Campbellsville University Chapel - 9.23.15
I want to begin today by asking you a question. It's a question that has the power to change your perspective, thoughts, emotions, decisions and actions. It's a question that I believe the Lord would have all of us ask ourselves because it has to do with the posture of our hearts.
The question is simply this -- What is at the center of your life? At the end of chapel today we'll make some space to allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the answer to that question, but first I want to tell you a little about my story.
Growing up I learned from a young age as we all do, that the world instills value in us based on our performance, our works. Maybe it was growing up the son of a preacher, or maybe it was just being a human, but I spent all my waking moments vying for value and affection from friends, peers, the cool kids, the weird kids, the lady at the drive through... whoever I could convince to like me. I also learned from a young age that people who were good at music and played in bands seemed to be well-liked, so I found myself spending hour upon hour hammering away at an instrument not so much out of my love of music, although I did love music, but because the better I got the more valuable I felt I was.
Fast-forward to college and all those decisions and beliefs grew and grew as I had earn to my value with a whole new group of people, entirely on my own. Finally it got to a place where I grew so weary, so tired of all the endless searching for value that I got to the end of myself. I found myself on the front pew of our campus worship service in December of my sophomore year, finally opening my heart to God because I had nothing else to do. I prayed one simple thing, "God I'll do anything, just tell me what to do." Even in the incredibly vague nature of my prayer God knew exactly what I was asking for even when I didn't. And in his love for me he responded. I experienced first hand for the first time in my life something I heard many believers talk about. I heard the voice of God. Not externally, but crystal clear in my heart. He said, "It needs to be you and me for a while."
He was telling me to stop seeking value from that which is external. He was telling me to stop running to anything and anyone in search of what only he could give. He was inviting me into an adventure of discovering the value I already have in him not because of my good works, but because of his good heart.
In Revelation 3:20 we see God extend this same invitation to the Church in Laodicea. This is the church about which just a paragraph before God famously says that he will spit them out of his mouth.
And to this church God says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." The NLT says it this way, "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."
In Jesus' culture to share a meal with someone was to convey a sense of acceptance and value. It's for that reason the religious leaders of his day were so offended that he would eat with the tax collectors and sinners. And the same principle applies here.
We discover this same principle in Matthew 9:9-12: As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
So here's the point...
God is not like the world. He doesn't assign value to us based on our works or our sacrifices. Instead, he says that we are already valuable. The gospel is not that Jesus came to seek and save those who are found, but those who are lost. He came for us who spend all our energy seeking value from friends, family, grades, our musical ability or athletic ability to show us that we are already valuable beyond words in his eyes.
You can stop searching for value. You can stop wondering if you are worth anything. A bad grade, missed shot, dropped ball, wrong note, failed date or harmful word doesn't have to drive you to fight for worth, but rather they can drive you to your crucified Savior who in a single act of hanging on a cross declared for all the world to see that you are beyond valuable in his eyes. That you are worth the death of God himself, the only Son of the Father.
God didn't send Jesus because he had to, he sent Jesus because he wanted restored relationship with you and with me.
So back to the question I asked you at the beginning, "What is at the center of your life?" I've discovered that we center our thoughts, emotions and actions around those things which we believe give us value. From the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning we are in search of value.
First, God's desire for you today is that you would allow him to reveal the areas in which you are searching for value externally. He knows you better than you know yourself, and the Holy Spirit living inside of you searches both the depths of your heart and God's that he might act like a bridge between them.
Second, after knowing the ways in which you are searching for value externally, he longs for you to find freedom in the surrender of those pursuits through confession.
Last, he wants to reveal to you today in a personal way just how valuable you are to him. He longs for you to live each day in response to the truth that you're already valuable in his eyes, that your life and works would be a response to him rather than a pursuit of value.
He knows that as you discover your value in him, you will naturally begin to center your life around meeting with him because it's in spending time with him that you are reminded of your value and you experience the wonderful, life-giving nature of his grace-filled love.
So with whatever time is left let's take a moment to invite God into this process of prayer that we might discover our value and center our lives around the only One who truly satisfies our restless hearts.
1. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind any ways in which you are pursuing value apart from him.
2. Now let's bring those frivolous pursuits to Jesus that we might find freedom in his forgiveness and love.
3. Ask God to show you in this moment how valuable you are to him. Pay attention to any thoughts you have, pictures you see or words you hear.
Let's take a moment to rest in his presence and in a renewed sense of value in him.
If there's one thing you should devote yourself to in college, it's setting up a rhythm for meeting with God. It's only when our lives are centered around meeting with God that we experience the fullness of life that Jesus died to give us.
It was in college that I discovered the truth up on these screens that changed my life forever, that you can encounter God.
Part of my job has been creating this daily devotional called First15. It incorporates daily worship, a devotional thought and guided prayer that can all be done in 15 minutes. It's by no means the only way to spend time with God. There are tons and tons of amazing devotionals out there to aid you in your pursuit of meeting with God. I simply wanted to offer another way that's fast and free for the people of God to encounter God on a daily basis.
You can go to first15.org if you want to check it out.