New Hope Notes
Facing The Future
Pastor Jon and Cyndi Burgess
Pastor Jon: Happy New Year, each and every one of you! Cyndi and I are so excited that we get to close out this year by spending it with you.
Pastor Cyndi: I think 2017 was a wonderful year in a lot of ways as we look back at all
the amazing things we’ve done through this one church. I know God has also done a lot
across the globe. It’s been a turbulent year. The year started with the inauguration of
a new president. There were hurricanes Irma, Harvey, Jose, and Maria that battered the
Caribbean and southern parts of the U.S. There was tragic violence in New York, Las Vegas
and Charlottesville. There were terrorist attacks across the globe, earthquakes, slave auctions, humanitarian catastrophes and on and on.
On the positive side, there were marriages and there were births, there was new life.
There were countless people rescued from the slave trade industry because of people working
hard on that.
I’m ready to push the reset button and say, God, I’m ready to close this chapter and ready for what You have coming. I love that the Bible promises us that out God makes all things new.
Isaiah 43: 19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Pastor Jon: God is the only one that looks at a wasteland and says, “Yes, this is where
I’d like to build My home.” Not oceanfront property. He takes the worst. Things that everyone would pass by. He sees that wasteland not as something to cover over but as something to call into His divine purpose.
I love how our God looks at our lives and everything that’s happened. He is not going to ignore your weakness, He’s going to work within your weakness. Where you are weak, He is strong.
Ever see surveyors in the middle of the road (usually) holding up traffic? They are using an instrument called a theodolite that see different levels as they measure in preparation for new roads, buildings or new construction. Levels that we cannot see as we drive by.
I believe what Isaiah is saying is instead of you and I driving right by, I believe Jesus is standing right in the middle of the road between now and 2018 and He’s asking us to pull over and see what He sees about our future. A lot of us measure things according to our past or weaknesses or strengths but God measures things differently. The new thing doesn’t mean you change. It means God is changing you from the inside out.
1. Say Yes to Being Stretched.
In Luke 1:31, the angel Gabriel came to Mary and said, “You will conceive and give birth
to a Son, and you are to call Him Jesus.”This was a gift Mary was totally unprepared for. She was going to be married to Joseph and they had their life planned. Her saying yes in that moment was her saying, “I’m literally going to lay my life down.” Following God is wonderful and awesome. He provides and cares for us but it is not always easy or comfortable.
When the angel entered Mary’s room, she had no idea what God was about to do. But her response was to stop all of her plans and put everything aside. Luke 1:38 says, “‘I am the
Lord’s Servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.”
That was the quiet revolution of humility. She humbled herself under the mighty hand of
God and laid down everything so she could say yes. She took the servant heart of surrender. Mary thought, “I’m not here to serve myself. May everything You have said be fulfilled.”
God’s purpose aligns our present decisions with our future reality. We can’t see the future. Only God can. Our present decision, when we surrender to His purpose instead of our own, it aligns us. It’s like looking through the theodolite, it aligns us with what He sees that’s going to happen in 2018. We haven’t been there yet but we serve a God who’s already written 2018 out. He knows everything that’s going to happen, and He wants our present decision in this moment to line up with everything that He has planned for our lives. Just like Mary, you and I have that choice today. Will we say Yes to what He wants to do?
Pastor Cyndi: Yes, it begs the question: How do we see the future that God has for us?
Really, we were created for more than our day-in, day-out grind. The getting up, going to work, paying the bills, putting food on the table, clothes on the kids’ backs, funding our retirement and our daily wind- up-and-do-it-again routines. We were created for more than that. It’s a piece but not our purpose.
Mary was chosen to carry the Messiah. God didn’t choose her because of her perfection.
God doesn’t choose the perfect, He perfects those that He chooses. He makes us more like Him as we go.
The challenge I want to offer you is that you come with a heart like Mary; have a yes heart.
Think, “Whatever You want me to do. You hold my future so I come with a yes heart.”
2. Say Yes to Bigger Steps.
Luke 1:34-35 says, “‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’
The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
I believe that the supernatural is meant to be part of our everyday life. Supernatural sometimes looks like you as a parent loving your teenager through their rebellion or loving an aging parent who’s in need or believing and praying in a situation that is hopeless and believing for hope. That is the supernatural invading the natural, allowing God, by the power of His Spirit to Stretch us to believe far more. It is that He partners with us to do something bigger than anything we can do on our own.
What’s the bigger step that God might be asking as you to take in 2018? Is it relationships? Finances? Work? Family? Is it something that’s going to require that you depend on God even more?
As I prayed for this next year, I said, “God, what is it that you have for me?” God simply said, “Cyndi, I want you to continue to step out your calling.” Jon and I got licensed and ordained at the same time. But I am more of an introvert so this is outside of my comfort zone. A lot of what I’ve done is background work because I’m a mom raising kids, and God’s saying, “It’s your time to step out and speak My word.” That does not come naturally to me and it’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it because God honors those bigger steps.
3. Saying Yes to Taking Second.
Pastor Jon: We live in a first place culture. If you’re not first, you’re a loser. And yet, we follow a God who says in order to win in the kingdom of God, you need to take second place. You need to take the place of the servant.
Remember Mary’s response to the angel’s challenge? She said, “I’m the Lord’s servant.” She took second place and let God be first over all her plans. God was Lord. Let
His word be fulfilled, and how was that fulfilled? She decided to serve. She modeled for her son Jesus what Jesus would later model for His disciples.
Luke 1: 32-33 prophesized that, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over
Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”
It was prophecies like that that caused many religious leaders to miss the Messiah when
He showed up because they were picturing the king on a throne in a palace and everybody coming and serving and bowing. Not this king. No. He left His throne in heaven to do something different. He came to be second. He came to serve.
You can see the fulfillment of that prophecy at the night of the last supper before He faces the cross. John 13:2-5 says, “The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God, so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.”
He was taking the place of serving. Jesus washed Judas’ feet knowing that after 3 1/2 years of a day-in-day-out relationship that he would betray Him for 30 pieces of silver. It didn’t stop him. He knew He was walking in God’s authority and the purpose He was born for and to die for.
The other day, it was raining and I saw mud tracks to my room. I went into Sherlock
Holmes mode checking who the culprit was. My boys all denied it and I was blaming them thinking someone was lying. Cyndi was cleaning up and saw my feet. I was the culprit. I was the Judas at the table.
What Cyndi was modeling for me was that it didn’t matter who had muddy feet. What mattered was no one was helping her clean the mud off the floor. I was too busy trying to place blame and find guilt even though I was the one with the muddy feet.
As we close, I want to ask: Have you walked through some piles in 2017? Some situations that you regret, said or done things that you wish you could take back? I have good news for you. You don’t have to track into 2018 what you stepped in 2017.
Here’s how you get rid of it. You admit you are the one with the muddy feet. Second,
You’ve been called to wash the feet of others. Is it going to stretch you? Yeah. God is going to ask you to serve those who are not easy to serve. It’s going to cause you to take a bigger step of faith. We have got to come clean. We don’t need excuses. We don’t need to point out who is wrong. Let’s just own that we have dirty feet and God wants to clean them now so that when we walk from the threshold of 2017 into 2018, we walk in clean and free in the purposes of the Almighty God, not to focus on us but instead have everyone looking at Him.
This is the phrase God has given me for our church for 2018. It is that God is calling us to a quiet revolution of humility. It started in that room with Mary when she said, I am your servant. Let your word be fulfilled. It continued when Jesus got up and tied the towel around his waist and washed His disciples’ feet and said, “I am a pattern for you to live out.” There was a quiet revolution that night and it continues right here in this room and those watching online. All we have to do is surrender.
1. What “mud” do you want to clean up from 2017?
2. What are some things that would "stretch" you out of your comfort zone?
3. In what areas can you have a yes heart?
4. In what ways do you feel God partnering with you on a daily basis?