Chris Hodges - Running With The Horses - Part 1
Well, welcome today to a brand new series, two part series that we're calling "Running With the Horses," and I'll tell you about that more in just a moment. But let me welcome you to church online. I hate they we're still online, but we'll talk more about that in just a second. But I do so have some of my team here today helping me out. Team, put your hands together, aren't you glad to be here today? Thank you. I had to preach in front of somebody, and I'm so glad you guys are with me helping me out today. We're also joined by some other churches that have decided to join us in this two-part series. And these are all kind of spiritual sons of mine who actually churches all across the country. And I just want to honor them.
Give me a moment just to say hello to Coastline Church in San Diego, Pastor Aaron Jayne. Also want to say hello to Action Church in Orlando. Pastor Justin Dailey got saved right here at Highlands with the Highlands College and planted a church in the Orlando area, doing a great job. I would say hello to theChapel in the Tampa Bay area. Pastor Mark Quattrochi, we just call him Pastor Mark Q, and you know why right now. And Anchor Bend church in Houston, Pastor Jimn Kyles. Love you guys so very much want. Want to say hello to One Hope Church in New Orleans. Pastor Josh Canizaro used to be our Greystone campus pastor, and went and planted a church in the New Orleans area. Pastor Allen Holmes at Daystar Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. And last but not least, Connect Community Church in the Boston area, Pastor Deryck Frye.
One more time, put your hands together, everybody. And yeah, thank you guys, and I love every one of you. I pray over your pastors every week, every day really, and just love them. And so glad that you guys are joining us. I actually offered this to them so that they could have a couple of weeks off. I don't know if they're taking some time off, but I know pastors need a little rest from time to time, and so hopefully that's happening. And as I said, we are gathering online again. We had three Sundays where we actually had in person services across the month of June. And unfortunately, we had a little spike take place here in Alabama. We even had some of our own team test positive for the coronavirus.
I'm happy to report they're are all doing extremely well, praise God for that. But we felt like it was wisdom just to pull back for a few weeks really over the month of July and reassess. Every day, our coronavirus task force that I have assembled right here at Highlands is studying what's going on and preparing. Honestly, we're getting better. We were able to learn from the past, the three weeks that we had in person services, and we're going to make a few adjustments and reassess all that. And our hope is to have services in person again beginning in August. And stay tuned, we'll give you more details as things develop. But as we not only gather for in person services in the month of August, I'm very happy to report there we're also going to have 21 days of prayer, and notice that I've added with it and fasting.
Normally, we have 21 days of prayer in January every year with fasting. And then August, I always call it 21 days of prayer and feasting. It's a little, a lighter version, but still 21 days of prayer. I really feel like what's going on in our world and in our country, come on, how many of y'all believe we ought to fast and pray and seek God for revival? I want you guys to prepare yourselves for this. In fact, I wanted to say this is also to the seven churches that are joining us, we're inviting churches all across the nation to join us for 21 days of prayer. My goal, y'all pray with me, I'm believing God for 1,000 churches that'll pray and fast over the month of August. Can I hear a good amen, everybody?
I really think it's really important that we pray and fast right now, and seek God. And I know that God moves when we pray and fast. And I really believe God's going to hear our prayers. In fact, we need to fast not only for a revival, I don't know about you, but I need a little fasting. I've got the little... I've gained a few pounds on this season. In fact, there's much pressure on this button right now, I feel really sorry for you guys on the front row 'cause this thing could release at any time and take you out. And that really... I call it my quran-15. I've added 15 pounds. Anyway, y'all know I have to use a little humor from time to time, all right?
Okay, I want to jump in to this series, and I want to start this verse. Believe it or not, I've been pondering over this message series since March. Literally the moment that the entire pandemic became a reality, I actually started working on this little two-part series. And I want to start with this thought, and then I want to take you to our theme verse. But I want to start with this thought out of 1 John. It says, "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God". So, how do you know when God's in something? "Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God". So, those who say Jesus Christ is Lord, that's the spirit, that's the spirit of God. But notice the opposite of that. "But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit..."
Notice it doesn't say this is the antichrist, it says it is the spirit of the antichrist. Now, watch this detail, "Which you have heard is coming". So, there is a person who is the antichrist, that's gonna happen. You can read in the book of Revelation, he'll come with solutions to solve all the world's problems, and then actually cause great deception. But notice with me that he says that he is coming, you've heard he is coming. But even now, the spirit of the antichrist is already in the world. Now, I start off with that detail because I believe... I personally don't believe we are in the tribulation period. I'm actually a pre-tribulation, I believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture of the church, so I don't even think I'm going to be here, so that's why I don't think this is the tribulation 'cause I'm still here. I plan on going up in the first elevator, amen everybody?
Jesus coming again, and I plan on being there. I know there's a lot of debate over that. We'll discuss that another day. But I know this, that the spirit of the end times is here. And in my opinion, it's escalating right now. And if you know anything about the tribulation, it starts with this seven year period, it starts with these four horsemen, the four horses of the apocalypse it's called. And I want to read those to you because if they are not actually physically literally here now, I'm telling you you'll see that the spirit of these four horses is here now. So, it starts in Revelation chapters 6, and the Bible says, "I looked, and there was before me a white horse. And its rider held..."
Now, notice the two things, held a bow. Now, bow is used for war, it's for panic, for disruption. "He held a bow and he was given a crown". And a crown is a leader. So, we know one thing right off the bat, that this is going to create disruption, but it's also going to have some solutions at the same time, or so-called solutions as a leader. "And he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest". Now, this is the antichrist. In fact, the white horse, the spirit of the white horse if you're taking notes, and I sure hope you are, is the spirit of disruption and deception. I'm just telling you that to know to expect it. When we see the end times approach, we're going to see these two things take place. Man, there's a lot of chaos, but someone's going to come with a solution or a supposed solution that's actually filled with deception.
Notice the second one in verse 4. "And then another horse came out," these are the four horses of the apocalypse, and it was a red one, a fiery red one. "Its rider was given power," watch this, "to take peace from the earth". Does that sound familiar at all? "And to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword". So again, when you're in the spirit of the end times, you're going to see the spirit of the red horse, which is fear and violence. We have that right now, you know that. I don't have to rehearse any of the news with you to let you know that we have the spirit of this taking place right now. Then in verse 5, it says this, "When the Lamb opened the third seal", by the way, the lamb is Jesus, he's releasing this tribulation period, "I heard the third living creature say, 'Come.' I looked and there was before me a black horse, and his rider was holding a pair of scales".
Now in the New Testament days, scales always represented the process of buying and selling 'cause they used scales. We use currency, but they used scales. And he says, "Then I heard what sounded like a voice coming from the four living creatures, saying, 'Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages.'" In other words, something that should cost just very little is going to cost a lot. "And six pounds of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine". This is the black horse, and it always is economic collapse. Again, in the spirit of these things, these are going to happen.
Now, let me just stop right here 'cause I see, some people is like your eyes are this big, like, "Oh my God, what's going on? Is this what's going to happen"? I'm not saying this to scare you. I'm saying this to prepare you. And if you'll know that this is coming, if you'll be prepared for it and recognize it, you'll be the one that comes out on the other side of it, amen everybody? It's very important. Let me give you the last one, verse 8. "I looked and there was before me at pale horse. And its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. And they were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague".
By the way, this is how I know that we're not in the end times because when you see this type of thing take place, it's going to take out about 2 billion people, sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. But this is the pale horse of disease and death. Again, what I'm trying to show you simply is is that the spirit of the antichrist, maybe not the antichrist himself or the end times themselves, but the spirit of it is here. The horses are here, let me say it that way. And Jeremiah prophesied of a time, now this is the theme verse. He prophesied of a time that the people of God would not be ready for it.
Now, look at me, look at me, team. Look at me, you guys that are watching somewhere else. I think a lot of us are kind of blown away by what's happening right now. I think we're freaked out a little bit. I see a lot of people going, "Oh my goodness, when are we going to get back to normal"? Guess what, that might not happen for a while. And if you're expecting that like, "Oh, I don't know if I can handle this," then you won't be able to handle this. But if you're prepared for this, if you can recognize it, come on everybody, and know how to rise above it, you're going to be all right. And that's what Jeremiah says. He was speaking to the people of God when he says, "If you're worn out in the foot race with men," like if you were already getting beat up in the good times, like when things were just normal, what makes you think you can race against horses?
That's why I call this two-part series "Running With the Horses" 'cause I'm going to show you how. I don't want you to be freaked out, and I don't want you to be defeated. I want you to be able to run in a season where the four horses or the spirit of those horses are in play. He goes on and says this, "And if you can't keep your wits during times of calm, what's going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in the flood"? And I'm a pastor, so what I'm trying to do right now is, as much as I would love to change our circumstances, I cannot. But what I can do is give you God's Word so that you can rise above it. Say amen right there, I'm serious. What I can do is say, "Hey, we gonna make it. And you can run with horses". "No, I can't, horses are faster than me". No, they're not, not with God's help.
God can help you run with the horses. You can be in a season of disruption and deception. You can be in a season of death, and disease, and fear, and violence, and economic collapse, and rise above it. God's Word promises you that. But I got to show you how. Now, this is my thought I had. If you really want to study the end times in the most quick, one of the most quick ways, go read 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and 5. It's Paul's dissertation on the end times. It's fascinating to me. In that, he even talks about the rapture of the church. He talks about the trumpet sounding and how to be encouraged even in a season like this.
And it's a beautiful theological study of the end times, but then there's a paragraph break and then there's a list after that, a checklist I call it. There's a list after chapter 4 and 5, at the end of chapter 5. And they're some of the shortest verses in the Bible, like some of them are only two words, "Pray continually". One verse says, "Rejoice always". And it's these like, it's a set of instructions based on the fact, hey, there's an end time coming, so do this. I think it's a checklist. I think the end of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 is an end time checklist. I think the nine things that Paul talks about in these little, bitty verses at the end of 1 Thessalonians 5 give us the way to run with the horses.
And so, I want to teach you all nine. Now, nine is too many, that's why there's two parts to this series. I'm going to give you four today 'cause I give you this longer introduction. And then the next week, I'll give you the last five, sound good to everybody? And I want you to write these down. I want you to, when you feel fearful, whenever you feel overwhelmed, when you feel like the horses are running faster than you can run, I want you to just go read short verses. Go back to the checklist. And really all you would have to do is as you read each one of them, saying, "Yep. Oh nope, nope, let me get that one back in order. Yep. Oh, this one's not..."
And literally it's a checklist, I'm serious, I'm very serious about this. Like when you have those days where you think, "Oh my goodness, I don't know if I can handle the season that we're in," just go back to God's Word and you'll be able to run with the horses. Here's the first one, take some notes, I'm just going to give you four today, and we'll give you the last five next week. The first one is I want you to run with covering I'm calling it, covering. In other words, I'm not going to run alone. I'm not going to run out there on my own. I'm not going to try to handle this by myself. Listen to me, you were not designed to go through tough things by yourself.
God puts us in families, spiritual families, natural families. And God has... I know some people don't like to talk about this, but he has spiritual authority in your life for your good, not for your oppression. He puts inside organizations, structures that are supposed to be a blessing to you, literally four of them. That we're supposed to have civil leadership, mayors, governors, councilmen and women, principals if you're a student, teachers, police officers, firefighters. There are people in civil authority that are supposed to be there for our protection and our good. We have them in the spiritual arena with pastors, and small group leaders, and people that I'm just not running by myself. No, no, no, I'm under a covering. I'm under an umbrella of protection.
So, it's raining around me, but I'm not getting wet. Are you all following me, everybody? You have it, supposed to have it in the workplace or school place. So, if you're a student, it's in the school place. Or if you're an employee, it's your employer. Supposed to be there for it to be a blessing. And then we're up under that covering. Like I don't live out on my own. No, no, I got an employer who takes care of me and watches over me. And of course, we have it also fourthly in the parental, in the family area, they're our parents. And that's why Paul starts the checklist. Now watch this, he starts the checklist with, "Hey, let me just start right here, dear brothers and sisters. Honor, honor those who are leaders in the Lord's work". And by the way, it's not just talking about like pastors, they're all supposed to be in the Lord's work. "They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work".
When I was just a teenager, I got saved at 15 years old, and when I was just a teenager, this is one of the first principles I ever learned was the principle of honor. Now, I'm just going to say to you that was a challenge for me personally with my family. I have a very godly dad, very godly mom. My dad's now in heaven, he's been into heaven ten years now. And my mom's still here with us, and but my dad, when I was a teenager, had a very serious disease that caused him to lose blood continually. He had a colitis type of a problem in his intestines, and he was really hurting a lot of times.
And that made him, I'm just going to... I can say this. I don't say this out of dishonor, I'm just going to tell, I'm just telling you it made him fairly cranky from time to time. And he would just... he would be quite irritable because of what he was going through. And it really happened, the culmination of that happened right in like my high school years, so much so that when I would bring people over to my house, friends over, almost always dad would just be a little rough on them and it was embarrassing to me. And honestly, it created a point of like, "I don't think I like this too much".
And I remember having the feelings of I would just love to get away from him. I would just love... he embarrassed me, he's rough on my friends. Like I wish he just could be happy sometime. You know, and again, let me just be very clear he was a very godly man, he was just sick. He was sick and it was very, very difficult for him. And then in one of the first teachings I ever got was this teaching of honoring my parents. I'll never forget my youth pastor saying, "I don't care how they treat you, honor them and watch how God will cover you, and you will be supernaturally blessed and favored by God". And I just remember like buying into that principle.
Now, in know that's difficult for some people right now 'cause we see some people that are supposed to be taking care of us not taking care of us. And I get that. And I'm not saying you submit yourself to abuse and things like that, that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying in my heart, I'm going to do everything I can to step under the covering of those God has placed in my life, amen everybody, you hearing this? Why? Because we're always better together. That was the first checklist, like don't get disconnected. Run to those safe places of covering in your life right now and watch what God does.
Here's number two, and that is Paul says, "After you run with covering, make sure your relational covering is there". He said, "Run with ministry". Like, now approach the problem not as something you're just trying to avoid yourself and like, "Oh, I wonder if this is going to affect me". No, no, no, he says, "Brothers and sisters, I urge you," like you go into action for those that this spirit of the horse is impacting right now, "and warn those who are lazy". I love that. "Encourage those who are timid, and take tender care of those who are weak". What is the Bible saying here? He's saying really in a season of the four horses, now watch this, you'll have a choice either to be someone who kind of is going to protect yourself, or you're going to go into action and take care of others. Y'all know I'm right now, I'm in a very long process of research and writing.
I thought I was going to be done this spring, but actually it looks like I'm going to need another six months to finish this book I'm writing on the topic of depression. It's actually, I've even second guessed whether I should do it because it has turned out to be one of the most in-depth projects I've ever been a part of in my whole life. And it's kind of, you know, been difficult. And so, but y'all pray for me, I really believe God wants to bring this message of hope in the middle of depression. And but as I was writing it, one of the things that I cannot get away from in the research is how one of the ways that you get out of your depression is to have purpose in your life. Like it's almost impossible to get out of a depressed state without knowing your calling, and your ministry, and your identity, and what you're on earth for.
And not only that, but that the moment you actually step into action to do something to help others, it actually does more to help you. And I believe that, and I think that's what Paul is trying to teach us here. That if you find yourself...look at me, come on, listen to this. If you find yourself in a place where this season we're in is like caused fear and kind of made you want to run and hide, and you're going to end up deeper into that place. But if you'll step into it and say, "I was made for this season in history. I was made. God by his sovereign design put Chris Hodges in 2020 for the moments we're living right now, let's go". It changes everything. And that the antidote to needing ministry is to do ministry. Like if you find yourself like, "Oh my God, I'm really not doing so well," it's probably 'cause you need to step up and be a part of Serve Day.
And by the way, don't let Serve Day end. I know it was yesterday, but keep on serving, everybody. Put those red shirts on every week and go find somebody's life to touch in Jesus's name. Here's the third one. Are y'all getting anything out of this today? I'm telling you, I'm giving you a checklist. I'm going to run with these horses by making sure I'm covered. I'm going to run with the horses by I'm going to be a person who steps into it as ministry. Here's the third one, this is a good one, and that is run with grace, grace. Y'all know what grace is, right? Mercy, mercy is not getting what you do deserve. But grace is giving something they didn't deserve.
And Paul says, "No, no, no, a lot of people are all mercy oriented, but you need to be grace oriented". He says in the next verse, I'm just giving you the checklist at the end of 1 Thessalonians. Watch this, he says, "See that no one pays back evil for evil". So, somebody does something evil for you, don't pay back evil. Give him mercy, that's mercy. But he doesn't stop there. He says, "Not only don't pay him back, show him mercy," he says, "but always also try to actually give them something they didn't deserve". Go ahead and do something good to the person. Jesus said that, go bless those who persecute you. Don't just not be involved, "Okay, I'm going to let it go this time". No, no, no, I'm going to find a way to every person who's done something to me, I'm not even going to forgive it, I'm going to give toward it. It's a different spirit.
I'm telling you, church, and if we'll do that right now in this season 'cause y'all know people are on edge. Has anybody else been out there and noticed that with me? They're on edge. And it's almost like hard enough just to forgive people in that situation, but I'm telling you, God is calling us to step into that situation and do some good. I was reminded of that movie, I don't know if you've seen the play or the musical, "Les Miserables". It's a fantastic story of Jean Valjean, who gets released from prison and gets taken in by a priest. And in the middle of the night while the priest is sleeping, steals from the priest, commits another crime, gets caught. And when they bring him back to the priest, the priest not only forgave him, but said, "No, no, no, keep those things. I gave him those things".
And it was the things that he stole, those items that he actually ended up being able to make a brand new life, becoming wealthy, and helping others. And I was just thinking about how powerful a principle it is right now, the tendency inside of all of us is very litigious. We would rather just, "Well, I'm going to take you to court. I will do this. Well, you shouldn't have". And I get what's going on right now in the world around us. It makes you want to do that. Listen to me, bless those who persecute you. That we don't give people what they deserve, we give people what they need. And I want to encourage you to do that. And if you'll do that, I'm going to promise you that you're going to run with the horses. Are y'all getting anything out of this, everybody? This is important.
So, I'm going to run with covering. Man, I'm going to do that. I'm going to run in these ways that helps with grace. Here's the last one, and that is I'm going to run with joy. You ever wanted to memorize a verse of the Bible, go ahead and try this one, all right? It's pretty short, and that is, "Always". Everybody say, "Always". Well, it's pretty difficult, isn't it, sometimes? But the Bible says, "Always be joyful". How can you always be joyful when everything's not always joyful? How do you be joyful in the middle of times where you want to cry your eyes out? How do you be joyful in the times where things feel so overwhelming? There's only one answer, by the way, is you got to make a choice. 'Cause you're not going to feel it, you just have to do it.
And that's why the Bible says in Nehemiah chapter 8, "Do not grieve". I know that's where a lot of people are right now, don't grieve 'cause it's the joy of the Lord that is your strength. And we're going to make a choice to be joyful in the middle of all this. And I believe the Lord will help us, how? 'Cause we're going to run the right way. We're going to run with covering. We're going to run with ministry. We're going to run with grace. And we're going to run with joy. I'm going to make a choice. By the way, I'm having to make this choice a lot. And I'm telling you guys, I'm going to do it. I just made up my mind that no matter what happens to me, to this church, to our state, to our nation, to our world, I'm going to give God praise. I'm going to just, I'm going to be joyful in the middle of it.
You say, "How can you do that"? What's the option? You're just going to be unhappy in the middle of it? Is that going to help anything? I don't think so. I had a friend of mine who really helped me through this. I was having one of my lowest days ever a few weeks ago, just was... and I just, I was really struggling with it. It was really, it was just really kind of tough, you know? And I got on the phone with him and he would just laugh. And it made me a little mad, I was like, "Stop, stop. I'm hurting, you need to hurt with me. You know what I'm saying? Just stop". And he just says, "Ah, get over it, man. Just come on". And I'll never forget I was walking in my backyard, on the phone outside, just kind of pacing.
Do y'all pace when you're on the phone? That's my deal, I have to move. I don't know why it is, but I can't stay still when I'm on the phone. And I'm telling you, something switched like a switch in my spirit. I'm telling you, it was that fast, just like a switch in my spirit. I decided that I was just going to be joyful. And that's why Philippians say you have to rejoice. You've been joyful, but are you now? Well, then rejoice, rejoice. And then he says, "I'm going to tell you again". Why did he have to tell us again? Because we lose it so fast these days.
That's why I love what Kay Warren, Pastor Rick Warren's wife, wrote a book I highly recommend on the topic of joy, she says it this way, "Joy is the determined choice to praise God in all things". Now, I'm telling you something right now. With just those four principles I gave you already, and there are five more that you can go ahead and read ahead of them if you want to, that are our checklists for end time living. That if we'll just like, "You know what? The horses are outrunning me right now. This season is defeating me. I'm going to go back to my checklist. God, am I under covering? God, I bless my mom and my dad, and thank God for my pastor. Lord, I pray for our city officials. God, thank you for them. Oh, I just speak blessing over them. I submit myself to the leadership around me spiritually. God, I thank you for our overseers over my life. I'm under covering. And God, I'm not going to need ministry right now, I'm going to step into ministry. Who can I help"?
And watch joy, I'm telling you, the speed with which you run is going to be quicker. You're going to catch up to the horses when you realize you were made for this season. Come on, team, you were made for this season. You were made, God knew it from the beginning of time when he created you, "I'm going to put him in the season of that pandemic, and of national chaos and concern. And they're going to be the solution in the middle of that". And then I'm going to do it with grace. I'm not going to give people what they deserve, I'm going to give them what they need. I'm going to be gracious. And the joy of the Lord's going to be my strength.
This past Thursday, I went down to Florida to attend the funeral of my dear friend, kind of like probably one of the closest father figures in my life, John Maxwell, his father passed away. Melvin Maxwell, you ready for this, was 98 years old, going to be 99 in November. To the day he died, had a ministry. He was in a retirement center in Florida and had, ready for this? Had ministry going on in 40 different retirement parks in Florida. He's led thousands of people to the Lord. He would go up to every person he saw. If you went out to eat with Melvin Maxwell, as soon as the waitress would come bring you a menu, he'd turn to him or her and say, "Do you know the Lord"? And lead people to Jesus right, I mean, just that fast.
And someone asked him, he says, "Melvin, why were you so just direct with that"? He goes, "Why would I want to withhold something from them that would make their life better"? He says, "It's going to make their life better if they'll know Jesus". And he would lead people to Jesus. And I'm going to tell you guys, I got inspired. It's the only funeral I've ever attended in my life where I took notes. John Maxwell eulogized his dad, and I was over there with my phone, I took three pages of notes and thought, "That's what you do". He was ignoring how his 98-year-old body was feeling. He was ignoring all the stuff that's going on in society, and said, "You know what? I'm going to be joyful, covered, full of grace, in ministry, and let God use me".
We can all do that. And watch your countenance and every part of your life change. Some of you are watching right now, and I want to say it to you the way Melvin Maxwell would say it to you. Look at me, do you know Jesus? He can make your life better. If you'll just go after God and say, "You know what? I need to know Jesus". The Bible says if any man be in Christ, a follower of Jesus, he makes all things new. I wonder how many of you are watching right now, need a fresh start. I wonder how many are watching right now, and shame and guilt and problems with no solution fill your life. Some of you become desperate. Some of you become hopeless. Some of you have even wondered if you're going to make it.
And I just ask you this simple question, do you know Jesus? Not asking you to join this church. Would love that, but that's not what salvation is. Salvation's the moment, listen to me, that you don't, it's not the moment you become more religious. It's the moment you decide to come into a covenant, personal, real relationship with Jesus. "Chris, how do I do that"? It's very simple actually. In fact, the way I like to say it is it's the easiest thing you'll ever do, but it will cost you everything. It's when you surrender your life to his control. He gives you his life, you give him yours. And you come into a relationship, it's much like a marriage. It's our forsaking all the others, I'm going to be faithful to you. I'm going to love you. It's a love relationship. And it would be my honor to lead you in a relationship with Jesus.
If you're ready, I'm going to help you through a prayer that'll do two things. Just tell the Lord, "I'm sorry for the way I've been living, and I give you my life". Are you ready? Close your eyes right there. If you're alone, say this prayer out loud. If you're with others, maybe just whisper it right there where you are. Say:
Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross and paying for my sin. It was my sin. I'm the one that should've paid for it, but you paid for my sin by giving your life for me. And today, I thank you for that. And today, I receive that. Forgive me (say this) for going my own way, living my life my way. Today, I repent, I turn, and I'm giving you my life. (say this word out loud) Everything, all of me I surrender to you. Save me, change me, fill me with your Spirit. With all of my heart, I'm going to live for you. In your name I pray, amen.
Listen to me, if you just prayed that prayer and you meant it, you just got born again. Your life has been changed. Your sins are forgiven, past, present, and future. And God's made a home in heaven for you, and he fills you with his Spirit to live a brand new life, congratulations. It would be my honor to give you a resource to know where to go next, your next step. I'd love to send you this book that our team wrote here at the church and we make available to you, it's simply called "What's Next"? 'Cause guess what? There are some things next. I'm going to send it to you. It's no obligation, no one's going to track your number or anything like that, we just want to get it to you as a gift. No one's going to call you, no one's going to come by your house, not going to put you on any list. We just want to get this to you, ready?
If you'll text the word "saved," S-A-V-E-D, to 74000, we'll get this to you. And congratulations again on one of the best decisions, the best decisions you've ever made in your entire life. Normally, this would be a moment in our service where we encourage you in your giving. And I do want to encourage you in your giving. And I found out years ago the best way to do that is not to ask people for anything, just ask them to ask God, "God, what would you have me do"?
And for those of you at the other seven churches that are joining us today, when I say that, I'm saying give to your local church. This is a great time to give to your local church. This is the time the local church is making such a huge difference in the middle of a lot of uncertainty, so I want to encourage you to give. So, would you just close your eyes right there for a moment? And say this prayer, just say this one prayer, "Lord, what would you have me do"? And then I want you to do it. And for those of you here at Highlands, we'll put on the screen the way you can respond to whatever God shows you. And let me pray a blessing over what we give.
Lord, thank you. Thank you for blessing us the way you do. And God, we return a portion of what you've given us back to you. It's really already yours. And we're asking you, especially in this season, to use it to touch people's lives. God, we ask you to receive it as an expression of worship from our life to you. It is a way that we tell you how much we love you. Receive it, multiply it, use it for your glory in Jesus's name, amen and amen. Before you sign off today, can I pray a blessing over you out of Numbers chapter 6, verses 24 through 26? Would you put your hands out in front of you and let me just pray this blessing for you? The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace in Jesus's name, amen.