Son Of God

Week 1

Shannon Lovelady
June 24, 2018

Surrender is terrifying. It’s a scary place to be to say, “Where you go, I’ll go. My life’s not mine anymore. I’m at your mercy.” But... we serve a God who desperately loves us and who created us... to find our hope, our meaning, our value, our worth our entire world in Him and in Him alone.
— Shannon Lovelady

I am pumped about this morning. This has just been a long journey for us as a church and what do we talk about this morning? What do we do as we come to the close of one and the beginning of another? Over the last couple of years, one of our biggest obstacles, at least one of my biggest obstacles, has been trying to explain to people WHY this building. What is this thing we're doing at the end of the bypass and why are we doing it? Why does it matter? The communication of that has been going on over and over again saying, “This is why it matters. This is why it's important. This is what this is about.” 

So, we're going to start this series called, “Who Do You Say That I Am?”  I believe with all my heart that the best way to describe, and for you to understand why we would do something like this, is for you to understand first and foremost who Jesus is. So this morning, honestly, I just want to make sure we're crystal clear on the heart behind Southern Hills and the heart behind City Station, and who we've always been and will continue to be. I think the best way for you to understand our hearts is to understand who it is that holds our hearts, and who it is that's driving our hearts. His name is Jesus Christ. We're going to be in Luke chapter nine this morning to kick it off, if you want to open up there. We're going to look at this question that Jesus asked His disciples, and that's going to be our basis for the rest of the summer. 

Moving forward as we ask, “Who is this Jesus?,” because again, He deserves to be honored. He deserves to be given glory and He deserves to have any credit for anything good that has ever taken place in this world and in us. So we're going to be crystal clear about who He is this morning. I'm going to pray, then we're going to go to Luke chapter nine together. 

God, thank you for loving us. Thank you that You are a gracious, loving, incredible God. It is amazing, just to know that we can even stand here and declare ourselves your children. But we know because of your Word that we're adopted. We are loved. We are chosen, we're wholly righteous and it's not anything that we have done so that we could boast, but because of Christ and Christ alone and who You are and what You've done in us. So, we come before You this morning, just humbled by that. 

God as I try to open up your Word and try to explain who You are and what You've done and what that means for us, God, I pray that You would get me out of the way because You know my words can become muddied and confusing. God, I pray that your Spirit would speak through that. Ultimately this morning, if there are people here that do not know You, my prayer is that maybe for the first time, they would understand who You are and the grace that You offer them, and what that can mean for their life, not just after they die, but what that can mean for their life in the here and now. 

God, for those of us who know You as our Lord and our Savior, God, we just thank you for that and I pray that we would be encouraged, I pray that we would be convicted where we need God, and that we would be moved by what You want to do in this place, and more importantly, what You want to do after we leave this place. So God, we thank You for your Word. We thank you for Jesus. It is in His name we pray. Amen. 

I think it's really interesting. Over and over and over in the Gospels, people are constantly going, “Who is this Jesus? Who is this Jesus?” From the religious people, to the kings, to His own followers, to His closest friends, to His family, people are constantly posing this question of who is this and what's the big deal about Him? As you guys were introducing yourselves just a minute ago, I think it's incredible, and I very seriously doubt that as you introduced yourself, people began to question the presence of the person that they were in front of. I doubt they began to question your divinity. I doubt that they begin to go, “there's just something about this person,” but Jesus elicited these incredible responses from people. They would see these incredible emotions from people as they would encounter Him and they couldn't help but leave and begin to question if they were in the presence of God himself. So  up until this chapter in Luke, it's been six times that He has encountered that from his own family to King Herod, to his cousin, John The Baptist. I'm just going down the list. “Isn't this Joseph's son? Who is this man that He believes that He can forgive sins?” People were blown away by who Jesus was. 

It fascinates me that people could not be in His presence without leaving feeling something's different. There's something about this man. So we get to Luke, chapter nine and he's been praying. Luke 9:18. Jesus has this incredible encounter with some of His closest followers, His disciples. I just want to read Luke 9:18-20. “One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone and only His disciples were there with Him. And He asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say You are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.’ And then He asked them, ‘But I want to know who do you say that I am? Who do you say that I am?’ And Peter replied, ‘You are the Messiah, the one sent from God.’” 

I want to talk through this really quickly. Jesus is praying and I wonder if He had spent months now with His disciples. He's sitting there thinking, “I wonder when they're going to get it. I wonder when they're going to understand.” He's praying this prayer and we don't know what He was praying to the Father, but I can't help but wonder, as He leaves this prayer time to go to his disciples and asks, “Listen, I've got a question for you. Who do people say that I am?” If you look at that, I think it's pretty incredible that they answered. “Some say you're Elijah. Some say you're John the Baptist. Some say you're one of the other ancient prophets.” 

I know for a lot of us in this room, if people began to compare us to one of those guys, that we would be a little flattered. It's actually pretty good company that they're saying. A lot of people are saying this, but you see really quickly that Jesus isn’t interested in flattery. As great as these other people are, they do not compare to who Jesus is. So then He turns to the disciples in verse twenty, and says, “But I want to know who do YOU say that I am? You have been around me. Who do YOU say that I am? “

Peter replied, “You're the Messiah.” That's just simply a Hebrew word for “anointed.”  What's really important here I want to make sure is crystal clear. What happens after Jesus plainly revealed to these people that He is the Anointed One, that He is the one that people have waited for, for all eternity, that He is the Promised One, that He is the Son of God, the Anointed Messiah here in the flesh, is that immediately He says, "But don't tell anybody.” You’ve got to understand the reason He said “don't tell anybody” at this point is because He still needs to make it crystal clear why He's come.  A lot of people believe that Jesus is all about this earthly kingdom. I need to tell you this morning, that is NOT who Jesus is. I need you to understand that Jesus came to draw us to a better kingdom. Jesus came to teach us to understand that this earthly kingdom is fleeting, that this earthy kingdom is here today, gone tomorrow. So Jesus says, “Listen, I know you guys are still confused. You're just now beginning to understand and process that I am the Son of God in the flesh, that I am the Messiah. I'm not here to overthrow Rome. I'm not here to be a mighty conqueror and I need you to understand this. There's just a timing issue.” He's not here yet to be a mighty conqueror. Scripture is crystal clear that He is coming back and He will come back as a mighty warrior, as a conqueror, and I cannot wait for that day when creation is restored to what creation was supposed to be. 

But Jesus says, “Right now, you need to understand, I've still got things to teach. Don't tell anybody yet.” Then He goes on. He tells them, here's the implications of who I am and we get to verse twenty-one, and this is what it means for us. Jesus warned His disciples, “Don't tell anybody, the Son of Man is Jesus.” I want to be clear on that. He says, “The Son of Man…” What's that next word He says? “… must suffer many terrible things. He's going to be rejected by the elders, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. He'll be killed. But on the third day He will be raised from the dead.”  So these guys are starting to process this and they're hearing all this. We learned that Peter’s response in one of the other gospels is just to say “Absolutely not! It will not happen.” They're still confused on who He is. 

Then Jesus goes on in verse twenty-three, and he says to the crowd, and here's the second must. He says, “Because of who I am, because I am the chosen one, because I am the Messiah, because I'm the anointed son of God,” He says, “you need to understand, I'm going to suffer. I'm going to die on a cross. I'm going to lay down my life.” And He says, “and here's what that means for you.” In verse twenty-three. He turns to the crowd and says, “If any of you wants to be my follower,” Here's the other must. What's He say? “You must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily and follow me.” Why? "Because if you try to hang onto your life, I'm telling you, you're going to lose it, but if you give up your life, if you lay down your life for my sake, you'll save it.”

What do you benefit, if you gain the whole world, but are yourself lost or destroyed? I want to be very clear on what the Gospel is because I know we're in the Bible Belt, right? We got three hundred churches or something like that. I'm in Carroll County, but I believe that a lot of us are really confused about what the Gospel is. I believe that because I spent a whole lot of years growing up a preacher's kid and it wasn't because anybody taught me incorrectly. I just learned a long time ago that I needed a Savior and His name was Jesus Christ. Why did I need a Savior? Well, it's simple because, we were created to find our worth, our hope, our meaning, our value, our significance, our everything in God and God alone. But being selfish human beings, we decided we want to be gods in our own kingdoms. 

I want to rule my own kingdom. I want to be god at my house. I want to be god in my life. I want to make my decisions. I want to find my worth in anything, my significance in anything other than what I was meant to find it in. But we have a God who loved us so much that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to live this perfect life. What is that perfect life? It's simply finding His hope, His meaning, His value, His significance, His everything, His driving force in God and God alone. He lived that out perfectly, but that wasn't enough. Then He died. He died a perfect death, our sacrifice. He died a perfect death, but more importantly, He rose from the dead so that we could have life, eternal life, life abundantly, Jesus says. I think where we get that confused is I've heard that all of my years growing up, that I need a Savior, that my sin separates me from God, and that my God is holy. 

So my sin separates me from Him. My response is to act right, and I got to tell you guys, it is hard to act right. I mean, it is. I mean sometimes we can put on the pretty face, say the right things, do the right things, but at the end of the day, I am screwed up. I am, man. 

I spent a whole lot of years as a raging porn addict. I know some of you guys probably fight the same battle. Some of you women probably fight the same battle as well. It all but destroyed my marriage. Some of you people in this room have experienced this, too. I know our experience in sexual sin in life is that it just has a hold of you and you can't let go of it. Some of you in this room are married to someone who has this sexual sin grip on their life and it's killing you. I thank God for my wife, but I'm telling you, man, I spent a whole lot of years knowing this was wrong. I knew this was wrong. So what did I do? I tried to act right, trying to fix it myself. It's just logical, right? If things are bad, do good, but I couldn't beat it. I can put stuff all over my computer. I could ask friends to hold me accountable and I needed that for a season, but I couldn't beat it. 

I used to be this angry dude, that if I didn't get my way, I was so full of pride, I was so full of self righteousness that I thought I was in control. I had my stuff together and if things didn't go my way, you better look out for the wrath of Satan. I remember one thing. It was my third year in college, or my second year in college. I remember my girlfriend made me mad. I punched a hole in my window. Yeah, I was that guy. Kick holes in the sheet rock. Why? Because again, it was all about me. So what did I do? I spent a whole lot of time trying to be nicer, trying to be nicer. My kids will tell you I spent a whole lot of years going, “This is what the Lovelady family looks like. We're Christians. This is who we are.” Loveladys don't act this way, right? Loveladys don't roll around on the floor of Walmart, right? Sorry, if that's you, my bad. 

God's grace is sufficient. You'll learn, but I was a judgmental guy that went, "You know what? This is my kingdom. This is my house. I'm the father. This is the way it's going to be and this is how we act kids. If you don't act right, look out for the wrath of Dad." I would point at everybody else and go, "How could you? How could you call yourself a parent?" Have you ever noticed it's really easy to point out other people's sins. Sometimes it's really difficult to hold a mirror up to ourselves and I spent a whole lot of years learning to act right. I'll be honest and I know for a fact so many of you guys are sitting in this room because you're growing up in the Bible Belt just like I did, and you are miserable, frustrated Christians. Anybody. Y'all are scared to end that. Aren’t you? Why? Because you don't get it. You don't understand. It's not about being a better day. It's not about being a better husband. It's not about being a better boss. Teenagers, it’s not about being a better student. It's not about being a better son or a daughter, or a better worker, a better employee, a better employer. It's not about being a better husband. It's not about being a better preacher. Thank God. See, I learned a few years ago by the grace of God, that's it’s about surrender. That’s it. 

Jesus says, “Peter, I want to know who do you say that I am?” And Peter says, “I believe with all my heart, you’re the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God,” Jesus says, “Bingo! Because of this, you need to understand that I must suffer so that you can have life.” But it doesn't stop there. Here's where the Gospel falls short for a lot of Bible Belt Christians, because we just don't understand. Now you understand that you were never meant to find your worth, or how good a dad you are, how good a preacher you are, how good a friend you are, how good a spouse you are, fill in the blank here for you, right? How self controlled you are, how confident you are. Once you understand that you were never meant to find your worth in that, you were meant to find it in Christ and Christ alone. So He says, “Now, you must lay down your life, since your life was never meant to be yours in the first place.”

I know man, trust me, I've been there. Surrender is terrifying. It's a scary place to be to say, “Where you go, I'll go. My life's not mine anymore. I'm at your mercy," but you need to understand, we serve a God who desperately loves us and who created us for one purpose. That was to find our hope, our meaning, our value, our worth our entire world in Him and in Him alone. But we have an enemy who desperately from the beginning of time wants to deceive us. He’s saying “That's not life, that's not life!”  If you guys are like me, there's a whole lot of you sitting in this room that were just so torn, so confused and couldn't figure out, Why do I not have peace? Why do I not have hope? Why do I not have joy? I'm trying to act right. I'm telling you, quit trying to act right, and surrender your life to Christ. I'm telling you, I’m a surrendered Shannon saying, I give up! I'm not going to TRY to be a good husband anymore. I'm not going to find my worth in that anymore. My wife will tell you it makes a rocking good husband. Why? Because Galatians 2:20 says that I've been crucified with Christ. I've taken up my cross and I'll do it again today and the next day and the next day and the next day. I’ve laid down my life so that Christ can now live in me. 

I'm here to tell you, if you're here this morning for the first time, and you were thinking “What am I doing at church? I just heard all the hype and I showed up, or my Aunt Sue told me to come or whatever, and so I'm here and why am I here?” I need to tell you, you are in incredible company. You are in incredible company. This is a warning. This is a room full of broken, desperate people, insecure people, people with addictions, people with hurts, hangups, all kinds of failures. That's who we are, but we're a room full of surrendered people, a room full of surrendered people. People who said, "God, we don't want to try to do it on our own anymore. We don't want to TRY to be king over our own castle anymore.” Well, we were never meant to be that.

I want to introduce a couple of friends to you, Cedric and Tara Nelson. I got to know Cedric several years ago. The first time I heard him speak, he stood up and spoke and I remember thinking, Who is this guy? Who IS this guy? It was so evident that this was a man who didn't have it all together, but a man who loved the Lord and had surrendered his life. I want to give you just a little bit of a backstory because they're going to be over here on the side today and some of you guys may need to talk to them after you hear a little bit more of their story. People that you can go to are broken. I'm messed up. People in need of a Savior who have experienced the love of the Savior, desperately want to show that love to other people. 

Cedric’s been in and out of jail, so many times we can't even count. Seriously, Cedric was. I've asked him if I could share this. Cedric was a drug dealer here in town for many, many years. All of the Carrollton police department, who go to church here, know him very well. He used to play football years ago for Carrollton High School. I told him the other day, “Man, that must have been before they did random drug testing there.” A few years ago, he met an incredible, lady named Tara who was just as broken and just as hurting as he was. Her story, abbreviated was she had experienced countless molestations as a child. It had scarred her in many, many ways, but she met the Lord several years ago and God is doing incredible work in them. So you're in good company here this morning, but I want you to hear a little bit more from them about their story.

VIDEO - Cedric and Tara Nelson  

Tara - Earlier on in our marriage, to be very transparent, we almost divorced the first six months of our marriage, simply because he always chose ministry over me, and definitely over the kids. In the beginning of our marriage I always just felt like I was a babysitter. I have my three, but then I'm babysitting his. It was really no unity there. We definitely could not communicate with each other for anything. We would go days just around the house without talking to each other. But now, he can just look at me and just about tell when something is really going on. If he's been at work all day and I've been with the kids all day, even though he may be tired, he will still come home and play with the kids. Get them in check when he needs to and he'll still give me some time to myself, even after he worked all day. 

As far as the communication goes in our marriage, now we're able to talk about things that were pretty much hard to talk about it, especially in marriage. Finances can be, you know, a pretty hard subject to talk about. So we're able to talk about that now and along with those things, I’ve actually got to witness Christ just softening his heart toward me. He really checks on me all day long. If he's at work it’s a simple text message. We still believe after three years of marriage like flirting with each other, and it is like the best! He treats me the best! He has a really happy wife and it took us awhile to get there. But now that we're there, it's the best. It's the best seeing how Christ changed him. 

Cedric -  This is my first time ever seeing God change someone like He has changed me as far as my mind and stuff. When I first met my wife, my wife was afraid of the dark. My wife slept in the fetal position. She was very, very nervous and she was very fearful about everything. The beauty of God is now just to see how my wife sleeps at night. She can now walk to the bathroom without being afraid of the dark and it's funny, but it just has something to do with her past life as a child. The things that happened to her in the dark, but she overcame that. God has shown us what grace really means through our marriage. 

In going through the stuff we went through the past four years, it's easier to show other people love and grace, even the people that probably can’t stand us. People that don't like us, for whatever reason. The beauty of God is that we can still pray for those people. That's something that I struggled with my whole life. How can you love somebody who hurt you? How can you pray for somebody who did you wrong? I didn't understand that with my relationship with God. But now, God has shown me what love and grace is. What the whole purpose of the cross is, the whole purpose of these lives that we live, this Christian life? 

You know, I once thought it was about success and money, having a nice car, or a nice house. But after I attained all that, and God gave me all that, I felt He's so much more in life than material things. Now I'm in a place where I'm doing good financially. I have a nice car, a nice house, but it doesn't give me the joy I get when I can look at somebody who did me wrong and I can tell God, “If they need me, I'm there for them, if you want me to go to them, if you want me to share my story, if you want me to go to them and say, this is the Jesus that I know loves you despite what you’ve done or where you've been. He still loves you.” I think that's the biggest thing that I have seen God do in my life.  

So who is this Jesus? He's the Messiah. He's God in the flesh. What's that mean? It means the Gospel. It means the Good News for us. So Paul says, “Now that you understand this, you must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” You see, though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges. He surrendered, He laid down his rights. He took the humble position of a slave and He was born as a human being. And when He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and He died a criminal's death on a cross. Total surrender. So therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor. He gave Him the name above all other names that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord for the glory of God the Father. So you want to know who and what Southern Hills, and City Station is all about? It’s that. It's about Jesus. It's about surrender. It's about laying down our rights, about laying down our lives so that Christ can live here. 

We're going to sing some here for a little bit together. I believe with all my heart that maybe some of you this morning need to verify for the very first time or say, “You know what? I haven't understood this before. I’ve spend a whole lot of years trying to act right, trying to figure it all out, trying to get it all together. Before, I would come to God and I was frustrated, I was broken.” It's just surrender. Just step off the edge. I know it's terrifying. We serve a good God. He doesn't promise that bad things are going to go away. As a matter of fact, He promises the opposite. Jesus actually told us. He said, “You can count on one thing, and that's in this life, you will have trouble.” He said, “But in that trouble, you can count on this, that I've overcome the world.” So what's that mean? In the middle of your cancer, in the middle of your addiction, in the middle of your brokenness, in the middle of your children's rebellion, in the middle of your loss of job. Go down the list of this broken world that we live in, because it's not the way God desired it to be for us. He says in the middle of that, you can find peace. You can find joy, you can find hope, but that only comes in laying down your life freely, giving what was never meant to be yours in the first place. 

So if that's you this morning, there's people over here on this wall that would love to pray with you. I'd love to talk with you. We'd love to talk about next steps with you. Maybe you just need somebody to pray with this morning. Maybe you just need some encouragement. Maybe you need somebody to grab your hand and walk out life for awhile. We got just an incredible group of folks that would love to do that with you. If that's something you need this morning, whatever it is that you need to do in this place, my prayer would be that you would surrender. Let me pray for you now.

God, we thank you for your Word. We thank you most of all for Jesus and who You are and the life that you bring. May we lay down our lives so that we can find it. In Jesus' name. Amen.