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May, 2023

Together for Truth-Filled Homes

So what's one thing you learned from your mom? One thing you've learned from your mom and you probably learned more than one thing from your mom. More than likely, my mom is somewhat famous for all of her different quotes about life. I mean, there's lots of them. Uh We probably should write them down. I feel like we have most of them memorized. But there is one that and I, when I begin to think about things I've learned from my mom for some reason, this is the one that always leaps to the page, the quickest uh and, and what is that? Well, I'm going to tell you what it is through a story and forgive me if you have heard this story before, I feel like I've probably shared it, but I don't know my mind shot. So I have no idea. So I'm in high school and spending the night at a friend's house and, and at some point in the night, we decided to meet up with some other friends and go to another friend's house because they were out of town and, and roll all the trees in their front yard with toilet paper we thought that'd be a great idea. And so we were there, we were, we were just about finished and one of our local law enforcement officers from the city of North Augusta just slowly pulled by in front of the house, rolled his window down. He knew most of us and he just said, I'll see all of y'all at the police station in 10 minutes. So we get in the car. I look at the clock and I thought, man, for the first time ever, I was out past curfew. And the one thing that went through my mind immediately is that thing that my mom always said and always says, and that's this. Nothing good happens after midnight. Um And I'm like, oh that, that wives tale. It's real. It's true. It actually happened the first time I'm out past midnight. I'm in trouble with the law when the world is going on. So we all went down to the police station. He made us sweat it out for an hour. He made us just sit there, didn't talk to us, didn't say a word to us. And then after about an hour, he very graciously said, go home and stay out of trouble. So we were actually kind of glad that's all he said now, fast forward some years earlier, years later. And it's been gosh, 31 years now that I went with some of my friends from college to stack a mega diner in Greenville, South Carolina. It was one o'clock in the morning and I was eating a Mono Cristo sandwich and it was absolutely amazing. And I remember as I'm sitting there enjoying this sandwich, I vividly thought to myself. Well, with all due respect to my mom, there are some good things that happen after midnight and I, I'm having it right now. We all have some, some things that we have learned from mom and things that we have learned from our parents and some things that carry over things that pop up in our head from time to time. Today, we continue our, our series called Together For Good. And, and we're looking at the values of a healthy local church and why are we doing that? Well, we live in a world that's full of bad and we want to be a church that's together for good. And what kind of good are we talking about? Well, we're talking about the kind of good that helps us find the one thing, the one thing we need the most to give us safety, to give us satisfaction and to surround us with hope and not just any hope but hope that truly lasts forever. So, what is that one thing? Well, our message today is together for truth filled homes. We're going to be looking in John chapter six verses 68 69. And it's, and it's in this moment in this chapter of the book of John that we're going to find the one thing that we need the most. So what's happening in this moment in John chapter six? Well, starting back at the beginning of John chapter six, we, we kind of have kind of a, a moment. It's, it's kind of laying out who Jesus was becoming. Jesus was becoming a rising religious superstar. I mean, he was crazy, crazy popular. Everybody was following after Jesus, there were more than 5000 people following Jesus trying to hear what he said, just trying to be around him. And now we've kind of made our way to the end of chapter six. And at the end of chapter six, what's the crowd looking like now? Well, at the end of chapter six, the crowd's gone from 5000 plus to about 12. What happened? Right? I mean, Jesus had a mega church and now, you know, he's got just enough for a peewee football team and an extra. I mean, what, what in the world is going on? How, how did Jesus lose all of these people? Well, it's because of the way he started teaching, Jesus started teaching some things that, that kind of sounded strange. He was saying that he came from heaven to earth and of course, they're thinking, what isn't this Joseph and Mary's son, the the carpenter? But Jesus said he, he came from heaven to earth. Jesus said that he was the bread of life. It's that strange terminology for anybody. Jesus started teaching that people could only be saved if God draws them, that it's not their good deeds or, or their great activities. It's only if God draws them. And then, then Jesus says that if you're truly going to follow Him, you have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Yeah. Ok. Yeah, Jesus is, you know, losing his mind, right? But when the world is he talking about. So it's not surprising that all the people started saying, what is he saying? What, what is he talking about? What's eat his drink his blood is, is he some kind of religious vampire? What in the world is Jesus saying? And why was Jesus talking like that? Why was Jesus using words that if we had been there would have kind of caused us to be confused too. What? It's not accidental. It's very much on purpose. And what Jesus is doing is he's seeing the large crowds and he's wanting them to understand this is what it really means to follow after me. So, so he begins to, to get in the weeds a little bit. He begins to share some detail, some, some thoroughness to his teaching used strong words on purpose and those strong words were to help people say, look, I don't want you to be confused about what it means to follow me and how did the people respond? Well, they quit following him, they just quit. They're like, no, I I can't deal with this. I, I don't even know what Jesus is talking about and, and why was it so hard for them? Well, it's because they started to see that Jesus wasn't going to give them points just for hanging out. Jesus wasn't going to give them points for heaven just for, for doing some good deeds. They began to hear Jesus teaching complete allegiance and it threw him off, but they didn't know what to think about this complete allegiance. See, when Jesus calls a person to, to come and follow after him, he calls for everything to come, family, friends, money, time energy, everything about who we are, all of who we are. We come and follow Jesus. Now, if we're seriously considering that call and the reality of that call, we're going to feel just like some of those folks back then we're going to think. Wait a minute. Hm. What, what's Jesus asking? I, I have to give my family to him, my, my friends, my, my money, the things I own. Wait, wait a minute, man, I worked hard for my stuff. That's, that's my stuff. This is my time. What's, what's Jesus getting out of here? Why, why is he pushing so hard? But that's exactly what Jesus does. He very clearly says if you're going to follow after me, it requires everything, all that you have. So Jesus lays all his cards out on the table, the people see all his cards out on the table and they go mm I think we're out. This has been fun. But, but yeah, I, I, I can't go there and John writes earlier. He says, and many of his disciples quit following him on that day. A disciple is basically put a learner. So some of the learners said, yeah, I'm, I'm not wanting to learn from Jesus anymore. Not just some many, many said, I, I don't wanna learn anything else from Jesus. So when the words got tough, when the challenge increased, many of them left but not all of them, not all of them. And that's why John records that Jesus turned to his closest friends the 12 and he said, do you guys wanna leave too? Do you guys wanna take off too? Do you, do y'all wanna go? And Peter spoke up for the whole group? And this is what Peter said, John six verse 68 Lord, to whom shall we go? Now? This is, this is Simon Peter. This is, this is a man. He's a grown man. He's a professional fisherman, not an easy job. He's a, he's a man's man and he's looking at this carpenter's son who's been saying crazy things, things that he didn't understand, but he looked at him and his reaction to all of these things that Jesus was teaching and his reaction to the question from Jesus. Is this, where would we go, Jesus, where would we go? I mean, we, we've looked around, you know, we've, we've looked at, you know, some other spiritual, we sent some money to that guy on TV. We've, we've kind of dabbled with some other philosophies and, and kind of checked out some other religions. We've, we've walked a little bit through, you know, through science and, and we've tried to be one with nature and we've explored identity and orientation. I mean, Jesus, we've been out there looking, we've looked around, we've, we've tried to find some other answers but, but here we are because all of those things came up short. Every other thing that we looked at in life, it just, it just came up short. And why did it come up short? You can almost hear Peter's voice crack a little bit as, as he says the next thing to Jesus, he says, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. Where would we go? Jesus? Where would we go? We, we've never seen anyone like you. We've, we've never heard anyone like you. We've never been around anyone like you. You are, you are humble and yet you, you're full of power, you are gentle and, and yet you're strong, you're patient and yet you call out sin with authority, use simple words, but you're brilliant. We don't understand everything about you and yet we can't stop talking about you. Where would we go, Jesus? Where in the world would we go? You have the words of eternal life. Peter and the rest of the guys, they, they didn't understand everything. Ok. They, they didn't have all the doctrine worked out. They didn't have all the theology worked out. They had spent a lot of time with Jesus but, but they didn't have all the answers for religion and, and politics and, and society and culture and, and medicine and health. They, they didn't have all the answers. They didn't understand everything and yet they followed, they didn't have it all figured out. And yet they followed, they still had problems in their life. Everything didn't magically disappear. All the, the suffering and pain and difficulty just because they followed Jesus. No, everything in life was, was just as hard and just as busy and there's, there's all these other things going on and yet they still follow. Why? Because Jesus has the words of eternal life. They followed because they knew there was nowhere else they could turn. What does that mean? Jesus has the words of eternal life. What it means is the words of Jesus. They transcend time, space, religion, politics, society, culture, health, medicine, and all the other things. The, the truth of Jesus. It, it transcends everything and, and the truth about Jesus is the one thing that you and I need the most to be safe and secure and saved and satisfied and surrounded with hope forever. So, do you have that truth? Do you have the, the truth about Jesus, are you believing in the eternal words of Jesus Christ? Is, is it the truth about Jesus that defines who you are, is, is the truth about Jesus, your ultimate hope for safety and security and to be surrounded with hope and joy forever. Thursday morning, my dad thanked the, the doctors at the hospital for all that they have been doing and, but he just said, hey, I, I think we're done, you know, I, I, I think I'm just done. He said this, this isn't working. And so, so I'm just, I'm just ready to go home. So we, we brought him home uh Friday with, with hospice and, and uh, so yesterday, uh in and out just, uh, you know, a lot of people, family and friends in and out of the house and, and look our family. Uh we're loud. Ok, we're just sorry, we're loud anyway, we're loud all the time. It was even louder yesterday. I mean, just crazy loud. Everybody's laughing. I mean, it was just, it was a wild place and, and why was it like that? Well, the reason it was like that is because for 66 years and 11 months, my parents have made sure that the truth about Jesus filled our home. It was the truth about Jesus that has kind of been swimming around in our house throughout their marriage and throughout our lives of their Children. The truth of Jesus has been around. Why? Because the words of Jesus have eternal life. The words of Jesus are, are not just religious, they are words of eternal life. Now, does that mean that my parents understand all the doctrine and all the theology? No. Does it mean that, that they've been able to map out all the answers about religion and politics and society and culture and health and medicine? No. Does it mean that they don't have any problems in life and that everything has disappeared? And life is just all peachy because they have the truth of Jesus. No, it doesn't mean any other things. It just means that for us and for our family and for many of your families having a home that is filled with the truth of Jesus means that in our moment of deepest despair, it is the words of eternal life that give us a deeper joy and we can laugh and we can rejoice even in the midst of pain. Why? Because Jesus has the words of eternal life, eternal life. So is that truth in your home? Are the words of eternal life. The the truth that is is seen in your home. This greatest truth is that in your home, because this is the greatest truth that can be in your home. The words of eternal life from Jesus Christ are the greatest words and the greatest truth that can be in your home. Not, not family, not friends, not food, not sports, not entertainment. Not holidays, not education, not anything else but eternity. Eternity is the greatest truth that can fill your home. Our home is, is full of grief and yet it's full of more joy than grief because the truth of eternity is, is mixed into our home that matters. See, I grew up in a great church. I mean, just a marvelous church and, and we had a great staff at our church. I mean, all of our, all of our ministers were just fantastic volunteers off the charts. The adults that poured into my life, you know, just incredible people. So, so I had a lot of gospel poured into me at my home church. However, I was only at my home church for maybe four or five hours a week. So thankful for the influence, but the greater influence was at home. The greater influence was the mix of what's happening with my family. The the mix of, of being at home. I spent more hours at home and more hours of influence around my family. So my family and and home was a greater influence. So it's not just, hey, let's go drop the kids off at church so that they can find Jesus. We have a limited window here to invest in the lives of your kids, your grandkids. And even in your life, the greatest point of influence is your home. The greatest mission field is your home. I'm not saying my mom and dad were were Billy and Ruth Graham, you know, ain't perfect. But, but they have kept the truth of the gospel in our home. There, there was no confusion that the gospel was, was the truth in our home. And why did they do that? Because only Jesus has the words of eternal life when we were cheering my dad on and encouraged him Thursday morning with, with his decision. One of my sisters said dad, it's ok because you know Jesus and we know Jesus because of you. That's, that's big. And my dad's not Billy Graham, but but my mom and dad made sure that we had a truth filled home. It wasn't a perfect home. They aren't perfect parents, we aren't perfect kids. But but God's truth was in our home. Why? Because Jesus has the words of eternal life, married or single, senior adult or young adult. What kind of truth is filling your home? Is it? Is it the truth of Jesus Peter said one more thing to Jesus in response verse 69. And we have already believed and have come to know that you are the holy one of God. This is great. Where would we go, Jesus? We, we have discovered that you are not just a fun pastor. You're not just a good teacher, you're not just a great guy. You are the holy one of God. The late William Sapphire was an author and journalist and he once asked the following political question. What do you do when the candidate you support takes a position? You don't like, what do you do when the candidate you support takes a position you don't like? But then there's kind of a part two to the question or the candidate you oppose takes a stand that you admire. Oh, you do, then what do you do when the, when the person you're wanting to vote for, man? They, oh, man. I don't agree with that. But then the guy that you don't want to vote for the gal, you don't? Oh my gosh, I agree with that. What do you do? Well, he gave three options. He said, number one, you can switch candidates. Number two, you can stick with your original candidate and wear a button that says nobody's perfect. Yeah, it's good. Number three, you can be like the woman who said, I never vote. It only encourages them. Martin Han applied that same set of questions to Jesus and he asked it this way, what are our choices when Jesus, our leader takes a position we don't like or when the enemy we oppose takes a stand more to our liking. It's pretty strong, right? What do we do when, when we're reading through the Bible and we come across something and go, oh, I, I don't agree with that. I, yeah, I don't know if I can go with Jesus on that. Well, what do we do or the opposite? When when we find that, that in the world outside of the confines of the truth of God, we go, oh, I like this principle. Yeah, I, I think I'll, what, what do we do? Well, kind of takes the, the same options that William sapphire has and he kind of broke them down like this. He said, you know, we could be like those people in the crowd, you know, those people who said, hm, Jesus is not teaching what I wanna hear. So I'm out. But that would be irrational since Jesus is the holy one of God, it seems irrational to go. I don't like what he's saying. I mean, my eternity is only going to be found in him, but I'll take my chances somewhere else. That's, that's irrational. You could wear a button that says, oh, well, you know, Jesus isn't perfect except he is, you know, it kind of doesn't work. You can't wear that button because he is perfect. And the third option you could say, well, I'm just not going to have anything to do with religion. You know, I'm, I'm just going to be agnostic, I'm going to be atheistic or I'm just, I'm going to kind of buffet my way into forever. The problem is Jesus kind of didn't give us the option. CS Lewis says, when you look at what was said about Jesus and what Jesus said, you, you have to vote there, there's not an option and, and there's only three votes, you can really log there. Either Jesus was a lunatic, he was a liar or he is Lord. He, he is the holy one of God. There's, there's no other options that we were given. I said before that we are living in a time where professing Christians will go and march and protest when a plaque of the 10 commandments is taken down off the wall of a courtroom. Yet those same professing Christians won't practice and carry out the 10 commandments in their home. We'll publicly protest but we won't privately practice because public you protesting. Oh, that feels good. I'm going to get out there a bunch of people and we're going to be mad and we're going to look holy. But then when we go home, whatever we were protesting about, we're not actually going to live out. None of us are perfect, but we need truth filled homes first and most and not to chase this too far. But if you're upset with what's happening in the courts, just remember whoever is in those courts started in someone's home. No one was born in a courtroom. Well, I don't know, maybe there's some story out there that some lady went into labor. Ok. You know, but, but people aren't born, they are raised in courtrooms, they're not raised in the state house, they're not raised in the White House. So what happens at your home? And what happens at my home is what matters the most. So we need to be private practices of the gospel, not just public protesters. We're not perfect, but we need truth filled homes. We need homes where the, the safe and satisfying hope of Jesus is surrounding us. Why? Because Jesus has the words of eternal life. Only Jesus has the words of eternal life and only Jesus is the holy one of God. And that's what Peter is saying. Peter is saying Jesus, like we've figured out you're not a fairy tale. Ok. We, we've got it at this point. You're not a myth, you're not a legend. In fact, you're the most real thing we have ever known. You're the most real part of our universe. So, where could we possibly go? How could we possibly turn away some of, you know, I, I've shared previously that uh 12 months ago, my dad was diagnosed um with bald duck cancer. It's, it's kind of in the, the family of pancreatic cancer and, and we have a great oncologist and, and he said, look, you know, generally speaking, we're, we're probably looking at, you know, six months to a year. And then he kind of told us some of the things that we would need to start looking for. You know, when, when this tumor started doing something, well, the tumor to this day hasn't done anything. My, my dad hasn't gotten sick from cancer. He's, he's gotten sick from an infection and this infection is so mercyful from God because had his, his cancer kicked in. It would just be extreme pain. But the mercy of God is, his kidneys are failing. So he's just, he's just not going to wake up some, sometime in the next few days he's, he's just not going to wake up. It's, it's so mercyful. The other night I got home from the hospital is about 11 o'clock and, uh, my parents stay up late. Some of y'all parents stay up late. right? I mean, it's like we had to be in bed at night and they stay up till two, what the world I don't understand. But my mom and dad, they're, they're always up late. And so, um, I got home from the hospital about 11 o'clock and, and I went and sat down with me and my sister and, and I was just having to share with mom what dad had decided this is Wednesday night. And so I was just kind of telling mom what was going on and of course she was just, you know, broken hearted and, and sad. But, but then she said, you know, ever since we got the diagnosis last year, she said we came home that night and every night since, you know, your dad and I, we read one chapter of the Bible and pray together every night and he goes, and she goes, even with our night out life, we do it late at night too. You know, before we go to bed, we read you know, one chapter and, and, and we just pray together and why do they do that? Because they are convinced that Jesus has the words of eternal life. They're not being religious. They're convinced that Jesus has the words of eternal life. So therefore, my mom said, I'm sad. But you know, your dad and I, we've been preparing for this. They've been preparing with the words of eternal life. Not, not, not religion, but the words of eternal life. Look, life is hard and life is busy and it's probably not going to change. It'll keep being hard and busy. But, but maybe by yourself or, or with your spouse or with your kids or with anyone else in your home, just maybe give it a shot if you're not already, maybe read a chapter from the Bible every day or even just a verse and, and pray and just, just see taste and see and test and see what will happen in your home. If you start bringing the words of life, the, the truth of God into your home, what would happen? I know on this mother's day, I'm, I'm real thankful for my mom. She's not perfect, but my mom and my dad have made sure and my mom, especially every morning before I went to school, she made sure that I had the truth of God in my mind that, that the Bible was read that the words of eternal life were there in our home, she made sure I heard that truth and, and home's been hard the last couple of days it's been difficult. I've been at the hospital a lot with my dad at night and, and staying with him a lot. So I've, I've seen kind of the worst part of the day and if you've ever been in there, you, you, with that moment with, with family or friends you kind of know, end of the day gets, gets a little off and so real fidgety and, and can't sit still and just really restless. But my mom hadn't seen that. My sisters haven't seen a lot of it either. And so the last two or three days have been a little more difficult for them to kind of see that and we were having a little, little family meeting and, and, uh, uh Friday night and, and my mom kind of brought that up, you know, that it was just really hard to, you know, see that so restless and, and so fidgety and, uh, my brother in law, um, who incidentally you'll, you'll love this. So, yesterday, um, my brother in law and I were leaving about the same time. My brother in law, uh, Richard Smith, he pastors a church, uh, Hope Point Church and, uh, in Spartanburg. So Richard leans over to tell my dad by and he goes, he goes, Josie. He said, uh, I'm heading out, I'm going to preach the greatest sermon that has ever been preached tomorrow morning and I love you. And everybody in the room was like, what about sermon tomorrow? So sorry. This is not the greatest sermon. No, you're, you're, you're getting second hand food here. I'm sorry. But um, Richard sent my sister a text because he knew that the restlessness was, was really bothering her and, and this was, this was this text. He began with the words of Isaiah 40 11. He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. And then he texted this instead of focusing on your sweet father's restlessness, focus on the invisible Christ who is in that room holding Josie so good. And this was so encouraging for Lisa to read this to my mom too. And then he said this, a sheep will always wiggle when a shepherd is carrying it. But the strong arms of the shepherd firmly have that sheep, that sheep feels those arms and is not afraid of them at all. It's just the nature of that sheep to wiggle. Gosh, that's good. That's good. He said, hey, are you going to preach this Sunday? And I said, I got to preach, I can't not. I said, God is pouring so much truth and so much confidence in my life. I love my church too much not to try to share some of what God is pouring into me and, and that's rich. That's why we want to be together for truth filled homes. We wanna be together because being together at church is great. It's a good thing. But being together at home, having a, a church that says we're taking the gospel away from campus and we're going to make sure it gets in our home. What that means is that men and women and boys and girls at home are able to discover the power and the presence of the arms of the shepherd. It, it happens most at home y'all really, really the power and authority happens most at home because there's a hospital bed in my parents' den, but it hasn't changed the arms of the good shepherd. There's peace, there's confidence, there's safety, there is security, there is joy and there is hope when our homes are filled with truth. Peter said, where are we going to go? Jesus? You have the words of eternal life that is good. Let's be together for good.


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