Guest Speaker David Brickner, Executive Pastor of Jews For Jesus, talks about how we can surrender our story to God.
Hey, great to see everyone. This is Pastor Terry. Hey if you’re joining us for the first time I’m the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. You know, I guess technically this week, I’m not even in San Francisco, I’m actually away on my last week of family vacation out of state. Next Sunday, it’s a big thing.
At least for me, I’m going to be joining for the first time. Uh, our in-gathering service at Riordan High School, uh, auditorium right across the street from, uh, you know, City College. It’s where we’ve been meeting. It’s got a lot of room, a lot of space, a lot of air for us to be able to engage community life in a, in a way that seems more comfortable, but I’m going to be coming and I’m going to be a part of it.
And so, you know, I’m looking forward to it. I am going to get to host. And then at the end of service, I’ll be leading us through a time of communion and just being able to worship. And so, uh, you know, it’s, it’s kind of a marking point, a beginning of a season of transition for portion of our church. As we begin to come together again with more intention, I also want to remind our online community, we’re not leaving you.
We’re not abandoning you. We’re going to keep this going. Hopefully at the same level that we’ve been doing and maybe just even a little better. So we know a lot of you are in different places. Connected to us from afar. And that’s great. It’s been one of the unique blessings of this very difficult time that we’ve all been walking through together.
And so, you know, uh, for me, even though I know this is today is July 4th, Independence Day. It’s the time we celebrate our freedoms and maybe, and, uh, you know, maybe, maybe that even means a little bit more this year because of what we’ve all been walking through, but we’re actually going to be continuing with our series on Surrender.
We’re going to hearing from a guest communicator. Really, he’s just part of our, he’s part of our church community, David Brickner, close friend of mine. Uh, a leader of a ministry that many of you are aware of, Jews for Jesus and there’s an international reach that that ministry has. And Dave’s a big part of spreading the good news of Jesus.
The story of Jesus, the story of Yeshua is what he shares, but he’s going to talk about what it means to surrender our story to the story of God. And I’m so excited about that. I think your going to be very blessed. So even now, Lord Jesus, we just, you know, we know these are unique times. These are exciting times. I’m so, so thankful for the opportunity to get back together again.
But today we want to welcome you in and just be able to, to receive what it, what it is you have for us. That’s my prayer that we would all be blessed in Jesus’ name.
Shalom, Cornerstone family. It’s great to be able to be with you. It’s been a year since I was last sharing with my Cornerstone family here. And what a year it’s been. Huh? But yeah, it was about this time last year. So, uh, here we are, again, 4th of July weekend. Happy 4th of July, happy Independence Day. I hope that today will be full of fun.
I guess family barbecues in the backyard maybe. And, uh, uh, an opportunity to reflect on the story of our nation. And the Independence Day that we are celebrating. The freedom, the liberty, these ideas are really important to us. Uh, they mean different things to different people. Some freedom and Liberty is just all about the politics of things.
And there’s a narrative that we want to connect to about the founding of our nation. And what that means to us is sometimes up for review, especially in our day. But there is a spiritual con uh, connotation to this idea of freedom and liberty. We have freedom of speech. We have freedom of religion and that’s wonderful.
And the Bible talks a lot about that. I’m thinking of a verse Galatians 5:1, where the apostle says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” And I’ve been thinking about this in terms of what I would share in our series, which has been ironically enough about surrender.
So how can we talk about the idea of surrender, in the context of freedom and liberty? Well, I think that’s exactly what the Bible tells us as followers of Jesus. That surrender is the most direct path toward true freedom and true liberty in Christ. If we are willing to surrender our story to a greater story, the story of God.
And that’s what I want to explore with you today. True freedom is found in surrendering to the Lord and to His leadership in our lives. And oftentimes we ask people when we’re meeting them for the first time. So tell me your story, you know, what’s your life all about? Tell me about yourself. Well, I believe that God has a plan for us, a story,
for us to embrace. That’s actually based on His commitment as Creator to our wellbeing, to human flourishing, and so true independence in our broken world is only found through full dependence upon God, our Creator. And yet we certainly do live in a time which has been referenced as a time of radical
individualism. And that tells us that we are most free as individuals when we can choose our own way when we can chart our own course, when we can create our own story for our lives. But God has a story that he invites us to embrace that is deeply rooted in His goodness and His intention for our wellbeing.
But to experience that we do need to surrender. And in that find the freedom of submission to His Lordship, you know, recently a Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor addressed her Alma mater. Yale law school in their graduation. And one of the things I found interesting that she said. That there is a challenge today for the law to take all the varied stories of people in our nation, our democracy, this diverse population, and weave them together into a single narrative.
You know, if you know, control the narrative. And that’s a big issue for so many different aspects of our lives who controls the narrative, but she was encouraging the graduates at Yale this year to use the law, to be able to shape that grand narrative. Is that even possible? Does history allow us to have a sense of that collective narrative?
Well, according to Shakespeare and Macbeth, the answer would be no. Macbeth act five, “A tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing”. That’s what history is all about, but no, we, we need to learn from history, don’t we? We need to embrace what really is God’s story, which is rooted in history. Uh, at Dachau, the concentration camp near Munich, there’s a museum with relics and photos depicting the grim reality of what went on there.
And next to the exit from that museum is that famous quote from George Santayana, “Tthose who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes.” History is important. How we fit into true history is important and it is best understood as God’s story for us. That’s why we want to surrender. If we refuse to see that truth, if we try to create our own narrative apart from his, it will ultimately disappoint
and end in brokenness. But when we do surrender our story to God, we find that story for ourselves where He is the author, but a story that provides us with connection to the past, uh, correctives for the present and confidence for the future. And this is really what the Apostle Paul had in mind, I believe, when he wrote in first Corinthians.
Chapter 10 about these three things, connectedness, correction, and confidence. And so we’re going to look at verses 1 through 13 today and see what we can gain from this passage about surrendering our story to the Lord. Verse one. I don’t want you to forget dear brothers and sisters. About our ancestors in the wilderness long ago, all of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them.
And all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were too baptized as followers of Moses, all of them ate the same spiritual food and all of them drank from the same spiritual water for, they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them. And that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Paul starts this passage. I do not want you to forget and how easily we do forget the important lessons of history and create a story in a narrative that’s disconnected from what God intends for His children, for His people.
Many are ignorant, because there is such a growing lack of knowledge of the scripture, which is the foundation of our understanding of God’s story for us. So we have a choice today as we try to live it out in our community and our world, we have a choice as to whether or not we’re going to be shaped more by the world around us, or to be shaped and choose to be shaped by the Word
within us. God’s word the scriptures, give a story, a wonderful worldview if you will. That invites us to understand that true freedom is found in surrender, and it is a story that connects us. To this long history from a long ago that Paul talks about it’s important. You know, Pastor Terry has been sharing with us this wonderful story about Joseph and Jacob, and the Bible tells us that if we are followers of Jesus, then we have been grafted into that wonderful tree, that family tree, that story, it’s our story as well.
And so the Paul in this first five verses gives a wonderful connection, actually, there’s four points of connection in this story, um, that He talks about first says that we were all, and we were all as mentioned numerous times in these five verses all of them were what baptized into the cloud. And into the sea.
And of course this verse is connected to the great deliverance that God gave to Israel from bondage and slavery in Egypt yes. Long ago, but you see the cloud and this sea are symbols for us today, .Paul is saying, because even as God delivered, the Jewish people from bondage and slavery in Egypt, bringing them through the Red Sea on, on dry ground and, and leading them through the pillar of cloud by day, the pillar of fire by night.
So we too have a story that enters into that deliverance, God is still a delivering God. He still wants to save us to bring us to Himself and miraculously He does so in wonderful ways. Perhaps not quite as visible as it was back in the book of Exodus with the Passover and the parting of the Red Sea. But nevertheless, God wants to deliver us.
And we find ourselves as Israel did, oftentimes in challenging environments. Imagine passing through that Red Sea with the walls of water up on either side and the army of the Egyptians chasing behind us. We can feel like that we’re in a treacherous place. And yet Israel was brought through on dry ground because God was delivering His people.
He’s still delivering today. We can still walk through the midst of a sea at a storm bodies of water treacherously on either side. And find ourselves in a safe place, in a dry place, in a place of victory over that which stands against us. And we can still experience guidance the way Israel did the pillar of cloud, the pillar of fire.
It may not be quite so visible, but now we have you see the Holy Spirit within us to guide us and to direct us. And we can be sure just as God as a delivering God, he’s a guiding God. And He will bring us through whatever crisis we may be facing in our lives as He delivered those before us. So we are part of this great story.
He still the same yesterday, today, and forever. All of them, the scriptures tell us eight of the same spiritual food and drank of the same spiritual drink. And of course the food that is referred to by Paul is manna. Uh, at Passover, we eat matza, but in the wilderness we had manna, which is a Hebrew word mana, right?
Basically means what is it? It was something unique that God provided in a desert place, food, sustenance. And then the water that we drank in a dry and barren place was from this amazing, uh, event this water that bubbled up and the scriptures talk about it as a supernatural evidence of God’s provision of water in a dry place.
And there’s all kinds of stories about it. The rabbis talk about it as being a vessel that looked like a, uh, a vase with a wide mouth and the water just bubbled up and gurgled and it followed them in the wilderness kind of a supernatural evidence of God’s provision and they needed water in that dry and barren wilderness they were going through over the years and, and similarly, the, the, uh, the rabbinic understanding was that this is a presage of Messiah, and Paul picks up on that and he says, guess what? That rock was Christ. Jesus was there with the children of Israel for those 40 years in the wilderness providing for them water.
And of course, when Jesus comes in person to the temple in John 7, he says, if anyone is thirsty, Let him come to me and out of his inner, most being will flow rivers of mayim-ḥayyîm, that is living water. God is the same. He still provides water in a dry and barren place. And so if we’re feeling that dryness spiritually in our own lives, we’ve been weighed down by the barrenness of the circumstance
we find ourselves. God through the Messiah, Jesus is still providing those wonderful connection points for us, water and food. And of course, these images also indicate and kind of foreshadow the coming of baptism and communion in the church. And we participate together in these. Reminders of God’s provision in Jesus.
And so this wonderful story connecting all the way back to Israel’s deliverance in the wilderness brings us today into a place of remembering that as God has provided in the past, He will provide for us in the present. There’s a connection. Don’t miss the connection. It’s part of our story. And Paul ends this first section by saying, nevertheless, In spite of these promises that we are participants in, along with so many others throughout history, despite the presence of Messiah in such a tangible way for Israel, they blew it.
They blew it. Their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. That whole generation that left Egypt did not make it except for Joshua and Caleb, did not make it into the promised land. And so we have to be circumspect as well. We need to recognize there’s a nevertheless in our story. And that can be very troubling indeed, because we don’t like to talk about the bad things.
We like to talk about the good things of the past. But when we understand there are bad things, sometimes in our culture. Tear down the statues. You know, we want to rename the buildings because we don’t like those things, but that’s actually part of our story as well. And if we try to forget about it or ignore it, we miss the opportunity and this very opportunity that Paul talks about here in this passage in verses six and following, he says, these things happened
as a warning to us so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the scriptures say, the people celebrated with feasting and drinking and they indulged in pagan revelry, and we must not engage in sexual immorality. As some of them did causing 23,000 of them to die in
one day, nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and then died from snake bites and don’t grumble as some of them did and then were destroyed by the angel of death. So there are, uh, as there are four connection points we talked about already, there are four correction points that are here.
For us as well. We look back in history and we see kind of a mixed review. Some of them did things, but pretty much all of them participated in these behaviors that were so harmful to them. And God wanted those to be recorded and to be remembered for our benefit. And, you know, uh, these four examples as, uh, ancient as they may seem are really very modern for us as well.
The first one that’s mentioned here in this passage is that of idolatry and the specific reference Paul says is to that of the golden calf. Do you remember that incident while Moses was up on the mountain? Israel got discouraged about his lack of returning. And so they got Aaron to help them to build an idol.
A golden calf. And we saw, we see this, the Aaron says to them, this is your God, oh, Israel that brought you out of the land of Egypt. This golden calf was the one that did all these wonderful things. I don’t think so, but that was the evidence of idolatry. And do we have idolatry today while we may not have golden calves.
We may not have structures to bow down to worship wood, metal, or stone. Nevertheless, idolatry is as present today as it was in ancient Israel, as they were wandering. Idolatry is something, anything that takes the place of God in our lives, to which we ascribe greater meaning, greater importance. And if we have a story where there’s idolatry at the center of it, whether it be a person like somebody that we just want to have in our lives and we can’t live without that person or that job, that career move, whatever it is that suddenly begins to be more important to us than anything else in
our story, this, my friends is idolatry. My heart has given oftentimes to things that don’t bode well for me. We, all of us are like ancient Israel. Some of us, perhaps all of us can be guilty of this kind of idolatry. So we need to learn from that. Now the second commonality this corrective has to do with a story of sexual immorality.
And it’s a, it’s a horrible story of, of different, uh, different nation, the Moabite nation, coming with their women to seduce the men of Israel. It’s a, it’s a telling story that God judges the nation 23,000 die in a plague. And it seems so odd. Right? So ancient, so foreign to us. And yet what about this issue of sexual immorality?
We live in a sex saturated culture. And how do we evaluate this important dynamic of the human experience in life of God’s story? God created sexuality and human experience and He intended it for good. And many times people say, why does God have anything to say to us about sex? Well, the fact is that He does, and it’s not to keep us from enjoyment, but to provide us with a healthy way of ensuring our flourishing, but it has to occur in a context.
Recently, I heard that one of the biggest struggles that pastors in America have is members of their church, men and women who are living together. And yet not being married, and this is not what God intended and so much of what our culture, the sexual revolution, if you will, has called on us to embrace as normative is not the way God intended, and God is not a killed joy.
Again, His intention is that, that what He created is for our good and for our flourishing. And we should not be, uh, resistant to recognizing it, to calling it out. First of all, in our own hearts. And most importantly, that we see our story in purity and in flourishing, in this particular area. The other two areas equally important don’t test God like the children of Israel did and then had snake bites.
And, and there’s a lot that we could go into in that story. They had to trust God that His provision for them was adequate, but they didn’t. And they grumbled against him and all the congregation numbers, 14 verse one lifted up their voice and cried, and the people wept all night and they wanted a different leader.
They wanted to go back to Egypt. They were not satisfied with God’s provision for them in the wilderness. And the point is that with each of these four correctives that Israel had to experience and embrace, we’re all capable of the same behaviors. We can all be dissatisfied. We can all test God, we can all grumble.
And you know, the narrative of our current culture is that we’re better than that. We’re better than they are. For us. That’s what progressive ideology says is we’re getting better. And these new ideas, these new mores are going to improve the lives of everyone around us. And this is something that CS Lewis called chronological snobbery that somehow, because we’re more advanced in certain ways, that means we’re better in every way.
And that is not the case. We are just as capable of the failures of the people, that, uh, we’re in the story of Israel, let’s embrace His story, which means not only the connection, but the corrective. Are we willing to embrace that and receive that as a story? Well, that’s why Paul says, if we are, there is a confidence that we can have together.
The future of our story. And that’s how Paul concludes this thought, in verse 11, when he says these things happen to them. As examples for us, they were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience and God is faithful.
He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. God’s story that He invites us to embrace. As we surrender our own intention, our own story to His it’s a hopeful story. It’s a future story. It’s a story with not a happy ending, but a, uh, a never ending story of hopefulness.
And that’s what Paul says. Okay. Embrace your connection to the biblical story, to God’s story. Take on the correctives that he’s given. These things were written as a warning for us on whom the end of the age has come. Now, Paul felt that he was in the end of the age. And so are we anything past the work of Jesus on the cross to bring about deliverance,
salvation begins this new story, moving into eternity. God’s care. He loves us so much that he not only connects us to the past. You not only corrects us in the present, but he promises us a way forward. Even in this difficult and challenging environment, he says, take heed the problems that we’re facing right now.
And we think, you know, we’re the only ones who’ve gone through plague, but you know, Israel had 10 plagues. To endure before they were delivered from Egypt. And we have our own plague that we’ve been enduring, but God says, look, this has been the way of history. And so learn that the reason why God has allowed you to go through this is to produce it
a harvest of righteousness. He’s faithful. He’s not going to test us beyond what we’re able to bear, but will provide a way out an end to it so that we can bear it. And I think that’s a, a delicious irony don’t you? That there is a combination of getting out of a situation and enduring that situation.
These are not in conflict with one another. When we’re in a challenge. It’s part of our story. When we submit to him, we can both endure it and get out of it. There’s deliverance and endurance, and they’re not opposites. They’re two sides of the same coin. You need one to get the other, whatever challenge you’re facing right now, learn by God’s grace to endure it and find from that endurance, a pathway to victory.
To getting out of it. You know, there was a pastor who warned his youth minister about the dangers of sexual and morality in the ministry. And, uh, that youth pastor said to him, oh, don’t worry about me, pastor. He said, uh, I always socialize in group settings. You know, there’s always safety in numbers. And the wise pastor said to him, young man, there may be safety in numbers, but there’s even more.
In Exodus, getting out and enduring. These two things are important. We need to flee temptation that comes to us as some way of freedom and liberty. No, it’s not. It’s bondage. Don’t allow yourself to fall back into that bondage that Christ has set us free from. We have Liberty. So we flee temptation. We leave no forwarding address.
And we learned the lesson of the dog. The master wanted his dog to obey, to thrive in that obedience. And so he took what the dog thought was a good looking piece of meat and he threw it on the ground and the dog looked at that meat. And that’s the last thing that he wanted to do was to hold back. But for the moment the master says to the dog, And the dog hesitates and the dog is going to go for the meat again, the master says no.
And what does the dog do instead of looking at the meat and thinking about what that provides. He instead lifts his eyes to look at the master and then the temptation of the meat diminishes. And we need to learn that lesson as well, all around us. There are temptations to find free. In what our world is telling us is best is going to bring freedom.
But it’s part of a story and a narrative that doesn’t involve surrendering to God’s story. The obedience that comes through that surrender leads to human flourishing in a way that we cannot experience through our own insistence on a narrative that is against God’s plan for us. He created us. He loves us.
His story for us is the best of all. There’s an old hymn. We have a story to tell to the nations that shall turn their hearts to the right. It’s a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light for the darkness shall turn to the dog. And the dawning to noon day, bright and Christ, great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.
And as we surrender our story, we find ourselves in the heart of that kingdom, the kingdom of love and light let’s pray. God, we thank you for the kingdom of love and light. We thank you that you have invited us to embrace that story as our own cause submit to surrender. That’s our story for your story for us, you are the Creator.
You are the great author and perfecter of our faith. And so we do submitto your story and ask that you work it out through us, this wonderful connection that we have with this biblical story of the past, the correctives that come with that to our lives in the present, Lord give us confidence that we can endure and escape from the perils of this world into a bright future that never ends.
Lord give us that confidence. Give us the strength to surrender to your story in our lives. We pray in Jesus. Amen.
All right. Give Him our heart, give Him our song so that we might testify of His goodness. He wants us to surrender our stories so that we can tell an even better story, the story of God at work in our lives. He , and this fits perfectly doesn’t it? He’s so good. He’s so God, and He wants us to sow good and He wants us to sow God. To testify what He can do in a life that surrendered, oh, I need to remind everybody, this is our time for me to do it.
You know, those of you who can don’t forget tithes and offerings. This is for our community primarily. Uh, you can do that online. You can send it into the opposites or you can give it through the app. That’s what I do. But like we just shared in the song before we ever give up our resource, give Him our heart.
Right? And don’t forget how greatly loved you are. I like that. I always like to remind you of that. And my prayer is that the Lord would keep you in every way in your spirit and your soul and your body. In your mind in our thoughts. Boy, do we need that? So looking forward to seeing many of you in person next week at the Riordan Campus, but also those of you who have been really we’ve been together all of these weeks and months.
Um, I’ll be seeing you next week as well. And you can also stay connected with the Rise and Shine. Don’t forget. That’s a daily offering six days a week. Rise and Shine is available for anyone who wants it. Just enable your notifications on the Church App and it will be sent to you 7:00 AM in the morning.
That’s the plan Pacific time. All right, grace and mercy and blessing and life to you all in Jesus name.