Sunday Morning | November 29, 2023 | John C. Majors | Louisville, KY
In Pastor John's sermon titled "Follow the Expert" from John 17:1-19, the focus was on Jesus' prayer in three dimensions: for Himself, the disciples, and the church. Drawing parallels with Luke 11:2 and Mark 14:36, the sermon highlighted the uniqueness of Jesus' prayer, different from the "Lord's Prayer" and other moments of agony, but although this might seem to be a contradiction in scripture, Pastor John pointed out that it illustrated how Jesus was wholly God, where the other prayers demonstrated that he was fully human. Psalm 119:9-11 was referenced to underscore the connection between truth and sanctification. The sermon concluded with practical guidance on how to pray like Jesus: by seeking to see Jesus as He truly is, believing in the identity Jesus affirms, sharing that affirmation with others, praying for protection, and immersing one's mind in truth. These five principles were presented as a guide for followers to emulate the depth and purpose of Jesus' prayers.
At Valley View Church we are currently studying through the entire gospel of John, verse by verse. You can join us on Sunday mornings at 11 AM for worship. We are located at 8911 3rd Street Road, Louisville KY 40272.
Well, good morning Valley View. It’s great to be with you on this Thanksgiving weekend, even though I would say in light of that last song that’s sometimes is hard to pray. I will make room for you. Sometimes we get into a rut, I think, especially maybe after a few days out of our routine. Maybe. I’m not saying any of you did, but some people tend to maybe eat a little extra than they should over these last few days. Find ourselves in a bit of a rut. Does that happen? It happens to all of us. That’s part of why we set apart in our schedule to come here on Sunday. Maybe break up the routines of life that pull me away from Christ. Let me break up that rut somehow. A friend of mine used to say when I played some guitar, I didn’t play very well, and I would get into a rut and get discouraged, he would say, Go, go see live music. Go see how it should be done right. You’ll be inspired by that. That’s partly why we come here on Sunday mornings. It worked time and again. It’s to remind me of how life should be, to remind me of the truths of what Christ wants for me in the midst of all the other madness of life. That’s part of why we come here, to break up that rut of life. Go see live music. In fact, I would say go see the experts is one way he said it. Go see it done right. Today, we’re going to look at a passage where I think we can say we see it done right. We see prayer done right. We see Jesus pray. We’ve been working our way through the book of John and we’ve been in this section chapters 13 through 17, which are called the Upper Room Discourse, which is another fancy word for sermon. Jesus is talking to the disciples who are there with him, and it’s all 12 at first. Judas quickly leaves in the middle of Chapter 13, and then we’re down to just the 11. And Jesus is saying to them, Here’s what you need to know to get through what’s coming. Got some hard days ahead. Here’s what you need to know. Here’s what’s true of you. Here’s what’s true of me. Here’s what is true. Here’s what’s coming. Here’s how you prepare. And so all through the chapter, he’s been teaching them, Chapter 13, 14, 15, 16. And now we hit chapter 17, and there’s a big shift that occurs here because Jesus has been giving a sermon, and what often happens at the end of the sermon, he prays. And all of Chapter 17 is one long prayer of Jesus. Now, what’s interesting about this prayer is because Jesus prays in other places in Scripture, we’re going to see a couple of things today in this prayer that are a little bit different. So this is John chapter 17. If you have a church Bible that will be on page 849, you can find it there. If you don’t have a Bible, we’d love to put one in your hands there in the connection corner. Those are free for you. Slip out and grab one any time. John Chapter 17. We’re going to see a couple of things that are different about his prayer here. One in particular is interesting. You tend to think of Jesus in prayer. There’s probably one central prayer you think of– It’s even named after him. What’s it called? The Lord’s Prayer. But that prayer is very different than this prayer. Jesus is responding to the disciples, asking him, Teach us how pray. Luke Chapter 11. They say, Teach us how to pray as John taught his disciples how to pray. Jesus, teach us how to pray. So He’s not necessarily praying himself. He’s telling them what they should pray. Like, for instance, forgive us our sins. Jesus doesn’t need to pray that. He doesn’t sin. So he’s teaching them on prayer. But here he prays and we’re going to see that he prays in a couple of different ways that isn’t often exposed in Scripture. The other thing that’s interesting about this prayer is notice the timing of things. We are– and this is chapter 17– he’s given the final prayer after the final sermon, and he’s just about to be betrayed. But in this same moment in Matthew, Mark and Luke, the tone was very different. Matthew, Mark and Luke at that moment, he was in agony. He was, it said, sweating like drops of blood. Lord, take this cup from me. He’s begging the disciples to be praying for him as well. And what do they do? They take a nap instead. Why weren’t you there for me in this one hour? Could you not stay awake one hour? No. Sorry, Lord, I couldn’t. I tried. He’s in agony. He’s in desperation. But here we see a different tone in the same window of time. Look at chapter 17. Just read the first couple of verses. When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son that the son may glorify you. Since you have given him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life that they know you. The only true God, Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. You don’t see this sense of agony here, of desperation, of anguish. You see more of a sense of exaltation. Thank you, Lord. This time has come. We get to celebrate in this together, and through this moment, the whole world will be saved. A very different setting. Now, I need to comment on that because some will see that and go Now, wait a second. This is clearly a contradiction in scripture. You have Jesus anguished in here, not this is the same roughly time. Once again, the Bible can’t be trusted. We see this clear contradiction. It’s full of contradictions. You hear that all the time. But there’s a big difference between clear contradictions and a multitude of perspectives, encompassing a wide range of experiences that Jesus had. If you’re new to our study of the Book of John, I said early on that John, one of the early church fathers who had been one of his disciples, said this of John, that John knew about Matthew, Mark and Luke that had already been captured and written. John set out to write something different. He used the phrase something spiritual, a spiritual gospel meaning he was seeking to weave together different themes and emphases that hasn’t shown up in some of the other books, especially Jesus’s divinity. And so we see here in that contrast of these two prayer moments, the fact that Jesus, and this is a very difficult concept for many to get their minds around, all to get their minds around, that Jesus is both fully God and fully man. He’s both. 2 natures, 1 person. Does that make any sense to us? No. How can someone be both fully God and fully man? That’s what Scripture teaches. And so you see that play out sometimes in a very confusing way, although, where that whole section on him being in agony in Mark Chapter 14, you see that phrase, Lord, the humanity side, Lord, take this cup from me. But then you see the divine side, but not my will but yours be done. And so we often see those two sides close together. And I think in our human understanding, because that’s hard to do to hold those intentions. We want to hold those in tension. We want to swing one way or the other. Let me overly focus on his divinity. That’s easier to do. He’s clearly God. So let’s focus on that because we don’t want to water that down at all. Or let me overly focus on his humanity because his humanity is important and we need to be able to relate to that. And if I make too much of him, God, then maybe I don’t feel as connected to him as human. And both are temptations that, of course, in the history of Christianity many denominations have swung toward. Because that’s easier. It’s way easier. Let’s pick one and run with it. But the two are meant to be held together, and that’s part of the big purpose of the Book of John. Here is Jesus as both God and man. And it’s important that we fight for both. And I think as we look at this prayer of Jesus in John chapter 17, we’re going to see some of that play out some of his divinity and humanity. And let me say on the front end, we’re going to get a little deep in the weeds on theology on the front end of the sermon, but I’m going to try to wrap it up with some real practical things at the end. How does Jesus pray and what does that mean for how we should pray? We’ll hit five practical things at the end, but we’ve got to deal with some of the difficult dynamics of this prayer. One of the richest sections of scripture that often doesn’t get addressed in much detail. So, John, Chapter 17. We’re looking at how Jesus prayed and we’re going to look at specifically three things he prays for, because in this he prays for three things. First, and this is what I think is the most mindblowing part of the section is first he prays for himself. We get to see Jesus praying for himself. What does he pray for when he prays for himself? There are some interesting lessons to pull from that. Second, he will pray for the disciples, for those in the room. What does he pray for those who are closest to him in his final moments? And then third, he’ll pray for the church, for those who are to come after. We’ll look at that next week. That’s the final section of John Chapter 17. We’ll save that for next week. How does he pray for the church? For those who are to come, for us for that regards? But first, he’s going to start by praying for himself. And so let’s look at how he prays for himself. Look at those first three verses again, and let’s just read over those and get some of the insights into how he prays for himself. John, Chapter 17, verse one: When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour has come; glorify your son that the son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. The first thing to note about how He prays for himself is just the fact that Jesus prays. Jesus prays. If anybody in the history of the world could get by without praying, it would be Jesus, you would think. And yet he seems more committed to prayer than any other person you read about in Scripture. Why does Jesus pray? This raises some important questions. First, around the whole concept of the Trinity. Christianity, at the core of its doctrine, is the view that God is Trinity. God is three in one, God is three persons. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. All three are fully God, and yet they’re different in their personhood in the way they express themselves. All three, though, are fully God. So when Jesus prays, that raises for me a couple of different questions. Why does Jesus even need to pray? That’s the first question. Why does he need to pray at all? Isn’t that kind of redundant for God to be praying to himself in one sense? Well, I know some of you, I’ve seen you talking to yourself at times. You don’t even realize it, right? It happens. We talk to ourselves. Someone said, seeking expert advice. Yeah, that’s a separate issue that we’ll talk about later. Not only that, though, if you’re married, Scripture says the two become one flesh. In one sense you’re one flesh, yet hopefully you still talk to one another. There’s a sense of enjoyment in the relationship. There’s a delight in continuing to get to know one another. And even after 24 years, Julie and I are still getting to know one another. In fact, probably enjoy getting to know one another now more than ever. And in the Trinity you have this picture. This doesn’t explain it all, by the way, about why he prays, but you have this picture of that love and relationship that the Trinity expresses for all eternity that sets the groundwork for our relationship with one another, the joy and delight that we experience in one another. It’s the overflow of that love within the Trinity that we get to experience, and that sets the tone for us to love one another. So that’s the first question that is raised. But the second is he prays. But notice that when he prayed, notice look back at verse one at how he started the prayer. When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up his eyes to heaven. Yes, kids, His eyes were open, right? Nothing in the Bible says you have to have your eyes closed, although I find it helpful because I’m not as distracted. He lifted up his eyes to heaven and he prayed. Father. Okay, why did Jesus pray to the Father? Does it matter? Since Jesus prayed to the Father? Does that mean it’s best if I pray to pray to the Father, not to Jesus or the Holy Spirit? I don’t think it matters. This may sound like a weird, obscure question to some, but I know for many it’s a sincere, urgent question. Does it matter that much who I pray to specifically? Is my prayer better delivered to the Father versus the Son or the Holy Spirit? I don’t think it matters. This doesn’t fully explain it either, but they’re all three fully God, all fully aware of your prayers, even though we see them differently and they are different in person. But going back to the concept of family, if one of my kids has a need, I don’t care if they come to me or Julie, I don’t care which it is. I don’t get mad because they went to her for help. Why did you go to Mom and not me? No. I’m just glad they’re asking. I’m glad that they see us as someone that can be come to, that can be approached in a time of need. I delight in that as well. And so when you have a need, whether you go to the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, I think that God in three persons delight in the fact that you ask, that you come to Him, that you pray. I will say, however, I think just like where a child may feel a natural tendency, a natural drawing to one parent over the other when an issue arises… you know, my kids go to mom when they need food, they come to me when they need wrestling or a trip to the library. Like there’s a natural tendency drawing to one or the other. I think in the same way, there are times where you just feel like naturally drawn to pray to the father, or naturally drawn to pray to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit. And I think I think that’s natural. I think that’s okay. I think that’s good. I don’t think the Holy Spirit gets tripped up over it and upset at Jesus because you went to him and they stopped talking to one another. No. No, pray is the key issue. Pray, pray, ask, ask in my name. That’s the phrase we’ve seen over and over again. This is some of the setup to how Jesus prays now. This is how he prays. He prays to the father but then notice what specifically he prays for himself. Look back at verse two: Father, the hour has come, and here’s what he prays at the end of verse one, glorify your son that the son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. The prayer that Jesus prays for Himself in this moment is to be glorified. And that word sounds fancy to us. That sounds kind of, kind of exciting for you to get the glory. But glory in this moment meant torture, death, rejection, betrayal. And he’s asking for this. Father, glorify me because he knows that this leads to God getting the glory and to us having eternal life. And I think the tone of this prayer, different than the moments of anguish is, I’m ready, Let’s do this. I’m going to see this through. I’m not quitting. The human side of me may want to quit. I’m all in. And in the midst of praying for himself, I think we see a bit of that for ourselves to stay in it even through the hard times. Father be glorified. Now, that’s the main thing he’s praying for himself here. But notice what else he mentions in this prayer. Verse one through five‚Äôs are the prayers for himself. And just look at those last two verses as he’s praying for himself. Look at what else he mentions. Verse four: I glorified you on earth having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. So he prays for himself to be glorified. But then in this moment, he says something that no one else dare say. Bring me back to where I was before the world existed. Who could say that but God himself? Before there was time, before there was anything, I was there with you. Many will say Jesus never claimed to be God, but we’ve pointed out verse after verse after verse all throughout the book of John, where there are clear claims to divinity. And this is one of them. Before there was anything, I was there. Who else could claim that? You see that but you also again see a delight in the Trinity, and I can’t wait to get back there with you. I can’t wait for us to be back in community together. Just like if you’re on a long extended road trip. I can’t wait to get back home with my family, to be near them, to be around them. So Jesus starts this high priestly prayer, which is what it’s often called, by praying for himself. But now he transitions into praying for the disciples who are in the room. What is it that he prays for them in this moment? Look at verses six through ten. This is where he begins to pray for them and what’s important to see here is that before he prays for them, he prays about them; before he asks for things on their behalf, he talks about them to the father in front of them for them to overhear. Here are things that I’m telling the father about you for you to overhear. Because even though this is a prayer of Jesus, there’s also an instructional element. He knows who’s in the room. And I want to read through six through ten and just look for it. You might underline things as you see them. What are some of the things Jesus says about the disciples that He wants them to overhear that He’s saying to the Father about them? I’m just going to start reading in verse six. I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, And they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. All throughout this you see Jesus affirming various things about them before them to the Father, and just notice some of the phrases he highlighted about them. He said in verse six, they’ve kept your word. He says in verse seven, they know everything that is from you. Verse eight, they have received your words, and as a result they have believed in you. Verse nine, they are yours. These are some powerful affirmations that Jesus is making at a critical moment. He’s saying to the Father, this is true of the disciples. Before I pray for them, these are the things that are true of them. And there are a lot of things he could say, but he chooses these -these powerful statements of who they are, of their identity. So these things are true of them. These are things he says of them. But notice now what he asks. These are the things he’s said of them. Now what does he ask on their behalf? How does he pray? Look at verse 11. There’s two things in this passage, verse 11 through 19, two things in particular he prays; one in the first section that we‚Äôll cover, and then the second section of verses. First look at verse 11: I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world and I’m coming to you. Holy Father– and here’s the thing he prays for them– keep them in your Name which you have given me that they may be one, even as we are one. He prays it again, while I was with them or states I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I’m coming to you. These things I speak in the world that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. He’s praying for them to be kept. And in the midst of that, he notices there are two results we’ll talk more about next week. Unity and joy are the overflow of being kept, being guarded, being protected. But he’s praying for them to be kept. And then notice how this section wraps up, verse 14: I have given them your word and the world has hated them– Colby talked about that at length– the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you –once again– keep them from the evil one. So the first thing he prays for them is that they would be kept, that they would be guarded, that they would be protected from the evil one. And he’s real clear. I’m not praying that you take them out of the world to do that. And so he’s not praying that we’re insulated from the world. Keep them there, but guard, protect, watch over them, care for them. And this is really important with what’s coming. Now, notice the second thing he prays, because there’s an important connection between the two things he prays. First, he prays that they are guarded, protected, that they’re kept. But verse 16: they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. And he prays this next word twice in this passage, verse 17: Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake, I consecrate myself that they also may be sanctified in truth. So keep and guard them and sanctify them. And that word sanctified is a big, fancy, Christian word. It just means set them apart for your purposes. Set them apart in a way that they know this is what I am for. Yes, I’m in the world, but I’m not of the world. I’ve been set apart for a different purpose. I know that there is an element of where I don’t allow myself to be overcome by the world and completely overtaken by all that the world says is of value and importance. So keep them and sanctify them. How do those two work together? Be guarded and sanctified. There’s one verse that came to mind that I think draws these two together really clearly. In fact, it’s in Psalm 119, if you will, flash the passage up on the screen so that people know where it is. We’re not going to turn there per se, because it’s really short. It’s in particular Psalm 119:11. Psalm 119 is a fascinating section of Scripture. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible, and it’s broken up into sections of eight verses that correspond with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And it’s kind of like this acrostic poem, Letter A, and it goes through the law of God and talking about the beauty of the law of God and how we need to keep his word. And you say A, keep his word. B, keep his word. It goes through section after section after section. And in verse 11, it says this, and I think this shows the connection between guarded and sanctified. He says this: I have hidden your word in my heart. I’ve kept your word. I’ve put it in my heart. I’ve studied your word. Why? So that I might not against you. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. The connection between being guarded in God, being kept in Him, the overflow of that as we know His word, as we know the truth is protection from sin. It’s walking in truth. And that’s part of being set apart, being sanctified. So, that’s what he prays for the disciples, guard them, keep them, sanctify them in truth. Now, practically, what does all this mean for us? I told you I‚Äôd spent some time deep in the weeds on theology, but then we would get to the practical side. What does this mean for us? We’re looking at how Jesus prays for himself and for the disciples. What does that mean for how we pray? I think there’s five things in particular we need to see about how we pray as a result. Number one, you’ll see these listed on the screen. Believe who Jesus says you are. You know, when Jesus talked about the disciples to the Father in a way that they could overhear it, there’s a lot of things he could have said. There’s a whole bunch of things he could have pointed out about them. You know, they are kind of demanding. I mean, I don’t know that they’re always there for me when I need them. They tend to fight over who’s the best among them. There’s a lot of things he could have pointed out about the disciples, but what did he point out? They know your word. They keep your word. They believe in you. They believe the truth. And I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of things I tell myself about myself that are negative, even though they may be true. But make sure to take the time to believe who Jesus says you are. That is the most true version of who you are. Doesn’t always feel that way. I don’t always live it out. But if you know him and walk with him, that’s who you are. Those things are true of you in him. So start that way as you pray. Start by believing who Jesus says you are. Number two in the same way that we need to tell ourselves who we really are in Christ, number two: tell others who they really are. In the same way that many of us tend to be overly self-critical, sometimes we like to highlight how others could improve, according to our estimation. But tell others who they really are in Christ. Focus on that as well. Focus on overemphasizing who they are in Christ. They already know who they aren’t. And look, if you’re a parent or maybe you have employees or people you serve with in ministry, yes, there are things we need to point out that people are doing wrong. Yes, they are. But don’t let that be all you do. It’s so easy to fall into that habit of, here’s all the stuff you’re doing wrong, always correcting, always criticizing, and who wants to be around that person? Not me. I don’t. And I know you don’t either. Again, that doesn’t mean you avoid the hard conversations. I’m not saying that. But how do I be the person who gives life to others as well and points to them who Christ says they are? I experienced this with Herschel York . Many of you remember Herschel York, maybe a few of you will. He was interim pastor here while I was in college, and at the time he was preaching professor at Southern Seminary. He’s still there in another role. And we lived at the time across the street from Southern Seminary. I didn’t attend there as a student, but we were newly married and we were working with college students at U of L and that put us a little closer to campus. And a lot of times I liked to sneak over and walk through the library. I’ll admit it. I’m not ashamed to say it. Just be there reading various books and Julie would have to come find me at times, hunt me down. But I loved being on their campus. And one time in particular, I was walking across the campus, bumped into Herschel York, and here I was, I was a knucklehead. I was barely figuring out how to lead our young adults group. And even though I was serving in ministry, I had a ton to figure out. And he introduces me to the other professor he’s walking with. This is John Majors. He goes to the church where I’m interim pastor, and I want you to know he’s going to be a great preacher someday. And I was like, What are you talking about, man? I can barely talk in front of people at all. There’s a lot of things he could have said about me in that moment, a lot of things that would have been more accurate in that moment. But he chose to believe how he thought Jesus already saw me and wasn’t about the preaching. It was about knowing who we are in Christ. That’s number two. Number three, notice when he prayed, one of the things he prayed for, the disciples keep, guard them. We as well need to pray for protection. Pray for protection, and notice that Jesus prayed for himself. Some people think it’s unspiritual to pray for yourself. I’ve heard that before. I should only be praying for others. But when Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, part of that was praying for ourselves. Forgive us our sins, keep us from temptation. It’s okay to pray for yourself, pray for protection, pray for your own protection, pray for the protection of others in your life. Be on guard for others in your life. One of my prayers for this church is that this would be a place where we are on guard, especially for protecting the young. That we, our antenna are up, that we will risk offending one another for the sake of protecting the young. Pray, pray for protection, be on guard, be on guard in your own life. The moment you think that you are good to go, that is the most dangerous place to be. That’s where you’re most likely to stumble. Most people die coming off Everest, not getting to the top because you think it’s done. I’m good. And the hardest part is yet to come. Pray for protection. And then number four: saturate your minds in truth. If you want to be sanctified, wholly set apart, saturate your mind and heart in truth, that’s why we have a scripture memory verse every month as a church. We want to saturate our hearts in truth. That’s why we have a Bible reading plan. We read through the Bible. We want to replace all the wrong thinking that we’ve built up over the years with the right thing and renew our minds, sanctify our minds. And he says sanctify them in truth. And so we need to wash over our minds with the truth of God’s word. And then number five, lastly: pray to see Jesus as he really is. Pray to see Jesus as He really is, meaning the disciples had built up in their minds a picture of who they thought Jesus was. And when He prays for himself, he says, I’m going to be glorified. And the healthiest thing for all of us to do is to see him in his glory, to see him as he truly is. Because when I see Jesus as He truly is, my life gets rightly ordered. All the things that I’ve allowed to get disordered I start to see rightly ordered. And I think one of the ways we do that, and especially in light of Thanksgiving, is through gratitude. It’s so easy, our whole life, in fact, our whole commercial culture, is around making you feel unsatisfied so that you’ll want this thing that will give you life. Every single commercial is designed to do that, and anywhere you encounter it. But there’s something powerful about taking time. That’s why Thanksgiving’s my favorite holiday, and part of it is just taking a moment to be grateful. Just asking the simple question at the dinner table, what are you grateful for? If you didn’t get to do that on Thanksgiving, do that today at lunch. What are you grateful for? On Wednesday nights we’ve been going through a study on forgiveness, but we started every Wednesday night service with a hymn. Andrew and Tiffany together teach about this hymn at first and then we sing it together. This last week, last time we met, we did Count Your Many Blessings. Any of you remember that old hymn Count Your Many Blessings? Don’t worry, I’m not going to sing it. The point of that is to focus on gratitude. In fact, in that devotion on that hymn, the author of the book we’re using said it this way–put that quote on the screen– He said, It’s impossible to be thankful and, at the same time, grumpy, cantankerous, critical or ill tempered. Isn‚Äôt that true? You can’t be full of gratitude and thanks and also be all these other things that we don’t want to be. I saw this play out in a powerful way with a friend of mine, Gabe, and I wrote about him in a midweek update a long time ago, over a year ago. But there’s more to his story. If you read that you heard this part of his story. Gabe is now 73 and I worked with him at Family Life. We served in ministry together. And this guy at the time was the fittest guy I knew. I’d see him in the gym. In fact, I was in the gym one day, 70 years old or so at the time, in there with a friend. And of course, we’re in the locker room and wearing less clothing than normal. And my buddy that I’m in there with, he goes, Man, I looked like– I’d love to look like that at his age. And I said, I’d love to look like him now. He’s so ripped up. 70 plus years old, six pack abs, muscles everywhere. I don’t know how he does it. Part of it is he works out all the time. He would ride bikes with friends. In fact, he went down to Florida about a year ago now to do a big bike ride with a friend. And he gets down there and he gets hit by multiple viruses at once that attack his body and goes to the hospital and within hours is on life support. Like it just hit him like that. The hospital‚Äôs calling his wife saying, if you want to see him again alive, you need to get down here from Arkansas to Florida. Like that. And let me pause here by the way, we’re going to do communion today. And if you’re a deacon, if you could slip out now and get everything ready to go, because at the end of the story, we’ll partake in communion together. So here he is. They gave him a 1% chance of living. He had 1% heart function, 1% brain function, 1% lung function. They didn’t even know how he was staying alive. Slowly, over time, his body began to recover, partly because of how fit he was, how strong his heart was. His body began to recover and he said he woke up not even knowing how he got into the hospital. And he said, I lifted my hands and I thought, why do I have white gloves on my hands? I don’t remember putting on gloves and why do I have black gloves underneath the white gloves? His hands were in bandages because when he went down to 1% body function, all the blood rushed to just his core and his hands and feet started to die and his hands were black. Underneath the white bandages– They weren’t gloves. They were his hands. But he said in that moment, I was willing to see what God would do. He ended up losing a hand. We stayed with them when we were there recently, we had lived with them when we were in between homes moving here. And I want to show a picture of Gabe. He’s the most positive person you’ve ever met. Here he is on a bike ride and it’s hard to see, but he’s got that arm on his left arm. He spent so much time showing us with great excitement, all the different attachments he had now for his arm. One of them was he called it his Lego hand. It looked just like a Lego man’s hand that he’s wearing now that he could use to clamp it onto his bike so he could get back out on the bike ride. He said, John, I’m up to 30 miles on a ride now. I’m going to be up to 50 here very soon. Here’s a guy that shouldn’t even be alive. He’s like, I got this other attachment. Show the next picture. This lets me do workouts on machines a client put on there. Here’s how it works. We’re in there. He’s showing us all his attachments, all his exercises. And in the midst of all this– you can take down the photo– Julie asks him, How, how, how are you able to be this positive in the midst of this? He said, When I woke up and I saw that black hand, especially his left hand, it was much blacker than the right hand, he said. I knew at that moment it was gone. There was no way that was coming back. It looked like a mummified hand. I saw pictures of it. It really did. And he said, Let me tell you, in that moment, I don’t know why, but in that moment, I immediately started to give thanks to God for that left hand. And he brought to mind experience after experience I had with that left hand holding a baby, pinning a medal on someone else. He was a colonel in the Air Force, riding a bike, doing this exercise, enjoying this time together with my grandchildren. He said, It seemed like for hours, experience after experience, God would bring to mind of memories of gratitude for that left hand. And when that moment ran through, it came to the end of that, all those memories running through his head. And he said, Thank you, Lord, for that left hand. You can take it now. Later, he also had one of his pinky fingers on his right hand, had to be amputated, and he said, It seems I’m sending myself ahead piece by piece to heaven, right? Even in that he could joke. He said, I think I’m done sending stuff on Lord, I‚Äôd like to just come in one piece now when I come. How do we have that heart of gratitude? I don’t know what you’re facing, and it may be harder than what Gabe faced. It may be. There’s a powerful model there. How do we move towards gratitude? How do we pray as Jesus prayed in the midst of whatever challenges he brings? And that’s also part of why we take communion together. And men, you can start distributing communion. This is just the act of remembering Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf with gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for dying on our behalf. And by the way, this communion, it’s open to anyone who knows Christ and follows him and calls him Lord. You don’t have to attend this church or be a member of this church. And the way we do it is there are two cups stacked on top of one another. Just take both cups at once and hold on to those and then I’ll lead us through taking them together. But here’s what I want you to do while you those are being passed out. While you’re waiting, just take a moment to pray and give gratitude and ask God to show and bring to mind things to be grateful for in your life while you pray during this time. And then I’ll regather us in a moment to take communion together.