Faithlife Sermons

Questions for an Incredible Journey

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This was modified from a curriculum lesson from DYM by Doug Fields.

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Story of the Europe Trip.
We did a ton wrong on that trip.
Transportation
When arrived at day-break
We drove from Florence to Pisa in a bus in order to catch a flight to Dublin to get back to USA. We missed our flight, had to take a train to ROME to fly to Dublin. Then sleep in the airport until our flight to US.
Lovely lady in Edinburgh who saved us a ton of frustration and trouble. She asked our plans. She asked how we were getting there. She arranged for us to have a cab to get where we needed to be at the right time. She asked the right questions!
I think many of us ask a lot of the right questions about our future. Young people, what do I want to do with my life after high school? Is the married life for me? Do I want children? When do I want to retire? What do I want my legacy to be? We ask the right questions to plan for a good life, but too often, we miss some of the most important questions.
Today, I want to give you four questions to consider that aren’t just important as you look ahead at your future, but are also important for a good present.
I’m just curious. Has anyone ever experienced a point in their life where you just wanted something different, but you were not exactly sure what different should look like?
Sometimes, in our rush to experience or feel something different—we forget to ask the right questions to find the right kind of change or direction for our lives. We’re in such a hurry, we move quickly to a new activity, a new plan, a new action, and start doing instead of taking time to pause and reflect.
Today we’re going to look at the story of Palm Sunday—an event described in all four Gospels where Jesus makes a triumphant entry into Jerusalem during the last week of His life. As we do, we’ll take a little time to pause and think about our own answers to some very important—I would say life-changing—questions.
The ‘Palm’ in Palm Sunday refers to the Palm Branches that the crowd laid down along Jesus’ path as a symbol—a tribute—to Jesus. This act shouted, “This is someone special!”
Matthew 21:1–3 CSB
When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once.”
I’d love to know the story of the donkey’s owner. Did he willingly give the donkey to these two disciples? What would you say if two guys walked up to you and said, “Give me that bike!” and when you said, “But it’s my bike.” they said, “The Lord needs it!” Would you just say, “Oh, okay, here you go”? I’m not sure I would. I know… it’s an interesting question, but it’s not one of the 4 that I want to share with you today.
Matthew 21:4–5 CSB
This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: Tell Daughter Zion, “See, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
That prophecy is the actual quote from Zechariah 9:9. The Jews who were listening, who had studied the Old Testament their whole lives, would have recognized Jesus saying this as a fulfillment of that Old Testament prophecy. We might think, “why did Jesus ride a donkey? A horse is so much cooler!” Well, in that culture, in the ancient near east, a donkey was a symbol of peace. A horse was an animal of war. Jesus rode in to town on a donkey to show that he’d come in peace.
Matthew 21:6–9 CSB
The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and its colt; then they laid their clothes on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of him and those who followed shouted: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!
“Hosanna” is a Hebrew expression that is translated, “Save Now.” This act: laying down their garments and waving the branches is something that was reserved for high royalty. They recognized that Jesus is who He said He was… He is the Savior. This Palm Sunday event brings us to the first question:
Matthew 21:10–11 CSB
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

1. A QUESTION OF IMPORTANCE: Who is this [Jesus]?

For life to have real meaning, this question has to be answered. Unlike the Scripture we just read, the crowd can’t answer it for you.
You’ve got to answer this question for yourself. Unlike other religions, you’re not born into faith in Jesus. A lot of people think because they were born in America that it makes them a Christian. It's no more true than if you’re born in Starbucks that it makes you a Frappuccino.
Who is Jesus to you? Is He a good teacher? Is He a con who has fooled people for 2000 years? Or, is He who he said He was, “God in the flesh.”?
I would guess 75% of us have this answered. Not everyone. Maybe you are visiting or investigating church, faith, Jesus. Some of you might be sitting here thinking, “I’m not religious, I can’t even believe I said “yes” to coming here today! I was tricked into being “Jesus-ed!”
If that’s you, relax, we’re not trying to be religious either. The question, “WHO IS THIS?” is still being asked 2,000 years after His death. Jesus is the most revered person to have ever lived and He is worth your investigation.
If you haven’t answered it yet, I encourage you to give it some considerable thought and we’re here every week to help you on that journey. It’s a very important question. In fact, I would say, that the good life you want to live hinges on the answer to the question “Who is Jesus?”

2. A QUESTION OF DESIRE: Am I really drawn to something different?

In your heart-of-hearts, are you really drawn to live differently? Do you think differently? What about loving differently?
That’s what Jesus requires.
Jesus calls His followers to be different. I would understand if you said, “no” to being different. Different is scary. Different takes courage.
Being the "Same" is comfortable. Same is warm and safe.
The desire I’m talking about is that gut-feeling deep within you that says, “I want something different for my life, for my faith, my relationships, for my future.”
Story of Howard
I don’t even remember/know what he did.
He loved to duck hunt.
He loved his family.
He loved Jesus/the Bible.
He loved me.
Howard cared enough to meet with me regularly.
When you want your life to matter, it won’t happen by accident. It begins with DESIRE! It begins with a desire to be different.
I think one of the reasons we don’t consider Jesus’ call to follow Him as wild is because we consider Jesus to be so tame. We see Jesus as mellow or weak. [Leader Note: show sheep photo] Jesus is cute, handsome has a great smile and is nice to animals. Or, maybe we think He acts weird like this
Jesus is attractive, magnetic, winsome, challenging, transforming. Jesus isn’t weird. Christians are weird. It’s why I like the bumper sticker that says, “Jesus, please protect me from your followers.” I’d like a bumper sticker made that says, “Don’t blame Jesus for my bad driving. He’s God and I’m an idiot.”
Don’t be fooled, Jesus isn’t weak or wimpy with a message that is easy to follow. Jesus’ teaching was head-snapping. He blew people away with what he called them to do—it was revolutionary. Just scan the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) where he says things like:
· Don’t point out the speck in another’s eye. Deal with the log in your own.
· Do to others what you’d like them to do to you.
· Don’t store up treasures here. Store up treasures in heaven—use your resources to impact others.
· You’ve heard it said before don’t murder, but I say, “The anger in your heart is killing people.”
· You’ve heard it said before don’t commit adultery, but I say, “The lust in your heart is adultery.”
· If someone slaps you, offer the other cheek too.
· If someone sues you for your shirt, give them your coat too.
· If someone demands you to carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.
The way of Jesus isn’t easy… it’s actually radical!
Matthew 7:13–14 CSB
“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
There’s the route the world offers: being the same as everyone and aligning ourselves with the world’s values. That’s easy to do—that’s like walking through the wide gate. Following Jesus is not the easy route.
If you’ve been walking the world’s way and would like to shift toward following Jesus’ path, a way to begin shifting your desires is to start praying something like this:
God,
I desire You.
I desire to live Your ways.
I desire to reflect You today.
I desire Your will and whatever You bring my way.
Amen.
Pray these words before you get out of bed, before you start your school day, before you engage with your social media, before you get busy with the distractions of a normal day… prepare your heart with words of desire.
It all starts with desire. The question of desire will impact your decisions.
So, question 1 is A QUESTION OF IMPORTANCE: Who is this [Jesus]? Question 2 is A QUESTION OF DESIRE: Am I really drawn to something different? Let’s consider a 3rd question:

3. A QUESTION OF DECISIONS: Am I really willing to follow?

This is not only a huge question we need to answer, it’s also a daily question.
Let’s consider our options:
I can follow my way = which is my agenda or plan.
I can follow His way = which is His agenda.
Here’s why this is a difficult question: because I love MY agenda! Why? Because of the key word: “MY.” My ideas are good. My plans are exciting.
My thoughts and jokes are interesting and funny. How I want my life to turn out is magical. My comfort is really important to me. The life I’ve mapped out for myself is sweet!
The reason following Jesus is difficult is because of my SELFISHNESS. Anyone willing to admit they’re selfish? [Leader Note: it’s likely many people will not raise their hands]
Oh really? Okay, maybe I haven’t gotten you yet… let me ask it this way:
· Would you be willing to invite someone to sit with you and your friends even if they don't really "fit in" with you?
· Would you be willing to go find the new kid or visitor every week when you come to church instead of looking for the people you know?
· Even if the music was bad and the message was terrible, you’d still come here every week, because it’s not what you get out of it. You’re here to worship, regardless of the quality?
· When it comes to your money, would you happily give a 10% tithe—maybe even beyond that?
See, for me, at my core, I know I’m super selfish. I’m just curious, is there anyone else like me here today?
[ Share a time you were selfish.]
I want to be home when everyone wants to be out.
When I get competitive and can’t just have fun playing.
It’s pizza night and I want all the pizza.
bedtime routine. I fall asleep when I touch the bed, Jessica struggles to sleep and carries the responsibility.
[Wrap up your story.]
One of the ways you know you’re growing spiritually is when you find yourself being less selfish. When you used to be a 10 on the selfish scale and you’re now a 9 or 8 or 7 (you’re moving in the right direction of less-selfish). That means something is changing within you. The Spirit of God is doing His work to transform your selfish character in to a more self-less character. Follow Him closely and you’ll become more like him.
This is the hurdle for a lot of people in their spiritual journey that is difficult to get over.
This may be shocking to some of you, but God isn’t waiting to heap His blessings and power into your plan for living. God is waiting for us to courageously escape our selfish agenda and make decisions that follow or align with what He wants for us. That’s what God blesses: obedience.
Jesus was teaching about money and possessions and worry and He made it clear that He’s got it under control and we’d be wiser to make Him our primary concern.
Matthew 6:30–33 The Message
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Some of you may know this verse as: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
God’s blessing is waiting for those who make decisions to put Him first. This blessing might not come in the form of my agenda: it might not mean I get the position on the sports team, or admitted to the college I want, or find the perfect person to date, but it also might be those things.
He promises to meet our needs day-to-day, not our wants, but our needs, if we put Him first.
What does that look like in the real world?
1. So when Jesus says, “Follow me and serve others” but your agenda is to be comfortable and serve yourself… what’s your decision?
2. Or when Jesus says, “Follow me and forgive that person who has wronged you” and your plan is to get revenge… what’s your decision?
3. So when Jesus says, “Follow me and be generous” and your agenda is to gather and gain more to support your comfort… what’s your decision?
Most of the pain and heartache I’ve experienced in my life points back to choosing MY WAY over the ways of Jesus. Then I’m crazy enough to act surprised when my way slams me into a dead end.
Here’s what I’ve been learning: When the question of DESIRE and the question of DECISIONS are met with “YES” answers, it typically results in devotion.
DESIRE + DECISIONS = DEVOTION
This leads us to our 4th and final question:

4. A QUESTION OF DEVOTION: What gets your primary attention?

It’s really simple to me, when my answers to questions two and three are “yes…” my primary attention is given to Jesus. If they’re not true “yes” answers, the answer is different.
The answer to this question is usually obvious. It’s seen in our desires and decisions.
For me, I want to be devoted to Jesus, not devoted to Christianity or religion or even attending church. I want to be devoted simply to Jesus. I want to walk with Him, to be filled with God’s Spirit, to be in tune with and connected to and led by Him.
For me, if I’m not led by Him, I ask myself the wrong questions. I can ask one hundred good questions about my life, future, purpose, etc. but when I’m not connected to Jesus, I miss the most important questions…
Please, don’t miss the big questions! Because I love you… I want to send you home with these four questions. I’ve listed them on a half sheet of paper and I’d love for you to spend some time making the answers personal to you. Then, sometime in the next month, I’d love to meet with you and hear your answers to see if I can help you as you seek to follow Jesus. If you’d feel more comfortable sharing your answers with your small group leader, that would be even better! But I love you too much to let these questions go unanswered.
(1) Who is Jesus?
(2) Do you really desire to be different?
(3) Are you really willing to follow?
(4) What are you currently devoted to? What’s getting your primary attention?
Close in prayer
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