Here's Anne Graham Lotz. It comes from the Gospel of John chapter 17. So let's join Anne now with her message titled, You're Invited Inside. Would you open your Bibles to the Gospel of John chapter 17? We're just going to look at the first five verses and then I'll pray with you and then I'll share with you what I believe God's put on my hearts. Gospel of John chapter 17 verse 1. After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed, Father, the time has come. Glorify your son that your son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Pray with me, please. Father, we bow before you now and we worship you as the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we acknowledge your presence here and we're asking that you would speak to us. We're asking that you would open our minds that we might understand your word and open our hearts to receive it and open our ears to hear it. So, Lord, we're asking for nothing less than everything you want to give us that you would pour out your blessing. And we're asking for it, claiming it with a boldness, not because we deserve it but because we're coming to you in Jesus' name and we ask for his glory and his glory alone.
Amen. As the story told during the years of the Depression, a little boy desperately wanted to go to the circus. He'd seen the flowers, he'd seen the banners and he kept begging his daddy, I want to go to the circus. And his daddy said, Son, we just don't have the money.
I can't afford that ticket. And the little boy, every day, he begged his daddy for a circus ticket and just said, Daddy, I just want to go so badly. And the day of the circus arrived and the little boy was begging his daddy and his daddy reached in his pocket and he said, Son, I want to show you something. He pulled out one circus ticket. And he said, I have been saving my nickels and my dimes and my quarters and I had enough to buy you a ticket and I don't have enough for two tickets so I can't go with you but I want you to have this ticket and I want you to go to the circus. And the little boy was so excited and he grabbed the ticket and he said, Daddy, this is the best present I've ever had.
This is the best day of my life. And he ran off towards town and he came to town and he saw these throngs of people. And so he worked his way through the crowd until he came to the edge of the crowd and they were standing all along Main Street. And then what he saw made his eyes pop and he was mouth dropped open and he saw lions in cages and he saw elephants walking down and they had little hats on them, these little dogs that were dressed in funny little doll clothes running around and he saw fancy ladies riding on tops of horses. And then the clowns came and they were so funny and they were just making everybody laugh. And one of the clowns came over the little boy and stuck out his hand so the little boy gave him his ticket thinking he was collecting the circus tickets. And the clown took the ticket and he went on off and pretty soon everybody went by and the crowd began to disperse and the little boy was so excited and he saw everybody sort of going outside of town but he just couldn't wait to get back and tell his daddy. So he ran all the way home and he said, oh, daddy, I've seen the circus. And his daddy said, well, what did you see?
He said, did you see the trapeze artist doing flips in the air? And no, I didn't see anything like that. And did you see the lions jumping through the hoops of fire? No, the lions I saw were in cages. And did you see the ladies dancing on the tops of the horses' backs? And no, I saw them riding. And son, tell me about what you saw. And the little boy told his daddy what he'd seen and his daddy looked at him and then he hung his head and he said, son, you didn't go to the circus. He said the circus was in a tent at the edge of town.
All you did was stand on Main Street and watch the parade go by. And I want to tell you, I think there are people, probably some of you, in this room who in your Christian life are just standing on Main Street and you're watching the parade go by. You've never entered into the tent. And you know, other people are going there and I wonder if you've been resentful because you know there's something about them.
They just seem to really know the Lord and they light up and they have a special little language and there's just a vibrancy to them and you deeply resent it but underneath the resentment, you want what they have. You just don't know what it is. And so I want to tell you what it is. I want to describe for you what's in the tent. And from John chapter 17, the first five verses, there are four things that are in that tent. And I'm not sure we're going to get to all four. I'm going to try.
We'll get at least three of them. But basically inside the tent is a relationship with God. And you're invited to enter in. And listen to me, God is not inviting you into a religion. He's not inviting you into an organization. He's not inviting you into a denomination. He's inviting you into a relationship with himself. And the relationship in these first five verses, it's personal, it's permanent, it's privileged and it's purposeful.
So let's look first of all at the relationship that's personal. By the way, this is the night that he's betrayed and his disciples are overhearing him in private conversation to his father. He's not teaching his disciples to pray. They're hearing him pray. And he begins his prayer, Father.
And right there, that would have been a shocker. Because in the Old Testament, up until that day of Jesus, the disciples would have been familiar with the God of creation and the God who sent all the plagues to Egypt and forced Pharaoh to let his children go. And the God that opened up the Red Sea and his children passed on dry ground and then the Pharaoh's army came and God collapsed that same sea on the army and destroyed it.
And the God of Mount Sinai, the God of thunder and lightning and he was awesome and powerful and majestic. Nobody would dare call him Father. So what is Jesus saying? I don't think Jesus is saying that God is like your father or my father. Now I'll tell you something about my father that not too many people think about maybe but he stated it publicly so I'll just tell you that my father wasn't a good father. Not the way we measure fathers. My father never tucked me in bed at night, never read me a story, never played a game with me, never fixed me breakfast, never helped me with my homework.
You know all the things. In fact it wasn't until I got married and had children and saw the way my husband Danny fathered our children that I thought, wow, that's what I missed. And so he wasn't a good father in that sense. I will tell you just parenthetically that my father modeled a man of God before me and I think that's the best father you can be. I wouldn't take anything for being Billy Graham's daughter.
Hell, I thank God for that. But I don't think God is saying, Ann, I'm like your father. I don't know what your father was like. Maybe your father was an absentee father like mine was.
Maybe your father abandoned you or abused you or maybe he was an alcoholic. So Jesus is not saying God is like your father. I think what he's emphasizing is that you can know God in a personal relationship because there's no more personal relationship than that between a parent and a child. And so Jesus is saying you can have a personal relationship with God. He's your father.
You're his child. And then Jesus said the time has come. What time was it? It was time for the cross. A time that he had been born for. He said he had been born to die and the time for the cross had come.
This was the night he was betrayed. And so he says the time has come for the cross. Glorify me that I might glorify you. And to glorify God doesn't mean that you have a bright shining light and sort of we think of as glory. It means to reveal his character in a unique way. So when Jesus is saying, Father, glorify me at the cross, he's saying reveal my character in a unique way at the cross. How did God do that? You know how God did that? It's at the cross that God reveals Jesus is the only savior there is.
There is no one else. The only way you can have your sin forgiven. The only way you can be reconciled with God. The only way you can get to heaven is through faith in Jesus at the cross. There is no other name given under heaven among men whereby you can be saved, just the name Jesus. And the cross is the proof of that.
And you know why? Because if there had been any other way to take away your sin, any other way to give you eternal life, any other way to reconcile you to the Father and open up heaven for you, God would have found it. Did you see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ? I could only watch it once.
Brutal. And I remember Pope John Paul making the comment that's the way it was. And maybe it was worse than that because Isaiah said Jesus was marred more than any man. Now can you imagine a God who so loved his only son that he would give him to us and allow him to go through that brutality if there had been any other way? There's no other way.
And so for me that's not a problem. I just want to thank God that he made a way. He didn't even have to make a way.
But he did. He made one way for me to get right with him. One way for me to have my sin forgiven. One way for me to be reconciled and know I can go to heaven when I die. And Jesus is the way.
And so God glorified his son at the cross. And by the way, somebody here thinking that you can just do enough good works and somehow earn your way into heaven. You can just do enough good things. You can do enough activities in church.
And listen to me. How many works would you have to do to satisfy a holy God? And how perfectly would you have to do them to satisfy his righteousness? You can't do it.
Nobody can do it. Jesus is the only one who did it and so in him we have his right standing. And through his death we have forgiveness.
He's the only way. So he's glorified at the cross and then he says if you'll glorify me at the cross, glorify me that I might glorify you. How did Jesus at the cross reveal the character of God in a unique way?
You know how? Because at the cross Jesus reveals God's love for you. God so loved you that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.
And it's the cross that demonstrates the breadth and the depth and the height and the length to which God's love would go. Because he loves you. God loves you. God loves you. God loves you. God loves you. That's why he has just given you Jesus. And so it's the cross that God has glorified because it reveals his love in a way we would never ever see. All these bad things happen and people say how can you believe in a loving God? I just look at the cross and I know God loves me. And so God is glorified at the cross and Jesus is glorified at the cross and you're invited to come into a personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit at the cross. Don't miss out on the tents.
Don't stay on main streets. You're invited to come into a personal relationship with the living Lord of the universe. To be a member of his family so that you can call him Father.
Not only is that relationship a personal relationship, listen when you establish it and you enter into that personal relationship it's a permanent relationship. Jesus said you've given me authority to give them eternal life. So when you receive him by faith as your savior he gives you eternal life. It's life that can never be lost. If you could lose it, it wouldn't be eternal would it? And so the relationship that you enter into God with is one that will never be broken. Other relationships come and go don't they? You know you can have siblings or spouse or parents or friends and either through death or disease or maybe they just distance. Relationships can come and go. Your relationship with God once you enter into that personal relationship through faith in Jesus it's forever.
It will not even be broken by death. Is somebody here afraid to die? I'm afraid of the pain to tell you the truth.
You know sometimes it's associated with deaf needles and doctors and nurses and squeaky white shoes and all that kind of stuff. And I'm not afraid of the moment of death. And the reason I'm not is because I believe that death you close your eyes to this life and you just open them to the face of Jesus. It's when your faith becomes sight. Do you have a personal relationship that's permanent? And if you have a personal relationship with Jesus it is permanent. Don't let anybody tell you that it can be taken away. If you could do nothing to earn it you can do nothing to lose it right?
If you did nothing to deserve it you can't do anything to undeserve it. It's just God's grace. Just his gift to you when you come to the cross and you confess you're a sinner. And you thank Jesus for dying for you and you claim his death as your sacrifice for your sin and invite him into your heart and life. And you enter into a personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit that's permanent.
But listen to me it's also a privilege. Jesus said this is eternal life. That they may know you.
That they may know me and the one who has sent me. In other words the personal permanent relationship you enter into also carries with it the privilege of knowing God. And the word that Jesus uses for know is a word that describes the intimate relationship between a husband and wife. It's not just a knowing about somebody.
It's knowing the person in an intimate way. And Jesus said you can enter into an intimate relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. About 33 years ago, I won't go into details, but I started teaching a class and it was the first year I'd ever taught a Bible class and we started in the book of Genesis. And I got through those 11 chapters of the beginning which are sort of mind blowing and then came to chapter 12 and the biography of Abraham. And Abraham was a very ordinary man who became extraordinary because God called him into a life of faith just to follow him in a step by step life of obedient faith. And when God called him Abraham left everything and went. And so for all of his life he was following God in a life of faith. And God said Abraham if you do that I'll bless you, I'll bless your descendants, I'll give you this land, I'll give you descendants like the stars of the sky. So Abraham did. And so for all of his life he followed God in a life of faith, but when I finished the study of Abraham I thought to myself Abraham what did you get for what you did? Because at the end of his life he basically had one cave in which to bury his wife, one son and the unfulfilled promises of God. He didn't have all the land, he didn't have all these descendants and I said to myself Abraham was it worth it?
What did you get out of it? And then it struck me, you know what Abraham had at the end of his life? He had a relationship with God that God acknowledged as a friendship. Three times in scripture God says Abraham is my friend. And Abraham didn't say God is my friend, God said Abraham is my friend. And right there 33 years ago it's like Abraham walked off the pages of my Bible into my life and I set that as my life's goal. I don't want just a personal permanent relationship with God, I want to enter into the privilege of knowing him in a relationship that one day he will acknowledge as a friendship. And that means step by step, day by day, life of obedient faith, just following him on a journey of faith.
And you know what I decided? If they could know him in the Old Testament with all my heart, you know if David could know him as a shepherd and Jeremiah could know him in his faithfulness and if Elijah could know him in his power and Moses could know him as the bondage breaker and if Isaiah could see him and know him in his glory and if the Virgin Mary could know him in his humanity and Peter could know him in his forgiveness and Paul could know him in his grace, why couldn't I know him like that? Because the Bible says God hasn't changed, he's the same yesterday, today and forever. So if I don't know him like they knew him, then it's not something wrong with God, there's something wrong with me. And so I set out on a pilgrimage to know God and I want to know him better today than I did yesterday and better tomorrow than I do today and that is my magnificent obsession. So I wonder, do you have a personal permanent relationship with God but have you stopped short of the privilege? How well do you know God?
How well does he know you? Jesus said this is eternal life, not just that you go to heaven when you die but that you would know him in a personal permanent intimate privileged relationship right here, right now. And not only is it a personal permanent privileged relationship, there's a purpose to it. And Jesus is so interesting he said, Father I've completed the work that you gave me to do and you think about that for a moment, that Jesus had been given an assignment by God to do down here on earth. And we know he was to live among us and to show us in the flesh exactly what God is like and who God is but his ultimate work was to give his life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins so that our sin would be forgiven, that we could be redeemed from an empty way of life and then to be buried, to rise from the dead, to give us life, to open heaven for us. And he said I finished the work you gave me to do which is interesting because it tells us that his purpose was not to make everybody healthy, wealthy, prosperous, problem free was it? Because when he said I finished the work there were still a lot of deaf people who needed to hear and blind people who needed to see and dead people who needed to be raised and lame people who needed to walk. And so his purpose was not to heal everybody and to make everybody happy and everybody prosperous, his purpose was something greater. His purpose was to bring glory to his Father and reveal God to you and me that we might know him. And he said I finished the work you gave me to do in order for him to finish.
That wasn't an accident. He had to be very intentional about the way he spent his time and the way he spent his day and who he spent his time with and listen to me, you have a personal, permanent, privileged relationship that also is for a purpose. God has a purpose for your life, do you know that? And his purpose isn't just to take you to heaven when you die, praise God, we have that hope. But he has a purpose for your life right here, right now and I'll tell you the overarching purpose is the same for all of us and it's to glorify God, to reveal his character in such a unique way in our lives that other people want to know him. So that they look at us and they can see something of God, something of Jesus in the way we speak, the way we interact, the way we treat other people and we bring glory to God.
That's the overarching purpose. Then within that purpose for me, his purpose for me is to glorify him as a wife and a mother to my three children and a mother-in-law to my sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law and a grandmother to my grandchildren. So that my life's purpose also involves the relationships within my home that I would glorify him, reveal his character within the home, but then he has a specific purpose underneath that. So to glorify him generally, glorify him within my family and my relationships and within that he's given me a specific purpose for me and this is different for each one of us. But I believe his purpose for me is that I be a messenger, that I spend time in his word until he puts a message on my heart and then when he opens the door and gives me that opportunity, I deliver the message as faithfully as I can without messing it up. And that's his specific purpose for my life and that involves the writing of the book and the speaking and the rest of it, but listen, none of that is an end in itself, all of it is part of my journey to know him. So that as I fulfill his purpose for my life, I'm getting to know him in the process so that I can know him not just by faith because of the way he reveals himself in his word and he is exactly as he's revealed in scripture and through Jesus, but I can also know him as I take his word, I apply it to my life, I live it out and I know him by experience and I do that as I fulfill his purpose for my life and he calls me to serve him and he calls me to glorify him in a specific ministry and as I do that, I discover his faithfulness to me, his strength in my weakness and his sufficiency in my inadequacy and what he can do if I'll just release myself to him. So what is his purpose for you? Overarching that you bring him glory within your relationships, within your family, your friendship, your school and you bring him glory, but listen to me, he has a specific plan and purpose for your life.
What is it? You need to discover what that is because that's where the meaning is. Meaning, listen young people, meaning to life is not found in being famous, having money, whatever it is that are your status symbols down here, that doesn't give you meaning. You can have those things, you can burn through those things really fast and never have meaning and deep fulfillment and satisfaction in your life. Your fulfillment and satisfaction comes from fulfilling your eternal purpose and you have to find that out before God.
What is it? And I think we can look into our lives, the things God has allowed us to go through. You have alcoholic parents, your child has had an abortion, your son picked up on drugs, you've been through a divorce, you've gone through bankruptcy, something that God has done and you're just saying, God, how could you do this and you don't love me and where is your blessing in my life and you don't, if you can just look beyond that and see that maybe God's allowed you to go through those things because they're going to be a part of his plan and purpose for your life to use you to take a message of hope and comfort and peace that people are also going through a similar experience. You see our purpose, listen to me, is not to be healthy, happy, prosperous, problem free.
There's something more to life and the more to life is knowing God in a personal, permanent, privileged, purposeful relationship. And Jesus said, I finished the work that you've given me. Will you be able to say that? Will I be able to say that? Father, I finished the work that you gave me.
Will you even know what it was? If I fulfill his purpose, it's not going to be an accident, it's because I've been intentional every day, just like he was. So Jesus, when he went back to heaven, had all the glory as a son of God, all the glory as a son of man. God raised him up from the dead and seated him at the right hand and put all authority under his feet and one day you and I are going to behold his glory. We're going to see him and on that day, this is what I live for, on that day when I see him in his glory, I want to see the expression on his face.
I want to see the light in his eye and that recognition and the warmth of his welcome is his hand. Welcome home. I know you.
You're my friend. Are you on Main Street watching the parade go by this morning? Listen to me, I don't know who you are. And maybe you've been watching the parade go by and people go into that tent so long that you've become accustomed to it and you thought your place was just on Main Street that somehow you weren't worth going into the tent, somehow you didn't deserve to enter into the relationship with God that you see other people have. Listen to me, God loves you. And I believe he sent me as his messenger this morning to tell you he wants you to get off of Main Street and come into the tent, come into a personal, permanent relationship with himself that carries with it the privilege of knowing him and a purpose that will give you satisfaction, fulfillment and meaning in your life. Would you get off of Main Street and enter into a relationship with God? This has been Living in the Light. Please take advantage of all the free resources at angramlots.org to help and encourage you in your walk with God and in your study of his word. Join us here each week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-05 16:34:08 / 2023-03-05 16:44:54 / 11