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In The Pocket // Almost, but...

Almost, but…

 John 3:3 - “Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’”


1. Jesus met up with a leader of Judaism one day. The man’s name was Nicodemus. Nicodemus asked Jesus, “I’d like to be saved. I’m moved by Your teaching. What does it take?”

Most of us know what Jesus said. “You must be born again to be part of God’s Kingdom.”

Jesus tells this learned teacher of the Word of God, “It just isn’t enough to practice the teachings as best you can. You must have a heart change. You must have a re-created life.”

2. One of the most disturbing and troubling issues I grapple with is this. How does it happen that so many people can attend church on a regular basis and yet never cross this invisible line of knowing about God and knowing God?

How is it that the experts say at least 50% of those in church today do not have a transforming experience with the Jesus they are singing about and hearing about?

3. From time-to-time, Pauline and I will hear from, or about, someone who has attended here for years, who has gotten caught up in some sin. Maybe lost their family or job, not to mention reputation and self-respect. And we wonder, what could we have done differently? And how could this have happened?

4. So, here’s the question. What’s it take to move people, or move ourselves, from just being here, doing what everyone else is doing, contrasted to truly having a heart – life changing experience with Jesus?


Paul and the Ephesian Believers

1. Paul writes to a church in Ephesus. He’s writing to the church – a particular group in Ephesus. 

2. Verse 21 of Chapter 4.

For sake of understanding, this is as if Paul is writing to the Winchester Church of God. So, I just got this letter from Paul, folks. It’s good to hear from him. Here’s what he says:

Ephesians 4:21-29

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[a]Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.


3. Here’s what’s running through my mind after reading this:

A. Whoa, who is he talking to? And who here is he talking about?

B. Which of you is corrupted by lust and deception?

C. Who among us has been lying? And angry?

D. Which one of you is stealing?

E. And how many of you are using foul and abusive language?

F. Who’s not living right and you’ve got the Holy Spirit upset at us?

4. First, notice I said which of you? He surely isn’t talking about me, right?

And how does Paul come out with all this stuff on us when he’s not even living with us or around us? 

5. How does Paul know this about me? I mean you?

I’ll tell you how, it’s because God knows and Paul knew that unless our hearts are changed by the transforming power of God’s amazing grace, we will subscribe to the Bible, go to the good church services, often feel good by the positive – motivational speech – and go back out and because there was no TRANSFORMATION – we just can’t help but live a life as described in this text. 

6. So, we come to church because 

·       Well, we should.

·       Our kids need it – I want them exposed to church. 

·       It’s the right thing to do. 

·       I was raised this way. 

Sermon on the Mount

·       But here’s the rub, if we aren’t careful we will be no different than the people of Jesus’ day that He addressed in His Sermon on the Mount.

·       Matthew 5:21 - “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’” (NIV)

Your folks taught you:

·       Do not murder – and you’ve tried to obey that. That is your tradition. 

But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment. That is the result of transformation. 

·       You have heard the commandment, “Don’t commit adultery.” That’s the tradition. 

But transformation goes to the heart and the heart change is I control my thoughts and lusts and not even look at the member of the opposite gender and imagine what it would be like if…


Jesus continues, “You have heard it said” and “You have heard the law,” but I say…


You can grapple with the tradition. You can ascribe to the philosophy. You can adopt the values. You can sing the songs. Attend the meetings. Wear the badge and wave the banner that says, “I’m one of them.”


But it all comes down to this one simple, basic truth: if you want to walk in peace and joy and live out your purpose and die in Jesus and live eternally in heaven – it’s not about the association – it is about the transforming experience with Jesus. 

 It’s the acceptance of His forgiveness and walking in His grace. 

Here’s what it is:

·       When I was a child, I lived and played in dirt. 

·       Mom would call me in for dinner:
     -  Spit bath

-        Clean up

·       But when clean, I sat at the table with my family. 

·       No matter how dirty you are or feel, you can be cleansed today and come and sit at His table with all the family because now you belong. 

·       It’s Nicodemus – “You must be born again.”

·       It’s the woman thirsty at the well of Samaria and Jesus saying, “If you come to Me, I’ll give you water that you’ll never thirst again.”

·       It’s the dying thieves on the crosses beside Jesus. One says, “Hey, you’re such a super hero savior, get us all off these crosses.” But the other admitting his sins, cries, “Lord, would you – could you – just remember me when You come into Your Kingdom?”

·       And Jesus says, “Today. Yes, today, you will be with Me in Paradise.


Altar Service

·       Paul gives his testimony before the King and the Governor. Having done so, King Agrippa is moved and says, “Paul, you almost have persuaded me to be a Christian.”

·       This morning, I can’t help but wonder how many of you are almost there? Close, almost convinced, almost persuaded. 

But the sad fact is some of you will walk out thinking, “Not today. I’m not ready to be ‘all in’ yet. Maybe sometime soon. Just not yet.”

·       I talk with some who’ll say, “I’m not ready to give up some of my pleasures right now…” Listen, it isn’t about what you give up – it’s about what all you will gain.


Walking in God’s forgiveness and plan for your future is of far greater value than anything you’re holding onto.

 Worship Set


- Christopher Brown, Mack Brock, Matt Ntele, Steven Furtick, and Wade... 

Verse 1 

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow 

Verse 2 

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see 

Chorus 1 

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king 

Verse 3 

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me 

Misc 1 (Bridge) 

By your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me 

Verse 4 

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave 


- William Batchelder Bradbury, Eric Liljero, Reuben Morgan, Edward... 

Verse 1 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus' Name (REPEAT) 

Chorus 1

Christ alone cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Saviour's love
Through the storm He is Lord
Lord of all 

Verse 2 

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil 

Misc 1 (Interlude) 

He is Lord
Lord of all 

Verse 3 

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne

Cry Out To Jesus

- Tai Anderson, Brad Avery, David Carr, Mark Lee, and Mac Powell 

Verse 1 

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
When you said goodbye
And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing
And there is no one who can make it right 

Chorus 1 

(And) there is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
And love for the broken heart
And there is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are 

Misc 1 (Interlude) 

Cry out to Jesus (Cry out to Jesus) 

Verse 2 

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They've lost all of their faith in love
And they've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough
For the ones who can't break
The addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering 

Misc 2 (Bridge) 

When you're lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out
You just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus 

Verse 3 

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight 

Misc 3 (Ending) 

Cry out to Jesus
Cry out to Jesus
Oh cry out to Jesus
Cry out to Jesus


- Natalie Grant 

Verse 1 

I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken but
You see beautiful
And You’re helping me to believe
You’re restoring me piece by piece 

Chorus 1

There’s nothing too dirty
That You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean
There’s nothing too dirty
That You can’t make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean 

Verse 2 

What was dead now lives again
My heart's beating, beating inside my chest
I’m coming alive with joy and destiny
‘Cause You’re restoring me piece by piece 

Verse 3 

Washed in the blood of Your sacrifice
Your blood flowed red and made me white
My dirty rags are purified
I’m clean 

Misc 1 (Ending) 

I am clean I’m clean
You make - You wash me Clean 

Just As I Am (Hymn)

- William Batchelder Bradbury and Charlotte Elliott 

Verse 1 

Just as I am without one plea
But that Thy Blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God I come I come 

Verse 2

Just as I am and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot
To Thee Whose Blood can cleanse each spot
O Lamb of God I come I come 

Verse 3

Just as I am Thou wilt receive
Wilt welcome pardon cleanse relieve
Because Thy Promise I believe
O Lamb of God I come I come 

Verse 4

Just as I am Thy Love unknown
Hath broken ev’ry barrier down
Now to be Thine yes Thine alone
O Lamb of God I come I come 

Verse 5

Just as I am though tossed about
With many a conflict many a doubt
Fightings and fears within without
O Lamb of God I come I come 

Verse 6

Just as I am poor wretched blind
Sight riches healing of the mind
Yea all I need in Thee to find
O Lamb of God I come I come