#2140 – Life Begins Today!  (13 March 2011)

The Message

Pastor Jim Penner

Special Guest

Kris Denbesten and Robin Denbesten
Two years ago, Kris and Robin Denbesten’s nine-year-old daughter, Gracyn, became gravely ill and they suddenly found themselves in the hospital, fighting for her life. Their story will inspire you to believe in a big God.

The Message

Well there was a policeman on a Sunday morning sitting on a highway, a rural highway, early in the morning. Very lonely highway and he thought he was going to catch some speeders. And this car goes driving past at a grand total of 22 miles an hour. Well the speed limit is 60 and so the policeman was a little concerned that maybe this car was going to cause an accident. So he takes out after this car and pulls it over and gets out of his car and as he gets close to this car, he realizes that there are five very well dressed senior ladies in this car; three in the back seat, two in the front. And he notices that the ladies in back seat, their eyes are just wide with shock and they’re just gripping the handles on the doors like this, you know? And the lady in the passenger seat was doing the same thing.

And very calmly, the driver rolls her window down and says “Officer, I wasn’t speeding. I was going exactly the speed limit.” And he says, “Ma’am, no you were going 22 miles an hour.”

She goes, “Yes that’s exactly the speed limit. That’s what the sign said.”

And he said he kind of chuckled and he says, “Oh ma’am, that’s the sign for the rural route to the highway. It’s highway 22. That’s not the speed limit.”

She felt a little sheepish and she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ll pay closer attention.” And then the policeman said, “Ma’am, are the people in your car okay?”

“Oh yes, they’re like this every week when we go to church.”
“Every week?”

She says, “Yes, but they’ll get over it in a few minutes. We just got off highway 119.” So the moral of the story is you can learn something every day, doesn’t matter what your age is, you can learn something every day.

For instance, did you know that when you pray and you spend time in scriptures, that God will reveal things to you? How many believe God talks to you through prayer and scripture? That’s quite a few of you. God will speak to you through the scriptures and through prayer. And as I’ve said many times, I won’t walk behind this pulpit or walk up here without consulting the head of this church who is Jesus Christ, in prayer. Diligently seeking Him the week before, Lord, what do You want to say through my life?  Lord, what message do You want to give?

So the Lord called me to a passage of scripture this week and the more I meditated on this scripture and the more I prayed, the more I began to realize how impacting this scripture is. This scripture changes everything. Are you ready for this? Are you sure you’re ready for this? Because your life’s never going to be the same once you realize the impact of this scripture because it says right here in 1st Peter, “You are a chosen generation; a royal priesthood. A holy nation. God’s own special people.” Ladies and gentleman, God is telling you, you are royalty. Let that sink in for just a minute. You are royalty. Now you’re royalty. Let me see you smile a little bit like you’re royalty. You see some of you are not quite sure you believe you’re royalty. Sit up a little straighter if you think you’re royalty. As a result of what Jesus did on the cross, He gave you the right to become children of God, children of the King of kings and the Lord of lords and He says you are royalty. How’s that feel? Yes, a few of you are getting it. For those over here that didn’t get it, what Jesus did on that cross, the bible says He gave you the right to be called children of God - the children of the King of kings. Do you know what that means? That means that old William and Kate over there in jolly old England getting ready to get married got nothing on you because you’re royalty. God says you’re royalty.

Now you’re saying well if I’m royalty then I must be a prince or princess without a kingdom because I don’t feel very royal. Lost my job, my marriage is on the rocks, got relationship problems, can’t pay my bills. I don’t feel very royal. Any of that sinking in because that’s what you’re saying. You don’t feel very royal.

So I know why God gave me this scripture to give to you to remind you that you’re royalty because He wanted you to have a.. for some a refresher course, and for some of you a crash course on kingdom royalty and what kingdom royalty looks like. This is where it gets exciting. Kingdom royalty. And you have to answer a profound question; are you looking at life through the wrong pair of glasses? Do you need to adjust your eyesight a little bit to see what kingdom royalty looks like to God? Because God says you’re royalty. And the first rule in kingdom royalty is very simple. It’s not about you, it’s all about God. And for some, that’s difficult to handle.

I struggled with that for a long time, what do you mean it’s not about me? That’s where our ego gets involved. What do you mean it’s not about me? It’s not about you. It’s about God first and foremost. It’s all about God.

I’ll give you an example of that. A couple of years ago my wife and I took an overnight stay up in Santa Barbara. We drove up to Santa Barbara. It’s about ninety/hundred miles north of here. So we get up to Santa Barbara and on our way home, we’re coming down the 101 freeway. Now for a long stretch of the 101 by Santa Barbara, you drive along the ocean and it’s absolutely beautiful. And then you get close to LA and it turns inland and the ocean disappears. Well my brain after twenty-four hours of seeing the ocean wasn’t exactly ready to give up my view. So as we’re driving along, I pull out, you remember these, an old Rand McNally road map, the actual paper road map before they had cell phones with GPS on them, right? So I pull out this road map and I see there’s a tiny little road that goes right over the coastal mountains and lands you up in Malibu right next to the ocean. And then you come down Pacific Coast Highway. And I’m thinking great we get to keep seeing the ocean for just a little bit longer while we drive home, we’ll go through Malibu, maybe we’ll see some movie stars and our trip will be complete. That’s what I’m thinking. So we just kind of happy go lucky take off on this little road over these little coastal mountains towards the ocean. It was the windiest, roughest road I’ve ever seen in my life. I go who in the world put a road like this through these mountains.

And we’re winding our way through and bumping our way through and all of the sudden, we get to this point and there’s a dump truck sitting in the road. I thought it was moving but it wasn’t. As we got up behind it, I realized it was stopped dead in the middle of the road, almost straddling the line because it was a little two-lane road, straddling the line so you couldn’t get around it. And as I pulled up behind, I was just getting ready to honk on my horn when I see the back up lights on this truck come on and him start coming backwards in my direction. Now you know when you’re flustered you can’t do what comes naturally to you. I’m looking for reverse on my automatic gear changer here, think I find it, step on the gas and nothing happens but the engine revving, right? And I’m going ‘we’re in trouble.’ About the time I say we’re in trouble, I hear and see metal crunching on metal as this dump truck is backing over my car, right? And I’m like we’re in big trouble. I look at my wife and said, ‘honey, bail out or we’re dead.’ She starts trying to grab for the handle and is having trouble finding it, I can’t find mine let alone my seat belt, and meanwhile the truck is getting closer. It’s literally about this far from coming through our windshield.

And I’m going, Lord, let me get out of this car when all of a sudden the truck stops, puts into first gear and slowly changes his direction just a little bit and just drives away. He obviously never saw me because I pulled up too close to him when I got near the truck. He couldn’t see me in his mirrors. So we keep traveling, we went on home, we got down to Malibu; could care less about movie stars, we were just shaken up figuring out what we were going to say to our insurance company, came on home and couldn’t get home fast enough.

Now the moral of the story is this: we’re driving down the 101. Nice serene highway, I think it was a Saturday evening, no traffic, it was wonderful. But we decided, no we want to see the ocean, we’re going to go over here. Lord, bless this trip as we go this direction. It wasn’t that we said, Lord, should we go that direction, we decided to go that direction. And then we started praying the prayer, Lord, bail me out. How many of you have prayed that timeless prayer, Lord, bail me out. How many of the rest of you have prayed that prayer, Lord, bail me out? Everybody in this room has prayed that prayer, Lord, bail me out. You’ve said the words a little bit differently but that’s the intent. Now what I learned from that little excursion over the coastal mountains by Malibu was God comes first. That’s an example of God coming first. God had me on a path and I chose a different one. And then I’m starting to pray the further I get away from His plan, Lord, bail me out. It’s all about God, not about you. So as a result of that, as a result of that, everything in your life must start with God. Everything in your life must start with God.

And a great example of that is in one of the most beautiful passages of scripture I’ve ever read. John 1. Go home and read John 1. If you don’t read anything else this week, just read John 1. “In the beginning was the word,” referring to Jesus as the word, “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life and that life was the light of men.” I love those words “in the beginning.” Sheila talked about them a few weeks ago from Genesis. Here they are again in John 1, “In the beginning.” In the beginning of anything good in your life, it’s going to start with God. It has to start with God. God, should I date that person? God, should I marry that person? God, should I buy that house? God, should I rent a house? God, should I take that job? Versus Lord, I want to buy that house. Please bless it. Lord, I want to buy that car. Please bless it. Man, she’s really cute. I want to marry her. Please bless that. Not quite sure if that’s your plan or not but I really want my way.

Start your prayer life, start everything you do in life, let it begin with God. Once you do that, a whole bunch of things are going to change. A whole bunch of things are going to change in your life. Now what happens when God’s plan does not look like your dream for yourself? What happens? You’re going along, you’ve consulted God, you are convinced that the path you’re walking is God’s plan for your life. Absolutely convinced of it but your life goes haywire.

Case in point, Kris and Robin and their daughter Gracyn, cruising along through life, beautiful family of five, all of a sudden.. feel like their walking God’s path, praying every day, in the scriptures, consulting with the Lord, their little girl comes down with a heart condition that could kill her. Doesn’t exactly look like.. it looks like God’s plan has kind of gone haywire, right? What do you do in times like that? During times like that, you have to build your faith. And when I say build your faith; you’ve heard that a lot in this pulpit. When we say build your faith, we’re not talking about your faith in your dream or your faith in your plan, put your faith in God. Take your eyes off your dream for a minute, take your eyes off your plan for a minute, put them on God because He’s the one that created the dream. Trust Him. Trust Him. Just like that little girl, Gracyn did, trust Him because your life’s going to have wrinkles in it. God’s road for you will always have wrinkles because there are lessons for you and I to learn as we walk through life and we always come out the other end stronger.

Greatest case in point is Joseph. You’ve heard the story of Joseph many, many times. Joseph gets a dream from the Lord at age seventeen that his brothers and his family are going to bow down to him. His brothers don’t exactly like this dream so they sell their brother into slavery. Now to Joseph, that doesn’t look like his brothers bowing down to him, they just sell him into slavery, right? So it looks like his life goes from here: wow, God’s going to bless me, to boom I’m in slavery. Right?

Then he gets to Egypt where he’s put in a house of Potiphar and Rotifer’s a wealthy guy and the Lord shows favor on Joseph, elevates Joseph in Potiphar’s eyes and all of the sudden Joseph is in charge of the house. His stock is coming back up. Looking better. Then Potiphar’s wife decides, oh I think I’m going to sleep with Joseph; Joseph wants nothing to do with it, so she accuses Joseph basically of rape and therefore Potiphar has Joseph thrown in prison. Boom his stock is back down again. Doesn’t exactly look like a big dream plan from God, right?

So he’s sitting there in prison and he interprets the dream of a prisoner whose there from the royal palace and all he says is when you get back to Pharaoh, please remember me that I might get out of here. The prisoner does get out, goes back to Pharaoh and forgets all about Joseph. Joseph is in prison two more years, boom his stock just got lower. Finally, finally that prisoner remembers Joseph when Pharaoh has a dream that nobody can interpret, calls Joseph to the palace, interprets Pharaoh’s dream. Pharaoh’s so impressed he puts Joseph in charge as the number two man in all of Egypt, the second most powerful man in the world. Boom, his stock is right here.

Now his family finally shows up in Egypt during a famine and they bow to Joseph not knowing who he is because they know he can give them food. From Joseph getting a dream from God to Joseph being the number two man in Egypt that can save his family is about a seventeen-year journey. Go read it at the end of Genesis. Seventeen years. Now in our eyes, in Joseph’s eyes, and in your eyes and in my eyes, we would just prefer to say Lord, if you’re going to put me in charge, just do it already and be done with it. Much, much easier. Why the slavery? Why the prison? Why the hardship? Do you think Joseph was the same person at the end of that journey that he was at the beginning? Do you think Joseph was a better leader at the end of that journey than he was at the beginning? Think about your children when you raise them up. Are they stronger at the end of a journey than they are at the beginning?

When you go through hardship in life, the prayer instantly has to become Lord, what are You trying to teach me? Thank You Lord for this hardship. Thank You Lord for this trial. Thank You for this difficulty. I’ve lived this in my own life. I’ve seen it in my family’s life when we’ve gone from having abundance to having nothing. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. The end of your journey will always look better under God’s plan. Therefore, you have to trust God. Build your faith in Him. Build your faith in Him. Start it with Him and amazing things are going to happen to the dreams that He gives you. Dreams that He gives you are going to be amazing.

So this morning, God is saying to you, you are royalty. Where’s your smile? Smile like you’re royal. Sit up a little straighter because you’re royal. I’m royal, right? But what I’ve found is sometimes even a prince and a princess needs a hug. You know we go through difficult times, we go through trials in our life; even a prince or a princess needs a hug.

A couple of weeks ago I’m driving down the freeway. I’d had a bad day, bad day. And they do happen. You have them, too. I had such a bad day, I shut my radio off and I started praising God. I didn’t say God take away my bad day, I didn’t say God fix this. I started praising God because sometimes that’s all you can do. That’s all you can do. I shut my radio off and I’m literally driving down the freeway and He must have kept my truck straight because I don’t know if I had my eyes closed for second or not but the song that came out of my heart was a song from when I was child and all I could say was “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus there’s just something about that name.” As I sang those words, as I praised my Savior, I felt God put His arms around me as if you were standing in front of me right now putting your arms around me. God will do that to you when you praise Him. When you lift His name in praise, when you love on His son Jesus He will love on you with a measure you cannot begin to comprehend.

So this morning I want the Lord to give you a hug. We’re going to stand for a second. Let’s stand as we pray. And I want the Lord to give you a hug. And there’s a great way to invite the Lord to give you a hug. There’s a great way to do it. Lord God, we thank You. We praise You for You are a mighty God. You are the prince of peace; You are the author and the perfector of our faith. And Lord God, we praise You for the trials in our life. We praise You for the difficulty, we praise You for the hardship, we also praise You for the blessing because we have so many of them. And Lord God, in this moment, we just want to embrace You. We just want to love You. We just want to feel a hug from You in this moment. And the greatest way to do that is to just sing praise to Jesus. Just join me and sing as we worship the Lord.

Do you feel His loving arms around you? A few goose bumps here and there? Just a warmth, just kind of a joy that you didn’t expect when you walked in here? It’s because the King of kings has called you royalty and if you don’t know Jesus, if you don’t know Jesus, it’s easy. Just say Lord, come into my life. Forgive me of my sin, restore me to You. Be my Savior. It’s no more complicated than that.

We had a testimony last hour, 9:30, true story. Sheila prayed for a woman that came forward at the end of one of these service, she had Lupus. A couple of months later has gone back to the doctor’s; the lupus is gone because we prayed for healing in this church. Honest story. We believe in a God of restoration and a God of healing and if you need prayer, as we continue to sing, you come on forward and then Sheila will give the benediction.

Oh Lord God, thank You for giving us the right to be called children of God, Your children. Lord God, go with us this week, in Jesus’ precious name, Amen, Amen.

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