am sure you have been hearing, as I have, a lot about the
DaVinci Code. It is a novel written by Dan Brown, currently
the #1 selling book in the fiction section of your bookstores
because it's all about fiction. When I talk with people,
I share with them that my calling is not about a DaVinci
Code or about fiction, but my calling is about the divinity
code and Jesus Christ.
divinity code is real; the divinity code is that Jesus Christ
was born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried. He rose from the
grave, He is alive today and lives in the hearts and the
minds of people who call upon Him and invite them into their
being. He performs miracles and He is real.
You won't find the bible in the fiction section of your
men lived and died proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ,
and I too would die for the reality of the divinity code
today. I believe in it with all of my heart. We find
the divinity code throughout the Bible where we also read
the beautiful piece of scripture called the 23rd
Psalm. And what do we read in the 23rd
Psalm? We read, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
What did Jesus say about himself? He said, "I
am the Good Shepherd." What does that mean? If
we go back and we look at this passage of scripture it says,
"The Lord is my Shepherd, He leads me in the paths
of righteousness for His namesake." I like the
way the modern translation says it, "He helps me do
what honors him the most."
23rd Psalm. Today there are people who
are going through some tough times, who are really struggling
with life and self dignity and respect. Recently when
I was in Washington, DC I met with Diane Feinstein, the
Senator of California. She asked me "What is the biggest
struggle you see in people? I said without pause or
question, "Self-esteem; people struggle with self esteem
and when people do not have a firm understanding of who
Jesus Christ is, they struggle with self esteem. Because
of that the way they treat people becomes distorted and
manipulated and doesn't become what Jesus Christ told us
did Jesus tell us to do? It was very simple he said,
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all
your soul and with all of your mind; and then love others
as you love yourself." It starts by coming to
a full realization of who we are as individuals and people;
where we can look in the mirror and we can see the person
that Christ sees and we can allow the beauty that we find
through Christ to flow through us to love others and to
recognize and to love our God.
Lord is my Shepherd; he leads me in the paths of righteousness."
What does that mean? He leads me in the paths of righteousness?
used to struggle with terrible feelings of guilt. I couldn't
get away from it. When I first entered the ministry, I didn't
know how to balance my time. I didn't know how to feel comfortable
balancing my family life with my work life. As a result,
I'd go to the church and teach classes in the evening and
I knew my family was at home and my kids were working on
their homework and I would feel guilty for not being at
home helping them with their homework. On Saturday's
when they were doing things and I needed to be preparing
my messages, I felt guilty because I was preparing my messages
and not spending time with them. Then when I would spend
time with them I felt like I should be spending time writing
and doing other things for the gospel of Jesus Christ, doing
what God called me to do. So I always felt guilty whether
I was spending time with my family and relaxing or I felt
guilty if I was at church and if I was working. I
couldn't get away from the guilt no matter what I did. It
was a horrible thing. It wasn't peace; it was just
this gnawing guilt that followed me everywhere I went.
never forget the day that I sat down with Dr. Gerald Jampolsky.
I met with him and he explained how the grace of Jesus Christ
comes in and it takes away the guilt and you can allow the
peace of Christ's forgiveness to flow through you.
He explained you can never be perfect, that Christ doesn't
expect you to be perfect, that you can just be and that
Christ loves you just the way you are.
was the most freeing experience of my life. Guilt
is something that has a way of manipulating itself into
our minds and into our hearts and sometimes the guilt is
justified. There are things we have done that we are
ashamed of, there are things we should've done that we didn't.
of the things you don't know about my wife is that she's
very playful. She enjoys having a good time and when
she was flying home from her trip from Shreveport, Louisiana,
she decided to have some fun. She was a flight attendant
for many years with Continental Airlines and they happened
to be on Continental Airlines flying back from Shreveport,
Louisiana. She started talking to one of the flight attendants
and decided that she was going to have some fun and she
said, "Would you mind if I served some of the meals
and beverages to the group of 20 ladies who are on our trip
traveling with me?" He thought it would be fun
so he gave her his apron. Donna pushed the cart down the
aisle serving the refreshments and all the ladies in her
group laughed and had great fun with her. They had a good
time but what was interesting is that everybody else just
looked at her and was not very pleasant. They didn't think
it was funny. Some of the passengers would even look
at her. Donna couldn't believe how rude people were.
wonder how many times we become so self-absorbed with our
own problems and frustrations and hurts, we become rude
to people who are serving us. It's easy for us to
think, "Well they're getting paid for doing a job and
they're supposed to be able to handle the rudeness."
I don't think that's good enough. I think Christ wants
us to be an example of who He is and to put a smile on our
face and to allow His love to shine through us and uplift
and motivate and inspire people who are serving us.
have a dear friend who was actually a guest in this pulpit
a few years ago. His name is Foster Friess. Foster is a
terrific and beautiful example of uplifting and encouraging
people who serve. I've traveled with him and I've
seen him and I've watched him. For example, to the
valet who comes to pick up his car, he reaches out with
the biggest warmest smile and says, "Oh you're so good,
I know you're terrific at this." He just makes
that valet feel like a million bucks. I have seen
him treat a hostess or a waiter or waitress in the same
manner. It's absolutely the most beautiful testimony
of Jesus Christ living in a human, because he loves everybody.
is what Christ has called us to do, to love everybody.
What happens is we get self absorbed with the tasks at hand,
oh I have to get these papers written, I have to get these
reports done, and somebody offers you a glass of water,
and how do you respond? Do you politely and sincerely acknowledge
and accept the offer? Or, do you even glance up to acknowledge
the offer? Are you rude to the person offering you a glass
good news is that Christ and His amazing grace and love
and forgiveness says, I love you anyway. He wraps
his arms around you and he takes us just the way we are;
that is the grace of Jesus Christ.
just asks us to come to Him in sincerity and in truth and
ask for forgiveness. I like the word sincere. The
history of the word comes from the Greek, Sine Cera, which
actually literally means "without wax."
Picture ancient Greece 2000 years ago and here they are
carving one of these spectacular marble statues and they
have this statue that is absolutely done to perfection and
all of a sudden the chisel slips and puts a scar right across
her shin. So what would they do? They would get some wax
and fill it in with the wax. Then, you take it to the market
and you sell it quick. People would buy it and put it in
their home. Then the sun comes out and the wax melts and
the owner comes home from work and he sees his beautiful
statue and he sees the scars across the shins and he gets
mad at the gardener for destroying his statue. The
word sincere, it means without wax. Just the way we
are. Real. Sine Cera. God wants us to come before
Him and say, "Cleanse me, Lord, take away the wax,
the falsehoods. Allow me to see the failures that
I have and cleanse me oh lord and accept me just the way
that I am."
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said it this way: "Therefore
since we have been justified through faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have
gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
What God demonstrates His own love for us in this?
While we were still sinners Christ died for us."
That is the grace, which is the promise, that is the reality
of the divinity code of Jesus Christ who came that we might
have life and have it abundantly. He came that we
might be able to see the reality and the goodness of God
in our hearts; that as we come to love ourselves we can
love others. You talk about grace, we talk about forgiveness
of sins and we realize that the Muslim faith and the Jewish
faith looks at the Christian faith and the main criticism
of the Christian faith is that we have what they consider
a license to sin. Because you can go and you can sin
all you want and then all you do is you say ok Lord cleanse
me and then He will cleanse you and it's a license to sin
so you can do anything you want.
doesn't work that way. I believe what happens is when
we come sincerely before Christ and He reveals the sinful
nature that is within us, and we ask Him to forgive our
sins, He is true to forgive our sins. From the inside out
He produces healing so that we no longer have a desire to
do the evil things; but, instead the desire is for good
and out of gratefulness and out of love and appreciation
for all that God has done for us we do good things.
We make positive impacts in this world; we fly across the
nation to build homes for someone we've never met.
We go to extreme lengths to feed the poor; we do what it
takes to be the living Christ in society.
Lord is my Shepherd; he leads me in the paths of righteousness
for namesake." When I hear the words, "his
namesake," do you know what I think of? I always think
of the healing of the man born blind that we find in the
Gospel of John, chapter 9. Jesus is walking with the
apostles and they see this man who has been blind since
birth and no one has ever been healed who has been born
blind. And they stop and the say, "Master, did
this man or his parents sin that he was born blind?
Jesus said, "Neither one, this man, nor his parents
sinned. But he was born blind so that the glory of
God might be revealed." He made some mud with his salvia
and he put the mud on the maníŽs eyes and he told him
to go wash them and he went and he washed and he went back
seeing. Seeing. "That the glory of God
might be revealed." Why does God allow bad things to
happen to us, why does God continue to forgive us? So that
the glory of God might be revealed.
week we're going to look at the passage of scripture that
shares with us, "He leads us through the valleys."
He doesn't dump us in the valleys he leads us through and
so I want to invite you to pray with me today the prayer,
"Cleanse me Lord," and be prepared to take the
journey through the valleys to that promise land next week.
thank you for being a God that continues to touch hearts
and minds with the reality of your goodness and your love.
We pray that as we fall short of all you have in store for
our lives that we'll come to you as honest, open people
and sincerely confess our sins so you will come and wrap
us with your loving arms and accept us just the way we are.
So we thank you that while we were yet sinners, you died
for us. Today out of gratitude for all that you've done,
we reach out and love others. So cleanse us Lord,
and help us to see the beautiful face in everyone we meet
this week. We love you. Amen.