Week 4

Shannon Lovelady
August 26, 2018

So what’s God doing in our trials and the life circumstances? He’s revealing our heart so that He can shape us and mold us and make us new. 
— Shannon Lovelady

We have been in this series called “Bear Fruit” and it's, hopefully, the opposite of guilt, condemnation, and shame. It's about the Gospel and what the Gospel does in our lives. We've talked a lot about the Gospel. We talk about the Gospel every single Sunday and I think that, especially if you've grown up here in the south and in the church at all, we understand a little piece of this. Jesus came and He lived and He died and He rose again so that I could live in eternity. We talked about our first week during this series that the Gospel is so much more than about eternity and what happens after we die, that the Gospel has power for life here and now. 

Just to review quickly, our foundation has to be our future hope. We talked about that the first week, that our future hope determines how we live today. Aidan's going to be so glad when this series is over because if you remember Aidan wanting to play Duke Lacrosse and how I said, “No, you don't want to play Duke Lacrosse because if you wanted to play Duke Lacrosse, your life would look differently today.” For us as believers, our future hope, obviously, is eternity, but our future hope is also Philippians where Paul tells us that God, who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He is changing us and He is molding us into something new. We learned that at the moment of salvation we were declared righteous. We were declared holy, but the Gospel is also about understanding that God is changing our behavior. He's changing our heart. He's molding us to look more like Christ and He wants to use us in this world, this side of eternity. 

Then we talked about in week two, the avenue or vehicle for that change in this idea of bearing fruit in our lives. We talked about it's because of our marriage to Christ in that as the body of Christ, as the bride of Christ, the church, we’re in this covenantal binding marriage relationship with Jesus Christ. If you remember, I talked about how Natasha took on my debt. I took on her assets. Sorry about that, Leo and Janet, my in-laws who are here today. It was legal, it was binding. It was covenantal. Now, think about this. This is the beauty of the Gospel. I'm married to Jesus Christ as part of the bride of Christ. Scripture tells me that because of that, not only has He taken my sin, my shortcomings, my failures, my debt, but He's imparted His assets onto me and that is my identity. If you hear nothing else today, I'm begging you, hear this believer, my identity is Christ, period. Then when God sees me, scripture teaches that He sees the righteousness of God. I've been declared righteous. 

I know some of you guys are sitting here this morning and you don't feel righteous. This isn't about how you feel this morning. This is about your identity. This is about who you have been declared. You’re righteous, you’re holy, and you’re forgiven. You're an adopted son of the most high God and it has nothing to do with anything you can do. It's by His grace, through faith that we’re saved and that's my identity.

We talked also about how in this marriage relationship, this covenant marriage relationship that over the course of twenty-two years with Natasha, we began to look a lot like each other. Not physically, but we have begun to act like each other and the things that we like have grown more similar towards each other. It's the same in our marriage relationship with Jesus Christ. I've been a believer now going on for twenty-four years and and I would hope, and I believe it's true, that after twenty-four years of being married to Jesus Christ with my identity being in Christ, I do not look the same today that I did twenty-four years ago. I believe with all my heart that you cannot encounter the grace of Jesus Christ, accept His grace, accept his mercy, accept his love, and NOT be changed. Over the last few weeks, we’ve gone through scripture after scripture.  You now have a holy living God indwelling in you, and He is now your identity and it changes us. It changes us, and so the beauty of the Gospel is today, I'm not who I was yesterday or tomorrow. I hope that my behavior in my heart begins to look even more like Christ as I walk this out. 

Then finally, it's this idea of worship in the marriage relationship. When the back doors of Westview Christian Church opened in 1996 and I saw my wife for the first time come down the aisle, I realized that I didn't deserve to be in this relationship and it was worship. It is in this relationship with Jesus Christ, too. I think we get this so confused as believers. We think that worship is some sort of obligation, and worship is this thing that we do on Sunday mornings. No, when I understand this relationship that I'm in and this gift of grace that I've been given undeservedly by a mighty holy God who gave His Son for my sin so that I could live and He imparted His righteousness on me, it drives me to my knees in worship. Daily worship In my life, the way that I live, day in and day out, not just how I raise my hands when we sing songs, but how I treat my wife, how I treat my kids, how I work in the workplace, how I drive my car. It becomes an act of worship. My life becomes this act of worship, saying “God, I'm not worthy, but you are.” 

Then we talked about last week that God has created us for community and that the avenue that He wants to use, the tool that He wants to use to help us grow in the Gospel, to help us to understand this gift we've been given and to look more like him in our day to day life is through each other. You know, one of our core values is that “we're family.” We belong to each other. It is a very real supernatural, spiritual covenantal thing and God wants to change us in community. I talked about last Sunday how I’m very grace filled when I'm by myself, but it's when I'm in community, whether that be with my family or in the church in the workplace, I'm given opportunities to learn to forgive. Can I get an amen? If you’ve got kids, we’re given opportunities to learn patience. Come on, don't judge me. Y'all know what I'm talking about. I'm given opportunities to learn kindness. I'm given opportunities to learn self control in community, in relationship, and so we've laid the foundation. 

Today we want to start getting down, as I said a few weeks ago with Nacho Libre to the "needy, greedy.” All right, so what I need you to do is to get out your phone. I need you to get out your notepads. I need you to get out your ipads. Whatever it is that you take notes on, and I really truly wants you guys to take notes today because I want you to take this home this week. You've got homework to do. We want to really allow God's spirit to begin to transform us and to make us new so that we can experience these Fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and faithfulness and self control that the scripture promises us. Doesn't that sound like a beautiful thing? All right, so I'm going to pray. Then we're going to get into the Word together. 

God, thank you for your Word. Thank you that your Word is alive, that it's active and sharper than a two edged sword. So God, today as we open up your Word, and as we talk about some difficult topics, God, I pray that you would speak through me, God, that you would get me out of the way. God, I pray that your Spirit would be evident in this place. I pray that you would speak directly to our hearts, God, that we would understand first and foremost the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of grace and mercy, and that you pour it out on us as your children. God, for those of us that need to be encouraged today, I pray that we would experience your encouragement like never before. Where we need conviction, God, I pray that we would experience your conviction. Just speak to us now by your Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

So we're going to be in James 1, if you want to open to it. We're talking about this idea of bearing fruit. We want to talk about this very difficult thing that we cannot avoid, that we all have in common as we begin this hard work of God changing us, and making us look more like Him in our relationships and in this world. We want to talk about this idea of pain and suffering. I think it's really ironic and you guys have heard me say this before, that we spend our entire lives as human beings trying to avoid the one thing that we absolutely cannot avoid. We do.

You’ve heard me talk about Natasha and me running. This has been a couple of years ago. We were going for a run, and we decided we wanted to be healthy. I don't recommend doing that with your wife by the way, and I'll tell you why. So we're running and as we're running, I remember we were over at the old Oak Mountain trail running and I'm saying, “Come on Babe, push.” She's saying,”Okay.” She's trying to keep up and she's slowing down and I'm trying to slow down. I'm saying, “Come on, come on, you know you got this, you got this.” She's saying, “I'm dying.” I'm like, “No, you got to push through the pain, push through the pain. Pain is good, push through the pain!” I'll never forget. It was so profound. She looks at me, and she stopped, and she goes, “That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Why? Why in the world do I want to intentionally inflict pain on myself just so that I can push through it?” And I'm thinking, “That makes a lot of sense.” 

The reality is, I think we understand that pain is necessary as it comes to exercise, but the reality is, I think a lot of us spend our entire lives with that a mantra of let's try to avoid pain. Let's try to avoid suffering. Let's try to avoid trials at all costs. But again, scripture is clear. As a matter of fact, Peter says it this way as he's talking to the church. In 1 Peter 4:12, he's talking to the church here. He says, "Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials that you're going through as if something strange were happening to you.” You hear Peter saying it? Listen. Why do you act so surprised? And we all do it, don't we? 

Let's just be real. In a church this size, we’re going to leave here today and there are probably a number of people that as we walk out of these doors, you are going to get news that you didn't want to get. I mean, bad things happen as we walk out of these doors. And as you go through the rest of your afternoon, there's a really good chance that I'll get a text or an email or a Facebook messenger or something saying, “Hey, I think you need to know…” 

Peter says, why do we act shocked? Well, why do we act like that in the world? I didn't see this coming? How could this be? He's going, listen. And it's not just Peter. He learned this from Jesus himself and Jesus is coming to the end of his life. In John 16, Jesus has finally laid out to His guys. He says,“Listen y'all, this is it, like the time is now. Here's exactly what's going to happen and it's going to get really bad for you guys," is what He says. He spent three years with these guys pouring into Him and you get to John 16:33 and listen to what Jesus says. He says, “I've told you all of this so that you may have peace…” In who? “… in me.” And then He says, “Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows.” Here on earth, you'll have what? I mean, it's inevitable, it's unavoidable. And He says, “But take heart. I've overcome the world.” So we want to talk about this idea of trials, about this idea of suffering and heat bearing down on us. Because the reality is for human beings living in a broken world, trials, suffering, pain, heartache, life circumstances are unavoidable. But Jesus says, “Listen, take heart. I've overcome the world and I'm doing something in this.” 

So as we talk about trials today, I want to be careful because the danger is we do two different things. One, we maximize our trials. We maximize our suffering. Write that down and I'll tell you what I mean by that. What I mean by that is oftentimes we maximize it to the case that our trials, our suffering, our pain, life's experiences, and the stuff that we've been through, we almost make it our identity. Once again, let's go back to week one. Our identity is what? Come on, our identity is in what, Church? Christ and Him crucified and now alive in me. That is my identity. Jesus Christ. I am the righteousness of God. I'm justified. I'm holy. I'm forgiven. I'm a Son of the most high king. As far as the east is from the West, my sins have been washed away. I mean that is who I am, but when trials hit again, just listen to the language we use here in the English language. When someone experiences divorce, what do we say? I am what? I'm divorced. We declare that's who we are. A widow. I am a widow. I am broke. I mean, seriously. That's what we do. We use our trials, we use our pain. We use our suffering to identify ourselves if we're not careful, and guys that is not biblical. It's not scripture. That is not who you are. You just happen to be someone who is walking through this season of life and you are experiencing the pain that divorce brings, or you're walking through this season of life and your experiencing the pain that having no money brings, or you’re walking through the season of life where you're experiencing the pain that children bring. I'm just kidding. Sort of. That isn't who you are and so the danger is we talk about suffering, and pain, and trials, and life circumstances and we make that who we are.

But then the opposite is true as well. Some of us grew up in the old school, good old boy network of you know what? Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get over it. Trials aren't really that big of a deal. 

But what scripture does is scripture takes those two and bridges the two. It says that we're going to figure out that number one, trials are reality. Suffering is reality. Pain is a reality. There is no escaping it. There is no escaping it in this world, but to also understand that God is a loving, redeeming, grace filled God who is right here in the middle of it, and He understands our pain and He understands our suffering. Again, that's what I love about the Gospel. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh came and He lived and He died a perfect life and He rose so that we could have life. He was ridiculed. He was beaten. He took on our sin. He took on our pain. Our God understands this and He's doing something in middle of our trials. He's doing something in the middle of our pain. 

So what's he up to? Let's look at James 1. Just a little background for James. You got to understand that James is writing to the church at Jerusalem. What you need to know about James is that he is kind of the lead pastor at Jerusalem. That's who he is. He's this guy that's been in charge of shepherding the new believers in Jerusalem. 

Now also, we know that this letter that he wrote to the church at Jerusalem was written about the same time that the church started experiencing severe persecution. As a matter of fact, it's about the time that Stephen was drug out, stoned, and killed by this guy named Saul who later became Paul, right? Just want to make sure we're all tracking on the same page of the events that are taking place here, and so James is not at all making light of trials and suffering and pain. As a matter of fact, James and the church at Jerusalem are walking through this and James is saying, that we have to look at this from a biblical perspective, from a God honoring perspective, from a Gospel perspective. So this is where James is when writing this letter. 

So in James 1, he gives us greetings and then we'll start in verse two. He says, “Dear brothers and sisters.” What's the next word he says? When! It doesn’t say “if.” It doesn’t say “perhaps.” He says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when trouble comes your way.” It doesn't say “if trouble comes your way.” Doesn't say “maybe trouble's going to come your way.” Doesn't say, "Oops. There's a chance trouble's going to come your way.” He says, “Brothers and sisters in Christ, WHEN troubles come your way.” Again, James is saying the same thing that Jesus said. He's saying the same thing that Peter said, when he said, “Trouble is coming. Life is going to hit you upside the head.” Can we get an amen? 

Some of us have experienced that and I want to make sure as we're talking about troubles and trials that you guys understand that troubles and trials are all relative. What happens a lot of times is we start to point fingers at everybody else and go, well, I haven't experienced trouble like they have or I haven't experienced trials like they have or vice versa. But the reality is a trial is a trial, is a trial. Suffering is suffering and there's a lot of people, I would say most of us in this room, who have experienced the trial and the suffering of death, sickness, and disease in some way, shape or another. 

You need to understand also that as you leave this place today and as you go pick up your kids you are going to experience suffering. I'm serious like I say that jokingly, but you need to understand that regarding your kids, and again we are made for community, God works in the context of other people to change us, to transform us, and you better believe that nothing will transform you like a child for the good or bad. Trials are trials and suffering is suffering. No matter how small or how big. I want to encourage you. We can't expect to deal with those diseases or that being homeless or all these biggies that we think about, when we can't deal in the every day mundane, as it comes to how we are as a husband or a wife, or a parent, or a coworker, or a boss, or an employee, or a student. 

God's working, the Gospel is working in those moments and so James says, not if trials come, not if trouble comes your way, but when it comes your way, he says, “…consider it an opportunity for…” What? We just want to mumble that, right? “Consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Now, let's be real for a minute. How many of us as we walk in here this morning, we start talking about trial as if, “Heck yeah, bring it on because I want to experience some joy.” Anyone? Y'all are sinners. Two of you? Good to have you. Thank you. But that's hard, isn't it? 

I mean, it's tough, so how do we do that? Okay, I understand on an intellectual level that we're supposed to rejoice in our sufferings. Scripture teaches that we're supposed to. We're supposed to consider trials as an opportunity for great joy. We're supposed to. In Acts 5, the apostles, after they've been flogged, celebrate because they get to share in Jesus's suffering. We're just going, “Okay, I get that on an intellectual level, but how in the world do you do that? And why do you do that?” Anybody? Does anybody else feel that way? Throw your hand up if you've ever asked that question. Yeah, man. Let's be real for a second. It's difficult. It's not easy. But listen to what James says. He says, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you’ll be perfect and complete needing nothing." James in other words says, “Embrace trials. Embrace suffering. Consider it joy.” 

Let's go back to week one. I think in our terms that we've been using, James might say, your future hope determines how you live today. And again, Church. What's our future hope as believers? Christ and Him crucified and now alive in us. He's doing a work in us and He's changing us. Guys, I can tell you that my future hope is Jesus Christ and that He's changing me and He's making me more like Him. I can tell you that all day long from this stage and we can sing about it. And we can “Kumbaya” about it and we can feel really good about it in this room. Can't wait. But let's be real. Don't we all feel a little close to Jesus right now? But man, you're going to leave and you're going to have to decide where you want to go to eat with a car full of kids and a wife or husband. Your future hope determines how you live today. My future hope is Jesus. Make me more like you. Okay, God says, let me make sure I'm going to give you an opportunity to be more like me. Welcome wife or husband and kids. See, it's real easy, James says, to declare our future hope verbally. It's another thing to live it out. And we're not given an opportunity to live it out without trials, without pain, without life suffering without heartache. 

So again, I just challenge you, really and truly believe like what is your future hope? I mean, let's just be real for a second because at a deep heart level, and we can say all day long that we want to be more like Jesus, but at a deep heart level, if your future hope really is a wife that will respect you, it'll reek chaos on your life. That’s the wrong future hope, but I'll tell you this, if your future hope really is Christ, Him crucified and now alive in you, and Him making you more like Him, a husband or wife that doesn't respect you will give you an incredible opportunity to learn to be more like Christ. Go down the list with any relationship. So what's your future hope? 

Then James gets practical because he knows at this point we're just like,” I don't even know how to do this.” And he says, “I know.” He says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and He'll give it to you. He won't rebuke you for asking.” Why? Because He's a loving heavenly father. “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone, do not waver for a person with divided loyalty is unsettled as a wave of the sea that's blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world and they are unstable in everything they do.” And James, again, he's just echoing the same thing. He's going, “Listen man, I know this is hard and if you need wisdom, you need to learn from a spiritual perspective, from a Gospel perspective on how to live in a relationship with a husband or a wife that treats you badly. If you need to understand how to do that, ask God for wisdom and He'll show you.” 

He says, “Don't expect to go I want it both ways. I want to feel good, and I want God's wisdom. I want what I want. I want what I think I deserve, and I want to lay down my rights." Do y’all hear the stupidity of that? But that's what we do as believers, if we can be honest. We've talked over and over that the Gospel is about crucifying Shannon, so that Christ can live. Laying down my rights, so that Christ can live, but the reality is believers, very often in every single one of our relationships, or life’s circumstances, or life's trials, we say, “You know what? Yes, I want to lay down my rights. I want to. I want to crucify self, so Christ can live, and I also want to be respected.” And it reeks havoc. 

He says, “Ask God for wisdom and He'll give it to you. Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them and those who are rich or boasts that God has humbled him, they will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers, the little flower droops and falls and its beauty fades away, and in the same way the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. God blesses those who patiently endure testing in temptation for afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” 

Again, what James is saying here is that even good things can pull you away from God. See, we look at trials and life’s circumstances in the heat of life that bears down on us as just bad things. “This bad thing happened to me and woe is me. What am I going to do?” James is going, “No, no, no. Be careful because even what appear to be blessings in life can actually pull you away from remembering where your worth is to be found and it's in Christ and Him crucified now alive in you.” 

I'll give you a perfect example. My biological boys, Aidan and Micah, when they were little man, I was the most judgmental parent on the planet. Why? Because my kids were good kids. My kids didn't roll around in Walmart and squeal and scream. I would walk by others and I was like, “Man, if that were my kid! You are a loser of a parent.” I had great kids and some of you guys know what I'm talking about. You've been blessed with kids that vacuum the floor, wash the dishes, make their bed and say, “Yes ma’am, no ma’am,” without you having to ask, and a lot of folks don't like you for that, but these good things in life, you know what? It made me very judgmental. It made me very self righteous when the reality is all I had was an older kid who liked to be the boss in Aidan and who liked to tell people what to do. I also had a younger kid in Micah who liked to be told what to do and would do whatever Aidan said. So you know what? It led to perfect utopia in the Lovelady home. It did. 

But you know what? It didn't draw me any closer to Christ. It didn't make me any more like Christ. It didn't make my kids anymore like Christ. Money? Same thing, man. You want to talk about something that can draw you away from finding your worth where your worth is meant to be found. You better believe riches can be a trial. There's a reason Jesus said, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” 

We live in a broken world and man, we fight an enemy that desperately wants to help us find our worth in other places. We fight this desire within ourselves that James is getting ready to talk about. Listen to what he says. He says, “And remember, when you're being tempted, do not say that God is tempting me. God is never tempted to do wrong.” What's he say? “He never tempts anyone else.” Listen to this guys. This is super important. Circle this. Highlight it, underline it. Whatever you got to do. He says, “Temptation comes from our own desires.” Temptation comes from where?  Come on now. This matters a lot. Temptation comes from where? Your own desires. Okay, well shoot, but then it's Satan that makes me sin, right? Nope. He says, "Temptation comes from our own desires which entice us and they drag us away.” Then what happens? These desires that came from where? From us. It didn't come from the little devil sitting on my shoulder. It didn't come from “the devil made me do it.” The reality is Shannon wants to be god of his own kingdom. Shannon wants to be in charge himself and James says, “These temptations come from our own desires which entice us, and drag us away.” Then these desires give birth to what? To sinful action. When sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So what's James saying? 

Some of you guys have seen me do this before? Don't say, if you've seen me do it, but somebody help me out. Why did water come out of the bottle? Why? Because I tip the bottle? Right? Why else did water come out of the bottle? Because I took the top off, I heard somebody say. Why else did water come out of the bottle? Because there's water in the bottle! So look, here’s the deal. I can tip this all day long, and if there's no water in the bottle, guess what doesn't come out. Guess what doesn't come out. Water. There you go. Y'all are smart. So what’s James trying to say? He's saying, “Shannon, quit blaming your sin on your wife.” See, what we like to do as human beings is we like to say, well, life circumstances hit me. What's God up to in the middle of trials and suffering and pain and heat bearing down on every single one of us? He's in the process of changing us and making us more like him. 

And listen, you need to understand that I do believe that sometimes God will and hear me loud and clear, put trials on us because ultimately what God wants more than anything in the world is He wants us to be drawn to Him and to find our worth in Him. He will do whatever it takes for that to happen. I also believe that there's an enemy that's prowling around like a roaring lion. He wants to seek, to kill, and destroy us, and he wants to pull us away and he wants us to find our worth in other things. We live in a broken fallen world,fRomans says. It’s groaning and longing to be what it was meant to be. There's lots of reasons trials come, but the reality is what James is telling us is he saying, at the end of the day, what these trials do is they show you what's inside of you. 

So I can talk a really good talk all day long. I can say that my future hope is Christ and Him crucified and I want to be like Him all day long, but when I find out I've got cancer, when your wife cheats on you, when your kids are disrespectful, or when your friends make fun of you at the lunch room table, when you fail the test, I mean go down the list of life's trials, right? See, it's only in trials that what's in us gets revealed and see, I want to point at Natasha and go, well, if you wouldn't have said that to me, then I wouldn't have responded that way. If you wouldn't have tipped me than water wouldn't have come out. No. Her tipping me only showed what was inside of me. 

See our sin, and Keith is going to really dive into this next week, are these reactions that we try to focus on and change and all those things. All they are is an indicator of what it is that we're truly worshiping. It’s only in trials and life circumstances that what we truly worship comes out. Scripture also says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks,” So what's God doing in our trials and the life circumstances? He's revealing our heart so that He can shape us and mold us and make us new. 

So here's what I want you to do and I seriously want you to do this this week. I don't normally do this, but I really want you to take this seriously this week. I want you to write this down. Take this home, think about it, talk to your spouse about it. Do it by yourself. I don't care, but I'm begging you to do this work this week. Prayerfully consider going, “God, what is it in my life? What are the circumstances in my life that are just kinda overwhelming right now?” I mean, maybe it's stuff with your kids, maybe your marriage, maybe the workplace, maybe it's finances. Maybe it's some sort of addiction. Think about that this week. I seriously want you to prayerfully consider and go, “Okay, Lord, what is this thing? What are the circumstances in my life that are just overwhelming that I feel like you're wanting to do a work in.” 

 Then I want you to take note and I want you to write this stuff down. Get a journal. Get a notebook, get something, your phone, however you need to do it. I want you to list and I want you to start to think about when did these circumstances tend to overwhelm me? What’s going on, right? Is it in the mornings when it's time to get ready to go to work? I start getting anxious or whatever, or is it when I get home from work and the kids are driving me mad. You know, whatever. I want you to start to think about whatever the circumstances are in your life, the place that God has you, when those things seem to manifest themselves and just list all that stuff out. List all that stuff out, Then I even want you to begin to think about, how do I react when those things happen? When the kids are getting on my nerves, what's my general reaction? If that's a perfect example, if the kids are your thing and for whatever reason they're just driving you nuts right now and that's the heat in your life then that's the circumstance in your life that's real, but God wants to do something in that. When does that tend to manifest itself? When they're driving you nuts, how do you tend to react now? I really want you to prayerfully think about that stuff this week. Then we're going to come back next week and and Keith is actually going to teach us next week on the thorns in our life and how God wants to take that and He wants to reshape us and remold us. Then we're going to continue to walk this out and continue to be extremely practical. 

Some of you guys this morning, I know as I'm sitting here talking about this, it is totally foreign to you, this idea of the gospel because you'd never said, “I want to be in, Lord. I accept your grace, your mercy, and your forgiveness. Begin to do this heart transformation in me.” And you’ve said, “I'm in and you dive all in.” So many of you have never done that. If that's you this morning, I'm begging you. I'm begging you if you feel God's spirit calling you, don't put that off. Say, “I am all in.” Make today the day that you say, “I’m yours and you’re mine and I'm laying down my rights so that Christ can live in me. If that's you, we would love to talk with you. Come over and talk with somebody, pray with somebody. 

Maybe some of you are going, this is bringing up trials, and suffering, and the pain is just overwhelming to me right now. It’s just bringing up all kinds of emotions and I need somebody to pray with. If that's you, there'll be people over here that would love to pray with you as well. Wherever you are this morning, I just, I beg you to say, “God, you're doing a work in me. You promised you're doing a work and you promised you're going to complete it, so whatever that next step is for my part, God complete that work in me. Change me.” 

God, thank you for loving us. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for the promise that you have not left us alone, that you have given us your Spirit, that you indwell within us, that you're doing a work, and that you will complete it. God, I pray that our lives will glorify you. I pray that when people look at us, they're drawn to you. That they see you because of your Spirit in us, God. In Jesus' name, Amen.