Who Are You?
On April 28th, 2019 I preached at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Florida. Here is the transcript of my sermon below.
Who Are You?
Genesis 1:26 – 31 & 2:4 – 7, Ephesians 2: 1- 10
“Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Am I important?” “What is my purpose in life?” These are questions you may have asked, you may be contemplating or struggling with them today. These are good questions. These are important questions. These are questions I am hoping to answer today.
Do you believe there is a God who created everything? Do you believe there is a God in heaven who cares about you and about the world we live in? Do you know that you are a unique creation of God? We are not here by accident.
Today we will look at 3 observations about God’s relation to humanity in regards to our purpose in life. These observations are foundational to the understanding of your uniqueness and purpose.
In this we have seen that we are his reflection. We are created in His image we have dignity. We have worth. My friends we are truly God’s beloved creation and we have purpose.
So what is your purpose?
So to go back to the questions I asked at the beginning of this message…“Why am I here?” “How did I get here?” “Is there a point to my life?” “Do I have a higher calling in life that just existing?” “Am I important?” “What’s the purpose of life?” I would hope that you can see the answers to these questions are yes. You have purpose and your purpose is to worship God and to enjoy him forever. It is to do good works in the name of Jesus Christ, and it is to offer hope by promoting Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
If you take anything with you today, please know you are a unique creation of God. You have purpose and that purpose is established in your understanding and relationship to God, who loves you and has a plan for you.
 New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (Ge 2:4–7). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (Ge 2:21). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Foundations Week 33, Day 4
Scripture Read: John 3 - 4
Title: The Living Water
(H) Highlight verse: "Jesus said to her, 'whoever drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that will give him will never thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13, 14
(E) Explain: As Jesus was travelling at around the noon hour he was tired, hot and thirsty as he came to Jacob’s well. It is traditionally believed this well is located on the land Jacob (Israel) gave to Joseph in Genesis 48:22. Interestingly it is still a functioning well/spring to this day. Since it was noon the sun was at its peak and Jesus was weary from his travels. He encounters a woman at this well and asks her for a drink.
Water was drawn in the morning hours or the cool of the day by the women. Typically the women came in groups so they could assist one another in drawing water before it became too hot. In this passage we meet a woman who comes later in the day and alone. This tells us that she is probably a shunned woman because she comes at the point of day when she knows no one will be around and she comes by herself.
Jesus asks her for some water and the woman is certainly surprised because a Jewish male is asking her for a drink of water. He has no utensils so he would have to use her cup. According to Jews Samaritans were ceremonially unclean and a Jew who used a Samaritan’s cup would also be considered unclean as well. This is what the writer John meant when he wrote that Jews and Samaritans use nothing in common.
She apparently has no reason to even know that she is speaking to the Messiah. She was exasperated that this tired Jewish traveler was talking to her but as Jesus said had she known who she was talking to she would not only be getting him water but would be asking him for the living water. Living water – literally translated as flowing water or moving water. In the Bible water is symbolic for cleansing, refreshing and in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is speaking to this woman in spiritual terms as D.A. Carson writes, “(Living Water is) the satisfying eternal life mediated by the Spirit that only Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world can provide.” As Jesus talks about this water the woman thinks he is speaking of some unknown water source (or Jesus is speaking literally) so she asks Jesus how he plans on giving her this water since he has no utensils. She doesn’t understand Jesus is speaking in a spiritual sense.
He takes the opportunity to further explain what he is talking about. He says the physical water that we drink is temporary and never TRULY satisfies (much like worldly possessions). We can drink all the water we want (to the point of getting sick) but eventually we will get thirsty again. The living water, which is not a liquid but the everlasting life of God through the Holy Spirit satisfies our spiritual thirst. In our search for satisfaction and contentment in life we seek fulfillment in physical things (cars, homes, electronics, substances, food, drink etc.) and we can never truly be satisfied. Satisfaction is only attained when we have drunk of the living water of Jesus Christ. Not only will the water of life satisfy but it will spring up or gush up like an artesian well of eternal life and life here on earth through the Holy Spirit (an abundant life).
Hearing Jesus’ description of this water the woman now desires this water and asks how to get it. Jesus then makes a prophecy about her life and her immoral acts which cuts to her heart and convicts her of her immoral lifestyle. This shows that when we desire to drink the living water of Jesus we will also have to confront our sins. Sure, it is easy to come to Jesus and drink of the living water, the hard part is realizing our sins and handing them over to God.
(A) Application: This passage tells me a lot about Jesus and the life he has to offer. Here are four truths from this encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well.
(R) Respond: Thank you that the water of life is available to all who believe. Thank you that you have offered this living water to me. Thank you that you promised that not only will the water of life satisfy, but that it will never stop satisfying.
 Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel According to John p. 219 Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Co.
Foundations Week 33, Day 3
Scripture Read: Luke 12
Title: Anxiety, Worry, and Trust
(H) Highlight verse: "Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" Luke 12:25
(E) Explain: In chapter 12 Jesus is speaking to his disciples about hypocrisy, fear, heavenly treasures, worry, anxiety, trust, and being prepared for the end times. He speaks specifically in 12:22 - 34 about worry the uselessness of worry, anxiety, and doubt. He tells his disciples not to be anxious about their lives, and the food they will eat. He essentially tells them that anxiety accomplishes nothing. Worrying about things that they could not change was pointless because there was absolutely nothing they could do to change things just by worrying. He also alludes to the truth that worry and anxiety can lead to doubt and lack of faith. Jesus says that instead of worrying about the trivial things in life they should focus their energy and and efforts on seeking God and his kingdom, because when they do the trivial things they were worrying about will be taken care of by God the Father. For if their treasure is in following God and seeking his kingdom, this will reveal their true heart and love for God.
(A) Application: I am very good at worrying and I don't really know why I worry so much. I understand the as a human my natural inclination is to worry, doubt and fear and I believe this is why Jesus speaks about these things so often in scripture. I understand that being anxious, and worrying is a waste of time because I can't change a single thing when I worry... Worry is a time waster, it leads me down the roads of unbelief and lack of faith. Jesus reminds me often throughout scripture that God is trustworthy and He will take care of those who belong to him. This doesn't mean that I will have an easy life and everything will go my way, it simply means that God will take care of me in the good and the bad times and I can trust him no matter what.
(R) Respond: Lord, I pray that I won't worry so much. May I give me worry, and anxiety over to you so I don't waste my time worrying about things that I have no control over. May I use my time wisely by seeking first your kingdom and trusting you to care of my trivial needs, wants, and desires.
Holy Week, DAY 6
17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.[a]But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:17 - 27 (ESV)
Jesus was arrested and bound by the soldiers and taken before Annas, father-in-law of the High Priest Caiaphas. Annas is also called the High Priest in other passages so there is some debate over why he is also called the High Priest. Some suggest that Caiaphas and Annas shared the position and others suggest that since he was High Priest before Caiaphas that he was probably retired from the position but still held the title.
The death of Jesus is a graphic and gruesome thing. Many of us have either seen movies, read books or even imagined in your mind what this horrific event was like, but I do not think we can fathom what it was really like. The death Jesus suffered was a painful, humiliating and violent one, yet it was necessary to accomplish the will of the Father. Crucifixion was a method of capital punishment used by many nations including Greece and Persia. The Romans used it as a means to execute slaves and criminals.
In the Gospel of John, the final two statements made by Jesus were first a personal need, “I thirst”, and the second is a declaration of completion of the task, “It is finished!” What was finished? Jesus has accomplished what He came to do. The law has been fulfilled and redemption has been made. Through Jesus’ death, humanity can have peace with God. He has borne the penalty of sin for humanity so that those who believe and obey would not face this penalty.
It was nearing the Sabbath before Passover and the process of death was going to be sped up by breaking the legs of those being crucified. They wanted to get this over, so they could go ahead and celebrate the Passover. However, Jesus had already given up His spirit and was lifeless so there was no need to break His legs (thus fulfilling prophecy). To ensure He was in fact dead the Roman soldier pierced his side.
It is believed that both Joseph and Nicodemus were Sanhedrin and followers of Jesus. Joseph must have been a person of influence because typically a person who was crucified was just thrown in a common grave.
Today, this devotional ends the Season of Lent, but the story does not end here. This account is gruesome, brutal, and somewhat tragic but altogether necessary. The death of Jesus Christ establishes God’s new covenant of grace, atonement and redemption with humanity. Let us all remember, today may be a sad day in the Gospel account, but we must remember, Sunday is on the horizon.
Happy Easter! He is RISEN!
Holy Week, DAY 5 (Good Friday)
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. John 18:1 - 12 (ESV)
Once Jesus finishes His prayer and concludes His farewell discourse, He went to a garden to pray. Judas knew Jesus would be there at this time, so he brings with him Roman soldiers (possibly up to 200 soldiers) and the temple police to have Jesus arrested. Judas kisses Jesus, but John does not record it; however, we know he did from other Gospel accounts. Jesus meets the group and asks who they are seeking? They respond, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He replies, “I am He.” The literal translation is “I am.” John tells us the soldiers drew back or as the NET Bible says, “they retreated” or moved back and fell to the ground. What happened at this moment? Why did the soldiers fall? More conservative biblical scholars believe the soldiers in the front may have jumped back when Jesus unexpectedly advanced forward causing those in the front to start a domino effect falling to the ground. Others believe they fell because a Theophany (an appearance of God to humans) appeared and caused His enemies to fall back and fall prostrate before Him. What we do know is Jesus is in control of the situation. One commentary reads, “We see they are struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Ac 26:14). It was the glorious effulgence (radiance) of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them. This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up”.
I like what Pastor Tim Keller says in his sermon I AM HE; “Nobody can stand on their feet in the presence of God.” The power of God is awesome in all senses of the word. Not only is it awesome, but awe inspiring. I believe in Jesus we see the power of God manifested in His name (I AM, Yahweh). If the mere mention of the name of God can bring a squad of soldiers to their knees, then we ought to recognize and respect the power of God altogether.
Jesus asks them again whom they seek, and he informs them He is the one they seek. He tells them to let the men with Him go unharmed. Peter decides he wants to seize the opportunity and he attacks the High Priest’s servant and cuts off his ear. Peter’s knee jerk reaction spurs Jesus to let everyone know He is not seeking violence and that He will go peacefully. In fact, He rebukes Peter by asking him, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” This is His way of saying to Peter, “This all has to happen. This has been set since the beginning of time. I must do as the Father says in order to accomplish the plan from the start.” As we can see Jesus has accepted the mission the Father has given to Him. His death on the cross was not a hiccup in the plan of God. It was THE plan from the beginning.
 I would encourage you to read Exodus 3 so you can get a better understanding of the impact of this statement.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (Jn 18:6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Holy Week, DAY 4
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34 - 35 (ESV)
Today is Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy Thursday is derived from the Latin phrase “Dies Mandatum” which means the mandate or “The Day of the new commandment.” Today’s reading highlights the commandment or mandate that Jesus gave to His disciples on the eve of His death. Traditionally, the Church observes this evening with a ceremonial foot washing service and concludes with a time of communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (John 13). Today, we will look at the three key observances of Maundy Thursday that are intended to prepare us for the remembrance of Christ’s death and celebration of His resurrection for our justification.
Three Key Observances for Maundy Thursday: (Matthew 26 & John 13 – 17)
Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.
Holy Week, DAY 3
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:1 - 5 (ESV)
Today and tomorrow we are going to step back and look at the events of the last supper. It was during this evening meal that Judas had purposed in his heart to betray Jesus. John tells us that the Devil had put it in Judas’ heart. He had already made up his mind that he was going to betray Jesus and turn Him over to the authorities in exchange for money.
In this passage we see the heart of Judas, but on the contrary we see the sincere heart of Jesus as He prepares to wash the feet of his disciples. At this point He knew Judas’ heart and He does not turn away from washing his feet. He serves His enemy with genuine love. We read, “The devil put it in his heart” and this just goes to show the underhanded plot of the Jewish leaders was satanic. Since we know the end of the story we know that Jesus’ death had to happen as it was planned from the beginning of time; however, it is revealed to us that the means in which it would be done would be through satanic influence.
After the meal Jesus strips down to His loin cloth and wraps a towel around His waist and begins to wash the disciple’s feet. This is a wonderful act of service Jesus does for His closest friends. However, we fail to see how much of a servant Jesus becomes in doing it. A foot washing was a task that was usually reserved for the lowest of servants. Peers and especially teachers of students did not “stoop” to the level of foot washing. It is suggested that some Jews believed that even Jewish slaves should not wash feet; instead this should be a job for gentile servants.
With Jesus taking off His outer clothing He shows that He is becoming the lowest of servants and serving His friends. Jesus did not perform this service to fulfill prophecy, He didn’t do it to gain respect from his disciples, and He did not do this because He wanted something in return. This is a true display of love and service for both His friends and enemies and He wants to show them the significance of being a follower of Jesus.
We can learn much about our conduct as followers of Jesus through His act of service. The overarching theme for this passage is about serving one another in Christ’s love. As we have seen here no task is to be considered below us and we are called to serve one another in love. The body of Christ should seek out ways to serve one another and to serve the community. Service is an action and it requires movement. Serving involves getting up and doing, it’s not about sitting and watching. Maybe this is why so many are reluctant to serve? People enjoy the spectator aspect of Christianity, but we do not always appreciate or value the movement aspect. We are all called to serve faithfully and forever. This includes the youngest of our children to the oldest of adults as they are able. Serving in Jesus’ name should bring such joy and happiness to our lives that we never grow tired of doing it. Sure, there will be times you may not be appreciated or even criticized for your act of service and this is why it is important that we do it for the Lord and not for people. People can be harsh, critical, and downright mean, but if you serve others with the heart of Jesus you will be blessed.
Do you have the heart of a servant? What are some practical steps you can take today to serve someone? Is there anyone the Lord has laid on your heart to bless by serving?
Holy Week, DAY 2
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:6 - 19 (ESV)
Today we will look at the two remaining purposes of Jesus’ prayer.
Holy Week, DAY 1
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. John 17:1 - 5 (ESV)
Today we will look at the prayer of Jesus or also known as Jesus’ High Priestly prayer. Chapter 17 is my favorite chapter in the Gospel of John. In this passage we get a glimpse at the prayer life of Jesus. This is an intimate moment in which John was a witness and he shares it with us. It is a beautiful prayer and I think we as followers of Jesus can benefit from this prayer.
The chapter begins with Jesus looking to the heavens and praying to God the Father. This is believed to be the common stance for prayer (not the way we do it today with hands folded, heads bowed, and eyes closed) and he prays, “The hour has come…” which refers to his death, resurrection, and ascension (glorification). In His High Priestly prayer Jesus has a threefold purpose to the prayer, to pray for Himself, the disciples and for the church. Today we will look at the first purpose of his prayer.
Week 6, DAY 6
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1 – 11 (ESV)
The people in this passage were aware of the setting surrounding the coming Messiah so when they saw Jesus coming into Jerusalem on the colt they understood what was going on. Many of them had false hopes about the Messiah. They were expecting Jesus to take charge and lead a revolution against Rome and set the nation of Israel free from the bondage of Rome. He could have easily allowed the crowd to get into a political riot but he was a gentle King. He was showing us that he was a peaceful and gentle king by riding a colt.
According to the Gospel of Luke, the religious leaders approached Jesus and demanded that he rebuke his disciples and the people praising him. They knew Jesus was accepting the praise of the people as the Messiah at this point. Jesus tells them that even if he were to silence them, the stones would cry out in praise to him. There was absolutely nothing that could silence the praise of the Messiah. Instead, Jesus rebukes the Pharisee’s for failing to see that this moment as the God ordained moment that it was With Palm Sunday, we are left with some challenges and questions. This weekend we celebrate and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we proclaim, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
We all know what comes next in the Gospel account of Jesus. Most of the people who were emphatically proclaiming Jesus as Messiah will turn against him and will join the riotous mobs who will scream, “Crucify him! Kill the blasphemer! He is not our king!”
The questions for you today is, “Are you in this for the duration? Are you committed to be a full disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to praise him during the good times as well as the bad? Are you willing to put your cloak on the ground and praise the King for who He is? Are you determined to follow and commit to the Lord in all seasons of life?” This is the challenge for today and for the week. Praise the King for he has come! Praise the King for he has died, so we might live.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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