Zach Zehnder takes us into week three of the Serving Challenge, a 40 day journey to serve like Jesus. Today's message is about availability.
Well, good morning I street. What's up? Northwest Omaha, it is great to be in the house of the Lord with you today. While I was writing the introduction to this message, I received a text from Pastor Greg and Johnny Venegas, our worship director at I street, and they texted about this new thing that apparently, at Costco, a lot of people were doing where they were ordering pizza and then wrapping a hot dog in it and having it as one, and they felt the need to text almost the entire staff that, though it sounds good, it wasn't as good as it was expected, so I was grateful for that message. Just after that, I got an email about a golf sale that was intriguing but I didn't act on. And then, a couple of minutes later, my kids came home from school and I just didn't get quite as much done on the message that I wanted to. In that moment I just feel like that's a little bit of a picture of the life we live in. There's a lot coming at us, a lot of distractions, so the answer for how to get all of it done in this world is this word multitasking. Multitasking, of course, is that ability to do or tackle multiple activities at one time. How many of you would say both campuses. You are a good multitasker, you're better than average. Let's see hands up, hoots and hollers both campuses. How many say I'm a good multitasker? Yeah, I see quite a bit of hands in the room. Some people have studied this. They're a lot smarter than I am and they have determined that multitasking is pretty much a myth, that actually only 2% of humans have this genetic gift and the rest of us can't do it effectively. Research also shows that women are, in fact, better than men at multitasking. Oh, now we hear the women. Okay, okay, okay. This was the most interesting piece of the research, though. They found that those who think they are good at multitasking are actually almost always the worst. So, those of you who just raised your hands, you just ratted yourself out at the same time. But, as I'm thinking about it, didn't you effectively multitask in that moment? You raised your hand and ratted yourself out. So I don't know, I don't know, maybe you are great at multitasking. Why are we talking about this? I'm gonna get to it in a moment, but first let me back up and tell you what we're doing. We at King of Kings here are embarking on a 40 day journey called Serving Challenge, where we're challenging people to look at how Jesus has served them and to likewise serve others. And in this series, a lot of us are reading through the books, and those are available at both campuses. We're on day 13 of 40, so it's not too late to get in. A lot of others are joining in on Connect Groups, and so there's still openings at each campus on Wednesday nights to dive deeper and meet new people. And so in this series we've discovered five aspects of how Jesus served us that we're now challenging one another to serve. In those aspects we're looking at this text from Philippians 2, verses five to 11, and so last week we laid the groundwork and we looked at the first aspect, which was attitude. Philippians 2, verse five, paul says in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset. Some translations actually do use the word attitude as Christ Jesus, and so we thought it was appropriate, at least for a week, to kind of lay the groundwork before we do all this stuff on the outside, like how we do it on the inside How's your heart, how's your mind, how's your attitude, how is your mental health, what's going on inside, because we wanna make sure that as we serve and as we do all of these things to serve others and for the sake of Christ, that it's coming from the right heart, that it's not gritting it out. And I'm serving because Pastor tells me to serve right or to check enough boxes to earn or gain anything. No, no, I serve. And we serve because we learned last week because Jesus has first served us and he's given us this gift of grace and I didn't deserve it. And when he gives me that gift of grace, I'm so now compelled by that gift of grace that I can't help but be anything other than what God calls me to be, and that's a servant. And when it comes from that place, cool, it's coming from the right heart, it's coming from the right attitude. Actually, think that a lot of us that are listening right now have a pretty good attitude when it comes to serving. We want to serve, we desire to serve. Some of us have served a lot in life and we know we've done it enough. We actually like the feeling, the fulfillment and the reward that we get from serving, so of course, we want to serve. What stops a lot of us from serving, I think, is a really practical thing. Many of us don't feel like we have the time or the space or the margin in this busy, busy schedule. And so what do we do? We just multitask ourselves to death and we work hard and we get overwhelmed and we get stressed out and we don't prioritize serving, and so it just doesn't happen. And so for some of us, it's more of a practical issue than anything else. So I want to look at that today, the second aspect of serving like Jesus. We're going to look at the amazing art of Jesus's availability, so let's learn from him today. Philippians two would continue. Verse six, it would say Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing. So think about this again Jesus is in heaven on his throne in all glory, like I don't know what seat that you sit in and what status you have in this room, but you're not getting that high. And before Jesus could do anything to serve us, he had to make the decision and appropriately act on actually making himself available to become one of us, to put aside the Godhead for a while and to become a human being like us, and I'm amazed that he would do this to not only initiate the greatest rescue mission in the history of the world, but, as he's here in this world doing this rescue mission for all of us, it's amazing how often Jesus, in his busy schedule, spends time and is available for the one person that is in front of him that's in need. And I wanna show you one of those stories today. You'll actually read a little more about it on day 14 tomorrow, but we're gonna go deeper into it today. It's in Mark, chapter five, and up to this point in Mark's gospel, like Jesus has been moving really quick. There's a lot happening, even in the last few verses, like he just calmed the storm, exercised some demons, traveled to a new region, and as he steps off the boat, a large crowd awaits him. And that's where we pick it up in verse 24 of chapter five of Mark. Actually, I need to tell you about the three verses leading up to verse 24. First, there was a synagogue leader that had a 12-year-old girl that was dying. So, as this large crowd is around, a one person comes and says "'My 12-year-old girl she's dying. "'i need your help. "'she's at the point of death' "'And so Jesus needs to intervene right away. "'big stakes, life and death matter'. And he says "'Yes'" I'll do this. And as he's on this journey to raise a 12 year old girl from the dead, something else stops Jesus in his tracks. And now we're ready to enter into verse 24. It says a large crowd followed and pressed around him. The Greek actually implies this was a violently pressing crowd. So this is not, by the way, a social distancing crowd. It's the opposite of that. And in this crowd a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had. Yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him and touched his cloak because she thought if I just touch his cloak, his clothes, I will be healed. And actually the stories in other gospels and we know from the Greek that she didn't just touch his cloak. She touched the hem of his garment, the end of his robe, because she thought again, if I just touch his clothes, I'll be healed. And as she touched the hem of the garment, immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. And so here's this woman like literally at the end of her robe. She has had it. She has spent tons and tons of years, went through multiple doctors. The text says that she had spent everything that she ever had. And medicine and doctors, they're not cheap today. You know that right. I just read this week that a single Tylenol pill costs $15. That's crazy ridiculous. In medicine and doctors they weren't cheap back then either. She literally had spent everything she had in hopes to get cured, in hopes to get right, and I'm sure she did what the doctors said. She'd gone natural. She'd taken the herbs, drank the juices, changed her diet, diffused the essential oils, became a vegan trichotosis, bought membership and orange theory fitness and then even owned a peloton at one point. And I'm not, by the way. The message isn't all those avenues are wrong. I mean, I'm super skeptical about the whole essential oil business, but that's for another day. In fact, some of the ways in which God does heal is through medicine, through doctors, through healthy diet, through exercise, and so the message again is not abandon all the ways of this world if you need healing. They're all evil. Perhaps, like I, should change my diet, or maybe I ought to go to the gym more often. But it's as you're doing these physical things. Are you inviting Jesus into your healing? Because in our pursuit to be healed, jesus is not our last resort. He is our first response and some of us have been there or we know people who have been there, who have dealt with this prolonged, stubborn medical condition and it's frustrating, even embarrassing, to keep going to the doctor only to return home with an expensive prescription yet little hope. Some people that are struggling, they would tell you that they would rather at least know what it is, even if it's bad, so that they could at least conquer it and cure it and seek rehab and get on a healthy path to be healthy again. But what's hardest sometimes is when you don't know what to do, when you don't know what's wrong, when you've tried everything and nothing has worked. We've had a couple of instances of this in our marriage. I remember specifically with Allison. One of those was right after we had our newborn son, our first son, nathan. He was just a week old and Allison was feeling just awful stomach cramps, high temperature. Obviously she's already battling everything that you deal with having a newborn, so there's little sleep. She was dehydrated, by the way. I can't believe that that kid I'm talking about is turning 16 a week from today. That's crazy, oh my goodness. I think that means I'm done because he can drive and we made it right. Maybe not, not yet. Okay, pretty affirmative here at King of Kings. I'm not done but anyway. And when he was a month old we were actually coming up from St Louis to Omaha because we were going to have Nathan's baptism here at King of Kings. And as we went up to Omaha the conditions worsened for Allison and I remember we had to actually take her to the hospital here in Omaha and she told them all the symptoms and the staff was saying well, you know what? That's just what it's like to have a newborn. You'll make it. Maybe it's just a cold or a flu or postpartum depression it turns out, by the way almost everybody's depressed when they've got 17 symptoms that hurt Nothing. The weekend didn't turn out how we wanted it all. We didn't have a baptism for Nathan here at King of Kings. We had a baptism privately in our home and, by the way, that's good enough. God's water works wherever. But we went back to St Louis and the day we got back again we were in the hospital again and again the staff and the doctors. This is what it's like to have a newborn. Here's some medicine that will help you for today. And she took it and, sure enough, weeks go by and she's still not feeling well and we go back into the hospital yet again and finally, through some different tests, it's not good, but we found out she has an infection called C diff. That at least now we know, and now we know how to tackle this. Super frustrating and embarrassing to go to doctors, especially when others know and they're out of love and good intent, texting you how did it go, is everything okay, and you've got nothing to share with them. I've been back in Omaha two and a half years now and I can't tell you how many stories I've heard, past and present, of couples that desire to have a child, that, for whatever reason, struggle to conceive and struggle with infertility, and many times there's not a clear answer on what the root of the problem is. And it's two people that want to have a child and grow them up in the Christian faith and we can't figure it out and it's sad and it stinks, and when everybody else has a baby, they're happy for them, but something on the inside of them is hurting. It's hard to not have an answer. This woman was there, she'd been there for 12 long years, and again the stories in other places, so we can denote that this woman took a 30 mile journey to meet Jesus. And you get this feeling like she just knew that she would be healed because while she's putting in the 60,000 steps to see Jesus, the text says she's thinking if I can just touch his cloak, if I can just touch the edge of his garment, then I'll be healed. And that's intentional, by the way, because there's an Old Testament prophecy that would one time say that there would be someone who would come, that the Son of righteousness would come and he would have healing in his wings. The Hebrew word for wings is also the same word, though for the tassels of the garment, the edge of the cloak. And so this woman has done everything, she has spent everything, and she hears about this Jesus, and she's now at the end of her rope. But she still can reach for the edge of his rope. And some of you are there right now. You find yourself with whatever it is at the end of your rope and God says you can still touch the edge of my rope and I've got exactly what you need. And she touches it and she's instantly healed and freed from her suffering. How amazing. And we tend to think of this story like medically, like clearly, it was a serious issue, especially back then, with their lack of medical knowledge and this woman, this issue could have been life threatening for them. But as great as the physical healing was, there's a deeper issue going on here, a deeper healing that I believe Jesus does for this woman, where he really teaches us what it's like to be available. Because if you go back in the Old Testament law, if you were bleeding you were considered unclean and so not to get too graphic but this is not a once a month issue for this woman, it's every day. For 12 years she's been unclean, and when you're unclean you can't go to the temple or synagogue to worship God. When you're unclean, if she was married, you can't have relations with your husband. Not only this, you can't be around holy people, rabbis, priests, teachers of the law, because the law said that if you're unclean and you go into places or you meet people that are clean, that your uncleanness will also make them unclean. And so not only would you make them unclean, but they also wouldn't wanna be around you because there's a rigorous process to become clean again. Also, back in that day, there was a real thought that people's medical conditions was tied to the fact that they are sinful and they've done something to deserve this. And so can you imagine, for 12 years, what this woman had been told, what this woman had to go through? I can't worship God, I can't be around my husband. Even if I do go around my husband or worship God, like nobody would want to be around me because they would be unclean. And so can you imagine what this would do to your sense of value? Do you think that maybe she just started buying the hype that I'm used up, I'm dirty, I'm unclean, nobody wants to be around me, I'm a mistake. And after 12 years of dealing with this, she hears about Jesus. But if you think about it, isn't she gonna run into the same problem? Jesus is a holy man, he's a priest, he's a teacher of the law. He is, in fact, not only just a holy man, he's the holiest of men on the most incredible rescue missions. And so the last thing that I can do is make Jesus unclean. But she's desperate enough to take a 30 mile journey in her condition and thinking that if I can just sneak away maybe it's 30 miles away, maybe nobody knows I'm there, I won't even make a big deal of it, I'll just touch the edge of his robe, I'll get what I need and I'll move on. And that was the plan. And she touched the cloak and she got instant healing. But then, verse 30, at once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked who touched my clothes? This was the moment. Uh-oh, my plan to touch and sneak didn't work. Disciples are always confused. In these stories they say you see the people crowding around you, and yet you can ask who touched me. They're like Jesus everybody's touched. It's a violently pressing crowd, everybody's touching you. But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. In the midst of a violently pressing crowd, jesus kept pressing to find the touch. Verse 33,. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. And I don't know how long she was at his feet. I don't know how long the whole truth took, but this woman is a bag of mixed emotions the joy and happiness from the instantaneous physical healing, but also the fear and the trembling with fear of. Is this the moment that I'm rebuked in front of everybody and made a public spectacle of? Is this the moment that did I just make Jesus unclean? And this is when Jesus flips the script on this woman and says to her daughter your faith has healed you, go in peace and be freed from your suffering. Jesus flips it on her and says hang on. You think that because you're unclean, that you're gonna make me unclean. The truth is, I'm going to make you clean because I'm clean. Yeah, you can't contaminate me. Your cleanliness is not gonna make me unclean, but my cleanliness is gonna make you clean. It's gonna transform you from the inside out. And so, yes, not only do I have a physical healing for you, but I've also got something deeper that I want to give to you. As she's laying out her whole truth, jesus gives her the time of day and helps her to see that she is valuable, and I love what Jesus does. He doesn't condemn this woman or say wait your turn, like, take a number. This isn't the DMV, the Department of Motor Vehicles, where you gotta take a number and honestly, you feel like shame just for walking in to pay for a license plate for some reason, like, ah, I'm sorry, ah, this isn't take a number, I don't have time for you. And again, the context of the story he's in the middle of a life and death situation and he stops everything to hear this woman's story and spend time with her. And so he gives her, he flips the script and he gives her a new kind of DMV, a divine moment of value, one that she had been desperate for anyone in the last 12 years to give her and nobody would. But who did Jesus? In the middle of everything else pressing in around him, he stops it all and gives her one divine moment of value that, as great as the physical healing was, can you imagine the restoration of her identity, the restoration of her relational, emotional, mental and spiritual, all in one divine moment of value? And it shows me that Jesus is never too busy for you. He's got the rescue mission of the whole world, but he can still spend time with you. And I came with good news that, whatever it is that you might need, that you are never an interruption to God Never, so Boggles my mind. God really is a really great multitasker, isn't he? I mean, he can have everything else pressing in the rescue mission of the entire world and the weight of that on his shoulders, and yet in his busyness he's always there for the one that's right in front of him that's in need. He'll spend time with you and I hope that encourages you, because some of you may be like that woman today, desperate. Maybe it is a physical thing for you. Maybe it's a stubborn medical condition or something you don't have an answer for and you're frustrated and you're embarrassed and you're exhausted. Maybe God is using doctors and medicine, but it's not going at the pace that you want it to go. Maybe you need a touch from God physically. Maybe you're struggling relationally, having a hard time in your marriage, having difficulty parenting your children or being a grandparent and watching your kid's parent your grandkids. Maybe you're having financial burden right now. Maybe for you, you've gotten stuck in a sin pattern that's borderline in addiction and you feel powerless for how to defeat it yourself. Whatever it is, god's here to meet with you right here and right now, and I want to give you a practical piece. And then I want to come back into the story and tie it up. Here's the practical. If God has done this for you, if he has served you, then are you available to serve others? That's the question that you need to ask. Are you available? Are you available? Many of us may want to serve, but again it's like I don't feel, like we have the time to do it. And can I tell you, I think we are too obsessed with time, too obsessed. Experts say the reason that we feel slammed, even though many actually have plenty of free time in their lives, is two reasons. Number one we are not thoughtful enough about how we spend our free time. We're not thoughtful about how we're spending it. So some of us feel so busy, so tired, so slammed, so overworked, overwhelmed and unavailable because we're not thinking about and spending our free time well, and, rather than doing it in a way that's recharging us, we're filling it with empty leisure and trivial pursuits. So we're just always tired and exhausted and we're not doing it right. The second reason, though, is we are, perhaps like never before, hyper-aware of time in this world. I found this fascinating. Maybe you will too. The number one most often used noun in the English language, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is the word time. Time, it's the number one most used noun and other movement indicators like year is number three, day is number five, week is number 17. We are obsessed with time and if love is spelled T-I-M-E which some people say that it is what Jesus shows you and me and this woman is how incredibly loved and valuable you are. He's got time for you. So these last couple of years, as I've read and researched and studied and wrote and tried to organize all of this in a way that moves others to serve, I'm also looking at how does it move me to serve? And we're looking at five aspects in this series Attitude, availability, action, ability and ambition. And if I'm real with you, the one I believe I struggle with the most is the one we're talking about today availability. If you know me, you know I'm a pretty task-oriented guy and I'm getting to seasons where I just got a lot of tasks. I feel like they're important that I got to get done and I don't know about you, but I love checking boxes off or, in my case, I love deleting words off of my to-do list on my computer. Nothing brings me as much joy as that, except the Browns winning, and they never do so. You get what I'm saying, but in those task-heavy seasons people sometimes become to me not people. People are interruptions, they're annoying time drains in my very busy schedule of important things to do and I'm convicted and I hate that, especially with my position even as a pastor that I would view God's creation in another human being as anything other than what Jesus would look at them and value them. I've got a lot of work to do when it comes to being available and I found and we're going to look at that fourth aspect in two weeks ability. I love helping people find out and discover and put to use their ability, but here's what I found the greatest ability you have is availability. We see this for sure in Taylor Swift right now. She just shows up and everything changes. You don't have to be Taylor Swift to be available. You don't have to be smart, well-spoken, good with people, physically strong to just show up and serve. God doesn't need able men and women. He needs available men and women and, if we're honest, like, god fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit and that's really the power and the ability that has anything to change this world. So maybe one more way to say it is God works more through the available than the able, and all God asks of you and me is just show up, just be available. Don't you see, by the way, how that kind of takes the pressure off, especially when you pair it with oh yeah, I've got the Holy Spirit of the living God inside of me so I can actually just show up and I don't need to be like in this case. Right now, I don't need to have every single word perfectly placed and do 100%, because God will work anyway, even if I mess up and sometimes it's when I mess up that he works even more. So that takes the pressure off of me in my own position and it takes the pressure off of you in what you do. You don't have to be perfect. You just got to show up, you just got to be available. So I want to give you a practical challenge, a practical takeaway, before we wrap this story up. And you got cards on your seats at each campus and you'll see, we want to invite you into what we're calling the one out of 720 challenge. In a typical month there's more than 720 hours, and what we're asking is can you serve at least one hour? Serving out in the community is wonderful and do as much of that as you're able. But can you link in with us here at King of Kings, if you're a member of this church, especially, and be a part of serving? Because here's what I found about availability the best thing for me, if I want to be available is I've got to be intentional, I've got to mark it on my calendar, I've got to follow up, I've got to have someone hold me accountable and this is how we do it. I don't oftentimes if I don't plan to serve, I don't oftentimes serve on a given day, but when it's in my calendar, when I've made myself available, when I've signed up, when I've said I'm gonna be a part of this team. That's changing lives, that's when God moves, and so many of you do this already. And will you keep doing it? Some of you are new and like wondering is this for me? Yes, it is, because serving's for everybody and it's a great mission. The church, by the way, is God's idea, not King of Kings idea. So if not here, somewhere, get involved, be available, serve. It'd be an honor to partner with you. Take that first step today. But I wanna step back in and finish this story. This woman right 12 years, healed Physically, relationally. Her value was restored, all of it. But uh-oh. Well, because of the time that Jesus stopped, that 12-year-old girl that was at the point of dying now actually did die. She's dead. There was no time to waste. It's over. And what did Jesus do? He went to the house and he said talathakumi, which means little girl. I say to you, get up. And this dead girl rises from the dead and it's like a throw on at the end of the story. But think about it. This is an even bigger miracle. The bleeding woman could at least muster an ounce of strength, could at least, at the end of her rope, reach for the edge of his rope. She was relationally, mentally, physically, unhealthy, but this 12-year-old girl, she was relationally, physically, spiritually, mentally, dead, gone, nothing left in what happens. Jesus meets her and Jesus brings life out of death. And that is the gospel that Jesus is powerful enough and there is more healing in the hem of his garment to bring life out of any dead situation that you have. And so maybe, maybe, maybe you're like that woman who's been bleeding for 12 years and you've got an ounce of strength left to cling to. Maybe some of you feel more like that dead 12 year old girl and you don't even have an ounce of strength to muster to reach for the end of his robe. And the gospel says that when all of us collectively were at that point of the 12 year old dead girl, that Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God to his own advantage, but rather he made himself nothing, and he made himself nothing to bring life into death. How good is this God? And if God could be available for you and me like this, then can you be available to serve others and do what Jesus has done? Because the world is hurting and it's filled with a lot more Dead 12 year old girls and women who've been bleeding for 12 years than you might think. And so my question for you is what do you need, like right now? What do you need? Because God has it for you and he's ready and willing To meet with you and have a one-on-one Divine moment of value experience right now. This God who did it in mark 5 is still alive and well and he's ready to meet right now. So this is the moment where everything can be flipped, because that's what God does. Please stand Both campuses. We're gonna sing this song, called here again, and I love the lyrics it starts with I can't go back to the beginning, I can't control what tomorrow will bring, but I know here in the middle is where you promise to be. So we're asking that God would meet us right here, right now, in a divine, supernatural way. And so, god, we thank you that you're here, where two or more are gathered in your name. You are here, and there is more healing in the hem of your garment, more power in the hem of your garment than anything of this world. And so, jesus, we're coming. Today, some of us are coming broken, desperate. We've got one ounce of strength left to muster and we're reaching for the end of your robe. Today, others of us in this room, where we can't even do that, thank you that you'll come anyway, because you love us that much. So, as we sing this song, god, holy Spirit, would you move in a mighty powerful way that only you can move? Would you do what only you can do? Would you bring value to everybody in this room? Would you restore us from the inside, heal us on the outside and do everything in between? Because, god, you're capable and and we believe in you and we've seen it over and over and over again and we trust that we're gonna see it again. Will you meet me here again? And all God's people at both campuses said God showed me about two months ago in this sermon right here that this is a moment, and I don't know if that moment's meant for one or meant for hundreds, but too many of you have been getting kicked in the teeth for too long and struggling with something that you've got no answers for. That today God is gonna flip, and I don't know if that's a physical condition. I don't know if that's a Spiritual condition and you're struggling with sin. I don't know if that's a marital condition. I don't know if that's a parenting thing or a financial thing. I don't know what it is that you're experiencing, but God just put it on my heart that there's a lot of people that are like this woman who for 12 years have been struggling, and today is the day where you touch the edge of his robe and you get what you need. And so, if that's, you want to ask you to do something bold. As we sing this song, I want you to walk like this woman, walk to 30 mile journey, desperate and at the end, and when everything of this world had failed her, she still had Jesus. I Want you to physically walk To the front of this room and when this song is over, we're gonna pray and we're gonna watch God do what God does. So if you need it, if you want it, come touch the edge of his rope, let's see what he can do.