Chris Hodges - Who We Honor and How We Honor
All right, who's glad to be in church today? Anybody? I know. Me, too. And a big hello to all of our campuses. We are one church that meets in 23 locations all across our region. Love every single one of you, pray for you every single day. And to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections, we just finished celebrating our ministry to you. We love you with all of our heart. Put your hands together and say a big hello. Come on, everybody, it's awesome. We love you guys. And, of course, those that are watching online, we're glad you have that option, but there's nothing like being in the room. And wherever you are, maybe on vacation, we're glad you're along for the ride today.
Hey, before I jump into the message, I want to draw your attention to a little card that we put in your worship guide. It looks like this little blue card, and it's for parents and grandparents. Our team, our children's team has come across some material that we want to put into your hands, and we're going to do it in the form of a digital conference or a Digital Summit, and it's an effort to serve your families and to teach you and help you raise your kids. Lord knows, all of hell is coming against our kids and these generations. And we not only want to minister to them on Sunday, but we also have a vision to resource our parents and grandparents, so we can raise the healthiest families we possibly can. Amen, everybody?
So, be sure, if you're a parent or grandparent, or raising kids in any kind of way, be sure to look at that material. Today, we are in week number two of a two-part series on the topic of honor. And it was in 21 days of prayer that I felt like God spoke to me, and we were, of course, in the middle of a lot of things that were in uproar in our nation, and that is to be expected, honestly. But what was surprising to me is how vile, and how evil, and how mean people had become, how critical, condemning, cancelling, just, it was just, there's so much hatred toward one another. And I value our governments, and I thank God for laws that are written, but laws can't change hearts. Only God can.
And so it takes the church, actually, to rise up. If there's gonna be change in our nation, I think sometimes we look to the wrong sources for it. And it has to happen in us before we can project it on society. Are you following me, everybody? And so I made a decision in 21 days of prayer that this year I would do the best I can to bring as many messages to you around the topic of values. In fact, in the fall, we're going to do a 9-week series on The Beatitudes, the nine values that Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon ever preached. And just constantly go through these and allow God to do a work inside of our hearts, so that we can change the world around us. And I really believe, I really believe it's gonna happen. I have great hope, because I believe in a powerful God and an amazing church filled with his Spirit, that we can make a difference in this world. Can I hear a good amen, everybody?
All right, so here's our topic for today. Here's our theme verse, Romans chapter 12 says, "Honor one another above yourselves". It even tells you how to do it, that we're to honor one another, honor. The definition of honor is to value, to respect, to highly esteem to treat as precious, weighty or valuable, those who deserve it... no, no, no, to everyone. Every single person, regardless. if you agree with them or not, I'm talking about the person that's opposite of your political party. I'm talking about the mean next-door neighbor. I'm talking about your ex-spouse, yeah, all of them. Come on, somebody. They deserve honor.
So, what I'm going to do today, in fact, what I'm going to do today, I hope I can do it. I have way too much material. It's too much, it's way too much content. I should take two or three messages to give you what I'm gonna give you in about 20 minutes. I actually read through the entire Bible, Old Testament and New. Every place the word "honor" is mentioned, and then did it in three different translations, and the hope is, is just to help us all understand two things: who do we honor, how do we honor? Who do we honor? How do we honor? So, I have ten points. Yes, seven of them are the who's and three are the how's, and so lean in. I did a lot of work. Come on, everybody, lean in and let's go. You ready, you ready, are you ready?
All right, here we go. All right, so here's the first one, and this is pretty broad, but I want to start here, and it just says, "We honor others". And that's all the others. In fact, 1 Peter says it this way. "Honor..." Say the next word out loud, "Honor..." Yeah, everyone. So, you're not putting it through a filter of who you feel is honorable, even the person you dislike the most. I'm not asking you to agree with them. I'm asking you to hold them up in value, that we're going to put weight and value and worth and respect to this person. "Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor".
And at that time that Peter would've written this, the emperor was a Christian killer, someone, Nero killed Christians just for the sport of watching their blood spill. He just did it for fun. Even if they didn't even do anything wrong, he loved seeing blood spilled, and Peter says this. In fact, in The Message, it says it this way: "Treat everyone you meet with dignity". And I'm actually calling us to this. I really believe this is the way we are supposed to act, and I truly believe we can change the world, if we act this way. Philippians says it this way. It says, "Do nothing out of selfishness or selfish ambition".
And I maintain, I think we live in the most selfish, narcissistic, self-centered society that's ever existed, and the Bible comes along and says you're not even supposed to put that through the filter, "or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself". In fact, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interest of others". This, by the way, is the reason why we have a Serve Day. We do Serve Day for two reasons, this day coming up in a couple of weeks that I'm actually calling all of us to participate in, just this one day, but it has some reasons. The first is obvious. There's need, and I believe blessed people are supposed to bless others. I really believe that.
And so we're gonna do this. We're gonna mow grass, and paint walls, and love people, and get out food, and pray for people. We're just gonna serve. We're gonna serve a lot of people. We've got more than 1,000 other churches that are gonna join us across the nation. You actually paid for an app that's gonna serve them. We gave it away to all these churches, so they can use it, as well. But it's not just because of the need. We do this because it's a value that needs to get us out of our own hearts that'll change everything about how you even see life. And we're gonna look not to our own interests, not to our own yard. "But our yard needs cutting". Yeah, but we're gonna look to the interest of others, too. And we're gonna cut their yard. We're gonna value them and put them even ahead of ourselves.
And I truly believe, parents, especially, if you get your kids thinking not them first. And I'm gonna prefer someone else. "This is Saturday". Yeah, but I know you would like to go swimming, or whatever on a Saturday. How about we just take one day and put somebody else's interests above our own? Romans says it this way. It says, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to another". You first. I have grass that needs to be cut. You first, you first. We taught this principle. Tammy and I did a parenting small group the first seven years of the church, actually handpicked six couples. I had them handpick each, one couple that was far from God, that weren't Christians or weren't going to church.
And so there were 12 couples, did this for seven years. And we went through a parenting curriculum called "Growing Kids God's Way". And I loved it. We actually loved this. It was actually very easy. Like a lot of our small groups, all I had to do was put out some ranch dip and push play. And it was nice, you know? And we had discussion. It was a great time. And by the way, all these handpicked people, who picked people far from God, every single one of them gave their life to Jesus over these seven years, and it was a lot of fun. And one of the principles, though, in this curriculum called "Growing Kids God's Way," was what they called "The Interrupt Rule," and "The Interrupt Rule" was designed for that annoying moment in parenting where you're in a conversation with another adult, and you're in full conversation, and the kid just walks up like nothing's going on, like they are the center of the universe.
"Mommy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, I want a, I want a, I need a, I need a, I need..." And it disrespects, and it devalues the person you're speaking with. And so they taught, teach your kids that they cannot interrupt a conversation that already exists, but they're valuable, too, right? Maybe they actually have something to say that needs to be heard, like the house is burning down. I don't know, whatever it is. And so they taught that when they want to interrupt your conversation, just put your hand on the side and just wait. And then at the appropriate time, I'd say, "John, excuse me for a second. I'm gonna see what little David wants from me. Yeah, David, what's going on"? And it teaches them how to honor the other person, not themselves first.
In fact, it is a great tool. It only backfired on me one time. I was actually, when I'd travel and speak at other churches, I would bring my kids, and I did it a little too young. They were a little too young at first, and I learned my lesson, 'cause I brought David with me when he was eight years old to a church I was speaking to in Atlanta, okay? And I'm in the middle of the message. David's sitting on the front row, and he just walks up, and comes up on the stage, and he did the interrupt rule. And I started busting out laughing, you know. And I explained to the church. I, obviously, surprised that my son was doing this. And I explained to them, just like I did to you, what it means.
And I said, "Church, if you don't mind, I'm gonna find out what David wants". And I said, "David, yeah, buddy, what's up"? He goes, "I'm ready to go back to the hotel". Now, he'd had enough of my message. But anyway, but we prefer others above ourselves. Come on, say amen right there. This is important. Here's the second one. This one is tough for a lot of people, and it's very important to God. I'm gonna say it again. This one's tough for people, but it's very important to God, and that is to honor authority. Look at it with me in Romans 13. "Let everyone of us be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established, and the authorities that exist have been established by God".
Now, by the way, that does not mean that God agrees with them. That means that God works through them. That's what Daniel had the wisdom to understand, when he was serving a wicked king named Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel knew not to defy him. He knew to serve him. And, of course, Daniel became an influencer into that culture, that Babylonian culture. And that's what God's called us to do. We don't have to agree with them. You don't have to obey them. But we're still supposed to hold them up in value. "Consequently, whoever does the opposite rebels against authority, is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so bring judgment on themselves".
Now, I'm very, very blessed that at a very young age, I was taught, read many books on the topic of spiritual authority, or just understanding authorities. And for more than 40 years, as a part of my prayer time every single day, before I ever get to my needs, and give me this day my daily bread, I pray "Your kingdom come". And I think about the kingdoms that exist in my life. There are four. All of us have these four. The question is do you honor them or not? Not asking you to agree with them, not even asking you to obey them. I'm asking you to honor them. And you honor them, in my case, by praying for them. I'm talking about governmental authorities. Whether you like the person in office or don't, that gives you no license whatsoever to speak ill of them, to want bad from them.
There were some churches during the political seasons that say curse certain parties. And that is not scriptural. That is not what the people of God should do. I don't care if you agree with them or not. Every day I pray, "Lord, bless President Biden, Vice President Harris, protect them, guide them. Lord, meet with them. Let them rule according to godliness. I speak blessing over their lives. I want the best for my nation, God, in Jesus's name". Are y'all following me, everybody? I'm talking about our governor. Every day, I pray for every mayor of the cities where we have a campus. Why? Because I want to be blessed in these cities, and so I pray for its leadership, whether I agree with them or not. Police officers. I mean, we honor, listen, I don't know about you, but we honor police officers. We honor our military, our service men and women.
Yeah, first responders, oh, you're our heroes. We've gotta honor them. Second place is where you spend your daytime hours, your work place or the school place. And so they're, "Lord, bless my principal, my teachers". Students, listen to me. You don't have to like them or agree with them. You have to honor them. And I'm telling you, you are going to benefit greatly if you'll hold them up in value. Your boss, whoever they are, the man or woman that you work under. "Lord, I bless them today. I thank you for them today, God". For me, I work. I'm a man under authority. And even though I'm the senior pastor of the church, we have trustees, non-staff elders that I'm submitted to. I chair the board, and I have no vote. I'm a non-voting chairman of that board, and they oversee our finances, and our building projects. And I submit myself. And by name, every day, I pray for them. I'm telling you, this is important. Third area is in the area of our families, family authority.
Now, I'm talking about your parents, or your spouse, and I'm going to get to this more in just a second, but we honor them. And my mom, right now, about a year ago this time, we had to put her in memory care. And I visit her a lot. But before last year, I mean, she spoke wisdom into my life. She was on my personal intercessory team. I communicated to her where I was traveling, and just honored her and my dad. I mean, every time I needed a decision about anything I was making, I called my dad. My dad's been in heaven since 2010. But I'm talking about honoring our families. And students, listen to me. Kids, listen to me. Honor your parents. "But I don't like him. He's mean".
I don't care. I'm not saying you have to agree with or even like it. I'm saying hold them up in value. And finally is spiritual authority, those who serve you in the Lord, your small group leaders, our amazing Dream Teamers. 1 Timothy says this: "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching". And not to sound self-serving, I'll defer and just deflect to our campus pastors, who serve you so incredibly well. And the people who are in children's church right now praying for your kid and sharing a Bible lesson with them, and holding your crying baby, and the parking lot attendants who beat me here this morning. I drove in really early, and there's somebody out there blowing the sidewalks off, getting the leaves off, setting up cones. How about we show some honor to the Dream Team, everybody? Come on. Come on, give them a good hand. They're serving us.
The third one is that we honor our parents. Ephesians chapter 6 says that "Children, obey". Not everybody is a child. But everybody has a mom and dad. Honor your father and mother. "But I don't like them. They were mean". I don't care. It's "the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth". I'll just tell you, my dad, as I told you, he's been in heaven since 2010. When I was a teenager, my dad was very, very sick. He had ulcerative colitis. He bled out almost every month. He would have, it was from anxiety and the disease that was in his colon and in his rectum, and he would just bleed out. I have given more blood over my lifetime probably than anybody I know, because we had to replace every pint of blood that Dad to have replaced back inside of him.
This is how I grew up. Now, my dad's an amazing man, the most meticulous, excellent person I've ever met, integrity you can't even imagine, financially brilliant, honored God. We never missed a Sunday in church in my entire life. If you were sick, get a bag. We're going to church. That's how I was raised. You can throw up in that bag. We're going to church. That's how I was raised. But when he was sick, and I was a teenager, he was very, very irritable, and he would oftentimes embarrass me in front of my friends. And I didn't start telling this story until after he was actually in heaven, 'cause I never want to dishonor his name, but I can stand before God right now, and I'm not boasting. I'm just telling you my story.
There's not been a single day of my life that I dishonored his name or spoke ill of him in front of my friends, not one single time. And all I can tell you is I'm 58 now, and I have had unexplainable favor over my life, favor I do not deserve. And I am convinced to this day, it's because of the way I treated my dad. I have, my life goes well with me, and I'm enjoying a great life on this earth, and I'm convinced it's because I was taught this, and I thank God I was taught this. And I'm trying to project it on all of us, so your life can go well, and you can live a long time on the earth. Come on, say amen right there. It's good, it's good, yeah.
Here's the next one, and that is we honor marriage, marriage, the institution of marriage. I'm actually pretty disgusted right now, and I'm gonna figure out a way to teach it better, but how much marriage is cheapened. We stand at altars in front of God Almighty and say, "Till death do us part," and then when our feelings change, we bail.
Now, I know I don't know your story. And if something has already happened, it's happened. Let's from this day forward, let's work on it. But I am calling us to fight harder for the institution that God created of one man and one woman in marriage, that we're going to fight for the institution of marriage. And I debated whether I should even say this. But I mean, even young people getting married today, they're not even thinking about going to church, the church building. You hardly ever hear of a church wedding anymore. They're putting Instagram ahead of God. They want a barn or a field. And I don't think that's anything necessarily wrong with it, but I think it puts us in the wrong mindset, that we forget that this is not about your Instagram post. This is to stand before God and say this is a holy institution that he created.
So, there I said it. I'm gonna move on. "Marriage should be", say it out loud, "it should be honored by all of us and the marriage bed protected, kept pure. For God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral". Peter takes it up another level. "And in the same way, you husbands give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding, as you live together. That means then you have no right to yell and demand and be short-tempered. No, these are precious gifts of God that God gave us. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should, so your prayers aren't hindered".
Do you realize that God's going, "Man, I'd really love to bless you, but you're not allowing me to". "Why, God don't ever answer my prayers". I'm serious. It's who we honor. I mean, men try it today, when you go back to the car after the service. Walk around to that passenger side, open up that door, pick her up off the ground because she just passed out, and you know what I'm just saying? Come on, everybody. We're gonna be people of honor. God's called us to live a different way.
Here's the fifth one, and that is we honor age, age, the elderly, the hoary head, the Bible calls them, the white-headed person. Why? Leviticus says, "Rise". An older person walks in, you stand up. Hello, sir. Hello, ma'am. "...in the presence of the aged, and show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD". "Well, that's just being southern". No, that's just being a Leviticus is what that's being. And I know this is old-fashioned for some of y'all, but I'm a "Yes, ma'am; yes, sir". We trained our kids in the "Yes, sir; yes, ma'am," kind of a culture. That we honor, especially those who are older than us, and we show them that kind of respect. Job says it this way. "Is not wisdom found among the aged"? Yes, it is, actually, it is. They know more than you do. They actually are wiser than you are, young person. "Uh-uh, they don't even know how to do an iPhone".
Yeah, but that's all you know how to do. I mean, I'm just being serious, right? "Does not long life bring understanding"? Yes, it does. And that's why I encourage people get around older people and listen. Ask questions. As a matter of fact, I encourage you young people, get in a small group with someone a couple of decades older than you, and just ask a lot of questions about life. 'Cause trust me, they're smarter than you. They know a lot. And you older people, don't just hang out with each other. You ought to get yourself a small group. And as we Cajuns say, 'Splain it to them. Y'all know what I'm saying? Of young people, just teach them things, these age-old crafts and values. And I think it's important.
Here's the sixth one, and that is that we honor nature, that which God has created. Everything that God has created, he values, and that's why, as people of God, we don't litter. We don't treat nature with contempt. We don't destroy it just for fun. I taught my kids, you know, when they were hunting, that you don't kill something just to kill it. Now, if you're gonna eat it, I don't mind. We'll go hunting. But we're not gonna blow something away just for the fun of blowing it away. No, no, we're gonna let that bird chirp. We're gonna let it live. We're not gonna kill things just to kill it. "God blessed Adam and Eve and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over nature.'" That means to manage well nature, "the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, over every living creature that moves on the ground". You're supposed to manage it well. This is what the people of God do.
And finally, we honor God. This is not even finally. This is the first one, right? That we honor God with our lives. I had this thought of how much really God really is this almost celestial Santa Claus for so many people. He's there when I need you. I don't want to go to hell. I want to go to heaven. Our prayers are like, "Okay, God, here's my next list". And never even thought that we are servants and ministers unto God. Have you ever thought about the fact that we really don't even come to church so that we can enjoy the worship, and then we can get a good message? That we come to church to honor God. I'm here, whether I get something out of it or not.
Now, I hope you do. I hope you enjoy the worship and get something out of the message, but the first goal of being here is to honor, just to say, "God, hey, God, it's the first day of the week. Before I go to work, before I go play, before I do anything else, I'm honoring you. You have first place in my life". And I'm telling you, it matters to God. "A son honors his father, a slave his master". And God said, "If I'm a Father, where is the honor that's due me? I'd love to have some, too. And if I'm a master, where is the respect due me," says the Lord Almighty. And in chapter 2, he said, "I'm actually offended how you give your best to other things". God's crying out to be honored.
And by the way, that's why your attendance, your physical attendance in church, I think, (I was raised this way) is so important to God, 'cause it sets a precedent. I'm not putting it through the filter of what I want or what I desire. You know, I'm not gonna go. You know, ah, I guess I can watch it online. No, no, no, I'm not doing it for those reasons. I'm here to let God, "I honor you. You have a first place in my life". Come on, say amen right there. This is important. So, that's who we honor. How do we honor? Let me give you three things, then we'll close. And the first thing is we honor them by putting them first. You first. No, no, you first, you first. I'm putting you first.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at a buffet lunch, and I was so hungry, y'all. I could eat a park bench. I was so hungry. And I got my plate, and it was a big, old, long buffet. It had some fried chicken, and fried catfish, and collard greens, and black-eyed peas. And y'all... anyway, it was so good. And I just was getting up there, and I was getting ready to tear into everything on that row, and this old lady walked up. And I'd already been preparing these messages. Of course, I would've done it anyway. My dad would spank my rear-end when I get to heaven. But anyway, she came up. And I said, "Oh, please, please, please go". And wouldn't you know it? She's like, "Oh, thank you, I appreciate that so much". She got there, and she got at the salad, and she just picked on it a little bit.
And I think she just moved some tomatoes around and grabbed a piece of lettuce, and then she went to the next thing. And like one pea at a time. I was like, "Lord Jesus". But I'm gonna tell you, God's watching. And I was thinking, you know, God's watching. God watches. When you come to church, I'm telling you, God's watching. And that's okay, I like that. Thank you. When you honor him, when you put God first... Proverbs says, "Honor the LORD with your wealth". And by the way, your wealth is not just your money. Your wealth is everything you possess. That's your time. That's your ideas. That's your energies. When you honor God with what you own, everything you own, with the firstfruits of your crops, it honors God. When you put God first, he's watching.
That's why I always say, when it comes to tithing, it's not so much about the amount as it is the order. The order is important, because God's going, "Okay, wait a minute. You're saying I'm actually ahead of Alabama Power and Winn Dixie"? "Yes, sir, you are. Yes, you are". I'm honoring you. Honor God. The Message says, "With everything you own, giving the first and giving the best". Now, I'm just gonna tell you my story. I'm not projecting this on you. This is a big deal. My daddy instilled this in me long before I was married. In fact, my dad taught me money when I was eight years old. I had a checking account by 12. I'd been working, I've had a job since I was 13, and I've never stopped having a job. All through college, and Dad had the money. He was trying to teach me work ethic. And so I've literally had a job since I was 13 years old. And I had to manage my own money, had to pay for my insurance, bought my own gas, and they had the money. He just knew I'd be a better person if I lived that way.
And so I've been... he taught me how to... we had to do it with a handwritten ledger of budgets, and so it was handwritten. We put everything in budgets. I didn't have that much. You know, I'm a college student. But I broke it all out into budgeting. I've been budgeting my whole life, knowing where every penny goes. I could tell you where every penny goes all the time 'cause Dad put that in me. And managing it that well. And, course, he taught me to always honor God first. And since I got saved at 15 years old, I've never not tithed in my entire life. But when I say tithe, I'm talking about first. And so Tammy and I do this now. Of course, we do it with a computer program called Quicken. And we sit together. I actually physically do it, but she's there, and we work it through and put everything in our budgets. And before we pay our bills, it's very important to us. Again, I'm just telling you my story. Deposit, Church of the Highlands. And we have a moment.
Now, we just switched this last year to giving online. I can't really say that I still like it better 'cause I loved physically, the pandemic kind of did that to us, but before that we physically wrote a check. Young people, a check is this piece of paper. Forget it. It's just, anyway, but we have a moment, it's a moment for us to not only give it, but to honor God with it. To me, it's not about funding a ministry. It's about honoring God. And I encourage you to work that out. That's why 21 days of prayer is so big to me. It's not that we just pray. It's the first 21 days of the year. Those are important to God. The second thing is we honor by our words, our words.
So many say it this way. "You cannot be a person of honor and curse people". And so I'm calling all of us to check what we say about people when they're in front of us and when they walk away. The Bible says, "With the tongue we praise God and we curse people, who have been made in God's likeness". So, if you say, "Well, I don't like them," and you say it, God's going, "Yeah, but I made them". And God probably doesn't like the very same thing you don't like, but he never curses them. Out of the same spring, same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be, and I'm calling us to that. In fact, the Bible says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth. Only say things that build others up, according to their needs, that it might benefit the listener".
The next verse, it's not separate. It sounds like a new subject. It's not. Next verse. And if you do, the Holy Spirit's going, "Oh, man". You grieve the Spirit of God. And here's the last one, that we honor them by protecting them, protecting them. Anything that you honor, you value. Anything you value, you protect. When something's worth a lot of money, you protect it. I want to tell a story. A lot of you guys know the story of Babe Ruth. He's considered to be the greatest home run hitter of all time. He didn't hit the most, but he's considered the greatest, The Great Bambino. People don't know this, but Babe Ruth, of course, signed tons of baseballs, but he only signed seven of his home run bats.
Now, I want to show you something. Harrison, bring this out to me. It's gonna be hard for you to believe. But this is one of those bats, the seven bats. It's not really. I'm just kidding. I'm so sorry, it's not but I had you for a second, though. How cool would that have been, though? It's not. This is actually a bat that was given to me in 2009. It says 1984-2009, 25 years of ministry, Pastor Chris Hodges. A family in the church had this made 'cause they know how much I love baseball.
And I thank the Stephonics for that, a beautiful gift that I've cherished. But there are only seven, and one was missing forever 'cause they didn't know where its whereabouts was. And it was an older man who had it. In fact, in 1988 he was on his deathbed, and he didn't have any living relatives to pass his possessions to, and so he was cared for by a nurse named Marcia. And so when he was dying on his deathbed, he decided to give this autographed, hand-signed baseball from Babe Ruth to this nurse, who cared for him so much. Well, she didn't know what she had in her possession.
So, she's put it under her bed for 18 years. And in 2006, she retired from nursing, and she had this dream of opening up a restaurant. And she didn't have the money to do it. She goes, "I wonder if that bat's worth anything". So, she brought it to a memorabilia store, and the owner was shocked that this was the missing home run bat signed by Babe Ruth. He says, "Ma'am, you have no idea". So, she put it up for auction, and it sold for almost 1.3 million dollars, only because of the name on it. Without the name, it was only worth 20 bucks with free shipping, right? But with the name on it, it had value. Harrison, come get my bat for me, sir. And she took the money and opened up a restaurant, but she had so much more left over, she donated it to a foundation for kids that Babe Ruth loved, and she said this.
"The bat was only valuable because Babe Ruth's name was on it". Since he made it valuable, the only reasonable thing I could do was something that would honor his life. Why do we honor people? Because God's name is on them. Why do we honor you? Because God's name is on you. "But Chris, you don't know my life". Yeah, but I can see the name of God written all over you. And if you'll allow him in your life, to see people that way and then let him honor you, put his name across your heart and across your life, you're gonna sense the value that you actually have, in Jesus's name. Let's bow for prayer.
Father, I thank you for this amazing congregation. And Lord (just open your hands and receive this) I speak the spirit of honor over our church. God, I pray, God, we're gonna leave from this place we're not the same. And God, I pray, God, for everything we touch, everything we do, God, it's gonna bring honor and glory to your name, God, and we're gonna value people. We're gonna see the name that you have written over their lives, and we're gonna value them the way you value them. Father, I pray today for every person who feels no value. God, let them realize that they matter to you.
With heads bowed, eyes closed, just stay very still until we close this service. If you're here today, and you say, "Chris, I want God's name written over my heart," you have no idea the value you're gonna experience once you surrender your life to Jesus. And if that's you, at all of our locations, would you just pray this prayer right there where you are? Say:
Jesus, thank you for valuing me. Thank you that you love me so much, that you died in my place. Thank you for forgiving me and saving me. And today I surrender my life completely to you. Today I've declared that you are the true and living God. You died and rose again, and today I give you my life. In Jesus's name, amen.