[00:00:00] Well, welcome everyone to central. So glad that you're joining us today. My name is Tyler and I was formally the Gilbert campus pastor, but I am now in a new role in a new season. And I'm the young adults pastor for all of central, for all of our campuses. And I just literally cannot wait to see what God's going to do through the lives of our young people here.
[00:00:21] Now I got to also say happy new year, happy new year to you. And it feels silly even saying happy new year, because if you're like me, I was sitting there on new year's Eve and I was thinking just like this. Yep. You got to look at that a little bit longer to understand that it looks like 2020 will never end.
[00:00:45] When I first saw this meme, I was laughing and I was crying. There were more tears than laughter though, because I was like, this is too real. This hits home like too much. And I'm just thinking through is 2020 ever going to end. And church, usually at this [00:01:00] time we take a look back on the previous year. We remember we recap, we reminisce and we reflect on the year before, or any other words that start with R. But in this time, I don't think a lot of people want to actually go and take a deep dive into 2020.
[00:01:20] So I just got to let you know here's some good news. The title of our message today is this forward. Forward, can I get an amen? We're moving forward. Praise God, we're moving forward. But as we do know to move forward, you do have to take a quick look back. And I believe to my core, if we didn't learn anything from 2020, it's just going to be a lot more of this same in 2021.
[00:01:49] As we find ourselves in right here right now. And church friends. I promise you if we lean into Jesus, if you allow me to pastor all of us in these next few [00:02:00] moments, you'll leave encouraged. You'll leave uplifted. You will leave hopeful today. I can promise you that. So let's get into scripture. Let's dive in.
[00:02:10] We're going to be in Romans chapter five, verses one through five. This is Paul who is writing this, and this is one of his last letters that he wrote. And so you have to understand that that's important to know as we move on in the future here throughout this message. Let me read therefore. Since we have been made right with in God's sight, by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us because of our faith.
[00:02:40] Christ has brought us into this new place of undeserved privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward. To the sharing of God's glory. We can rejoice too. When we run into problems and trials for, we know that they help us develop endurance and [00:03:00] endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
[00:03:06] And this hope will not lead to disappointment for, we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Let's pray. Jesus. You're so good. Speak to us today through your word. It's living. It's active. It's alive. It can change us from the inside out. Let us hear from you today.
[00:03:30] We love you. God. You're so good. You're worthy of all the glory and honor and praise. And everyone said in Jesus' name amen. Now, something I definitely have noticed this past year. Was this idea of control. I am using air quotes, intentionally, everything seems so out of control. And because of that, everyone was exposed.
[00:03:56] I mean, literally there was no more poker face. Everyone could see your [00:04:00] hand. I could see how you were feeling about all of the issues that were going on because we were going through the same thing. We still are. But because of that, it just made us all look at each other and say, what's going on? I don't know what's happening.
[00:04:14] And if you went in to 2020 last year, one way, it just magnified that because whatever happened, it just became more of that. And maybe that was good for you. And maybe others would say not like the results of that and church in scripture here. Did you catch in, in verse three? What, what Paul said. He said we can rejoice too.
[00:04:38] When we run into problems and trials for, we know for for, we know he's saying to like, for we know there's gonna be a great benefit. Once we go through all these problems, once we have this suffering and I'm like, Paul, don't you put that on me? Like, don't put, don't put that on me, Paul. I don't know this.
[00:04:55] I don't want to know this, but he say, no, no, we know there's so much there. There's so many [00:05:00] benefits to this. It's so valuable to go through all of this suffering. It makes me scratch my head with Paul is saying, trust me on this. And yeah, friends, the idea of suffering suffering. Who's like, I can't wait to suffer.
[00:05:17] Sign me up. Not a lot of us are going to raise our hands on that. And when I think about suffering, the first thing that comes to my mind, it's this, you might say. Tyler, what is this? Let me do a little unveiling for you. Boom. This is suffering incarnate right here. Right now. This it's a treadmill. Okay. If you like these, like if you actually enjoy treadmills, like seriously go to like without a doubt, go to centralaz.com/prayer. We're praying for you. We hope you're delivered from your love of treadmills. Why do people, willingly purchase torturing devices? I don't understand they're selling like hotcakes. I mean, literally you can't even find them. It's [00:06:00] wild people literally endure this. They go through this.
[00:06:03] Why do we do this? Hope the answer is hope. We, we hope for something. That's what gets us on the treadmill. That's what gets us to go back on the treadmill day after day is this hope, this idea starting a little quick. Now talking a little fast. This idea of, if I do this, I'll lose weight. I'll be healthy.
[00:06:25] I'll be fit. I can conquer the world. I might be aching and sweating and in pain and, and literally like I'm done, but we keep going. We even increased the speed sometimes because the faster you move, the more calories you burn. And you're like, it's, it's hard. Okay. It's difficult. And I'm like, stop get me off of this.
[00:06:44] Oh man, we do this to ourselves because we know that there's a hope that something could be better, that something's building in us that helps us. Now Paul was not talking about treadmills in scripture here. No, no, no, no, no, no. But he was [00:07:00] saying there's attributes that can build on one another that he mentioned right here in the text we can read in verses three and four.
[00:07:09] This is so important. It says we can rejoice too. When we run into problems and trials for, we know that they help us deliver. They help us develop endurance and endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. It's these words first it's endurance then it is character than it is
[00:07:34] hope. All of these are being built and they start with suffering. They start with suffering, but as these develop in our lives, we actually reflect Jesus more and more. We look like him, we become more and more like him. So, so the first one is endurance endurance. Now endurance is defined as this, the fact or [00:08:00] power of enduring, an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
[00:08:07] It's important for us to realize that endurance is built not by doing things that we love. Not by doing easy things, but it's those difficult times that we're persevering, that we're pushing through that we're enduring these difficult situations. That's what helps develop our endurance. I think of Psalms 23, four says this evening.
[00:08:30] And when I walked through the darkest Valley, not the brightest Valley, not the Valley that's nice and shiny. And there's flowers everywhere. The darkest Valley, I will not be afraid. For you are close beside me for you are close beside me. I love this image. This Psalm is written to God and saying even whenever I go through you're right there with me, right beside me, not way ahead, not way behind.
[00:08:55] You're right there with me. I think of Genesis and Moses writes about Adam, how he [00:09:00] would take walks in the cool of the day in the garden with God. Just walking. Side-by-side whatever you go through, I go through whatever you see, see whatever you feel. I feel this helps develop our endurance. The next is character.
[00:09:19] Now I've been convicted on this in my own walk this past year of just praying about the pandemic, but where I was challenged was this. Maybe we should not only pray for the pandemic, but pray about our attitude about the pandemic. Like, how are we feeling? What are we doing? What reactions are we giving away?
[00:09:43] Like, how is it affecting us? Maybe we should pray more about that. John Wooden, a famous basketball player, and coach has a great quote, says this. Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, [00:10:00] because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
[00:10:06] We've got to focus in on our character and when we're developing our character, a lot of times we ask people for advice, we ask for wisdom to continue to develop this character. And it is so important that we're asking people there's context, there's history to whatever they're telling us. Right. They've been sued.
[00:10:25] They've been through some things. They've seen some things. They've had some difficult situations. They've had some struggles. And so when they talk, we listen, there's a lot of people out there they're asking all the wrong people for advice, people that have been through nothing or trying to tell us everything about what to do, but this is some great context here from a gentleman named Victor Frankl.
[00:10:48] Now Victor Frankl was an Austrian Holocaust survivor. Also a neurologist, psychiatrist, and author. He spent a significant amount of time in a concentration camp [00:11:00] and less than two years after he survived that camp, he wrote this, everything can be taken from a man, but one thing. The last of the human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances to choose one's own way.
[00:11:23] Now he's speaking that from a place of pain and hurt and things that he through. So we listen. So we hear that someone else had had incredible context and history of things that they went through was Paul. Paul. We read earlier in Romans. And he told us to rejoice in all of these trials. What we have to know is when you open up your Bible, if you have a paper leather version like me, or if it's in your phone, you'll find Romans in your Bible comes before Corinthians.
[00:11:53] Paul wrote letters to the people of Corinth and there's first Corinthians and second Corinthians. But Corinthians actually happened [00:12:00] before Romans. He wrote that before, but it shows you about what it looks like. Romans comes before. This is incredibly important for us to note. Because we're going to read now what Paul has gone through yet.
[00:12:10] He's still saying in Romans, later on in his life, rejoice, when you go through these problems and these trials and this suffering, he says in second Corinthians, he writes this 11:23 through 28. I have worked harder, been in prison more often, been whipped times without number and faced death again and again.
[00:12:35] Five different times. The Jewish leaders gave me 39 lashes, 30 times. I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned three times. I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and day adrift at sea, I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as Gentiles, I have faced danger [00:13:00] in cities and in the deserts.
[00:13:01] And on the seas, I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers, but are not, I've worked hard and long. And during many sleepless nights, I have been hungry and thirsty. I've often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all of the churches.
[00:13:25] Wow. That's some serious context of some serious history of what he's gone through and it's detailed. He remembers these things.
[00:13:37] But he was during this time becoming who God had called him to be all along. Endurance was being built. Character was being formed in Paul. And so for us, what are you becoming? Because all of us have experienced something to where we are one thing, but then later on, we're just [00:14:00] becoming what we already are.
[00:14:01] When you started school, you were instantly a student, but you have never, you never went to class. That was still ahead of you. When you showed up for your first day of basketball practice, you were an athlete, but you didn't play any games. You hadn't even practiced yet. Maybe you hadn't even dribbled a basketball.
[00:14:19] See, we're becoming what we already are. When you got married. If you're married, you became a husband that day on that wedding day or a wife on that wedding day, but you didn't know what it meant to be a husband or wife yet when you had children. Oh my goodness. When you add kids, you're like instantly, I'm a dad, I'm a mom, but you didn't know what it really meant to be a mom or a dad, because you had to go through some things.
[00:14:45] You had to see some things good times, bad times you had to experience it all. It was building within you something. When we go through hard times, we're actually being developed into who we've always been made to be. [00:15:00] Lastly, Paul writes about hope. Hope. Can you use some hope right now? I want to make you realize something here.
[00:15:13] Please write this down. If you're taking notes, if you're writing on paper, take out your phone. Please write this down. Hope is incredibly easy to obtain when we stopped trying to obtain hope in anything besides Jesus. We will struggle. We will go through really difficult times. And if we're searching for hope in anything, but Jesus, we will find ourselves coming up short, coming up empty each and every time we can just muster up hope, it's found in Jesus, hear me. 2021
[00:15:48] isn't going to be your year just because you say 2021 is going to be your year, but it can be a year. It, it absolutely can be. It [00:16:00] might even be your year, but that's because you've learned what's truly important and valuable in a year. We've learned a lot from 2020 and what it's taught me, what it's taught my family probably the most is simply this hope begins at the end of self.
[00:16:20] Hope begins at the end of self. Let me explain when you feel like you have you're at the end of your rope, that's where hope begins when you feel like you have no control and you're trying to like figure everything out and you don't know what the next day has in store. That's when hope begins, because now you're placing your hope in something that is past you.
[00:16:43] That, that goes before you. That's bigger than you, that can handle everything you cannot handle when you put your faith and your trust and your hope in them. That's where it begins. This is what the past year has shown [00:17:00] us. I know 2020 did not end up how you thought it would end up. I know it turned out so differently and I would say to you exactly how I would say to you.
[00:17:14] Yep. How would it say to you sane? I feel you. But I would also say welcome to following Jesus. Welcome to the family. Welcome to the club. Welcome to, to walking with Christ because it's never been about us. It's always been about him working through us, doing what he wants to do through us. That includes trials that includes suffering.
[00:17:40] And as that happens, we are being built. We're being developed in who he's always wanted us to be. And this hope, this hope that Paul talks about it's not even about us. It isn't a hope in yourself. It isn't a hope in that job. Isn't a hope in this hope. No, no. [00:18:00] It says it's all about Jesus because he writes it's the hope of our salvation.
[00:18:05] Meaning it's all about Jesus. It's always ever been about Jesus, which means this is the good news. The pressure's off of us. You can breathe. You, you, you can, you can take off what you continue to carry the pressure is on Jesus. And guess what? He can handle the pressure he's paid the price. He can do everything that we thought we could do, thought we could handle.
[00:18:29] He could do all of that. So hard for him, which means in the best times, it's Jesus in the worst times, it's Jesus in the waiting times. It's Jesus. It's all about him. It's putting our hope in him completely. 100% I could go on and on all day with this, but Jesus is saying no matter what we face Jesus is telling us to look up.
[00:18:59] You can't even [00:19:00] face something. If you're not looking up, you ever realize that, right. If you're looking down, you can't face anything because you're just looking down. And I know many people close friends, my family, myself, even there were a lot of days, months that I would go through 2020 with my head down with my head down, just focused on my struggle, not looking at anyone, but my own two feet.
[00:19:28] But Jesus, look up, look up. When I think of the phrase, look up, those two words are powerful to me. Because I think about my, my coach, I ran cross country and long distance track in high school and in college and my high school coach, Mr. Lee, he always would tell our whole team, look up, look up when you're racing, look up, focus on something further ahead, 50 meters, a hundred meters ahead of you.
[00:19:56] So you can, you can go towards that goal. You can keep your eyes up. [00:20:00] And he would have one-on-one conversations with me because I did not keep my eyes up. I kept my eyes down and I would tell Mr. Lee coach, Hey, I'm looking down to avoid trouble. Like I lived in Washington state at the time and there's big old tree roots everywhere, and there's grass and the grass is always wet and Washington and there's, there's gravel and there's mud and there's Hills.
[00:20:23] I'm like, I got to look down to avoid all of this to make sure I don't trip to make sure I don't fall. Coach. Why are you telling me to look up? And he said, Tyler, you don't understand. Before we race, we walk each course outside. We, we walk the course, so we know. When the dips are coming, when the Hills are coming, where the roots are, where the gravel is, we already know no what to avoid, because life is already going to throw a lot of stuff, us church.
[00:20:56] So we got to look up, told me something that blew my mind. [00:21:00] He said, I promise you, Tyler, if you look up, you'll find yourself passing people that are just still looking down. And he was right. I wasn't necessarily better than them. I just. Was looking up what they were still trying to avoid. I looked up knowing that I'm focused on something further I'm moving forward.
[00:21:28] So let me ask you this as we close, because it'd be remiss. If I did not mention this, I have to ask you. Heart to heart here. You still trying to sneak something in from 2020 into 2021. Are you trying to bring something in that, that God says, no, please. Don't, don't bring that that's done. Are there some [00:22:00] attitudes, some perspectives.
[00:22:02] Is there some sense of control that you're trying to bring into 2021 right here right now? What is it? Is there an identity that 2020 said you were, you believe that? And then you're trying to actually bring that identity into 2021 when God says, Nope, you're a conqueror, you're a son, you're a daughter.
[00:22:27] That's who you are. That's your identity. You're trying to bring something else. The world's told you, you are during this past year. How about that financial loss? That health loss.
[00:22:44] Do you feel like you have nothing? Do you feel like everything was taken away from you and you're just you're there with nothing?
[00:22:54] Well, Jesus would say to you take off the grave clothes. [00:23:00] You might say, Tyler, what are you talking about? Grave clothes. I have to explain something to you in the ancient Jewish tradition. When people would die, they would wrap them up in grave clothes. Literally looked like mummies, wrapping them up in these grave clothes.
[00:23:16] So they would be there completely wrapped up. And if you didn't know Jesus, he had a friend Lazarus and Lazarus was sick and then he ended up dying and he traveled and he raised Lazarus from the dead. Absolutely. I know it was wild. It's incredible. He raises him from the dead and the first thing that he says to Lazarus, and he says to other people to help him, he goes, take off the grave clothes, make sure you get his grave, clothes off.
[00:23:49] Those grave clothes need, need nothing to do with Lazarus anymore. He's walking he's alive then when Jesus died on the cross to save our sins [00:24:00] in the tomb for three days, then rose from the grave, the resurrection, when they went to the tomb, they found it was empty. But the only thing in there were the grave clothes, the grave clothes, the wrappings Jesus left them in there.
[00:24:19] He left them in there. He was stepping into something new. Church. This is for us. We need to move forward. There are things that we have to take off that we have to leave behind that we have to say that is going to stay in 2020. I'm new now in 2021, because of what Jesus has done for me, we got to move forward.
[00:24:38] There's hope you got to understand me. Only dead people wear grave clothes. We are alive in Christ. We are alive. We have the greatest hope available to us. I heard a story and it's just, it's too compelling not to [00:25:00] share. It touched me deeply. It's about this man, very overweight gentleman. And he said I got to get healthy.
[00:25:07] So he started running each and every morning, early in the morning, he run the sidewalks out there in the streets, he'd run and run and run. He was not seeing results. He would do this day after day. And finally he was running and he just came to this intersection and he was just bent over. He's just breathing heavily and he's sweating profusely.
[00:25:27] Then he starts to cry. Tears are dropping and falling on the concrete. He thinks he's utterly alone. He doesn't know what to do. He's done. But what he didn't know is a stranger driving a car. Pulled up next to him at the red light, they rolled down their window and they yelled to the man and they said, you got this, you got this.
[00:25:56] You can keep going. You got this, you can keep going. [00:26:00] And I kid you not the man that was hunched over, stood up, shoulders back, looked over to the person in the car said, thank you so much and kept on going now. That's hope. That's hope. And church. I want you to know today in this very moment. I am rolling down my window.
[00:26:23] Our lead pastor, Pastor Cal is rolling down his window and we're saying, you got this. You can keep going. You got this, you can keep going. And you might say to yourself, Tyler 2020 has really not been that difficult for me. Well, great. You can be the one in the car, yelling out your window to someone else saying you got this.
[00:26:52] You can keep going. Church Jesus does his best work. When we let him do [00:27:00] his work. And by letting him do his work, that means we're done trying to fix it all. But as we go through this life day by day in this new year endurance will be built character will be developed and hope will remain. I promise you this, know this, understand this, take this in, leave the grave clothes.
[00:27:31] Step into your new purpose. Step into your new freedom. Step into the hope that is given to you only by Jesus, because I know that hope begins at the end of us at the end of ourself. Now as the new young adult pastor here, central, I wanna invite you and encourage you. If you're a young person, you might say how young is young.
[00:27:58] You might be young at heart, [00:28:00] be a part of what we're going to do. Do I have all the details? No, but trust me, you're going to want to be a part of what God is going to do. You might find yourself not in that age category. Be praying for us. Be praying for us as we move forward with what God has in store for us as a church.
[00:28:20] I love you so much. Be blessed.