Chris Hodges - You and Your Sphere of Influence
Oh, who's glad to be in church today? Anybody? I see some of you going, "Yeah". From yesterday, we had an amazing Serve Day. I'm a little tired today, as well. It's good to see you guys. Thanks for coming today, and a big hello to all of our campuses. We are one church. Everybody say, "One church". Yeah, we're just one church that happens to meet in different rooms across our entire region. So, a big hello to all you guys. And to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections, I want you guys to know that we have started in a few of the facilities to go back in person to be with those that are part of our church there. So, God bless you guys. And we want to say a big hello to those that are watching online. We're so grateful for the miracle of technology that allows us to bring this into your living room, or into your beach chair, or wherever you are. But there's nothing like being in the room.
So, come on back when you can. And we're glad you're joining us today. Of course, yesterday, we had an amazing day. Tens of thousands of you engaged in what we call Serve Day. It's an annual day where we call everybody to participate in a Serve project. And wow, what a day it was. I mean, I could spend the rest of the service telling the stories. Do me a favor. If you want to see what it's all about, just go look on social media. If you want to, you can look at the #ServeDay21, and you'll see that more than 1,200 churches globally participated in this. In fact, I just got a text from one of our sister churches on the Gold Coast of Australia, and they had an amazing Serve Day there, as well. And I'm just so proud of you guys. But the best news... yeah, do you want to clap?
Come on, thank God for that. Come on, give Jesus all the glory for it. It's not about us. It's all about him. But the best news of the day, and you need to reserve your best handclap for the day, is the fact that 307 people gave their life to Jesus yesterday. Come on, outside the church, come on, at a project yesterday. Come on, give Jesus a great praise. Woo! Ha, ha. So, I've got a lot I want to share with you today. I've got God's Word burning in my heart today to share with you. But before that, our video team collected pictures and projects all day long in every city where we have campuses. They literally stayed up all night doing what we call a crash edit, meaning they just stayed up until the video was done. I got it early this morning, and we have a short little video to show you a little bit about yesterday. Take a look.
Carson: We're out here in Bessemer, and the City Council gave us their biggest need and asked us if we could come here, and we jumped on it as soon as we heard. We're picking up trash, picking up mattresses, throwing it in the dump truck. A lot of smell-good stuff, a lot of smell-bad stuff. We thank God every day that we get this opportunity.
Tracey: We're out here in the Birmingham area, doing some renovation on a house that is gonna be a daytime drop-in center for sex-trafficked women, in hopes of being able to pour into them, love on them, and speak the truth of God's love to them. God has been so good. Mountains will shake, strongholds will break. Oh, if you feel it, as we lift you high, we come alive. We hear the sound of revival, revival breaking out by the power of your Spirit.
Caleb Chambers: We're out here in Carver Heights in Florence. We're doing local projects here today, plus a block party. We're gonna get to serve 200 to 300 people right here in this neighborhood.
Greg: We're at Eagle Rock Boy's Ranch, a home for the boys that haven't got a family. So, we'll make this a nice, neat, clean place for them to have a place that feels like home.
Belinda: All the people that come out and just help us to make our ranch beautiful and also to be an example for the boys. It is a blessing beyond what I can even express. "Mountains will shake. Strongholds will break. We hear the sound of revival, revival breaking out by the power of your Spirit, by the power of your Spirit. Yeah. God is alive in me. Holy Spirit inside of me. Holy authority. In Jesus' name. God is alive in me. Holy Spirit inside of me. And holy authority, yeah, in Jesus's name, by the power of your Spirit".
Jamil Gilleylen: We're here at Splash Adventure to serve families that had a loss of life due to gun violence in the city of Birmingham. We wanted to provide a day where they can laugh, have joy, and feel safe going out and having fun. We're also able to meet some additional needs that they weren't even prepared for: utility bills, any remaining burial expenses, and all school supplies to make sure they don't have any of that to worry about. Thank you for your generosity. Because of you, you make days like today possible. Let's keep making a difference, Highlands. We're gonna change the world.
Chris Hodges: Come on, give Jesus all the praise, everybody. Isn't that fun? So, a couple of things. First of all, thank you to our video team who stayed up all night and put that together. Handclap for them, handclap for them. Appreciate you guys. And secondly, if you weren't there physically, you were there spiritually. You were there through your giving. So, thank you for every one of you. Every single one of you participated in that in one way or another. We made sure that they knew every time we gave a gift or helped rebuild a house, that we said, "This is on behalf of the generous people of Church of the Highlands".
So, thank you so much for your faithful, faithful generosity. It's making a difference everywhere. And before we jump into the message, I do this every time we have a serve day, and that is to let you know that if you want to participate in something like that throughout the year, so, some of you did that, and you thought, "Okay, that was fun," but you're called to other things. You're called to maybe lead a small group, or play an instrument, or be with our children on Sunday. And so, we don't ask you to do Serve projects all year long. But for some of you, you got bit by the outreach bug. You just think, "I think I found my thing". And we are a church that loves to put people, everybody in our church on what we call the Dream Team, in an area that you love, something you feel called to.
So, if yesterday you discovered, "I like this, I want to do this a lot," I want you to look in your worship guide. Everybody, come on, just even fake it if you're not. Just do like this. Just grab your worship guide. Grab your bulletin. Grab the little card out. All right, look at it with me. And there's a place here that if you liked being a part of outreach, and you say, "Look, I want to be a part of the outreach team". You can actually lead an outreach small group that does that throughout the weeks. We'll send you projects from widows, and single moms, and different things that we become aware of. You could actually be a part of First Saturday Serve. So, we do something on a smaller scale at every campus, every first Saturday. If you just want more information, this doesn't sign you up for anything. This just gets you some information.
So, fill out the card. And, of course, there's a digital option, if you don't want to fill out the paper card. You could text the word "serve" to 74000. All right, everybody got 74000? And we'll get that information to you. And God bless you, as you do. We are in week number two of a series that we're calling, "Change Your World," based off of a book that my dear friend, Dr. John Maxwell wrote, called, guess what? "Change Your World". All right, and it's a great book. I highly recommend it. And we are kind of studying it. I'm not really teaching out of the book, but I recommend you read it, if you're interested in doing what I believe you were always called to do. The way we say it here around Highlands is that we believe that God has a spiritual journey for you.
The first is, is for you to connect with God. If you feel disconnected from God, that's your first step. And you would need to know that he's not someone that is disconnected and impersonal. He's a very personal God. You can actually know God. You can be close to him. And there's nothing I want more for you than that. You can't do any other until you've done that. But if you've done that, the second thing that he'd like to do in your life is help you settle some of the issues that keep you from being the best version of you. We call it find freedom. So, a lot of us have issues. All of us have issues. If you don't think you have an issue, well, that's your issue. All right, everybody?
We all, that's funny. I don't care what y'all say. We have issues, right? So, we try to settle those and let God heal our hearts and bring closure to some of the things in our past. We call that find freedom. Once yesterday is settled, you can see tomorrow, and we call that discover purpose. And that's what our growth track is all about, and I'm encouraging you that if you'd like to discover your purpose, you can start that today. Today, at every campus is step one of our growth track that simply tries to accomplish this third thing. It's three Sundays. I just need three. I don't need 30. I don't need 300. I need three Sundays in a row, three Sundays. You can start today with our growth track to discover your purpose.
Six o'clock at every campus, so that you can do what we're all called to do. You just need to know this. You're never gonna be happy. You can't make enough money. You can't marry the right person. You can't have enough kids. You can't get rid of your kids. There's nothing you can do to be happy, right? There's nothing that can make you happy until you're actually doing something with your life that's impacting somebody else's life. Say a good amen right there. I'm serious. Your ultimate purpose, the ultimate purpose of my life is to make a difference. So, how does God do that? I want to teach you today about your influence. So, he doesn't do it the same way for all of us. For me, he made me a leader. He made me a preacher. He doesn't make everybody a preacher, leader. This is just my assignment.
So, I'm trying to make my difference in what God has given me. So, here's how the Bible does it. Let me give you a little theology. The Bible says that God will make you rich. Now, rich doesn't mean money. It can mean money, but it doesn't mean money. He'll make you rich in every way. He'll make you rich in leadership, rich in kindness, rich in abilities. Some of you know how to saw. I do not know how to saw. If I was putting together any of those decks yesterday, I only used two tools, hammer, and a duct tape. Come on, somebody, everybody. That's all I got. I don't know anything else. Don't tell me 5 7/8. You ain't gonna get that measurement if you have me cutting, all right? God'll make you rich.
For some of you, that's so easy for you. That's easy for you. And if that's easy for you, look at me, look at me. That's your thing. God didn't make you with that ability for you to take it just for yourself, so you could build your own deck. No, no, no, God made you rich in every way so you can be generous to others on every occasion. Are you following me, everybody? And so, what I want to help you do is be able to what I call recognize your influence. If you can't see it, you can't do it. That's my whole message today, as I'm going to help you see it. Because for some of you, you're still not in the game. All right?
And I will never rest until everybody knows God, finds freedom, discovers purpose, and gets in the game making a difference. I am on a mission. Be clear. That's why I try to influence more than 1,200 churches to do the same. I'm on a mission for everybody to do something with their life that's making a difference. I will not rest. You'll keep hearing it. If you get tired of hearing it, you're gonna have to go to another church. I'm gonna keep telling you that you can know God, find freedom, discover your purpose, and make a difference. And so, I'm trying to help you, but you can't do it. We have to recognize our influence before we can exercise our influence, and I'm gonna help you. It's Galatians chapter 6, says it this way. "Make a careful exploration..."
That's what we're gonna do in the next 15 minutes. We're gonna make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you've been given. Now, God's given you some work, whether you're doing it or not, and we're gonna make a careful exploration of that, and then we're gonna sink ourselves into that. To do that, I'm gonna teach you one Greek word. Say, "Chris, what's a Greek word"? Well, your New Testament is written, original transcripts of the New Testament are in what's called the Greek language. In order to get the biggest truth, because the Bible wasn't written in English. You have to go back to what we call original languages. Old Testament, Hebrew. New Testament, Greek.
So, one of the things I like to do for you every single week when I study the Bible is I have the verses I'm gonna share, and then I go read them in original languages, because they're gonna give us deeper truths that the English language just doesn't have words for. So, I'm gonna give you deeper truth today, and I want to do it in a fairly long story, but I just thought it'd be fun to read the whole thing. In Acts chapter 16, the Bible says this. "Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave..." And this is a lady who was actually trafficked. She's a trafficking victim here, "...who had a spirit by which she predicted the future".
So, her pimp or her handler, or whatever you want to call this person, was using her to make money. "She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling". She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God..." How did she know that? Because she was actually getting in touch with the spirit world, and she saw that. "...who are telling you the way to be saved". She actually told the truth there. "She kept this up for many days". But she was trying to create confusion for the work that they were doing. "Finally, Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit," not to the girl, but to the spirit, "'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!'"
Don't you love the Bible? By the way, if you get bored, read the Bible. It is so exciting, everybody. It's just got great stories in this, right? I mean, why do drugs, when you can do Scripture? Come on, somebody, all right? Right. "At that moment the spirit left her. And when her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone," the Bible says, "they seized Paul and Silas, dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and they said, 'These men are Jews, and they're throwing our city into an uproar, advocating customs that are unlawful for us Romans to accept or to practice.' And the crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully".
So, now the jailer's involved. Are you getting the picture? "And when he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks". And about midnight Paul and Silas weren't crying. They weren't whining. They were using even jail, even their prison sentence, to worship God and try to use it as a place of influence. "And they were praying and singing hymns to God". And the other prisoners were actually experiencing the presence of God, even in jail. Are y'all following that, everybody? This is so great. "And suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And all at once the prison doors flew open". God did that. "And everyone's chains came loose".
That was supernatural. "And the jailer woke up, when he saw the prison's door open". He goes, "This is not gonna be good for me, that everybody is all of a sudden gone, all the people I'm supposed to defend". "And he drew his sword, and he was just gonna kill himself". He knew that was better than what would happen to him, 'cause he thought the prisoners had escaped. "But Paul shouted, 'Don't harm yourself! We haven't left. We're still here.' The jailer called for lights, and rushed in, fell trembling before Paul and Silas, and he brought them out and asked", here we go, "Sirs", this is the jailer now, "What could I do to become a Christian? 'Cause you guys obviously have God on your side. What can I do to become a Christian"?
Now watch this. "They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.'" Here's my word, "'you and your household.'" Your household. Now, the Greek word there is oikos. You don't need to know that. I need to know that for you. But the word oikos means it's not your household, like the people you live with. It's your household. It is literally means your sphere of influence. It's your relational domain. So, it could read like this. "If you believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved, and you will have a profound impact on your sphere of influence".
That's what that word literally means. And that's what you need to hear, that when you become a Christian, it wasn't just for you, that you were supposed to use your Christianity and let that as you find Jesus and believe on him to be saved, you and everybody around you can be saved, as well. What happens is we leave that up to the church to do or the pastor to do. I'm doing the best I can, and I'll play my role. But God's plan is for all of us to be saved and then use our sphere of influence, our household to make a difference. Wouldn't it be great that you live, find Jesus, and then by the time you die, everybody in your sphere of influence has met Jesus, as well. Amen, everybody? That's the hope. So, how do we find it?
Again, I'm trying to just help you recognize your influence. Here's where it gets very practical. There's three areas. The first is you need to look around your people. So, if you're trying to find your sphere of influence, it's going to be those that are closest to you in proximity. So, I'm talking about your people. I'm talking about your family, talking about your friends, talking about your coworkers, I'm talking about your classmates, I'm talking about your neighbors. Mark chapter 9 says, "Go home to your family and tell your friends and your family how much the Lord has done for you". By the way, notice that it doesn't say, "And tell them how they're going to hell," or "Tell them how bad they are, and tell them they're a cult, or they're following the wrong thing, or they're just gonna die". No, no, just tell them what God's done for you. Just be a witness. Tell them what happened to you and how he has had mercy on you.
Now, this is your oikos. This is your sphere of influence. Sociologists say it's about 12 people. So, they find that number out by if you added up all the time you spend with people, and I'm talking about face to face. So, if you went through a week and added up all the time that you spend with people, and if you added it up, and it equals an hour or more for that week, no one's gonna have about more than 12 people. That's your sphere of influence. Now, I'm encouraging you to look right there first, just to say, "God, would you use me, and would you give opportunities just to tell what God's done inside of me"?
Next week, I'm gonna show you how. I'm gonna get a little bit more personal, how you can reach one person at a time. 'Cause, really, the way we change the world is just to change our world. Can I hear a good amen, everybody? And I know that's scary for some of you. You think, "I don't know how to do that. It feels awkward. I don't know what to say. I'm afraid I'm gonna get rejected". I get it. I feel the same way. But I'm gonna show you because this is the assignment God's given us. And if you do, you're gonna sense the presence of God on your life in a way like you've never had before, because you were created to make a difference. Here's the second one. I'm gonna go a little deeper on this one, and that is not just my people, but also my place, my place. And what I mean by place is that every one of us live in a different type of place in society. And I believe we were all called to use our influence in that place.
Let me tell you a story. In 1975, two great men who I would consider apostles, modern-day apostles, had met together. But just because they had randomly found each other in the same city. One was named Loren Cunningham, who's the founder of Youth with a Mission, who has literally sent hundreds of thousands, if not millions of young people as missionaries into the world, and then a man named Bill Bright, who was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. He's now in heaven, and he probably will go down in history, Bill Bright will, as having led more people to Christ than any person who had ever lived, and that includes Billy Graham. He created what was called "The Jesus Film," and more than a billion, with a b, people have seen this film, and unto millions have received Christ just through the creation of what was called "The Jesus Film".
They were texting each other. No, I guess they really weren't texting in 1975. They were calling each other, and they met each other, found out they were both in Colorado on vacation, and they decided to meet for lunch the next day. When they had met the night before, God gave both of them an open vision. They saw a vision. They didn't know that each of them were having it. But when they got to the lunch table the next day, they both told the exact same story, that the night before God visited them and gave them seven areas of society that must be influenced by God in order for us to see the harvest that God always intends, and that one of the problems with the modern-day thinking (and I think it still exists today) is that we only think of the church as being a place of influence, but God wants to bring influence, Christian influence into every sphere of society.
I'm telling you, we're never gonna do it, we're never gonna do it just by having church services. And here are the seven. The first one, of course, is the church. Now, that's happening, but right now only about 47% of society even will come to church, so that's another 53% that never even hear the message of Jesus, if we're only going to rely on the church. But we're trying to do our part. We're gonna give away more than 14 million dollars this year to missions, and to church planting, and to outreach, and Dream Centers, and prison ministry. Yeah, we're gonna do our part. We're doing our part, right? But there's also this sphere of government. And a lot of people are saying, "Well, the church needs to stay out of politics and separation of church and state".
By the way, that phrase only was there not to keep church out of government, but to keep government out of church. You seem to know that. And I'm just here to tell you that we need to bring our voice into the governmental world. We can't let the world decide everything. Amen, everybody? We need to bring our voice and do it the right way. Run for office, everybody, just run for office. If you feel called to that, if God put that in your heart, man, I'm just telling you, I'm encouraging you, go run for office. Let's make a difference in the governmental world. Some are in sports and entertainment. Now, when they first came up with this, they just called it entertainment. But how many of y'all know in Alabama entertainment is sports and entertainment. Is that right? It's only one area for us, right?
So, I added the word "sports" in the front. And I believe this, that God uses sports. Yesterday, I met a guy. His name was Papa Jack. Papa Jack played for about seven different major league teams. He finished his career at the Boston Red Sox as a hitting coach. He now has come back home to Huffman area, right here, probably 15 minutes from where I'm preaching right now, to build a baseball camp for underprivileged kids. And we sent about 200 of our interns yesterday over to him to help him finish that dream and to rebuild those baseball fields and put up those batting cages, and it was a delight to speak to him. In fact, do we have another picture of Papa, yeah, he let me wear, come on, y'all, his Red Sox ring. They won the... y'all, that's the first time I had a World Series ring on, and it's still in my pocket. No, I'm just kidding. I gave it back to him.
But that's from the 2003 World Series, when the Red Sox won. We just had a ball yesterday. But what Papa Jack is doing, he didn't just play baseball and make millions of dollars and just, you know, have a great baseball career. He came back home and used his sphere of influence. He's using baseball to reach kids. Are y'all following me, everybody? The fourth area is the area of education, and I'm encouraging you right now, hey, everybody speak your voice. Let's bring our voice, the voice of godliness and morality to school board meetings. Get on the school board to teachers. I believe that the church just can't do it by ourselves. We're gonna use our sphere of influence. Amen, everybody?
Here's a fun one, and that is business, business. Like, take your business and don't just make money, but make money for the glory of God. I have just become, close relationship with a company called Movement Mortgage. My son, David, who lives in Charlotte, works for them, and Movement Mortgage does 30 billion dollars of mortgages every year, started by a former NFL player named Casey Crawford. And in 2008, after he retired from NFL, went to Charlotte to start this company to help people get through the mortgage process in a easier way. But this man loves God, like, passionately. And you ready for this? Since 2008, they have reinvested their profits back into Charlotte, into the underprivileged areas of the city, rebuilding schools and communities. They have reinvested, you ready for this, 260 million dollars back into Charlotte.
Yeah, they have. Yeah, they have. And now they even started a division of their company called Love Works, where employees, 70% of their employees basically give into the company so that when somebody, even one of their employees faces a tough day, the company steps in and helps them out through that crisis, and blesses them, and they're doing it all in the name of Jesus, everybody. And I think that's a beautiful thing. They realize that. I just got back this past week from speaking to 30 executives from a company, who want to bring leadership and godly values into their company. There's a company that does work for the federal government. They do defense work, and later this year I'm meeting with 80 executives, some who lead some of the largest companies in the world, and they've asked me to come, and they say, "Teach us how to use our companies to bring glory to God".
I tell you, there's a movement taking place 'cause God knows we can't just do it in the church, everybody. You following me? The sixth area that Loren Cunningham and Bill Bright saw was media. And then if you're in the media world, let's use our voice there. And finally, the area of family, family, that we say we've gotta let families lead. Before God ever created the church, he created the home. And I tell you, we've gotta put our families back together. Can I hear a good amen? I'm serious. And dads, I'm encouraging you to lead your families like churches. I mean, minister to them, and pray for them, and let's have strong marriages, and let's fight for marriage. I'm gonna tell you, when the family disintegrates, society disintegrates. You can't find me an area where there's the disintegration of marriage in the home and society is not in a bad place.
So, we're gonna fight for this, and that's why we're equipping you. That's why some are blessed. That's why Motion Conference. Parents, get your students to Motion Conference. All we're gonna to is brag on you and encourage them to go stand up for Jesus in their schools, when they go back to school. We're fighting for our families. I said we're fighting for our families, everybody. I'm serious about this. Some are teaching parenting classes and marriage classes, marriage, small groups. We're gonna find our people. We're gonna find our place. You're in one of those seven, at least one, maybe two or three of those seven. Ask God, "God, how would you let me be an influence? Let me exercise my influence in this sphere that's the oikos that you have given me".
And let's use it for the glory of God. And then the last place is my passion. So, my people, my place, and my passion. The third way that God uses you to find your sphere of influence, or your area of influence is by your passion. You say, "Chris, what do you mean by that"? I mean that God'll stir you up towards something that he won't stir somebody else up toward. You're gonna find it, and that's what we try to help you find when you go through the growth track. Every one of you, if you walked in a room like this, based on how God's wired you, you're gonna see this room a different way. If you have a gift of just what the Bible calls helps, you're gonna say, "Wow, there's a little piece of paper over there. That chair's crooked".
You're going to see that I need to go, oh, somebody needs to grab, put that away. But if you have the gift of mercy, you would say, "Oh, my goodness, there's somebody sitting by themselves". You both came into the same room, and you saw it differently, based on how God has wired you. And by the way, one of the worst things you can do is fuss at somebody for not seeing your thing. People do that all the time. "Well, I can't believe you don't want to get involved over here". But God hadn't wired them that way. He needs the whole body to do their part. My hand does not need to learn how to walk. My feet are gonna take care of that, everybody, and my feet don't need to smell. That was a little funny, everybody, because they sometimes do. Anyway, but your feet aren't supposed to smell. Your nose is supposed to smell. And your nose isn't supposed to run.
I'm sorry, that was too funny, too. Your feet, some of you smarter people and the more intellectuals out there get my jokes. Anyway, all right. Here's what Paul said. "Therefore", I love how he says this, "as a prisoner for serving the Lord". It's like, "I don't even belong to me. That's why I'm in jail right now. I'm trying to serve God. I beg the rest of you who are reading this letter to lead a life worthy of your calling. For you have been...". Say the last three words out loud, every voice, "You have been..." I'm called by God. Everybody say, "I'm called by God". Yes, you are, I'm telling you, you are. I'm telling you, you are. How's he done it? He gave every one of you a special gift, not the same gift, a different one. And that's my passion.
We don't need everybody doing an outreach study, 'cause we have cars to park, too, small groups that need to be led, children that need to be ministered to and guitars that need to be played. We all have a special gift. But I'm begging you, find yours. Find it with your people, your place, and your passions. He's given you a special gift. And honestly, God was very generous in doing this. Do you know why that's generous, by the way? 'Cause he could've just told you to do it without you wanting to do it. See, he could've just come and said, "Hey, serve, sweep, for heaven's sakes". But he doesn't, he gives you the desire to sweep and then asks you to do it. What a generous God. Amen, everybody? He's a generous God. He doesn't ask me to lead. He gives me the ability to lead. And he's done that for you. It's a generous God who gives you a special gift.
The word "special gift" there is one word in the Greek, going back to our Greek, is the word charis, C-H-A-R-I-S. It's where we get the word charismatic, and charismatic is not a crazy person in church. A charis is a supernaturally divine gift of my God. You don't know why you like it, you just like it. And there's some of you, you can't sleep at night thinking about the homeless, those in prison, the 27 million who are currently slaves in trafficking around the world. There's others of you that think about, "I think there's a better way to set up those chairs". I'd love to make some coffee. I don't know why I like that. I just like that. God did that. And these are special gifts that Christ gave to Pastor Chris. No, no, no. To the whole church. What he did for me, he has five roles that he only does for some. James said, "He gave some to be a prophet, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. And their job, their responsibility is to do messages like I'm doing right now".
So, I'm actually commanded by the Bible to take my role as pastor and equip you, God's people, to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly, watch this, and as each part does that work, something beautiful happens that helps the other parts grow. Do you know what that means? If you don't do it, I can't do mine best. I mean, the hand can't operate if the arm doesn't want to show up. The arm can't do its part if the shoulder says, "No, I'm not playing. I don't care what you preach. I'm not doing it". But you're a shoulder, and now I can't do my part. So, that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. And we have a generous God who says, "If you'll do that, I'm just gonna tell you", God goes, "What"? Okay? Wow, all right.
I'm telling you, this is the Bible now. There's special blessings for those who do this. I don't say you should do it for that reason. You should never bless somebody just so you can be blessed. But if you bless somebody, you're gonna be blessed. And I'll close by reading you your blessing. For everybody who came to Serve Day, everybody who gives, everybody who's gonna go tonight at 6 o'clock to the growth track, to discover theirs, even though they had plans, because of this message was so incredibly persuasive, I'm serious, actually. God notices. Now, if this verse is written in the context of fasting, but the principle, the principle is true everywhere.
So, let me read it to you. He says, "Is this the kind of fast I've chosen, only a day just about you? You're making it all about you? Do you think all this is just about you? Is it only for bowing your head like a reed and laying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast? Is that your spirituality? You just worship, you go home, and you come back next week? You think that's what I like? No, no, no. I want the kind that looses the chains of injustice that untie the cord that set the opposed free and break the yoke. Is not the kind of religion I'm talking about, the kind where you share your food. you provide for the poor, and the wanderer has shelter, and when you see the naked, you actually clothe the naked". God's going, "This is what I'm looking for and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood".
And then he says, "If you'll do that," watch this, he gives you 12 blessings, 12, I counted them, and I speak them over you today. "Then your light will break forth like the dawn," one. "And your healing will appear quickly," two. "And then your righteousness will go before you," three. "And then the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard," four. "And then you will call and the Lord will answer, and you will cry for help, and actually he's going to say, 'Here I am,'" five. "And if you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing of finger and malicious talk, if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday," six.
"The Lord will guide you always," seven. "And then he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land," eight. "And he will strengthen your frame," nine. "You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail," ten. "Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins, you'll raise up the age-old foundations," eleven. "And you will be called a repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings," twelve. These belong to you. Let's go! Let's do this thing together. Amen? Bow your heads in prayer.
Father, I pray that you would speak to people right now. Stir them up. God, I'm asking you to stir them to love and good deeds. And God, let them experience every one of your blessings when they step into the part of Christianity that excites you the most. Lord, I pray that you would empower your church. for every person who knows their place, and their person, and their passion. God, I'm asking you, Lord God, to mobilize our church. For those who are still figuring it out, God, I pray tonight that you would populate growth track with more people than ever before, that are hungry to find what you have for them. I bless. I bless them today, in Jesus's name.
And if you've wandered into this service today, you say, "Chris, I can't take those steps because I haven't done the first one. I need to know God. I need to know God". And you would know that because God's knocking on the door on the door of your heart, saying, "Isn't it about time? Isn't it about time"? And if that's you today, you say, "Chris, would you pray for me"? I'm not going to have you stand up. I'm not gonna invite you to come to the front. I'm just going to pray for you. We believe baptism, water baptism is the public expression, but this moment is the private one, you and God, you and God.
Campus pastors, join me on the stage. And if you're here today and you say, "Chris, I need to know God," would you let God know, at every location, if that's you. slip your hand up right now and let me pray for you. Just slip your hand up right now. Good. Anybody else? Just pray, "I'm ready to know God, ready to know God". Just slip it up high to Jesus and let him know today, in the name of Jesus. Thank you. Anybody else just joined to... thank you. Anybody else? Just pray. "I prayed. I want to know God today". If you lifted your hand or if you just lifted your hand and your heart, would you pray these words, say:
Jesus, I need you. I confess you today as the Lord of my life. I believe you are the Son of God. I believe in you, and I ask you to forgive me and save me. I believe you're the Son of God, that you rose again from the dead, and today I put my faith in you. I give you my life. (Say that phrase anybody who just wants to reaffirm your commitment to God) I give you my life. I love praying that prayer. I give you my life. I belong to you. Thank you, Lord, for setting people free today. In Jesus's name, amen.