Signs of Life | Kylen Perry

Kylen Perry // Apr 23, 2024

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Hey, Porch, how are we doing tonight? Let's go! Man, it is so good to be with you. I think I say this all the time. It always catches me by such pleasant surprise that every Tuesday we walk in and we see this in our space. I do not take for granted one minute that you would give us a little bit of your time on a Tuesday night, so let me just say from the outset, "Thank you." We're really grateful that you would choose to join us here at The Porch.

If this is your very first time, we're in a series in the book of Colossians. We kicked it off last week, so you're not far behind. We're really eager to get back into it. I've been prepping the sermon, getting ready for this night, and I think God has something very, very specific for you. And I mean you, individually. As I was praying…

Often it's easy to stand up here just to give you all my perspective and look out into this room and see a whole lot of faces, a whole bunch of people, yet God does not see a crowd of people; he sees each of you one by one, and he has something very specifically prepared for you. Across a broad spectrum of spirituality tonight, I believe that's true, so I'm really eager to get into this.

First, we have to say "Hey" to some of our Porch.Live locations. Y'all do a great job of helping me welcome Porch.Live Dayton, Porch.Live Des Moines, Porch.Live Atlanta, Porch.Live Fort Worth, Porch.Live Midland…all of the Porch.Live locations. We are so glad you would be here with us as well.

Well, if you've ever wondered if it's possible to fly without your driver's license on you, I can tell you from personal experience it is. I just would not recommend it. A few years ago, I was flying to speak at a retreat where I realized I didn't have my wallet on me. I'd made the drive to the airport. I had waited in the security line. I had finally approached the TSA desk, and to my horror I realized I didn't have my driver's license.

I thought, "This is terrible! How am I going to get on this plane? I've got to get there by tonight. I have to speak this evening to a group of students, so if I am not able to get on this flight, I am in huge trouble. The fact that I don't have any sort of verification is complicating my reality." So, I walked up to the TSA desk and did the only sensible thing.

I looked at Wanda, which was her name, and I said, "Ms. Wanda, I don't have my driver's license on me. Please have mercy. Is there anything you can do?" To which she (and I'll give her credit) very politely responded, "I'm so sorry, sir. You will, in fact, have to rebook." There were no other flights that day, so rebooking was not an option. I could not rebook a flight because, again, I had to get there by that evening to preach to those students.

It was like, "Just go home and get your driver's license. No big deal, man. Just hop in the car." I lived in Houston, Texas. Houston was widely spread out at the time, so it was a 45- to 50-minute drive one way to get my license, and my flight was boarding within an hour. I didn't have time to do that, so I doubled down.

I leaned in to Ms. Wanda and was like, "Let me explain to you what's happening here. I'm a pastor, and I'm traveling to speak to some students. And they're not just any students; they're troubled teens. And they're not just troubled teens. This is happening this weekend, and it's not just any weekend; this is actually my birthday weekend. I'm so sacrificial, and I'm going to be making this trip in order to speak to these students. Is there anything you can do?"

Finally, there was a chink in the armor. She looked at me and said, "Well, do you have any other identification you can provide me with, any other proof that you are who you say you are, that you're not walking in with somebody else's boarding pass but are, in fact, the genuine article of Kylen Perry?"

I keep a clean backpack, people. I'm not walking around with a bunch of stuff floating in my bag that I could pull out and identify myself with, and nothing on my phone works. I'm not allowed to just pull up my Facebook or Instagram or pull up a sermon of me preaching at The Porch. That doesn't work for her, even though it's my name and my face in real time. None of that stuff works. I have to provide something in print for her with my name that has some sense of veracity behind it.

Wouldn't you know, there is a God, because in my bag I had a government-issued document I had received that week at the office. I had a W-2 in my possession. Never did I think I would thank God for taxes, but I had my W-2. I showed it to Wanda, and after a few more questions, some very extensive screening, they cleared me to board my flight. Why? Because I had proof of my identity.

Why do I tell you that? Because tonight, Paul is going to tell this group of young believers, the church of Colossae, which we were introduced to last week… He's going to tell them, "Hey, there's a way for you to verify that you are who you say you are in Christ. There's some proof we can point to that will add a sense of veracity that you are who you say you are." Just like TSA needed evidence to verify that I was Kylen Perry, Paul is going to look at us and say, "Hey, there is some proof that you are in Christ Jesus."

The passage we're looking at tonight is sort of a diagnostic for the believer. Just like your teacher in grade school or high school would show you an answer key that you could check your work against and see where you were right and where you were wrong, that's what this passage does. It's an answer key for the Christian life, in a sense.

Before we jump into the proof, we have to look at some of the precursors to that proof. Paul is going to show us there's a bunch of effect by way of you walking with Jesus, but there's something we need to understand before we get to that effect. We have to understand the cause for all of that proof, for all of that evidence. That's where he starts.

If you have a Bible, Colossians, chapter 1, is where we're at. Here's what Paul says. We're going to pick it up in verse 9. "And so, from the day we heard…" From the day we heard…what, Paul? Everything we talked about last week. He's writing to a group of young believers just like yourself and saying, "Hey, we've heard you have a splendid reputation, that you have all of the markings of Christlikeness in your life. We've heard about it."

Paul has never met this group of believers. He has heard about it by way of a guy named Epaphras, a local to Colossae, who was in Ephesus when Paul was preaching. He has heard the good report of their behavior, of their belief that precedes that behavior. So, he's saying, "From the day we heard all of that, that you have a good reputation…you look everything like a believer…" "…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…"

We said this last week, but just to catch you up if this is your very first time, the big idea of the book of Colossians is that clarity of Christ produces maturity in life. If you want to progress as a person, if you want to grow as an individual, if you want to move forward in society, if you want to be the best "you" you can be, the way to do it is with Jesus.

It's by getting the clearest vision of him possible, which would have been really important to these believers, because they lived in a time and in a context where all manner of false teaching was beginning to pervade their midst and tell them, "No, no, no. You don't need to follow Jesus; you need to do this instead. Learn this new moral ethic. Worship this different type of spirituality. Learn this new level of superior knowledge. Ascend intellectually."

Paul is saying, "No, no, no. You don't need all of that; you need knowledge of Christ. But not just any kind of knowledge. Not just general knowledge. You need to be filled with knowledge." Instead of looking outside of Christ for greater fullness, he's saying, "Look deeper into Christ for all of the fullness you want."

Do you want to grow? Are you in the room right now, and you're like, "I do. Kylen, I want to be mature"? It's with Jesus. That's how you grow. That's how you move forward. That's how you advance as a person. Superior human existence doesn't exist somewhere else. It's with him. Paul is so adamant about helping us catch that this is true he references the idea of fullness six times in six verses.

"Fill you with knowledge. All wisdom and understanding. In every way. In every good work. Strengthened with all power. Giving joyful thanks." Why does he do this? Because he wants there to be no mistake. In Jesus, we have access to all the knowledge of God we could ever want, all the fullness of the deity, the climax of spiritual experience. Whatever existence you're hoping will be ahead of you, as great as that is, it's better with him.

That's what he's saying, yet the world is saying Jesus alone will not satisfy, that you need to look elsewhere. Like, "God is fine, but is he really the only author of all truth? Just define your own, man. What's your truth? You pick it for yourself." The world is looking at Jesus and saying, "Man, the sexual ethic of Christianity is so lame. Just do whatever you prefer instead." The world looks at Jesus and the way he articulates God's grand design for all things and says, "I think, actually, I'm going to redefine my reality and assume whatever gender I want."

You see, the world wants you to grab on to the lie that satisfaction is not found in God alone. "You'll never find it in him alone." But Paul, by the working of the Holy Spirit, wants you to know satisfaction will only ever be found in God alone. That's what he's pointing to. That's what he wants us and these believers in Colossae to grasp. And it's not just a general knowledge but a specific knowledge. He wants them to be filled with all knowledge in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

I don't know about you, but when I read that, it felt confusing. "Thank you, Paul, for using more Christian language. All spiritual wisdom and understanding? Are you just saying the same thing?" It feels like he's saying the same thing, but there's some nuance between these two ideas. There is a difference if you look at the original Greek and try to understand what the words for understanding and wisdom actually mean.

The word for understanding in Greek is sunesis. Sunesis means to put the facts together. That's what it means. Understanding…putting the facts together. It's comprehension of an idea. I've learned something, and I comprehend it fully. It's book smarts. The wisdom is sophia. If you're Sophia in here, according to Greek your name means wisdom. Wisdom is to live with skill.

So, if understanding (sunesis) means to comprehend an idea, wisdom (sophia) is the application of that idea. It's street smarts. One is book smarts; one is street smarts. They go together. They're two sisters tied at the hip. They have to move together as we consider what God is revealing about himself in the Scriptures.

Just a few years ago, Brooke and I took a trip to Italy. We knew that over the course of a couple of weeks we were going to be traveling during our time there, which meant I needed to get really familiar with Italian traffic law. So, what did I do? As I was applying for an international driver's license, I knew what I needed was to gain a basic understanding of how Italy navigated its roads.

So I did a thorough Google search and took good notes and tried to understand as much as possible. Then I applied that knowledge as we drove around the country of Italy. I had understanding, and I had wisdom for that understanding. I had comprehension of an idea, and then I had application of that idea as we drove around Rome, which, if you've ever done, is terrifying.

Paul is saying we need to comprehend who God is, and we need to apply our lives accordingly. How do you do this? How do you comprehend who God is and then apply your life accordingly? Well, there are a bunch of different ways you could do it, but here's the simplest. If you're like me, I'm going to give it to you as plainly as possible. This is the way you grow in the knowledge of God and apply that knowledge: you look to Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the essence of God's character and the expression of God's nature. You look to him. You imitate his example, which is really kind of God, because this is the basic way by which all children learn to grow. It's through observational learning, according to psychologists. Children, even infants, look at other people. They look at their parents or siblings, and as they observe the world around them, they pick up cues of what they themselves are supposed to do.

So, if you're here and are like, "Man, I'm immature. How do I grow?" it's like a child. Observe Jesus. Get your eyes on him. Get your eyes fixed on him. Observe the way he lives and speaks and moves and conducts himself. Just take notes as you see in the Gospels the way he interacts with people or the things he says or those abnormalities that feel really out of character for regular society. Take note of all of it, because he's setting an example for you to follow after. He wants you to see in him knowledge, an understanding of God and a wisdom to apply that knowledge.

So, say you do this. How do you know if you're growing? What proof do you have? Well, that's where Paul goes next. This is the diagnostic portion of the passage that I was telling you about. He's going to give us four proofs for the Christian life. Here's where the rubber meets the road. If you're in the room tonight and consider yourself a believer, this is a really important passage for you to consider, because it's going to take your life and say, "Okay, man. If this is what you claim to be, then this is what you should look like."

It was convicting for me to read through. So, I would just ask you, if you follow Christ, make yourself available to the work of the Holy Spirit's conviction as we work through the rest of this, because I think it will bring to you what it has brought to me: enlightenment of what I need to work on, where I need to direct my time and my attention, and where God wants to grow me. I want to grow. Do you? Well, then let's read. Pick it up in verse 10.

"[Be filled with all knowledge] so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."

So, what proof do we have that we're growing in Christ? Well, the very first thing Paul points to… As you try to walk in a manner worthy of Christ, the first proof you should see is that you're bearing fruit. That's it. The first proof is you bear fruit. I think it's really helpful that Paul uses agrarian language and talks about fruit bearing as an illustration here, because the fruitfulness of a tree directly correlates to the health of that tree.

You've heard me say this before, but I grew up on a farm. My dad and I would go out in the wintertime and cut firewood. When we would walk through the woods together and assess the trees around us, we would try to identify which trees were alive and which trees were dead. How would we identify which was which? We would look for signs of life. The trees are green. The bark is fresh. Even the smell of it is alive.

On the other hand, if a tree is dying or diseased, it has signs of death and disease. It shows its decay. You see the leaves are withering, the bark is falling, and the core is chalky. You can identify very quickly which trees are alive and which are dead. You see, if something is dead, then something is wrong. The Christian life is similar. Your spiritual fruit will speak to your spiritual health.

Galatians 5:22 (very famous) says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Let me just put the question in front of you. When you look at your life, what fruit do you see? Listen to me on this. If you see an absence of fruit in your life, Christian, the issue is not with your ability to bear fruit; the issue is with your proximity to God. That's the issue.

John 15:5 tells us, "I am the vine…" This is Jesus Christ speaking. "…you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he [or she] it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." That just means without Jesus fruit bearing is impossible, but with Jesus fruit bearing is inevitable. Without Jesus fruit bearing is impossible. You cannot do it on your own. But with Jesus it's inevitable. It's going to happen.

When you plug your phone in overnight, what happens? It automatically updates. Plug yourself into the Lord. Connect yourself to Christ. Automatically update. Sync in with the Spirit. Move forward with him. Bear good fruit. Look like Christ and his Spirit's fruit. You have to stay with him. You see, we cannot control the outcomes of our spirituality, but we can control the inputs for our spirituality.

That's why Paul talks about good works right here. He's not saying, "Hey, you need to moralistically ascend. You've got to be a better person. You've got to have eyes to see everything good out there that you can do." No. That would be exhausting. He's saying, "Is there good work in your life?" Because those are the inputs you control. That's what it looks like. You cannot control the outputs. You cannot control the fruit, but you can control the inputs, and those are the good works you get the pleasure of walking in.

In verse 7, Paul doesn't praise the Colossians simply because they've learned the truth from Epaphras. "Hey, guys, you got it. Awesome." No. He rejoices that their faith has produced concrete results. Their belief has led to a right and appropriate behavior, but it's not one without the other. It goes together.

Scholars call this the principles of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. That's how the book of Colossians is set up. The first half is all orthodoxy. "Do you know the right things?" The second half is orthopraxy. "Do you do the right things?" They go together. You cannot evaluate one without the other, yet here's the thing. Our culture does not agree with this sort of mentality, because our culture is plagued with a low information-to-action ratio.

We are regularly accustomed to what is good to do, but we are also regularly accustomed to do nothing good with that information. A lot of you… I'm just going to say this honestly. As I've visited with the fellas… You know how to date. Then why won't you initiate with her? You know you should confess, so why then are you hiding sin? You know you should pray. Why then are our prayer gatherings empty?

We know what to do, but we're unwilling to actually do it. You know, "Man, I should apologize to that person. I should seek their forgiveness, but I just don't want to give them the satisfaction." We do this all the time. Too often we're all orthodoxy with no orthopraxy. We know what to do, but we fail to do it.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Brooke and I were driving home late one evening from dinner with my sister and her family. I've told some of you this story already. We were driving home, and it was late in the evening. Right as we hit our exit ramp… We're just a few blocks from the house. We're pulling off, and we pass a young lady whose car has a flat tire. I see it, and I sinfully push the gas pedal down, like, "We've got to get home, man. Maybe Brooke won't see it." But she did, and I married a really godly woman, so she said, "Hold on. We've got to go back and help."

So, we turn the car around. We back up. At 10:45 at night, I walk up and introduce myself to this young lady. I'm like, "Hey, my name is Kylen. You've got a flat tire. Can I help in any way? I work in ministry. I'm a pastor." You know, "I'm safe. Don't worry. Can I help? Is there anything I can do?" So, we take some time and work on this flat tire. We change it out and get her on the road. She drives home. She's really grateful.

It was awesome. It was a really good thing to do. I was really grateful. I went home tired, but I went home full, which is a good measure of the Christian life. Here's what's crazy. The next morning comes along, and my full anticipation is that we did a good thing last night, and that's the extent of it. Like, "We helped someone. We changed their tire. They drove off into the sunset. Amazing." Like, "Great evening. My wife is happy. This worked out really well."

That would have been enough, but God knew I'd preach this and I'd see you, so what he decided to do was take the story even further. I received a text from this young lady. She texted my wife and me, because we had given her our number to say, "Hey, let us know if you have any trouble getting home." She texts us the next morning, and she says, "Hey, thank you so much for last night. I'm not sure what I would have done. You know, it's crazy. I was thinking about it. I was at the point of giving up on God, but you pulling over and helping me helped me to realize he has not given up on me."

We are not applauding my good work; we are applauding the faithfulness of God to see that woman and move into her story. That's what we're applauding here. Here's why I tell all this to you, Porch. Very seldom will I put myself up as an example. I hope you gathered that from the fact that I didn't necessarily want to stop. I put that in front of you because I want you to know I did not know the good fruit, but I saw the good work, and I stepped into it.

That would have been enough, but God gave me the good kindness of showing me exactly what he wanted to do that night, and someone's story is different because of it. Friends, you cannot produce good fruit if you avoid good works. We were not made to live like that. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, "For we are his workmanship…" He has worked on us. You are his craftsmanship. He has taken you out of the shop. He has been working on you in the shop. He has been working you up. You're his workmanship.

"…created in Christ Jesus for good works…" It's what he made you for. He made you to do good, to see a broken and busted world and say, "I'm going to intercept that. I'm going to help. My Jesus did that for me. Let me now do for them what my Jesus has done." That's what he's saying. God has prepared good works for you beforehand, that you should walk in them. This is the first proof Paul gives of our identity in Christ. It's that we bear good fruit.

The second thing is that we grow in knowledge. The second proof is growing knowledge. He says in verse 10… That part about walking in a manner worthy of the Lord is increasing in our knowledge of God. What does that mean? It means we care enough to learn about him. To grow in knowledge means you care enough to learn about someone or something.

I love visiting with my brother-in-law. He has three kids, and he is expert at all of them. He watches them. He observes the ways they play and talk and the things they tinker with and do. He is an expert, a student of his kids. Why? Because he loves them. He loves them deeply, so he learns about them. He has an increasing knowledge of their uniqueness.

This is how healthy relationships work, Porch. If you want to know someone well, you grow in your knowledge of them. The same thing is true with God. If you want to know God, you have to learn about him. You have to spend time with him. You have to listen to him. You have to see the things he cares about. It's not enough to simply have fervor and passion for God.

I have talked a lot from this platform about one end of the spectrum, which is intellectualism. The other end of the spectrum is emotionalism. We cannot go toward either/or. We must find ourselves in the center. Here's why: a lot of people have done terribly heinous things in the name of God on the basis of passion and zeal. Emotion is not enough.

I want you to feel deeply about God. I want you to be burdened for him. I want you to care when you wake up in the morning and care even more when you lie down at night, but you must also have an informed emotion. It's both/and. They go together. You see, we cannot grow in God if we will not learn about God. We cannot grow in him if we will not learn about him. That's what the author of Hebrews says in chapter 5, verses 12-14.

"In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers [people who communicate knowledge], you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use…" Constant use_. Not an impulsive passion but a daily discipline. "…have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

What's he saying here? It's good for us to grow in our knowledge because that's how we discern between good and evil. So, second driver's license story of the night. I failed my driver's test when I turned 16 years old. Is anybody else willing to admit that with me? It feels good. I'm not alone. I failed my driver's test when I was 16 years old. Why? I didn't read the book. I did not choose to read the book.

I assumed what I saw other people do and what I suspected would be right would be enough. I thought, "Man, I don't need to read this thing. I know well enough on my own. I've been driving around in cars for 16 years. What's a book going to tell me? I've already got this." I walked in. I failed the thing. So, do you know what I did next? I read the book. I learned well. I took detailed notes. I made flash cards.

I knew that thing better than any textbook I studied in high school. Why? Because I needed the book to get the thing I wanted. I wanted freedom, life on the open road. "Life is a highway, man. I've got to get out there and go. I can't stay boxed in with my mom. I've got to get my own wheels." I wanted what it offered: freedom, life, and joy. If you want freedom, life, joy, peace, and depth, then you need to read the Book.

The greatest thing that has ever been given to me is this, not because it's full of a bunch of right ideas, helpful concepts, and moralistic deism to track with but because it is the Word of my God. I read it, and I don't hear myself; I hear him. That's why I love it. That's why I return to it. If you want all the fullness of life that's available, the freedom that's out there in the open ahead and moving forward with God, the way you get what you want is to cling to what you need, which are his words.

That's what Psalm 1 says. "Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He's like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that man or woman does, they prosper." Does that look like your life? In season, out of season, fruit bearing, leaves that do not wither… Does that look like you? Here's a better question: Do you want that to look like you? Then delight in his Word. We grow in knowledge. That's the second proof.

The third proof we see in verse 11. "…being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience…" The third proof is godly strength. We bear fruit, we grow in knowledge, and then we have a godly strength about us. Not just any kind of strength, but a strength that is sourced in his glorious might. Meaning, we have strength that draws from an inexhaustible supply.

Your phone is decreasing in its life over the course of a day, but when you plug it in, it's increasing in life because it's no longer drawing on its own capacity but on the capacity of something that's greater. That's what's true for the believer. We're connected to the true Vine. We're connected to God, and because we're connected to him, we have an inexhaustible source of power.

Yet here's what's interesting. This power is one that is unique in its essence. It's not just power to get out there and do whatever you want. "Seize the day, baby." That's not what it is. Paul knows what kind of power this is very specifically. He says this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, some of my favorite verses. "But he [God] said to me [Paul], 'My grace is sufficient [enough] for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

"When I'm weak, then I'm strong. I will boast in my weakness, in the test, in the trial, in the trauma, because it's in that moment that the power of God from on high, the Almighty, the Ancient of Days, rests on my life." That's what I want. That's what Paul knows. That's the kind of power here. "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

It's fascinating. In this passage, Paul speaks of the power of Christ in the same way he talks about it here in Colossians 1. He's saying there's a power from God that is useful for us when things get tough, when life is hard, when we feel weak. Why do I know that? How is that characteristic of this passage? Because he says that power is described in two ways: through patience and endurance. That's what he wants us to get into.

He wants us to know that whenever our weaknesses arise, God's power abounds. We need to know as we meet our fair share of adversity and affliction over the course of our lives… The Christian life is not free of pain. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Prosperity gospel? Absolute rubbish. Don't listen to it or believe it. It's not true. God has not promised you in following his Son that you will have health, wealth, and happiness. It's just not the case.

We know Jesus himself spoke against the idea. No, there's going to be a hard life ahead of you, a hard life ahead of all of us. So, what you will need, as a believer, is patience and endurance. Now, there's a lot we could say about endurance and patience, but here's what I want to do. I just want to spend a little bit of time on one idea about patience and endurance that I think could be useful to you. It's that these virtues are not passive in nature.

Patience and endurance are not passive in nature. It's not human instinct to naturally resolve to endure some unpleasantness or patiently persist through pain. You don't instinctively move that way. When some calamity befalls you, your natural instinct isn't, "Oh, this is hard, but I will pleasantly endure underneath it." When someone is rude to you, when they hurt you or tear you down, your reaction is not, "Well, this is very unpleasant, but I will gladly listen longer."

That's not the natural human instinct. We don't do that. What do we do? We fight back. "How dare you, man? No, you're not going to get to do that to me." Yet what we know is while these are not passive virtues for the human experience, these are active virtues of God's essence. These are not passive virtues of moral people; they're active virtues of God's power. They're active. They require intentionality.

Priest and theologian Henri Nouwen said it really well when he talked about patience, specifically. He said, "The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are."

Why would they dare to stay where they are? Because they know God, and as a result of knowing him, they've trusted him. So, where for you tonight is your patience persisting? Is your endurance eroding? Where is your resolve wavering? Is it your singleness or your workplace satisfaction? Is it your happiness in life or the amount of money that drops into your bank account every couple of weeks?

Is it frustrations with family? Is it some addiction you can't seem to conquer, finding friends in a new city, despair, or depression? Porch, whatever it is, you need to remember the strength to hold on, to keep going, to not give up, is not found in you; it's found in him, and he wants freely to give you that strength according to his own power. That's his desire for you. This is the third proof.

The fourth proof is gratitude. That's what it says in verse 12. "…with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light." What motivates the Christian to be grateful to God? It's calling to mind what Christ Jesus has done for us. That's what motivates our gratitude.

It's fascinating. Gratitude in our culture is a pretty unpopular idea. It's pretty countercultural, actually. People will express thanks cordially. You hold the door open, and they'll give you a cursory appreciation for it, but really, what our culture, what the world delights in are things like the victim mentality, chronic complaining, and entitlement. All of these things are not the same as gratitude, which is why Paul commands thanksgiving in this verse.

Gratitude is more than just a gut reaction. True gratitude is not just a cursory reaction but a conscious recognition of God's goodness. True gratitude is not a cursory reaction. "Hey, man. Thanks for doing that. That was really nice of you." No. It's a conscious recognition of God's goodness in your life.

That's why Paul goes on in verses 13 and 14 to give us reason for our gratitude. We should, if we truly believe in Christ, experience gratefulness because… "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

When I was a boy growing up, my parents were militant about making us well-mannered people. Militant! My mom would pull up, and I was outside helping her with the groceries, or we were out to dinner, and I wasn't on my phone but engaging in conversation. When we would go to my grandparents, we would always ask for permission to get up from the table, go around the table, and thank everyone. Some of you are nodding your heads, because you're like, "Dude, that is my childhood."

Here's the thing that was crazy. I would go around and thank people who did not contribute in any way whatsoever to the dinner we were eating. Why? Because that is cursory in nature. I was just reacting. I was not being conscious, because if I were, I would have been thanking the appropriate parties. I was just going through the motions.

Here's why I tell you that. I fear that so many of us are just going through the motions of gratitude. I think we're just moving through the motions of gratitude. I think we know when the chorus strikes we should lift a hand or when something good transpires we should thank the Lord, but we're not consciously recognizing what God has done in Christ.

Maybe in spurts. Maybe like flashes of light in different moments it'll pop up and we'll be grateful, but we're not consciously daily devoting ourselves to recognizing, "I was lost. I was a wretch. I was hopeless. I was trapped in my sin. I lived in darkness, but God came to save me. God's heart is that I'd be near to him, but I didn't want that.

I threw myself away in my own sin. I chose to separate myself as far from him as possible. I said, 'You don't need to be God in my life. I will be my own god.' Yet God in his lovingkindness, through a grace that abounds to the worst of us, said, 'I'm coming for you anyway. I'm going to move in. I don't want you to be in the domain of darkness any longer. I want you in the kingdom of my beloved Son. I want you where I am.'" That's the heart of our God.

When we think that way, a conscious recognition of God, we explode into gratitude. I can't wait to sing in a moment. All I want is to be near to him again. He's near to me right now, but, God, I want to experience you once more. I want the truths of these lyrics to wash over me again. I want to go back into that chorus, and even when we're done singing, I want to walk out into the Town Center and be grateful to the people around me. I want thanks to spill out of my life, not just off my lips.

This is the fourth proof of the Christian life. Mindfulness of the gospel leads to thankfulness to God. The reason we know we can be mindful of the gospel and it will produce a gratitude is Jesus Christ has done everything we've talked about. He has borne fruit. He came, and he lived the life you can't live. He did walk into the good works his Father had prepared in advance, but he didn't just bear good fruit in his life; he came and gave us knowledge.

He imparted to you the will of God, which was your salvation, but not only that. Not just "Pray the prayer and get saved." No. "Walk with me forever. Come be like me. Come be near me." Jesus lived with the godliest of strengths. His strength was so stalwart he would go to the most humiliating of deaths on our behalf. As he hung there, the weakest moment in human history, as one man bore the consequence of all mankind, he absorbed it without a word…true endurance, true patience.

He has given us such a reason for gratitude, for though he went into the grave, the grave could not keep him. He was not merely a good man; he's King. We are the subjects to our Lord. We are the servants to our King. We are the sheep to the Good Shepherd. Do you know him? These proofs will not be evidence of your life if not, but by merely crying out, all of this and more can begin tonight. Let me pray for us.

Father, we want to live in a manner worthy of you, like this Word says, but before we can first live in that manner worthy of you, we must behold you, our Christ, who died first for those unworthy of him. God, I just get this sense tonight that you want to do something here. I don't know what it is, God.

I don't know what's stirring amongst the minds of these people here tonight, but this I know: you want more for us than the life we so often settle for. Tonight, God, all of the freedom, all of the fullness we've talked about, I believe in but a moment we will experience. We are grateful to you, God. You, our Lord, Christ Jesus, move amongst these people.

Some of you need to surrender tonight. You need to wave the white flag. You need to lay it all down. You need not follow yourself any longer; you need to follow him. He's waiting for you, but not just that; he's wanting for you. Come to him. For the believer in the room, what proof of the Christian life is not, in fact, evident in you? Repent, and let us turn not one by one, but together, for God is awakening us to something more. We love you. It's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Porch, let's stand together at this time. I'm just going to prep you for this. We have at least two songs we want to sing, and that's because we want this moment to linger for a bit. Please don't rush from here. Won't you believe for yourself that God wants something particularly, uniquely, individually for you right now? Don't rush. Let us lean in together and listen as he sings over us and we sing in response. We have a team down front. They'd love to pray with you if you need to process with somebody. This is your moment. Let us experience the goodness of God together.