A Day With Jesus
Jesus has an offer that can radically change the way you live in 2024. He extends it to everyone regardless of age, season of life, temperament, job, or responsibilities. And this is the best offer you’ll ever have. It doesn’t matter how many other opportunities come your way financially, vocationally, or relationally. This is the best offer you’ll ever have.
Our mission as a church is to lead everyone into Christ-centered living.
Question for all of us as we start 2024:
How do I know if I’m living a Christ-centered life? What are the indicators of that?
In the New Testament, the word for a Christ-centered life was the word “disciple.”
It meant to be a student of Jesus.
And it was quite easy to tell if someone had done that.
A disciple, like Peter, James or John, had made a decision. That decision was that they would spend every day with Jesus — to learn from him how to be like him.
They watched him, studied him, talked with him, worked with him.
He had invited them to be his students — his friends and partners. That’s how they spent every day. That’s what it meant to live a Christ-centered life.
It’s important to understand that mostly they did the same kinds of activities everyone else did.
They ate, slept, worked, played, learned. They just did them all with Jesus.
And they couldn’t believe they had the opportunity to do this.
They had left a lot of things — jobs, families — but they did that with great joy. They couldn’t believe they had this opportunity.
Now the worst day of their lives was the day Jesus died. They thought their lives died with him.
The best day of their lives was the day Jesus defeated death and was resurrected from the grave.
Jesus said now nothing — not even death itself — nothing could keep his friends, his students, his disciples from being with him.
Jesus’ final words, recorded in the gospel of Matthew are:
Lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the age.
A friend of mine was a graduate student in psychology.
He had a client who had a phobia about flying on airplanes. So they went through systematic desensitization to treat her phobia.
But also, because she was a Christian, he reminded her, “You don’t have to be afraid about going up in a plane, because Jesus said, “I am with you always.”
She said, “No, no, no. Jesus said, ‘Low, I am with you always.’”
Not the point he was trying to make.
There were no altitude restrictions intended in what he was saying.
Wherever you are, near or far, high or low, up or down, good or bad, thick or thin, doing good or doing poorly, well-behaved or messing up — Jesus is there.
This is a fundamental promise in Scripture — God is with us.
In fact, the main reason we can live in this world and be free of fear and face life with hope is because of this promise.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Wherever you go! God will be with you wherever you go.
And I want you to know, this year — 2024 — you can live as if God is with you wherever you go.
What happened to Peter, James, and John on the other side of the world over 2,000 years ago can happen to you and me. It really can.
* It can happen in an office in Pleasanton.
* It can happen in a home in Livermore.
* It can happen sitting at a desk in San Ramon.
* It can happen working at a gas station in Walnut Creek.
* It can happen for teachers and traders.
* It can happen for homemakers and retired people.
* It can happen for CEOs and 7th graders.
* It can happen for you if you want it to.
Your age, your season of life, your temperament, your job, your responsibilities — these are no obstacles to Jesus at all. And you don’t have to leave them.
Jesus’ invitation is not just to be with you when you come to church, or meet with a small group, or read the Bible.
He offers to be with you every moment of your life.
And I’ll tell you something else — This is the best offer you’ll ever have.
It doesn’t matter how many other opportunities come your way financially, vocationally, or relationally.
Throughout history when human beings came to understand what it is that Jesus is really offering, they sacrifice anything — job, money, comfort, home, security, risk suffering — and they do it with joy.
I want you to see a key statement from the Bible. This was written by the Apostle Paul on exactly what I‘m talking about today.
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I want to point out two things in this statement.
First of all, what does it mean to do something in Jesus’ name?
When Paul says, “Do it in the name of the Lord Jesus,” what does he mean?
Well, in our day a name is a pretty casual thing. Mostly we choose names just because we like the sound of them.
But in the first century a name was used to express someone’s character. A name reflected someone’s identity.
We still talk about someone having a good name — a good reputation.
So to do something in Jesus’ name means to do it in the way Jesus would do it if he were in your place; to do it with his kind of love, joy, courage or truth.
It’s to do it with Jesus’ style — in his name.
The second thing to notice about this statement by Paul is how amazingly comprehensive it is.
He starts off by saying, “Whatever you do.”
Now, how much of your life doesn’t fit in that category?
That’s quite broad. But in case anyone misses that, he goes on to say, “in word or deed.”
Again, he’s trying to draw the circle real wide.
If anyone’s still looking for loopholes, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all.”
* Whatever you do.
* Everything you do.
* All you do.
Do everything in your life the way Jesus would do it — in Jesus’ name.
Now, we tend to read over that kind of stuff pretty fast.
I don’t think Paul writes those words glibly.
I think he has thought about this very seriously. He’s an intelligent man, and I think he means what he says.
So I’m going to ask us to reflect on this today — what would it mean to take this seriously? What would it mean to do everything you do, word or deed, do it all in Jesus’ name?
Seriously, what would it mean to wake up in Jesus’ name? If someone saw you waking up this morning, would they say it’s pretty much like watching Jesus wake up?
What would it mean to eat breakfast in Jesus’ name?
Again, that sounds kind of strange, but I think Paul was quite serious about this.
What would it mean? Would it change what you eat? Would you have to eat with more gratitude?
Here’s a scary one — what would it mean to drive in Jesus’ name?
Would you have to change anything?
If you could actually see Jesus in the car riding next to you when you’re driving —
* Would he look nervous?
* Would he be grateful your car has airbags?
* Would you drive any slower than normal?
What does it mean to work in Jesus’ name? Or watch TV? Or do household tasks? Or engage in everyday relationships?
How about worry? What would it mean to worry in Jesus’ name?
Worry is a huge part of our ordinary days.
Jesus said a lot about worry.
In a classic statement recorded in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says:
Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This begins to get us deeply into what does it means to walk with God according to Jesus.
The secret to actually walking with God is that you’ve got to learn to do it one day at a time — just one day at a time.
It’s a lot like manna in that regard.
God gave manna to the Israelites when they were in the desert, and it was intended to be kind of a picture, kind of a faith lesson.
God was saying, “I’ll take care of you. You get so worried about stuff. I’ll take care of you. I’ll provide for your needs. I’ll do this every day, but just one day at a time. If you get all heated up about tomorrow and start trying to hoard manna up, it will spoil overnight. Tomorrow I’ll give you manna for tomorrow. Today I’ll give you manna for today.”
God’s presence is exactly like that —
* He will give you what you need.
* He will take care of you.
* You can depend on him. But you’ll have to learn to live with him one day at a time.
God will be with you for today. Tomorrow he will be with you for tomorrow.
Here’s a classic statement from Psalm 118.
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let me take a moment to point out the obvious. What day is the day the Lord has made?
It’s very interesting the Psalmist doesn’t say, “Yesterday was the day God made. Yesterday things were really good. I wish it was still yesterday,” even though people live like that sometimes.
And the Psalmist doesn’t say, “Tomorrow is the day God is going to make. So, I can’t live today, I’ve got too much to do, but when I get to tomorrow —
* “I’m single today, but maybe tomorrow I’ll be married and then I’ll really live.
* “I’m married today, but maybe tomorrow we’ll get kids in the house and then we’ll really live.
* “We have kids today, but maybe tomorrow the kids will get out of the house and then we’ll really live.”
The Psalmist doesn’t say that. The Psalmist says, “This day.”
If I’m going to learn to spend a day with Jesus, it will have to be this day, because this day right here is all I’ve got. All you’ll ever have is this day.
The good news is — if you can learn to spend one day with Jesus, you can spend every day with Jesus… one day at a time.
This is the offer that was made to the followers of Christ over 2,000 years ago.
And now it comes to you.
And you can do this. This is not reserved for spiritual giants; it’s not reserved for monks or hermits. You and I can do this.
I first heard this taught a long time ago by a man named Dallas Willard.
And it changed my whole perspective on living a Christ-centered life.
This is the single, most powerful idea on how to concretely walk with God that I know.
And in the time we have left today, I want to give you a crash course on it.
So first, I’d like to ask you to take out a piece of paper and a pen and write down — “Monday, January 8th.”
That’s tomorrow. And tomorrow is going to be your day.
Other generations have come before us; they’ve had their day. Tomorrow is your day.
I want to challenge you to make it your goal tomorrow to spend the day with Jesus. Make that the primary goal of your day.
And I’ll mention several ideas concretely to help you with this. If you hear something that you think could help you, write it down.
Maybe some other ideas will come to you. Maybe God will speak to you as I’m talking today. Write those ideas down as well.
But the key thing to understand as you look forward to tomorrow is that mostly this is not doing new things tomorrow. Mostly, it means doing things you’re already doing, but doing them in a new way — in Jesus’ name.
We all can do this.
So, we have to begin, of course, with the start of your day.
How would you start your day in Jesus’ name?
And I want to begin with this question — according to the Old Testament, when does the day start?
I’ll give you a few options. Mentally, you just vote on one.
Number one — when the alarm clock goes off.
I don’t like this option.
I don’t even like the language. “The alarm clock” — that’s kind of a negative thing, isn’t it?
* Be alarmed — it’s day!
* Something bad might happen to you.
* It’s an alarming thing.
We ought to have like an “opportunity clock,” or a “seize the day clock,” something like that.
Number two — when the alarm clock goes off for the 4th time.
Because you know you can hit the snooze button three times without actually getting fired. A lot of people start their day this way.
Number three — when Starbucks opens.
This option is a little more spiritual. When Starbucks opens. This is a kind of sacrament for many people.
Or number four — at night.
Surprisingly enough, from an Old Testament perspective, the correct answer is number 4.
If you go back to the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1:5
And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
All through the creation narrative, the order is the same — evening and morning.
* Evening and morning, the second day.
* Evening and morning, the third day.
Each day begins with the evening.
In the Jewish tradition, for those of you who are familiar, when does the Sabbath begin?
Sundown. The day begins at sundown.
Eugene Peterson writes that in this rhythm, the writers of Scripture are helping us to remember things do not depend primarily on me.
I go to sleep, who goes to work?
God. God is at work all through the night.
I get so burdened down because I think everything rests on my shoulders. But it doesn’t.
The vast majority of what goes on in this world — I have no affect on one way or another.
* God makes the sun come up.
* God gives me air and food and everything I need to live.
* It’s God’s world.
And beginning the day at night reminds me of that.
And, of course, it’s simply psychologically true — and wise people about human nature have always understood it — the way you go to bed, the frame of mind and heart with which you go to sleep will tend to set the tone for the next day for you.
So, you need to start tonight, because Monday begins tonight. Go to sleep in Jesus’ name.
How would you go to sleep in Jesus’ name?
The writers of Scripture have quite a lot to say about sleep. Sleep is an act of trust.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
He’s sustaining me all through the night.
When I go to sleep, I’m saying, “God, I trust you. You’ll wake me in the morning. You’ll be at work through the night.”
Psalm 127:2 — this is a fabulous statement from Scripture.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Aren’t those great words? That could be a life verse for a lot of people in our world — In vain, we run around like crazy.
Sleep is a gift from God.
We live in a world where, experts say, we have a sleep debt bigger than the national debt.
100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year.
This results in 1,500 deaths, 70,000 injuries, and $13 billion in monetary losses.
1,500 people die every year just because we’ve gotten used to living in such an exhausted way.
We get used to it. We often get kind of proud of it.
* Lack of sleep causes people to argue with spouses and friends.
* Do sub-par work in their jobs.
* Be less loving and more irritable.
* And generally feel miserable.
It’s a very difficult thing to live like Jesus if you’re sleep deprived.
If you don’t believe me, just get close to a sleep-deprived person and watch them very carefully.
For some of you, the single most spiritual thing you could do today is go home and get a really good night’s sleep.
Some of you are starting on that right now. Good for you.
A couple suggestions just to get very concrete with this:
* Arrange to have enough time tonight to sleep adequately so you’re rested tomorrow.
* Avoid coffee, food or exercise right before bed.
* Don’t watch TV until real late into the night.
* If you’re married, experts suggest that you have sex each night just before bedtime.
I just made that one up, actually. It’s a good idea though.
End your night tonight by talking to God. Thank him for the day and invite him to be with you tomorrow.
The last thing you do tonight, as you’re putting your head on the pillow, tell God, “I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I want to spend the day with you tomorrow.”
Here’s the thing: You can do this.
It doesn’t take some kind of a spiritual super-athlete. You’re going to go to sleep anyway; just do it in Jesus’ name.
The next thing, of course, is you’re going to wake up.
How would you wake up in Jesus’ name?
What are you like in the morning?
As you know, there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who love to wake up in the morning and there are people who hate people who love to wake up in the morning.
The way you get up in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. So here’s the task:
Tomorrow, as soon as you can on Monday morning, get alone for a few minutes — just you with God.
This is very important. Don’t try to be heroic with this or you’ll set yourself up for failure.
If this is new to you, don’t try to make it last an hour. Five minutes is fine. Get alone and simply renew your invitation from Jesus to be with you all day on Monday.
Go over your plans for the day on Monday. Open up your calendar and look it over with Jesus.
As you’re going through it, you’ll have some concerns. Just hand them over to him.
Maybe you’ll notice a meeting that you’re worried about. Ask him for wisdom. Give him any burdens that you have.
So many people start their day, day after day — anxious, hurried, frenzied, fearful, afraid, or rushed.
Not tomorrow. You don’t have to.
See, you’re going to start your day anyway, why not start it with Jesus? Do you have any better offers?
I want you to hear some tremendous words. These words were written by a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was one of the giants of the last century.
When he wrote this, he was leading an underground seminary, training people for church work in Nazi, Germany.
He was oppressed by the Nazis because he was an opponent they feared the most.
He was ultimately imprisoned in a concentration camp and martyred by Hitler.
Now, you think of living under that kind of pressure. What would your heart feel like?
This is what he wrote:
For Christians, the beginning of the day should not be haunted by the various kinds of concerns they face during the day.
The Lord stands above the new day, for God has made it. All restlessness, all impurity, all worry and anxiety flee before him.
Therefore, in the early morning hours of the day, may our many thoughts and our many idle words be silent,
and may the first word and the first thought belong to the one to whom our whole life belongs.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Now I ask you: Do you have any better offers than that?
You’re going to have a first thought anyhow; you’re going to have a first word of the day anyhow, why not let them belong to God, before whom all anxieties and impurities and restlessness flee?
You can do this. You can start tomorrow with God.
Then you’re going to have to get ready for the day.
How would you get ready for the day in Jesus’ name?
In the first century, cleansing and purification was a really important part of daily life.
Priests had to go through a very elaborate process of cleansing before being allowed into the temple. It was a reminder of the need for our souls to get cleansed.
Paul says that we are to be holy by “the washing with water through the Word.”
The Word of God can cleanse the inner person.
We live in a world where there are so many products just to make sure every part of you is clean:
* Your hair is clean.
* Your skin is clean.
* Your breath is clean.
* Your teeth are clean.
So tomorrow morning when you’re washing your face or brushing your teeth, say, “God, just as this soap and water are cleansing my body, may your Word and your Spirit cleanse my mind and my heart.
* “Any impurities.
* “Any wrong intentions.
* “Any destructive desires.
* “Any grudges that I carry around.
* “Any resentment that could choke the life out of me.
* “Any thought that could lead me away from love or joy or courage.
“Just take them away. Clean me God.”
You can do this. You have to get ready for the day anyway.
Another thing you’re going to do tomorrow is eat.
How would you eat in Jesus’ name?
Tomorrow, every time you eat, when you sit down for breakfast, remember that the food is a gift from God.
Here’s a statement from Ecclesiastes 9.
Eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart.
Do you do that?
I know some of you definitely drink wine with joy.
Do you eat with joy?
Make mealtimes an exercise in gratitude.
Just stop for a moment and notice what you’re eating.
We live in a world where people get so rushed. Do you notice this? They just wolf food down. They eat so fast, they don’t even know they’ve eaten.
Not tomorrow. Tomorrow, when you eat, chew, and stop and think what a good thing it is that God is providing for you.
And notice the people you eat with.
When the writers of scripture wrote these words, to eat with someone was a very significant thing. It was an expression of connection.
Jesus got in about as much trouble over who he would eat with as anything, because he’d eat with anyone — because he opened himself up to everyone.
Tomorrow, open yourself up to the people that you eat with. Take a moment to look around the table and notice people. And pray for them and love them.
And remember, as you eat, what Jesus said:
Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Just as your body is fed by food, your spirit is fed by words, by thoughts, and by ideas.
And if it’s bad to put the wrong kind of junk into your bodies, it’s infinitely worse to put the wrong kind of junk into your mind.
We get bombarded by that kind of junk all day long.
So tomorrow, while you feed your body food from God, take a moment to feed your mind from the Word of God.
Take a thought from Scripture, like when Paul says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God,” and just chew on that for a while.
“Nothing can separate me from the love of God,” and you unpack that — “nothing” —
* Not a cranky boss.
* Not problems at work.
* Not failure.
* Not a strained marriage.
* Not a problem with children.
* Not feelings of loneliness.
* Not depression that won’t go away.
* Not regret from the past.
“nothing can separate me from the love of God.” Feed on that.
Or you take the thought that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
“I can face anything. It doesn’t mean I’ll always win at it. I can face anything. Nothing can destroy me. Nothing can tear me away from God.”
And then you list off what all those things are.
What do you face tomorrow?
Whatever it is, whatever challenge, whatever obstacle, whatever difficulty, whatever pressure — “I can face anything. Nothing can destroy me with Christ.”
You just let your mind feast on the Word of God. You have to eat anyway. Why not do it in Jesus’ name?
Sometime tomorrow there’s a good chance you’ll drive somewhere.
How would you drive in Jesus’ name?
For a lot of people, the biggest single enemy to walking with God is the pace of life — kind of symbolized by our cars.
It’s an interesting thing to me that the writers of Scripture invite us to “walk with God.”
They never invite us to “run” with God.
The writers of Scripture never say Moses sprinted with God, or David rushed with God.
God just walks.
God is never in a hurry. It’s one of the most frustrating things about God for most of us. He is a very patient person.
So maybe if “hurry” is your spiritual problem, maybe tomorrow you need, for one day, to deliberately drive in the slow lane on the freeway. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
No weaving in and out of traffic. Maybe it will take you two minutes longer to get to wherever you’re going.
And while you’re doing that, say a little prayer, “God, today I’m going to trust you with my time. I may be busy, I may have a lot of things to do, but I’ll do them with an unhurried spirit.”
You can use your car as a chance to make a real important decision that needs to get made every day.
Think about the car as kind of a picture of your life. A whole lot of people have told Jesus he can ride along with them, he can get in the car, but they’re still driving. They’ve got the wheel. They’re in control.
So tomorrow, when you get in your car, take a moment before you start the engine, before you put it into gear, and say a little prayer:
“Jesus, why don’t you drive today? Because I know I’ll make a mess out of a whole lot of stuff. I give you the key — to my relationships, my money, my sex life, my habits, my conversations, my decisions — Jesus, you take control. Today I’m just along for the ride.”
You have to drive anyway. Why don’t you let Jesus drive for one day?
Then there’s working. And everyone here works, whether or not it’s for a paycheck.
How would you work in Jesus’ name?
* It might be at an office.
* It might be at home with the kids.
* It might be volunteering if you’re retired.
* It might be at school if you’re a student.
We all work. We all create value. That’s what work is — the creation of value to enhance the creation God has given us.
What would it look like for you to work in Jesus’ name?
Well, first, work becomes something that you do together with Him. You were not meant to work on your own.
So take a moment at the beginning of your work day when you sit down at your desk or before a computer, or in your home — and invite Jesus to partner with you.
Tell him, “Today, just for this day, I’m not going to work by myself.”
Any time through your work day when you have a tough problem, ask him for help.
* When you have a difficult decision to make, ask him for wisdom and then listen and be open.
* When you find your energy kind of fading, ask him for energy.
* When you find your attitude kind of going south, ask him to re-orient your attitude.
Every few hours as you’re working, pause for two or three minutes. Close the door if you can, look out the window if you have one, and just remember that God is at work in this whole world.
* Thank him for his help.
* Rest with him for a moment.
* Hand him your worries.
* And ask for energy.
You’ll interact with people — customers, clients, employees, supervisors, children.
Take a moment to remember that they’re not just creatures for you to try and control. They’re not just units of profit and loss. They’re not just potential sales — they’re people.
So a question I want you to consider asking is, “Can I help you?”
* Maybe they need your help.
* Maybe they need your encouragement.
* Maybe it’s an expression of love.
* Maybe it’s a word of challenge.
* Maybe it’s a difficult truth.
* Maybe it’s support.
* Maybe it’s an arm around their shoulder.
* Maybe it’s just a smile or a laugh.
* Maybe it’s a listening ear.
Say a prayer that many wise people in the ways of spiritual life have prayed over the centuries, which is — “God, can I help you do what you want to do in the life of this person?”
I’ll tell you a really great thing. If you do that, one of the best things about it is the question you won’t be asking. You won’t be asking questions like:
* Do I dislike you?
* Can I judge you?
* Can I use you?
* Can I look down on you?
Instead, just this prayer, “Can I help you?”
If it’s appropriate, say it out loud to the other person. “Can I help you?”
You can do this. You’re going to be with people all day tomorrow anyway. Why not be with them in Jesus’ name? Do you have a better offer?
Tomorrow you’ll have some leisure time.
How would you spend your leisure time in Jesus’ name?
Of course, in our society, there’s one primary activity that people engage in during leisure time.
So it leads to the question — “Would Jesus watch TV?”
Well, I would say it depends on what’s on.
The NFL playoffs start next week. Do you think Jesus would watch the NFL playoffs?
Of course he would. He’s a 49er fan.
If you watch TV, watch it, but watch it with Jesus and talk to him about what you see.
If he wants to change your habits, he’ll speak to you about that. You can trust him to do that. He really will.
When you read tomorrow, read with Jesus. Talk with Him about what you’re reading.
The news then becomes an invitation to pray for the world. Just talk to God about the world.
Tomorrow, whatever the day holds — household errands, interruptions — every one of them is an opportunity to be with Jesus.
When you forget, and you will; when you mess up, and you will — here’s a real important rule just for tomorrow — no beating yourself up.
No failing tomorrow. Because every moment is another chance. God just keeps sending them. That’s grace.
Every moment is a chance for you to be with him.
Tomorrow night when you lay your head down on the pillow, do a little review of the day.
Thank Jesus for going with you in the day. Decide if you’d like to spend another day with him on Tuesday.
If you would, invite him because he’d love to.
And if you want to the day after that — this could change your life in 2024.
Now, one thing you must do is decide.
You will not drift into this way of life. Our culture will not make it happen. You must decide.
So I’m going to give you a moment right now to decide. I’m going to invite you to write down one last thing.
* Maybe it’s just one word like, “Yes,” to express your heart.
* Or, “Together,” to remind you that you’ll go through the day together.
* Maybe it’s a phrase, “I’ll walk with you.”
Right now, as you write that down, tell Jesus, “I want to spend tomorrow with you.”
And maybe put that paper somewhere so you’ll see it, maybe on your desk, tape it to a mirror, or maybe write that in your calendar.
And remember that that offer that came so many years ago to Peter, James, and John changed their whole life.
And this is the best offer you’ll ever have.
You will never in your life — I don’t care what happens, I don’t care how much money you make or what ladder of success you climb, you will never have an offer like this one.
People miss it all the time. People miss it every day, day after day, until the end of their lives.
Some people go through their whole lives and they never take it.
Now, it’s your day. Don’t miss it.
Let me pray for you.
Blue Oaks Church