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God's Not Mad at You
How’s the new year starting off for you?

How’s the new year starting off for you?

JANUARY 25, 2021

/ Programs / Key Life / How’s the new year starting off for you?

Zach Van Dyke:
How’s the new year starting off for you? Let’s talk about it on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
You’re listening to Key Life. Our message is simple, because life is hard for everyone, grace is for all of us. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to teach this week. Zach’s the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re tired of a religion that just beats you down, pull up a chair and stay awhile.

Zach Van Dyke:
Thank you Matthew. And thank you all for tuning in this week. Our old white guy, Steve Brown is taking the week off and I’m filling in for him. And I always love to come and spend time with you all. And I just can’t believe that you guys still listen when it’s me instead of him. But he will be back on Friday with Pete to answer any of your questions. And then of course he’ll be back, the following week as well. So, we’re in a new year, 2021. I know many of us thought it was never going to arrive, but it arrived. We’re a couple of weeks in, how’s it going? How’s this year going for you so far? Has it gotten off to a good start? I love John, you know, the apostle John. There’s something about John. I find him delightful. I love the way he wrote his gospel. I John is one of my all time favorite books of the Bible. I go back to it again and again and again. And in 2020, I spent a lot of time studying Revelation. And so I have just got this great fondness for the apostle John. Now there’s a story about John in his old age that was handed down to us from Eusebius, who, Eusebius is one of the church historians, from back in the day. And he tells the story about John leading a very young and rebellious man to Christ, and then spent time discipling him. And John had to take a trip. So he told the Bishop of the town where this young man lived, Hey, please take care of this young man. When I return, I’ll take up, discipling him again. So he went on his trip and when he came back back and he asked the Bishop, where’s the young man I left in your care, the Bishop responded said, alas, he is dead. And John replied, what do you mean? He is dead. And according to Eusebius, the Bishop said. Well, he’s dead to God. The Bishop went on to tell John that the young man had fallen back into his old ways, with his old friends. He had gone back to a life of crime. In fact, he was now the leader of a band of robbers up in the mountains, where no one could go, because if anyone tried to even get near the hideout, they were killed. So Eusebius says that when John heard this, he ripped his cloak, which was an expression of grief. And then he said, get me a horse. So this old man, John probably in his eighties, gets on a horse and rides up to the top of that mountain where it’s death to go. And when he gets up there, of course, the robbers, who are keeping watch, they cease him and John responds, I wanted to be captured. Take me to your leader. So they bring this old man before the leaders, one of whom is the young man John had been discipling. And then we’re told as soon as the young man sees John, even though this young man is armed, even though this young man has all the power, he begins running, he just takes off. And then, I love this. John started running after him. Now, if you are familiar with John’s gospel account of the resurrection, you may recall that John in recounting, going to the empty tomb, he mentioned several times that he is a much faster runner than Peter, that in fact, he gets to the tomb before Peter. And he tells us three times in the amount of a few verses that he’s a fast runner. And so here he is at an old age and he still running. And John cries out. Why flee for me? I’m an old unarmed man. Don’t you see there still hope of life for you. I’d gladly suffer death for you as the Lord suffer death for us. I’ll give my own life in exchange for yours. And then we’re told hearing these words, the man stopped, threw his weapons down and trembling, he began to weep bitterly. Don’t you want to live a story like the apostle John? I mean, what bravery, the risk he was willing to take, the others focusedness of it. I want a life filled with stories like that, but how often am I the young man? How often am I the one who falls back into old habits? How often am I the one who rebels and how thankful I am for those in my life that have run after me again and again and again. So as we start a new year, as we’re three or so weeks into the new year, where are you at in your story? Are you thinking about running away? Are you settling for a safe, but boring existence? Have you decided it’s not worth hoping for something better? Are you wanting to be great, but you’re not sure how? Are you running after others, no matter what the cost is to you personally? Do you see yourself as part of the larger story of God? A story that started in the heart of God. There’s a song by David Wilcox that I just, I love I go back to it again and again and again. And there’s a lyric in it, where he says, love wrote the play. Let me just read you some of these lyrics, David Wilcox sings.

Look, if someone wrote a play to just, just to glorify what’s stronger than hate would they not the stage to look as if the hero came too late? He’s almost in defeat. It’s looking like the evil side will win. So on the edge of every seat, from the moment that the whole thing begins. It is love, who mix the mortar and it’s love who stacked these stones. And it’s love who made the stage here, although it looks like we’re alone. In this scene set in shadows, like the night is here to stay. There is evil cast around us, but it’s love that wrote the play.

Love wrote the play. You and I are part of a story that started in the heart of God. And because God is love at the very core of God’s being is love. That means, love wrote the play, but not only that love entered the play. One of the things that came out of 2020 for me, was how much I have to begin every day focused on Jesus. Every day, I need to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. Every day I need to think about the fact that Jesus endured the Cross scorning its shame. Every day I need to think about the fact that Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father. I need to fix my eyes on Jesus every day, because the minute I look away, it gets real dark. I’m very aware of the evil cast around us. In 2020. I don’t know about for you, but for me, it just felt like it was so easy to fix your eyes on so many other things. And so I’m coming into this new year remembering, I mean, and it’s pretty basic. We should all know this, especially if we’ve been following Jesus for any amount of time. We know we’re supposed to fix our eyes on Jesus, but I wanted to be reminded afresh. This year, I really, I want every day to start with thinking about and remembering and seeing and just delighting in Jesus. Gandhi famously said,

I like your Christ. I do not like you Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Man, if that wasn’t true in 2020, I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of times in 2020, where I did not look much like Jesus and the Christians around me did not look much like Jesus. You and I need to fix our eyes on him. So this week, that’s what I want to do. This week, I want to just spend some time. We’re a few weeks into the new year. I want to spend some time just looking at Jesus. Fixing our eyes on him, seeing how that shapes the story that we’re in, how it shapes the goals that we’re trying to achieve in this new year. John in his gospel writes an account of some Greeks, who come to see Jesus. John 12, starting in verse 20, it says this.

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Phillip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee with the request. Sir, they said we would like to see Jesus.

That’s what I want to see this year. This year. I want to see more and more and more of Jesus. Einstein in an interview, once said.

As a child I received instruction in both the Bible and the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I’m enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. For Jesus is too colossal for the pin of phrase mongers, however artful. No one can read the gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus, his personality pulsates every word. No myth is filled with such life.

I want to see Jesus. If that is your place, stick with me all week. And I promise to do my very best to show you him, to show you through him, it’s really all about grace.

Matthew Porter:
And that was Pastor Zach Van Dyke, teaching us that love wrote the play and reminding us to fix our eyes on Jesus. It makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Zach will be here all week, so please make sure you join us. Now, I don’t want to make any assumptions about you. So I’ll just tell you that when it comes to questions, I’ve had some, some big ones. And one big question a lot of folks ask is how can I know that I’m saved? Well way back when, Steve gave a sermon called How to Know that You Know Him, that was based on Hebrews 6. And that sermon touches on this very issue. Speaking to people who need assurance, that they are really saved. If you don’t already have that CD, make sure you get your copy of that classic sermon right now for free by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email your request to Steve@keylife.org. By mail, writer us at

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Just ask for the CD called How to Know that You Know Him. And while you’re here, would you prayerfully consider giving to Key Life? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope or because it’s now 2021, you can just text Key Life to 28950 on your smartphone. Again, just text Key Life, one word, two words, doesn’t even matter to 28950. It takes just a few minutes to get set up, and after that giving is a breeze. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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