New Hope Notes
Pastor Jon Burgess
Good morning New Hope and welcome. Today we will be talking about why we Life Journal and invite each of you to join us in this conversation this morning---which is really kind of what God does with us. He invites us into a conversation.
Let’s read Luke 24:31-32. “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’”
I feel like that's one of the best descriptions of why we do life groups or why we Life Journal. Because when we sit down to have a conversation with Jesus, He opens up our eyes, and our hearts begin to burn. In other words, there's a transformation that happens from the inside out, and you don't want to go another day without doing it again.
In Acts 2:42 it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
And you can see that here after the Holy Spirit was poured out and 3,000 souls were saved, something began to happen and they began to get into this discipline and this routine of devotion.
What do you think that is? Well, for us, it's scripture. When we see the apostles' teaching right here to scripture, to fellowship, that's this life group setting when we come together, like we are right now, as a congregation on the weekend services, to the breaking of bread. That is communion. That's sharing life with each other. And to prayer and every journal entry ends with you're writing out your prayer and then us praying for each other.
At the heart of journaling is an easy-to-remember acrostic:
S Scripture .
O__ Observation .
P___ Prayer .
1. You’re invited to devotion .
We're invited to devotion, to seek one source every single day. But just as with any invitation, you can receive it in the mail, look at it and go, “Mmm, that looks really good,” and throw it in the circular file, or you can say, “I'm RSVP’ing for this thing. I'm gonna be there. I'm showing up. If Jesus is going to be there, I'm going to be there because I want to hear what he has to say, even through Leviticus.” That's right. Those of you who are reading right now, you know what I'm talking about, that God can show us anything, in any place in His Word.
As most of you know, the winter Olympics is going on right now in Korea.
But I want to rewind, and I want you guys to know that it didn't start here. I love the Olympics idea which was to say, “Let everyone shine.” That was the theme of the torch relay: Let everyone shine. And when they said everyone, they literally meant everyone---young, old, rich, and poor. And they had a bunch of runners whose sole purpose was to guard the torch and to keep the flame burning.
And it was almost as if the Lord was saying, “Hey, Jon, by the way, that's your job description. Everyone gets to shine, and your job is to let everybody at New Hope know that there is a light inside of you.” And I and the pastors on my team, our whole job is to guard that light, to run alongside of you, but you are the one carrying the torch, young and old, rich and poor across this continent.
Just picture the Korean peninsula as this church. I need everyone to let your light shine. Let's picture that Korean peninsula as this island. How do we spread the gospel everywhere? Here's God's ingenuous plan. Each one of you run with it, let it shine. That's His invitation to each and every one of us.
2. You’re Invited To __ participation .
You've been given the greatest privilege in the world to share the light with someone else.
And just like the Olympic Torch Relay, I've got to run and I've got to make sure that I'm lighting as many torches as possible because I don't want anyone to go into a Christless eternity. That's the kind of relay that you and I have been invited to.
The Bible says, “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’” (Acts 8:26-29)
God's wanting to reach people not just here on a weekend service, but He's actually wanting to reach people right on the road that you travel, right where you work, right where you go to school, right where you shop. If you and I begin to see our involvement in the lighting of that torch, the passing of the flame, we will actually wake up every morning with a sense of expectation on how God might want to use us for the new thing that He is doing.
3. You’re Invited Through ___conversation .
Now, some of us miss out on God because we live our Christian life like we have our earbuds in all the time. You guys know the universal symbol for I don't want to talk to you, right? You sit in an airplane or you're sitting in a Starbucks, all you have to do is put in these noise canceling earphones, and it signals “No talking.” Seriously, I cannot even hear anything. These are noise canceling.
If we're not careful, we live our Christian life with voice canceling. We cancel out the voice of God because we don't want to be bothered by all of this stuff that He wants us to do for other people. I got enough stuff going on in my own schedule. I don't have time for God to be bothering me.
And so though we cry out and say, “Lord, lead me, guide me, show me,” we put in our voice canceling earphones because we're just way too busy for God to bother us with any of those details about salvation and stuff, and people coming to know the Lord.
And so, we come to our last scripture which is found in Acts 8:30-35:
“Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: ‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He did not open His mouth. In His humiliation He was deprived of justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth.’ The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”
And after this, he got baptized, and history says that this one man brought the entire gospel to the country of Ethiopia simply because one man Philip decided, “I'm not going to hold this light to myself. I'm going to enter into a conversation vertical with God which then leads me to a conversation horizontal with whomever He puts in front of me.”
And if you and I begin to look for opportunities and we take out our noise canceling headphones of busyness and indifference, we will begin to be a part of things and so many opportunities that we would never even imagine.
On your way to doing something, God is up to something else, and you and I have to be open to these divine conversations we didn't even see coming. Philip was open to a conversation with God that led him to a conversation with an Ethiopian that led to an entire nation getting to hear about Jesus Christ.
And it all starts with a conversation. It's an invitation to a conversation with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And you can come just as you are. Wouldn't it be great if we had a little less yelling, a little less browbeating, a little less judgment and shame, a little less online passive aggressive communication, and a little more face to face real life, real time conversation? I'm wondering if we would see more transformation if we were open to these divine conversations that God is literally waiting to open up to us everywhere we go. Everywhere we go.
And like Philip, you and I can choose if we will be a part of that conversation or we'll just plug our ears with voice canceling busyness and say, “God, how come you never use me?” And we show up to heaven and he unplugs our ears and says, “That's why. I've been talking to you every single day. You just haven't been listening.” In fact, let's close our time with a conversation. If you could bow your heads and close your eyes.