In youth right now, we’re walking through a series called Follow. We’ve based it loosely on the book by David Platt called Follow Me, and it’s been a great few weeks looking at what it is to truly be followers of Jesus. Throughout this series, we’ve looked at what salvation isn’t, we’ve looked at salvation from God’s point of view, and we’ve looked at what ‘Regeneration’ looks like in the life of a follower of Jesus. They’ve been some great conversations getting into some really deep biblical issues, and our students have had the opportunity to engage one another as we’ve talked about these things.
Last night, our conversation was about what it looks like for God to be our Father. As much as our students seemed to respond deeply to the Word of God and to the truth that God speaks over their lives, it was a deeply personal life for me, as well. There are times as a pastor when I feel like the things God lays on my heart to speak about are more impactful to me personally then to anyone else, as if God is using this time to simply deal with my heart. Last night was one of those nights.
We started out with our students spreading out around the room and having about 10 minutes by themselves to read through the story of the Prodigal in Luke 15. There were some questions for students to work through and think about, and the feel of the room was quiet and somber. Seeing 70 or so students spread all around the room reading the Word of God was energizing and awe-inspiring. I’m so proud of our students and can’t wait to see what God does through their lives!
Students then came together into small groups and discussed the passage, with leaders bringing out some more questions and bringing in an excerpt from Follow Me. The following is a story Platt reiterates about a conversation that he had with his son Caleb, adopted from Kazakhstan:
For a time, Caleb and I were doing this thing where I would point at him across the room and yell, “I love Caleb!” Then he would look back at me and yell, “I love Daddy!”
One day we were doing this, and Caleb was laughing until all of a sudden he stopped, looked at me, and said, “You love me?”
I said, “Yeah, buddy, I do.”
And then he asked what seems to be his favorite question: “Why?”
“Because you’re my son,” I said.
So he asked the question again: “Why?”
This time I thought to myself, Now that’s a good question. Out of all the children in the world, why is this precious little boy standing in front of me my son? I thought about all the factors that had come together to lead Heather and me to Kazakhstan and all the ups and downs we experienced in the process. There were times when we wondered if we were ever going to have kids. I teared up, and I could tell Caleb was confused, wondering if he should ever ask his daddy why again. But I looked back at him and said, “You’re our son because we wanted you. And we came to get you so that you might have a mommy and a daddy.”
Doesn’t it take your breath away for a moment to hear God say, “I love you”? To which we, in our sinfulness, must certainly respond, “Why?” And then to hear him answer, “Because you’re my child.” To which we ask the obvious question, “Why would I, a hopeless sinner, now be called your cherished child?” Only to hear him say, “Because I wanted you, and I came to get you so that you might know me as Father.”
(Platt, David. Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. Tyndale, 2013)
Cue the waterworks.
The conversations being had around the room in small group were really fantastic, and we hated to end that time but had to more forward with our evening. We finished our evening with an upfront teaching time where we tried to bring out two major points.
- God delights in His children
We’ve all been through that feeling that God is in heaven just face-palming at the ridiculous things that we do, disappointed in us at our lack of discipline or whatever else. It’s common for our hearts to take us through those seasons where we feel like we are ultimately a disappointment to the perfect God of the universe. But this isn’t what God shows us in His Word. Zephaniah 3:17 (HCSB) says, “Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”God delights in us, with shouts of joy! This is not the picture of a God who sits in perpetual grumpiness and disappointment, viewing his children as failures. This is the perpetually proud Father who loves His children deeply. We see this played out beautifully at Jesus’ baptism.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?”
Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized.
After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. There came a voice from heaven:
This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
Matthew 3:13-17 (HCSB)
God communicates three things in His declaration from heaven.
God declares His love, identifies Jesus, and then proclaims His delight. If we are co-heirs with Christ, then this, too, is what God speaks over us. God delights in His children. That’s a mind-blowing reality. How can God delight in someone as fallen as me? Because His delight is seated in Christ, who never changes. Praise God!
- We are called to delight in our heavenly Father
When God created us, He created us with desires, needs, and cravings. All of us pursue these things, sometimes in beneficial ways and sometimes in … not so beneficial ways. In John 6, Jesus performs an incredible miracle in which He feeds thousands of people with a little boy’s lunch. The people are amazed, and totally full. However, by the next day they’re hungry again. This makes sense to all of us. When you’re hungry, you eat. You may feel satisfied for a time, but after a while you are hungry again. Jesus begins to speak to people about the ‘bread from heaven‘ which comes down and gives life to the world, totally satisfying forever. The people think this sounds great, and of course ask for it! Jesus responds, “I am the bread of life.”Jesus makes the point that whatever they have in this world will not satisfy them. But Jesus does. This is how Christ kills sin in our life. Not by putting restrictions and rules on our lives, but by totally satisfying our hearts so that we don’t need the things of this world. When temptation strikes, we can look at the sin the world has to offer and say, “I don’t need that, Jesus is better! I am satisfied in Him, and He is enough for my heart!” That’s what it looks like for us to kill sin.
When we recognize that Jesus is enough, and that we’re satisfied in Him, we will naturally find our delight in Him. We’ll find joy in the one who satisfies our souls and meets every righteous desire of our hearts.
As we talked about what it means for God to delight in us, and us to delight in Him, we wanted to come back and talk about obedience. Christ’s call to us is clear: Follow Me. This call includes the fact that He commands us to live in certain ways. But those commands “are not a burden” (I John 5:3, HCSB). In fact, as true followers of Christ who delight in Him, we desire to walk in obedience.
To illustrate this, I called my house and asked my two oldest kids (7 & 5) to each draw me a picture on the biggest sheet of paper they could find. I asked them to work really hard on it and to make sure that they told me or mommy what was going on in the picture. These are the pictures they brought to youth for me:
I have no idea why there is a plane crashing into the mountains, but I love it. It appears the pilots both dove out and grabbed hold of the word ‘the’, so I’m glad they’re safe.
The bottom one is Zoe’s drawing for me. She told mommy what it was, and here was her caption: “This person is standing outside even if it is storming. He wanted to make toast but he didn’t have electricity, and you have to have electricity to make toast. So he went outside and grabbed lightning and the electricity went into his body and he took it into his house and made toast.”
That’s my girl.
When I called and asked my kid to draw pictures for me, they didn’t say, “Why? Do we have to? Ugh, seriously? This is so hard …. “ They did it. No questions. No complaining. It was an absolute joy to them, and they were so proud of what they made for me. I was proud of what they made for me, too. I still am. Why? Because they delight in me, and I delight in them.
This is the picture of what it means to walk in obedience because of our delight in our heavenly Father.
Do you delight in God? Have you experienced this? You can. Follow Him.
Service Times + Extras
- 9:00 AM - Life Classes/All Ages
- 10:15 AM - Worship Service (Casual Dress)
- 10:15 AM - Children's Church
- 6:30 PM - Women's Bible Study
- 6:30PM - Men's Bible Study
- 6:30PM - 8:00PM - Kids' Groups (Birth-4th gr)
- 6:30 PM - 8:00PM - C56 (5th & 6th grades)
- 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM - All Youth (7th-12th grades)
July 12 – 13, 2018 – Women’s Conference w/ Angie Smith