Chris Hodges - A Whole Lotta Shaking
Welcome again to church at home. We never do this, but we're going to do it today. We're going to send an email to every person in our church if we have an updated email address to give you a little bit of a survey that we need. We need to know some things from you as it relates to this whole pandemic that we're all in the middle of right now. And your information that you give us will help us greatly. There will be no... you know, we're not going to use your email in any other way. We're not going to send you other things. Please just respond because we think we need some information back from you so that we can care for you well. So, I just wanted you to be looking forward to that.
All right, I want to jump into the Word of God, I want you to get your Bibles out, get you a notepad out, or get your iPad, or something to write with or to type on. And I've had this message in my heart for several, probably about five or six weeks now. And I was honestly, I wasn't even sure I was going to bring it to you. I thought really the Lord just had this for me personally. But I want to bring you a message today that I really think is going to feed your spirit and challenge you in a great way. And the Lord had me reading this verse in Hebrews chapter 12. And it says this, it says, "Be careful that you do not refuse to listen".
So, let me stop right there and say I really believe that God is speaking right now. I think that God sometimes has his loudest voices in the middle of our pain. And the Bible says, "Don't turn a deaf ear to God right now". This is an important time to really have your spiritual ears open to what God may be saying to us in the middle of what we're going through. "Ce careful that you do not refuse to listen to the one who is speaking. For," and then it gives an Old Testament example, "For if the We're so glad that all of you guys have joined us today. I can't hardly wait to get you back in this room and at all of our locations. And I miss you and love you so very much. people did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the one who speaks to us today from heaven. When God spoke from Mount Sinai," that's talking about the story in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, it says, "his voice shook the earth".
There was a shaking that went on. "But now he makes another promise that, 'Once again.'" So, here's what I want you to see, that, "Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also". So, we have an earthly shaking going on right now called Coronavirus. But I think that in the middle of this natural shaking, I think there's some internal shaking going on as well that I want you to take note of. That it says, "This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only," check this out, "only the unshakable things will remain". It goes on to say, "So since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable".
And that's what I want to talk to you about today, that in the middle of a shaking, it's going to reveal some things. How do you make it unshakable? "Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear," that means just ultimate respect of our God, "and awe. For our God is a devouring fire". One place says our God is a consuming fire. I really believe that there is a shaking going on. In fact, not to make light of it, but it made me think of that old Jerry Lee Lewis song "A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On". And there really is a whole lot of shaking going on. In fact, I've entitled this message today "A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On".
To the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections, want you guys to know how much we love you as well. And maybe you're checking out our church for the very first time. We hope it's not your last time. And I want you to notice it because it's said, I think it was Aristotle that said that nature hates a vacuum. So, a lot has been taken from us, right? For some people, your jobs. For some people, your health. For some people, of course, it's been our freedoms to go to restaurants. And there's a whole lot of things that have been kind of taken from us. And it is said that anytime there is a vacuum, so something is removed, we automatically replace it with something. And I'm just going to talk to you today as a pastor, and I want you to hear this.
Look at the screen, listen to me right now. You probably have replaced what has been taken from you with something. And if it's not good, then it's created this shaking. It's created, you've noticed some things are pretty loose in your life right now. In fact, they say that there's all kind of things that are spiking. Overdose on drugs are spiking, suicides spiking, domestic abuse is spiking, abortion spiking, alcohol, murder, obesity. All these things is... all of that's on the rise right now, why is that? Let me give you this illustration, I have a bottle of water back here behind this screen. You know what's in here 'cause it actually says water, right? But if you didn't know what was in here, let's say the whole bottle was covered and you could put any label on it. You could put gasoline on the label.
You could put oil on the label. You could put lemonade on the label. You could put water on the label. The label tells people what the bottle wants it to know what's on the inside. So, in other words, the label is not always accurate. In fact, if I poured this water out, I could And if you're looking for a home church, hopefully very, very soon we'll be back physically meeting together. But we would love for you to join our church family. On that note, I wanted to give you a little update. put anything else in and leave the water label on. A lot of us are wearing labels of this is how I'm doing, this is who I am, but if you really want to know what's on the inside of it, just squeeze it, put pressure on it.
If I squeeze hard enough, this cap that is loosely on top would pop up, and of course water would spew everywhere. I'm not gonna do that 'cause I want to stay dry right now. And I think what's going on right now is that we have not only a lot of shaking, but we have a lot of pressure, a lot of squeezing. And we're finding out what's on the inside of all of us. And I hear a God saying that it's very important for us to be an unshakable kingdom. In fact, let me say it this way, that we're in a season where we need to tie some things down. And we need to solidify some things. And of course, you guys know that we're in the middle of this pandemic, and God's led us to pray and to seek God like never before.
And from the very beginning, the Lord has turned our hearts and now hundreds of millions of people worldwide around the verse that's found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Of course, you know verse 13 says there's going to be days when the heavens would be shut up and there'd be no rain. And there'd be time of pestilence and plague. And then it says after that, it says in the middle of that, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and," and here's the key word, "and turn". And I've had this thought that we have an opportunity in the middle of this crisis, in the middle of this shaking, in the middle of this pressure. It has revealed to us what's not in the right place.
I know a lot of people are asking, "When are we going to open again"? And I always respond, "We've never closed". And I say that really just to make a point that we are still ministering probably more than we ever have before in all the So, it's revealing some things. And if we want God to do the next part of this verse, which says he'll hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land, we've got to be sure that we turn, we tie some things down, we become solid in some areas. And if we do, if we'll turn, and I'm going to give you some ways that we can all turn today.
And I really want you to write these down and put these before the Lord in prayer. And I'm really praying that some good can come out of this pandemic as it's been revealed what's shaking, what's rattling, what's loose, what's going on on the inside of us that might not be right that we have an opportunity to turn. And I think only then, by the way, will we get the rest of this verse. In other words, I don't think God can do the promise unless we fulfill the conditions of the promise at the beginning to humble ourselves, to pray, to seek, and to turn. And then we'll hear from heaven, and he'll forgive our sin, and he will heal our land.
So, here's my thought for you today. Very simple, it's not even going to be a very long message today, I just want to give you five things that I'm going to encourage you to turn, five things that it was this before the Coronavirus, but now it needs to be this. I was this way, but the virus and this pandemic, and even just going through it has revealed some things. It's put pressure on my life and it's real... I've realized I don't need to be this way, I need to be that way. We need to turn, five areas we need to turn.
The first is we need to turn from having assumed a lot of things to appreciating a whole lot more things. I know this one's true of me. I assumed a lot. I assumed that there would be toilet paper. areas that matter to us. People are getting saved, people are connecting in groups, people are growing on our growth track. And my goodness, the Dream Team is serving in amazing ways. I assumed I could go to the restaurants when I wanted to. I assumed my health. You ready for this? I assumed my church. Even before all this, I was like, "Man, I need a little break from church. I've been preaching a lot. Man, we went through the 21 days and, you know, we had all the... it's been a busy season. I need to take a few Sundays off".
I'm almost repenting for even having that thought, I miss you so badly. I assumed something. Because you know what? The church will be there next week. And I can take a week off and just come back next week. Can I tell you, man, I am so grateful, I may never take another Sunday off the rest of my life 'cause I miss you so desperately. And I realize, honestly, I just assumed it always would be there. And maybe you've assumed some things that we need to turn from assumed to appreciation. I'm talking about just the quality of gratitude. In fact, I love this verse I found in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 out of the Living Bible, it says, "What are you so puffed up about"?
In other words, "Oh, I got it going on. I'm in a good place". "What do you have," I love this, "that God hasn't given you"? It goes on to say, "And if all you have is from God, why are you acting though actually you did it"? 'Cause you didn't do it, it all came from God. And I tell you, guys, I'm starting to say, "You know, God, I appreciate you for everything. Thank you for this Sunday. Thank you for this stage. Thank you for this auditorium. Thank you for this sweater I'm wearing. Thank you, Lord God, for just another day to serve you. Thank you for my wife, God". I just think it's very important right now that perhaps before.
So, so very proud of you, but we do want to physically gather again. And honestly, we still don't know what the date will be, the virus, "Man, I can have what I want, when I want, where I want. I can go when I want, where I want, when I want. If I'm going to check out Sundays, I can. If I don't want, I'll catch it online". And I think it's important for us to turn and develop, allow this pandemic, this shaking that's going on to help us develop an attitude of gratitude.
Years ago, I took a missions trip to Mexico. And I'll never forget going into this orphanage in Mexico. These kids literally had nothing. And perhaps you've been on a trip like this. I remember pulling up in our 15 passenger van with all these students that I was taking to this orphanage. And I remember as we pulled up into the compound, it's completely nothing paved, it's all dirt. And it's, you know, kind of very, very impoverished orphanage kind of a look. And I'll never forget these kids running out, all they had was one ball, there was about 30 of them all running around one ball, laughing, giggling, happy. Probably only really had one set of clothes. And I thought they literally have nothing, but they are grateful. And honestly, my first thought was, "And I think they're happier than I am with everything".
You know, one of the quotes says that gratitude turns what I have into enough. And I would love for us just to pause right now in the middle of all this. And I don't know, maybe you found yourself complaining about what you don't have or what you've lost. Can we just thank God that he has blessed us? And we'll never assume those things again, God. but I'll tell you what we're targeting. And if I tell you this, just know that things are changing daily, and so it may speed up, and it may be much later. But let me tell you what we're thinking right now. We're going to be more grateful and more appreciative for everything you've done in our life.
Here's a second one, I'm just helping us all. I think it would be a shame if we went through this entire pandemic unchanged. I think God is using this pandemic for us to do some turning. And I think we'll hear from heaven when we do. The first one is that we're not going to assume, we're going to appreciate.
The second one is this, is that I think we need to turn from self-sufficiency to God-dependency. Really self-sufficiency is a form of pride 'cause it just says, "Well, I can take care of myself. And I'll let you, God, know when I need you". And in self-sufficiency, says, "God, you know, what I make I'll make. And if I can't make it, then I'm gonna call on you to help me, God". And we tell this joke, and I don't mean to make light of this, but this is kind of a funny, I haven't told you a Boudreaux joke in a long time. But there's this joke where Boudreaux was actually late for a meeting, and when he was pulled up in his car, there was no parking spot. And he panicked because he was going to be late for this very important meeting.
And he wasn't a very religious guy, but he thought, "Man, maybe God will help me". He says, "God, man, I haven't talked to you in a long time, I'm so sorry. Man, I'll serve you with all my heart, I'll give you everything. God, I'll go to church every Sunday, I'll do everything I need to do, God, but Lord, I really just need a parking space right now". And about that time as he pulled around the corner, he saw one, he goes, "Never mind, God, I found one".
Are you laughing? That's so terrible and funny at the same time. But the truth is as funny as that is to me in some ways, it's very, very sad too 'cause I think we live that way. I was thinking about the story of Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. And of course, Nebuchadnezzar was known to have built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. He was quite proud, a proud man. He says, "I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous". And he says, "Is not this the great Babylon that I built"? So, I did all of this, "As a royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty"?
And the Bible says that even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar. Your royal authority has been taken from you". And I think honestly, maybe I'm just talking to myself today, but I feel like in some ways, this virus and this quarantine and what we're going through has kind of stripped some things from us that maybe we have thought I provided for myself and that I did myself. And the Bible says that Nebuchadnezzar was kind of that way. And he says, "You will be driven away from people, and you will live with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like the ox".
In fact, it goes on to say that seven years, "it'll be seven years you're going to live in this insanity, thinking that you've created all this, until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes". And it says and after those seven years, Nebuchadnezzar did what I hope all of us do as we kind of go through this lockdown, this quarantine, this pandemic, this shaking that's going on, that we raise our eyes toward heaven. And I believe if we do, our sanity's going to be restored. I'm just trying to help us turn. I think this is an opportunity for us to go from something that we were doing before all this to something else that'll please and honor God.
He says, "Then I praised the Most High, and honored and glorified him who lives forever". He turned. "His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation". You say, "Chris, how do I do this one"? Well, I think the first thing that we do is we just, again, appreciate God, and worship God, and have this attitude of gratitude. But the second thing I think we ought to do is we ought to dedicate every part of our life to God, everything we have in life, our time, our money. Everything we have and everywhere we are, God, I give it to you all over again. I hope you're getting something out of this today.
Here's the third thing I think we ought to turn from and to, and that is I think we ought to turn from scattered to gathered. I think it's kind of interesting that they've kind of forced us to stay home, that it took a quarantine to make our scattered lives gathered again. I know for me, I've spent more time with my family and my wife and my God because I can't go anywhere else. And perhaps before this, we were just scattered all over the place 'cause maybe disconnected from our families and working too much. But now, we've been home. And for a lot of it, you wish you could just kind of get out of there.
You know, you wish you could not be home so much. But I think as we go through this, I think we ought to have a heart of I'm not going to allow my life to be scattered like it was. I'm not going to have a schedule that was so busy and doing so much, that I'm seeing now the importance of, you know what? I ought to eat more dinners with my family, and I ought to spend more time with my God in the morning, and I ought to go from scattered to gathered. And I thought of this verse in Ecclesiastes chapter 4. It says, "There was a man who was all alone". In other words, he just kind of lived his life disconnected from people. "And he had neither son nor brother. And there was no end in his toil," so he was a workaholic, he worked really hard. But even as he works so hard, and traveled so much, and did so much, and kind of never home very much, "His were were not content with his wealth".
So, he wasn't happy with what all of his work produced. And he goes on to say, "For whom am I toiling"? Why am I doing this? "Why am I depriving myself of real enjoyment? This too is meaningless, a miserable business". And it goes on to say the solution that I hope we turn from. I hope we realize as we come out of this, I know I'm realizing it, that I need to spend more time at home, I need to spend more time with my friends, I need to spend more time with my people, that I can't be so scattered. I need to be more gathered. "That two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. And if any one of them falls down, the other one can help him up. But pity the person," who's living your life, maybe before all this you've been living your life with no one there to help you, no one to pick you up.
"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken". One of the things that I'm so thrilled about that's come out of this pandemic and this new reality that we're even living in as a church, and that is before all this, we of course have small groups, and people were connected in groups. But I think people are more connected now than they were before that. I know our small groups are kind of gathering more virtually and through Zoom calls and FaceTime and different ways gathering than ever before.
And I just want to look into that camera and say to you I think it's important for us to grab hold of this value as we come out of this pandemic, this season. We're going to come out of it, that we're more determined to keep important relationships a priority. Like I'm gonna, I've already talked to Tammy, I said, "Look, I was scattered too much, I was going too much. I honestly wasn't giving enough time to you, but we're going to spend more time together. We're gonna..." Tammy and I like to sit on the couch in the evenings, and our little favorite thing to do is I actually record "Jeopardy" at 3:30, I think it's at 3 o'clock and 3:30. It comes on twice here in Birmingham. And we don't have time to watch it then, but every evening, we sit and I have it recorded, and we sit there.
And you know, I sit on this side, Tammy's on this side, and we sitting there with little chips or something and a little drink. And then we answer questions, we see who can answer the most trivia questions. And whenever she answers when I think, "How in the world did you know that"? I give her a little fist bump. And when I answer one, she thinks, "There's no way you could've known that," she gives me a little fist bump. I know that sounds so silly, but I tell you what, man, my life's better right now. And we're gonna go back and my schedule's gonna fill up again, and I've just determined that I'm not gonna go through this shaking without tying down some things.
And I'm gonna tie down the value of gratitude. I will never assume what I've assumed anymore, God. I'm gonna be grateful. I'm gonna tie down the value of, God, I don't produce all this. I dedicate my life to you. Everything I have comes from you. I'm gonna tie down the shaking in my life of spending time with the people that I love so much. Here's the fourth one, just two more real quick. The fourth one is I think we need to turn from going through life to growing through life. From going through life, when you have speed in your life and all the things that we've had that have been kind of taken from us. I've watched even in my own neighborhood, just watching people taking long walks.
And I know for me, I've been reading more and I've been studying more because I have time to. And I think it's important for us to turn and say, "You know what? I'm not going to let life just pass me by, but God, I want you to do a work on the inside of me". In fact, I found this verse in Ephesians chapter 4, I'm going to read it to you out of the Message 'cause I just love the way it says it. It says, "No prolonged infancies".
Isn't that hilarious? I think for some of us, we've had prolonged infancy. We're just, we haven't grown up in a long time. Says, "No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for imposters. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and to tell it in love, like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do". It says, "He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flows through us, nourishing us so that we," say the words out loud, "so that we will grow up, grow up, grow up".
And I want to encourage us, I'm just trying to help you, I'm pastoring you today of some things that I think we can turn to. And I would encourage you then in this season perhaps that has slowed you down a little bit, that not to go through life at this tremendous pace and speed, but to slow down and really realize that you have a purpose, and maybe this is the time to discover the real reason why God created you. I'm so excited about our team putting together this growth track. So, we've always had it here at the church, but we've kind of made it where you had to come here physically to go through a growth track that really just helps you discover your purpose, to realize that God has a unique purpose on your life.
And I want to encourage you to go through this online version that we are creating now, and realize you have a purpose so that we can do the last thing. I'm almost done, just this last thing that I think the shaking perhaps has revealed that needs to be tied down so that we're an unshakable kingdom. And here's the fifth one, and that is that we ought to turn from doing church to being the church. One of the things that I'm the most pleased about that's come out of this that honestly I hope we never go back to. I would say probably two-thirds of our Dream Team used to serve in our church services. But now we don't have any church services. And as you saw on the video earlier, you saw ladies making masks.
Well, those used to be greeters, but now they've just found something else. They're not just in the church building, but outside the church building. And honestly, I think it's one of the most beautiful things that's happened in this shaking that needs to be tied down. In fact, I've been praying that from this day forward, even when we do get to come back as a church that our Dream Team, most of them are on the other side of these walls, not inside these walls. Why? Because God created you to join him in a work. It's a good work that he's gotten ready for us to do, work that we really ought to get doing.
Can I look into that camera and say God has a purpose on your life? Like don't just do church, be the church. Let's take this pandemic, this opportunity really of our lives being shaken to say, "You know what? This is how we should've lived all along". And hats off to the Dream Teamers and every red shirt across Alabama that's been serving healthcare workers, and moms, and nursing homes, and that we demonstrate the love of God to the world around us. Can I encourage you to turn, to turn? Do you know what the Bible word for turn is? It's repent. 'Cause people think that going to God is just like, "Okay, God, I believe in you".
No, no, no, what he wants is for us, we were headed this way, but that we turned, we repented, and we head this way. In fact, would you just close your eyes right there where you are, unless you're driving your car or... if you are, don't close your eyes, just listen to me. But hopefully you're in a place where God can minister to you right now. And would you just close your eyes right now and say, "God, I need to turn". And would you allow God just to speak to you and show you an area that needs to turn?
And God, maybe we've just been ungrateful. We assumed things that now we appreciate. And God, maybe we've had pride and thought, "You know what? I produced all this". And we've realized how desperately we need you. God, perhaps we've been scattered and neglecting relationships. And God, today we're making a fresh commitment to love our families and to spend time with those that matter so much to us, to our small group, to people, priority relationships. God, perhaps we've just been going through life, and we've not slowed our lives down enough to be able just to grow through it, and realize you have a purpose for our life. And God, I know I'm convicted by you in such a most beautiful way that the purpose of the church wasn't so that we could be in these rooms. It's so we could make a difference to the world that's on the other side of these walls. And may we never go back. God, help us to turn.
Would you just whisper these words right there where you are? Holy Spirit, what are you saying to me? What are you saying to me in this message? And if you're watching this message right now and you realize, "Wow, this thing has revealed, it's revealed some things that are not so good," maybe from your attitude or your new habits that are not good. Like you filled the void with some things. Can I encourage you today just to call out to God and say, "I'm sorry," he'll forgive you. Let him change your life right there where you are. If you feel far from God today and you want to give him your life, all you have to do is turn, surrender. Let me lead you in that prayer. If that's you, say these words, say:
Jesus, thank you for paying for my sins. I ask you to forgive me of my sins. And today, I turn and ask you to save me, change me. And I'm gonna live for you with all of my heart. In Jesus's name, amen.