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The Never Ending Sermon

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my name is Evan ear worker i am the less adventurous of the ear worker brothers and it's great to be with you i direct our student ministry so everything from middle school through college and young adults here at the church and I always considered a real honor and privilege to speak to you and with you but especially on these weekends once a year where we get to kind of talk a little bit about student ministries and what God is doing and you might say you know every time you talk about student ministry it's always so positive surely there's some negative there if it was really negative we probably wouldn't say anything at all so the fact that we keep talking about what God is doing in student ministries and with our young people is cause for celebration even as Stephen Suzanne were talking about their trip to uganda and showing pictures and sharing what my brother Brent and Virginia and they have done over the last decade I say pictures of my brother and we see him now is the successful missionary with hundreds of Island postures coming together under his leadership and and all this but I remember him as a fourteen-year-old shipping off with my oldest brother Ben for a summer in Africa as a little punk kid and feeling the call of God on his life to give his life in missions and at 14 I think if you know 14 year olds you know how it is easy to maybe underestimate and sometimes correctly the capacity or capability they have to do great things and to see his life develop from a 14 year old hearing the voice of God and the call of God to now some I don't know 20 years later what God has done is remarkable in my own life I remember at 12 years old at a summer camp in Montana in the middle of nowhere my youth pastor asking me if I wanted to share a message from the Bible for the very first time I preached my first message I'm sure it was stunning and good at 12 years old my youth pastor Steve Stern and over the years he know as I lived a pretty screwed up you know high school life and kind of working it out still the the seed of God's call in my life and I'll tell you this i think i'm done with the message that God intends for every young person to change the world and have global impact I just think that's an unfair burden and pressure to put on young people but I will say this I think he has set apart some to have global impact and to change the world and so because of that and for all those students that will grow up to raise good families and good kids and pass on faith the next generation we as a church will continue to invest and continue to pour into young people they are not our future they are present and we will continue to see even tonight watching the worship team so many of these guys have come through this ministry over with our youth and and I remember Thomas as an intern here at the church and Lindsay moving to West Side just at a high school and to see what God does in young people's life is amazing and aren't you glad that were not just a church of one age aren't you glad we have young people in our church young people aren't you glad we have some old people in our church old people aren't you glad we have old people in our chairs right most mondays i take my little daughter Claire she's four years old to visit my grandma her great-grandma in her retirement home and it is amazing to see the life and energy that she brings that she just walks through that dining hall and the the faces that light up to see her I know this because I know what it's like when I show up without my daughter I feel threatened so on days like that I'm glad I can outrun these people right that's a little rude okay I'll scratch that for sunday I remember that but children and youth and teenagers young come on we they bring life to the church and I so believe not because my personality is such that I just click with young people I believe in young people whether I click or not and sometimes they'll tell you I don't click very well but here we are investing in generations I remember at camp city just a few weeks ago it was the first night of camp with our middle schoolers and K is raining in this building and I remember so clearly this one kid he is just over the top just so hyper so enthusiastic just going crazy in the hallway and I walked up to him and I said hey bro you're like it at an eleven can you bring it down to like a seven for me and he looked at me with these crazed wide eyes and he goes but pastor Evan this is the time of night when my meds wear off and then he cackles and he disappeared into the crowd I just stood there and disbelief I was up it was amazing I are so excited like that's the best moment I've ever had at a camp put my meds wear off story of my life so cool two days later I saw pastor Spencer actually baptized that kid and I thought this is why we do it when you want to say I'm going to chase that kid down and send him home no come on God wants to do something with young people I want to share with you a passage of scripture tonight mark 10 if you have your Bible a little bit longer of a passage from Scripture but hey you were the one decided to come to church so mark 10 starting in verse 13 says this people were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them but the disciples rebuked them when Jesus saw this he was indignant he said to them let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these truly I tell you anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it and he took the children in his arms he placed his hands on them and he blessed them as Jesus started on his way a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him good teacher he asked what must I do to inherit eternal life why do you call me good jesus answered no one is good except God alone you know the commandments you should not murder you should not commit adultery you should not steal not give false testimony you should not defraud honor your father and mother teacher he declared all these I have kept since I was a boy Jesus looked at him and loved him by the way there's no way the authors of the author of these Gospels would know that Jesus looked at him and loved him and less in the retelling of the story Jesus mentioned it is that cool the Jesus could be standard retelling the story same had I loved him so much one thing you lack he said go sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and then come follow me at this the man's face fell he went away sad because he had great wealth Jesus looked around and said to his disciples how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God the disciples were amazed at his words but jesus said again children how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God the disciples were even more amazed and said to each other then who can be saved Jesus looked at them and said with man this is impossible but not with God all things are possible with God then Peter spoke up we have left everything to follow you 29 it says truly I tell you jesus replied no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father children are fields for me in the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age homes brothers sisters mothers children and fields along with persecutions so it's good good good persecutions and in the age to come internal life but many who are first will be last and the last first let's pray and then we'll dive into this passage lo we wants you to speak tonight I i love my opinions but i don't think there is important as your word and so God would you speak through me would you bring to light what needs to be brought to light tonight as we dive into this passage in Jesus name Amen you know if Jesus was our senior pastor here if he was our primary teacher at West Side church we might be surprised because I read the Gospels and I see what Jesus taught a couple things jump out the first is that he is very redundant in his topics all through the Bible when we hear about the teachings of Jesus the vast majority is about this concept called the kingdom of God with a kingdom of heaven most of the parables that Jesus starts begin with this flying the kingdom of heaven is like and then he goes on over and over again throughout the Gospels it says that he went around town to town healing the sea healing the sick and preaching the gospel of the kingdom even after he is crucified and resurrected and a sins we find out in the book of Acts no less than five times as mentioned that his disciples don't go around just telling the story of his life and death and resurrection they do that the story of Jesus and the good news of the kingdom the kingdom and this concept that can sometimes be fuzzy to us was actually primary to the teachings of Jesus in fact you remember what he said in Matthew 6 he said but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you so he made it a priority for us as his followers to think about and consider the nature of the kingdom in Matthew 24 he tells us this that the gospel of the kingdom of God will be preached and then the end will come so even tonight as we're talking about the gospel of the kingdom we're actually fulfilling a prophecy of Jesus so you can go home and if people ask you how church was you say we just fulfilled an ancient prophecy of Jesus no big deal right the Jesus foretold that for all ages his followers would preach not just about his life and death and resurrection but they would preach about this concept of the kingdom of God so what is the kingdom of God Paul said this about the kingdom of god that is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit see the kingdom of God is that thing that that when it takes over the way that we think and act align themselves with the rain and the rule of god I love this quote by Frederick Frederick Buechner he said the kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers we glimpsed it at those moments when we find ourselves we better than we are and wiser than we know we catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength the kingdom of God is where we belong it is home and whether we realize it or not I think we are all of us homesick for it if i can simplify it and say this way this kingdom of god is what happens when God wins and for some may be in this room who are hoping for a president that will align with your values and your beliefs to usher in the kingdom back to America I've got some good news God doesn't need the white house in order to usher in his kingdom and his reign and his rule that's because he has your house to do that in see there was this moment where the Pharisees came to Jesus and they hear his his redundant sermon about the kingdom of God so they finally say I think this is luke 17 they say so when is this kingdom going to show up because remember they're under the rule and occupation of Rome they're waiting for something better something more pro-israel to rise up and they see it as an opportunity with what Jesus is saying whether they're mocking him or not and so they say when is this kingdom actually going to show up and he says this them he says it's not a kingdom that you'll be able to see and you'll be able to point over there say there's the kingdom of God because the kingdom of God is within you and so to us I say we don't need a kingdom externally we need a kingdom that comes and the kingdom reigns on the inside because when the church is inside the kingdom of God the church is unstoppable because it is in the will of Jesus and so we say like Jesus taught us your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven not politically but on the inside your kingdom come your will be done it's how he thinks it's what he says is his authority he see Jesus didn't come to refurbish earthly kingdoms he came to replace them so in the story a little context Jesus is nearing the end of his ministry at this point it's just days maybe weeks before he heads to drew slim where he will be betrayed and turned over and crucified and I always pay attention to the things that Jesus does right before his crucifixion he knows the end of his ministry is coming and like anyone in a public office whether it be a president or leader or whoever if you know the end is coming what you do at the end is very focused and important and so Jesus takes basically two chapters at least in the book of Mark here and they center around this idea of the kingdom and children just a few pages back in mark chapter 9 I believe is when Jesus takes a child on his lap and he says you must become like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven he goes on to heal a young child of demonic oppression and then he sits here and he's surrounded by these children as he says the kingdom of God belongs to such as these he uses the last moments of his teaching ministry to talk about kids it's kind of cool and if you were like me growing up in church probably in one of your sunday school rooms you had a mural of some sort either on a wall or in a book or something framed on the wall of Jesus sitting on a rock butterflies alighting on his shoulders blue sash the whole deal and he's surrounded by these children it looks very peaceful there's probably a lamb you know laying off in the distance on the hills or whatever it's very peaceful beautiful kind looking Jesus but if you notice in this passage it says that Jesus is indignant he's angry who is he angry at the disciples because here they are they've walked with him for three years they've heard him talk about the kingdom for three years they've heard his heart for three years they've seen him reach out to the people who have nothing and who are at outcasts of society they see all this and after three years they're still rebuking parents because they think that Jesus is too important to spend time with children and so Jesus rebukes his disciples and he gathers the children to himself and he says you got to become like little children to enter this kingdom and you know for the longest time I thought well that makes sense you know children are kind children are obedient children are trusting this makes hence why we got to become like them to enter the kingdom and then I had a child we my wife Alyssa and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage which is yeah thank you thank you I'm not saying thank you to you I'm saying thank you to Alyssa so 10 years and so we got a great deal in on on some tickets and we went to the beach just a few weeks ago and spent some time celebrating our first decade of marriage and we brought our daughter alone Clara four years old and there's this one night perfect weather sun is setting waters are calm there's a boat sailing in front of the sunset in front of us is a dilek right and so like any good millennial father I pull out my iphone to film it and post it on social media and so as I'm filming it it could not get any more beautiful or perfect and there's my wife our daughter is sitting on her lap the gays it out onto this amazing sunset tropical winds lightly blowing in our faces it's amazing and she doesn't say anything else with these five words and she says them over and over again I want to go home so I quickly stop the recording shut it i don't want anybody see this i was expecting daddy this is amazing daddy thank you daddy would ever price you paid to get me here I am grateful daddy you given me everything I want and more how could I repay you how can I serve you dad I'm expecting these words to come out of her mouth and instead I get I want to go home I want to go home I want to go home three times she says it the nerve the gall I i became a youth pastor the same year that i became a dad and so those two things combined have completely eradicated any misconception that jesus is talking about behavior when he says we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of God he's just not there's no way and so as i was telling this time what is he saying what what do we have to grasp what is universal with children that he would point to them and say this is how you get in and it kind of dawned on me and maybe there's more to it but I think this is so the key the Jesus is trying to communicate in this passage is this that when he looks at the children what he sees is a group of little people that have nothing to offer at all this is not something that we aspire to having nothing to offer we don't we don't reach out for failure we don't reach out for rejection I've never I've never gone on my facebook page and out of all the engagement photos I've ever seen I've never seen you know a guy post a picture of a ring in a box and said she said no how do you respond to the more fish in the sea bro I don't know in fact we had a friend years ago he was engaged and one night he showed up with a bunch of us and he said I my fiance broke up with me really sad and so all of us gaps you know circle it's okay man you were better than her he didn't deserve you and going on like this for a couple of mins and then finally he sauces he says we were just playing a joke we're still together scratch what we said she's perfect for you you guys are gonna be so happy you know to backtrack back pedal but we don't we don't usually celebrate failure you know I was played baseball parks and rec and elementary school we were terrible I mean we were we were bet you think your kids team is bad we were worse they would beat us right so I stopped and we were so bad and you know what we never did we never went out afterwards to celebrate defeat you know like hey we're going out to pizza yeah we're celebrating celebrating the big loss we probably gave only ten percent out there is pathetic yeah all right you know no one celebrates defeat and lost and here we have Jesus pointing to children excuse me pointing to children not necessarily who are failures or who have lost but who have nothing to offer any saying this is how you get access to my authority and my power and the Dominion of God that brings righteousness and peace and joy you come to me with nothing to offer and to underline his point like as if it was on cue up comes this rich young ruler other other ones the Gospels call him a rich young ruler he's young he's powerful he's influential he has money he has resources he comes to Jesus expecting most likely to be congratulated and for Jesus to be impressed because he says I've kept all the commandments I've done everything where I've checked all the boxes how many gone to the dentist in the last year that's pathetic people come on get your teeth cleaned right I don't even ask if there's dentist in the room they would be so ashamed what's that church work we're working on dental hygiene all right I am a regular flosser I regularly floss once a year before my tooth cleaning right come on everybody does that you've used the little bathroom right off the reception desk at the dentist like I've never floss first time and you know 24 months you think that's going to fool him really yeah man but I get the sense when I read this story that that's what the young man is he's like the guy who actually flosses like after every meal all year round you know so he shows up the dentist office he's like let the adulation and praise blow to me look what I've done you know I've done everything right and she just basically tells him bro all your teeth are rotten we got to replace them all you know and it's this sense of shock like how can that be all my behavior has been good all all the law following and rule abiding that's what I've done that's the life I've lived and I've reaped the rewards of it I'm rich I'm powerful I'm influential even at a young age and Jesus says that's not good enough Douglas tell everything you have and come follow me as someone who is poor see I read this and it's tough for me like I said I'm the less adventurous brother I didn't give up everything i had to move across the ocean and give my life for other people I have a comfortable life I have a nice house I have some cars and a retirement account and I have a good life and so I read this story and i think is he talking to me is Jesus a hater of wealth and rich people I don't think so many of his friends were wealthy he ate in the homes of wealthy people frequently his friend Lazarus was wealthy in fact even after he died the Bible tells us that he was buried in a rich man's tomb he had a network of wealth around him you don't see him going around to everybody and saying you know Lazar she needs to tell everything you have oh you need we all need to be poor to get he doesn't do that but to this man and to an older man named Nicodemus he comes and he says these things he says you got to tell everything you have to follow me is this because Jesus is after their wealth not for a second Jesus is after everything else as we heard from pastor bo what a beautiful message last week that the he desires our heart soul mind and strength and win that thing whatever it may be for you stands in between you and the kingdom of God and your ability to bring your whole heart and your whole mind and your whole strength and your whole soul to him because that's the thing I'm looking for and when I read this story I'm really convicted because i feel like if he were to say that to me today my response would be the same as the young man i would walk away sad because i have too much stuff that stands in between me and the kingdom because here's the deal about the kingdom of God actually want to read it first then I'll tell you what the thing is Luke chapter 6 verse 20 this is the secret of the kingdom of god I love how it says didn't Lucas has blessed are you when you are poor for yours is the kingdom of God listen the keys that the kingdom of God are available only to those that come with an open empty hand and say Jesus everything I have is yours so that everything you are can be mine when you have nothing little keeps you from trusting I don't want to say this about our church that if our church ever becomes a place only for the well-off the well resourced the well-connected it might externally look successful but it will not reflect the kingdom of God or the church the Jesus intended that until the church and as long as the church our church continues to be a place where everybody even those that have nothing to offer have a place and not a place in the back but at a place of importance we won't reflect the kingdom of God but as long as we have places not just token places but places of influence and respect for those who have nothing to offer we're going to look like the kingdom of God why do we invest in children why do we invest in students why do we why do we pour our resources into raising up next generation is it just because we're scared that once everybody over 50 goes on to the by-and-by that there will be no church left well sort of but really the reason is it's because this is what the kingdom of God looks like a place where people with nothing to offer little children and all the way I love don't you love that video from track camp Monica then when we pour our lives into those who have nothing to offer like Jesus did we will encourage them to step in to the kingdom of God and who knows maybe we'll follow their lead I think it's interesting thought to think that some of us were closer to Jesus when we were broke then when we got back into money some of us were closer to Jesus at the bottom of the barrel at the rock bottom of our lives when we were drunk or addicted or consumed with fear some of us were closer to Jesus in those moments then when we came out of it some of us were closer to Jesus sick then we are healthy Evan are you saying we should go back to the bottle and skip the flu shot and like what do you say of course not but I'm saying when you stand in this place healthy and whole and successful and free of addiction don't you dare for a minute forget what brought you here don't for a minute begin to build up such self-reliance and self-righteousness that you think you know what I'm doing pretty good I think I can step away from this thing for a little while no it is by the grace of God you stand here tonight and it is by the grace of God you will continue on and for those of you who are broke and you are sick and you are addicted and you are in fear tonight I've got great news yours is the kingdom of God because you're poor in spirit tonight and he comes to those and says look it's not for the influential it's not for the well-off it's not for those who can trust in their own resources it's for those who have no choice but to trust in mind and so for those of us who have things right for those of us who who are have resources and influence what do we do how do we get in I love this verse from Paul by the way Paul who wrote so much the New Testament is about as influential as they come he's not only a Pharisee before he meets Jesus he is a Roman citizen that is like the golden passport of their day I mean we don't have golden passports today so I guess it's just like the golden passport but he has influence and power he is well respected both in Jewish circles and enrollment circles he's educated and he said this after coming to Jesus and spending years giving his life quite literally for the sake of Christ he said in Philippians 3 7 but whatever we're gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Jesus Christ what is more I consider everything a loss because the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord for whose sake I've lost all things great hope if you if you got money and influence and power tonight there's great hope that as we count those things lost for the sake of pursuing Christ we're not excluded either you remember Abraham and Isaac Abraham the father of the Jewish nation he's old 100 years old still without a son without err God has promised him to be become a great nation and he says there's a there's a logic problem here god I don't have a son and so in a hundred years what his wife Sarah is 90 the child of the promise the miracle arrives Isaac is born against all odds he is the hope for Abraham that he won't die without an heir and then God comes to him in a vision he says I want you to sacrifice your son Isaac really all these years all this faith I'm like I'm like faith in bodies here God when people think of faith they will think of me for generations and what do I get repayment for that faith you're asking me to give up the very thing that you gave in the first place we don't see any record of Abraham negotiating or arguing in Genesis chapter 22 it simply says he got up early in the morning he saddled his donkey and he took Isaac up to the mountain and if you know the story of course he goes to sacrifice Isaac the hardest thing he would ever have to do in the sight of God and before he can lower the knife an angel stops him and says hey God's going to provide a different sacrifice but you were willing to give to the Lord the promise that he gave you you see in Abraham's hands and with Abraham's name and Abraham's resources Isaac no doubt would have become a successful person he would have been wealthy and had a great name and and even maybe became combination but listen in God's hands Isaac became a nation that stands to this day and everybody from Babylon to Nazi Germany has tried to take him out and here they stand this is what God does when we take the gift that he has given and we give it back he does more with it than we ever could I gave my daughter a little bicycle for her birthday came in a box we opened it up I gave it to her and what did she do she gave it right back to me imagine if she had opened the box that I got this dad tried to start assembling the bike she would have had a bomb of bike pieces for the rest of her childhood but see in my hands I can do a little bit better with what I've given her and so of course you put it together and why so that I can have it for myself I look good on a pink bike but known it so that she can enjoy and benefit from the gift that I intended her to have all along this is the heart of God is that when he gives us the gift we don't hoard it we don't hold on to it we don't begin to trust in the gift we hand it back and say you can do better with this than I ever could why do we dedicate our babies is it so that you know we're guaranteeing that they'll have a good life or that they'll come to know Jesus and that's just guaranteed as long as you dedicate no it's for the parents it's so that we as parents when we stand up here in a pasture praised for that baby is so that we as a parent say you know what God's going to do a better job if I trust this baby to him than I ever could on my own so we dedicate this child to you Jesus why don't we tithe because you know the church has grown broke and if you don't come through with layoffs are coming no thank god no it's because God can do a better job with your finances that you can do on your own and so we partner with him is they got I trust you nothing stands in the way of your kingdom in my heart so here i stand with an open hand the thing that you are most proud of in your life may be the very thing that is keeping you from the kingdom of God and so we asked for it yes for the tough stuff not always bad stuff sometimes I think God is just after the bad in my life if I just surrender whatever evil or sin in my life that that's all he asked for strangely enough he actually asked for the good along with it so that we would stand at the gate to the kingdom of heaven and say God Here I am I've counted everything his loss the best thing in my life pales in comparison to the least you have to offer so what does that mean should you empty out your retirement account monday morning and give it all the way please don't unless God asked you to and then run it past your spouse doesn't mean that everybody has to open up their spare bedroom for a foster kid no it doesn't but maybe it does for you does it mean that that everybody needs to send their kids to public school where it's a little bit scarier rather than keeping them home know some of you are well equipped and uniquely gifted to home-school but some who would do that out of fear need to trust God that he is with your student with your child as they head into a mission field that is the public school system fact let me ask you this how is there anybody here that the works of the public schools coaches faculty teachers administrators anybody here yeah awesome awesome anybody else yeah listen we got people on the inside you think they're all alone out there I beg to differ we got people somebody emailed me this past week said hey we're moving to bend my daughter's gonna be in the summit School District do we have anybody that is a round summit that believes in Jesus I said yeah there's a sistent tennis coach name is Steve mikkel he's great he loves Jesus I hope our senior pastor coaches tennis as someone I've spent time in the office of Alice the principal there praying for your students it's one of the joys of my ministry in my life when I can join hands with coaches and teachers in the schools and say Jesus let your kingdom come to our high schools our middle schools they're not alone so we trust him with our money we trust him with our kids we trust him with our stuff it's with open hands we come Kingdom you know in a in a culture that idolizes and magnifies ego and comfort and personal security could we just for a minute as a church choose the way of Jesus and like little children that we'd approach him and say I found nothing except for you would you pray with me tonight Lord Jesus for those who tonight maybe have some stuff in the way between their heart and your heart between their Kingdom and yours guy would you just begin to to gently as you do begin to speak to hearts father for those that maybe are imprisoned because of their stuff and the management of it parents in captivity to fear because they haven't been able to trust God with their kids business person that hasn't slept in ages because they're still stressed about business and finances and resources and payroll father for those who have done it all right in their behavior but still feel empty inside God would you come and welcome us into the kingdom would you throw open the doors and say you don't need to bring any stuff you don't need to offer anything you don't need to have the right experience the right resume come on those who are poor in spirit and I entered the kingdom and God for those who are at the bottom right now those who are struggling those who are facing impossibility as we read tonight God that it would be impossible for them but with God everything is possible that they would know tonight that theirs is the kingdom of God lowly pray let your kingdom come let your will be done in our hearts there are mines in our soul and our strength as it is in heaven Jesus we pray this in your name amen amen well just before you go people will be at the prayer wall especially if you just feel like man I feel like God speaking something and regards to this please go pray with somebody over there also one thing I want to mention I just want to throw this in if you are connected to our school systems private-public your teacher your coach you work in the school somehow i would love to personally just get to know who you are and what you do I won't spam you or anything but if you go to West Side students org simple form fill that I would love to know who is out there on our team right okay thank you so much god bless you enjoy the rest of your summer

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