of it forever!Perhaps, like me, there was a part of you that fell in love with the idea that once you become a Christian, God will take care of you and all fear and pain will subside? Well, how untrue that is and how grateful we must be as a result!
The truth is that becoming (and remaining) a Christian is a always a tough road, and my own journey has only just begun! However, the deeper truth is that because of the power and love that God has for each one of us, there has come a period over the last few months during which I have begun to view my struggles as situations to be truly grateful for.
When I realised that life as a Christian is happening for me and not to me, I began to feel a sense of freedom. I realised that coming to Jesus was the beginning of a new journey, and despite the inevitable challenges I’ll face along the way, it’s much better than feeling completely lost!
“To be certain of God is to be unsure of everything else”. Ps. James then touched on a series of questions in his sermon, three of which are ‘Spiritual’ and three which are ‘Natural’…
The Identity Question: Who am I?
The Meaning and Purpose Question: What am I here to do?
The Life After Death Question: What’s going to happen to me when I pass?
How many times have you asked yourself these questions? I know I have…a LOT. Sometimes we may even get to a point where these 3 questions become overwhelming, So instead, have you ever shot for the natural or ‘earthly’ questions?
Who am I going to live this life with?
How am I going to afford this?
How am I going to get to where I need to be?
We humans “are not designed to live a life with our feet in mid-air”. Instead, it’s crucial for us to have some foundation of certainty and clarity, otherwise we drive ourselves insane with anxiety and worry about everything either side of the present moment.
So how did Ps. James overcome this challenge of uncertainty? He said that when he truly gave his life to Jesus, the three Spiritual questions were finally answered! Phew! Now life began to make sense, and no longer did he avoid asking these seemingly impossible-to-answer questions. For the first time in his life, James was certain – on arguably the deepest level there is!
To be certain of God is to be unsure of everything else, so let’s do ourselves a favour and hand everything else over to God! You never know where it may lead you…
“God is big on command and light on detail”
Let’s go back to the story of Abram in Genesis 12 for a moment…
God asked Abram, at age 75, to leave everything behind and follow him: his house, his belongings, his livelihood…everything! Naturally, if you were Abram in this situation, you might ask the question, “Ok God, but before we head off do you mind if I ask…where are we going?”
How would you feel if this were the answer back from God? “Don’t worry Abram… I’ll tell you when we get there!”
James mentioned that when he began to feel certain in God and the answers to Spiritual questions became clear as a result, his life began to shift dramatically. As a result, instead of having all the answers to the Natural questions as he once did, James had to now be ok with being completely CLUELESS about how he was going to live, who he was going to share the journey with, and where he was going to end up. Scary stuff…
God is big on command and light on detail. What does this mean? As I said before, to be certain of God is to be unsure of everything else, because God will ask you to take leaps of faith and you have to be okay with knowing where you’ll end up. Yes, it’s painful, because our brains love to be in control, but, in essence, don’t you believe this uncertainty is what makes the Christian life so incredibly dynamic?
The most pivotal moments in life are when we let go of control.
Have you ever been faced with a fear or decision that’s lingered for months, even years, and when you finally took action you, broke through and said, “Wow, I feel great! I can’t believe it took me that long to (*fill in the blank*)!”
I’m going to assume that if you had a tough decision that lingered, there was a part of you that got so tired of trying to control the outcome, you finally just let go and let God! Lo and behold, on the other side was a massive shift that most likely resulted in significant growth for you. This is called a BREAKTHROUGH.
Later in his sermon, I loved the way Ps. James explained the importance of doing our due diligence in life. James communicated that we all need to use our brain and think things through, especially if they’re potentially life-changing decisions we need to make. However, there comes a point when you have to relinquish the control of how you’re going to get to the other side. Why? Because when everything is fixed, there’s no room for FAITH!
Is there something in your life you should take action on, without control over the process or outcome? Does it scare you? Good, it probably means it needs to be done, so take a leap of faith and go for it!
Uncertainty increases with leadership.
Matthew 8: 19-20 – “Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, ’Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
This passage from Matthew is an example of Jesus explaining the journey of Christianity. As you progress through your own journey, and as you expand and grow into positions of leadership, it’s important to understand you will be met with compounding levels of uncertainty. The reason for this is that God will ask you to take leaps of faith, and when you follow Jesus, you’re never going to know what to expect as a result. However, what you can be certain of is the depth of appreciation and wisdom you gain along the way.
There’s something incredibly powerful about releasing your former identity and being reborn as Christian. I’m not sure where you are on your journey, but I believe that as long as you continue to lean into the uncertainty of life, then God will use you in a special way. As Bishop T.D Jakes once said, “God will promote you to the level of your tolerance of pain.” So go forth and embrace the uncertainty!
What good thing do you need for eternal life?
Matthew 19: 16-22 – “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’
‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’
‘Which ones?’ he enquired.
Jesus replied, You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.’
‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’
Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
Wow…the young man seemed to have everything, and all of his Natural questions had been answered! So why did the young man walk away from Jesus feeling sad? Because he couldn’t let go of control…
In his final message, Ps. James shared with us the importance of relinquishing control of what’s in front and behind us. Like a crash of rhinos, which can only see less than 10 metres in front of them, we must all move together with faith. We as a Church will never know what’s ‘out there’ or on its way, but we do know what power is within all of us – and we’re willing to crash through all challenge that lies ahead!
At Energizer Church, I feel there’s more room than ever for God to move. As James mentioned at the end of the sermon, much of what we do looks controlled, but Ps. Dave, Ps. Alix and everyone else are taking leaps of faith in uncertainty, because of the way God is speaking. I may not have been at the church long, but I’m sure it’s the way it’s always been, and always will be!
It’s an oxymoron to have nervous and stressed Christians, and we’re breaking through as a Crash of Christians on a mission to spread the word of God. So Church, let’s continue to Love Local and Love Global!
Thank you again to Pastor James McPherson for your inspiring words of wisdom. It was a truly life-changing morning for me, and I’m sure the rest of the Energizer team feel the same way. All the best and God bless!