Chris Hodges - Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
Oh, it's so great to see all of you here today in church. Who's glad to be in church today, anybody? Come on, give Jesus some praise together. It's awesome. And a big hello out to all of our campuses, our locations across Alabama and right into Georgia. God bless every single one of you, love you so very much. Always an honor to bring this message and then really all that we are as a church into 20 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities. God bless the men and women there.
And to the people that are watching online, we're so glad that you're along for the ride today to join us in a brand-new series that we're starting today, a 9-week series over the nine Beatitudes. And I'll tell you more about that in just a moment, but just so grateful for everybody that is joining us. Grants Mill, would you do me a favor and give a big hand to everybody who's watching with us today. God bless you guys, love you. And when you walked into the room, we gave you a journal on this series. So, if you've been around Highlands for any amount of time, you probably remember the handout. Who remembers the handouts? Anybody remember the handouts?
Okay, we stopped doing those a couple of years ago 'cause people were preferring a digital option, and we got tired of hearing the clicks of those notebooks. Isn't that right, everybody? So, that's only funny if you were here for those. So, anyway, but we used to give out these three-ring binders. And anyway, so it was pretty noisy, but we really value people taking notes in church. And so, we wanted for this series to provide a journal for you. In fact, there's a page for every day of this series, the nine parts of this series, a place for you to take notes in this message series.
So, if you are here in person, these are available to you when you walked in. If you got through and didn't get one, just pick one up on your way out. And it'll also give you some ways for you to continue studying the topic that we studied, as we go through the nine Beatitudes. Some scholars say they're eight. We're actually going to turn them into nine. I think there are nine of them, the beautiful statements that begin the most famous sermon that Jesus ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount.
And if you know anything about your Bible, Matthew 5, 6, and 7 is one sermon, if you ever want to read it, it's spectacular. We probably should do a series just on the sermon itself. It's so spectacular in every way, but the beginning of it, kind of the preamble of this sermon are these nine truths that we're going to study together today, and I want to go ahead and jump right into it. I will warn you this is a very challenging series. This is a series that I believe is so countercultural. Even in my study for it, I've been in a very long study of these values and these principles since really the beginning of the year when I felt like the Holy Spirit led me to take you through an array of messages around values.
I'm really kind of concerned about the condition of humanity right now, and there's so much evil and so much hatred. People are so miserable, more than, I think, than ever before, and we keep looking to institutions and laws to change things, and I'm all for laws and institutions, but I really believe the gospel is the only thing that can change the heart. Can I hear a good amen everybody? And I really believe we need a revival. We sang a song that started the service today that we need a revival. We need a revival in our land, but the revival has to happen first in the church, in our hearts and in our lives, and I'm really praying that we're going to be deeply impacted and never the same, as we study this series.
It starts this way: Matthew chapter 5 verse 1, "Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and then he sat down, and his disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, and he said: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'" We're going to study that one today. The second one: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted". That will be next week. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful," come on, everybody, "for they will be shown mercy".
I think we have more judgement in the world than ever before. I think we need more mercy in the world today. I can't wait to get to that one, "because they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers". I think we need some more peacemakers in this world, too, "for they will be called the children of God. And blessed are those," watch these last two, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". And then a lot of scholars combine these two. We're going to take a separate week for each one of these two. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you".
Now, these are, again, as you just read them, just reading them by themselves, it kind of shows you where we're going with this. And what I'm asking you to do is not just to come to church but to allow the work of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives. I'm asking you to make room in your heart not for a pastor and not for a church but for the truth of God's Word to impact all of us in a powerful way. I really, truly believe that Jesus came to this earth to not only teach us these principles but to live it out. He embodied kindness, gentleness, love, mercy, goodness. I believe even atheists who don't believe in him still think he was a great man, because he was. Can I hear a good amen, everybody?
But he never intended just to be a model for us, so that we could just adore what he did. He always came that we could take on his life, and 2 Corinthians says that we are transformed, little by little, glory to glory, into the likeness of Jesus. And I've asked God to let there be revival of our hearts in this series, as we allow the values of the Beatitudes to come live on the inside of us, and I think it is the hope of revival and the hope for a land to be changed, that the church begin to live out the kindness, goodness, grace, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, there are two things that I want you to see before we study this first one, that you'll notice about all of them, and that first is this, is that the statements actually reveal where true happiness comes from.
If you'll notice with me, all nine of them begin with the word "Blessed". Now, the word "blessed" in the Greek is a difficult word to translate into English. It's "Makarios" in the Greek, and a lot of translators inter-use the word "blessed," or they actually use the word "happy". But it's not blessed as in you have a lot of things, and it's not happy as in you're happy. It literally means, it means that there's an internal joy that the world cannot give you. You're completely different, and circumstances cannot knock you off of that. In fact, the word "happiness" comes from the Latin word "hap," which is where we get the word like "happenings," and it means you're happy when the happenings or the circumstances are right.
So, if the sun is shining, you're happy. When it's not shining, you're not. Whenever you have money, you're happy. When you don't have money, you're not. Whenever your football team wins, you're happy. When your football team loses, you're unhappy... or as in our case, when they're barely winning. Anyway, that just, I'm an LSU Tiger, and I'm already miserable. All right, everybody? So, right, yeah. But see, but that's what happens is our joy comes and goes with circumstances but not the people of God. The people of God are supposed to have something so deep on the inside of us, that regardless of what our circumstances are, we have this internal joy of the Lord, and Jesus is saying they're found in the most unlikely places, and we're going to study the nine places that if you could ever get to the place where you are that type of a person, it's an invitation into a completely countercultural value system that no circumstance, no happening can take your joy away.
These statements reveal where true happiness can be found. The second thing that I want you to notice is how these statements end. They all end with, "for theirs is," or "for they". In other words, the statements show the potential of what can be yours. Now, if you know anything about our church, we named our church, "Church of the Highlands," because too many people only know one part of what Jesus came to offer. If you ask most people, especially here in the Bible Belt, "What is the gospel?" they would say "Jesus came to die on the cross and save me from my sins," which is true, but it's not complete.
Jesus didn't just come to save you from your sins. He came to heal your marriage, he came to restore your heart, he came to heal your pain, he came to put purpose in your life, he came to stir up the gifts of God on the inside of you, and give you a joy that goes beyond anything you could possibly know. And for too many people, they're going to heaven, but they're not realizing all that God has given us. They all end with this beautiful promise, and I think too many people ask the question, "What does God require of me"? And I think the real question is, is not "What do I have to do?" but "What more can I realize that God already provided for me"?
And so, we're going to see this, is that there are some things, like all these "for theirs" and "for theys" that a lot of us just don't have yet, and I hope you get them. I want you to know there's great potential of what God always intended for your life. And if you believe it, say a good amen right there, everybody, all right? So, if you'll go to page nine in your journal, if you already have it, there's some places for you to take notes, as we study the first and arguably the most important of the nine Beatitudes. In fact, I'm not sure if you can have the other eight, if you don't really have this first one. And it goes like this: "Blessed are," interesting language here, "the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God". Know that you can get all that God has for you when you realize that you stand before God totally bankrupt before him.
The word "poor" here... there's only two words in the Greek for the word "poor". The one word is the word "poor," meaning you don't have enough. So, we can say that perhaps if we called someone a poor person, it's because they just don't have enough money. They don't have, they just don't have enough. That's not the word. There's another word for "poor" means you have nothing at all. You have... you're completely destitute, and that's the word the Bible uses. Blessed, the happiest people are the ones who realize that they are completely destitute. I would kind of translate it this way: "Blessed is the person who realizes they are completely destitute, utterly helpless, one who realizes their absolute need for God".
In fact, I'll show it to you in three other translations to see how they were trying to basically say the same thing. If you go to the New Living Translation, this is one of the translations I really enjoy reading a lot. It says, "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs". In the God's Word translation, it says, "Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless". I like that phrase. "The kingdom of heaven belongs to them". And then finally, out of the New Century Version, it says that "Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them".
Now, here's the problem. Most people, especially people in America, and especially in the Bible Belt, don't realize how poor they actually are. It's like if you have a lot, it's hard for you to recognize where you don't have a lot. And if you've ever been to the place where you've been able to attain something, or work for something, or get something because you have options, and you actually are very blessed. I don't know if you realize that or not, but you're incredibly blessed. I don't even know if you know this, but there's probably 99.5% of the world who would trade places with you on your worst day.
So, here we are pretty abundant, pretty blessed, pretty self-satisfied. And the problem is that we will never depend on something we don't think we'll need. And I'm convinced the more I dug into this, what does it really look like to be poor in spirit? It's for people who say, "I can't get this on my own". And I'm not trying to insult you, but I think most of us think we actually can. So, I don't know if you remember where you were on 9/11, yesterday, we remembered September 11th. I'll never forget, we had just moved to Birmingham. The church was only about seven months old, eight months old, and we had just welcomed a brand-new group of interns. We had 17 interns.
John Larson, who leads our worship, was 19 years old and was one of these interns that I was training them, they had just arrived in town that day, and I was getting ready to go do a workout with them, and we were going to spend the rest of the day, as I was orienting them to our brand-new church. I was in my study. I always reserve mornings. I don't do breakfasts. I always spend several hours every morning with the Lord, and I was spending time with God, and my brother called me from Baton Rouge. He called me, and he said, "Turn on the TV". He said, "A bomb just went off in the North Tower of the Trade Center, World Trade Center in New York City". And that's what most people thought it was at that time or a small aircraft had hit it.
And literally, as I turned on the TV, the second plane came into that second tower. I actually saw it live, literally, at the moment that I turned on the TV. We kind of all remember where we were. Our church, at the time, was growing, but it was growing very, very slow. We started on February 4th of 2001, and we had 400 people in the first service, 200 people in the second service, 150 in the third, and 110 in the fourth. We were having a Gideon's revival. We were going the wrong way. But anyway, it wasn't going to be very long that it wasn't going to be anybody.
And then, we started in February, and by the time we got to our first spring break, I realized that the entire city of Birmingham had a lake house. That's what I realized. It wasn't nobody there, nobody. And then the school wouldn't let us use their fine arts theater, because they were doing a play, and they said, "You can't have your stuff on stage while we have our stuff on stage, and so you're going to have to have church in the cafeteria". And we had church during spring break in the Mountain Brook High School cafeteria with just a handful of people. And I was wondering, "Lord, is this even going to work"?
And then about summer we kind of picked up a little bit of momentum, but we were just a few hundred people in a thousand-seat auditorium. Man, I was praying like crazy that God would move, and we were looking for a way to reach more people, and I was trying to think of some kind of relevant way to communicate the gospel to people. And we decided that in September we would have a survivor series because there was this TV show called "Survivor," and we would talk about surviving relationships and surviving, you know, your pain. And then week number two, the Sunday after what would end up being September 11th, we were going to be doing "Surviving Tragedy". We had put it on these cards, "Surviving Tragedy," not knowing a tragedy would happen five days before.
And on that Sunday... on that Tuesday before, of course, 9/11 happened on a Tuesday and that Sunday after was the very first Sunday that there was standing room only in church. Thousand, over a thousand people, people sitting on the floor crying, desperate, going after God. We all felt as victims. We all felt helpless. We all wondered, "What was next"? And why, why were they there seeking God? Because they realized that they were destitute, and they needed something. You know you're destitute when Republicans and Democrats arm-in-arm and saying, "We're standing together". God knows we need that again in our nation and in our world, but we've become way too self-satisfied.
One of the hallmarks of our ministry, and I've been in ministry 38 years, a lot of them as a youth pastor, one of the hallmarks was to take people on missions trips. And people think we go on missions trips because we're going to go there and help missionaries. Actually, you end up really being in their way. It does not help them. We don't go to help the missionary. The missionaries and the missions people actually end up helping us, because it gives us perspective of our lives. And so, I've taken thousands and thousands of people as teenagers and thousands here in our church. It's very hard to now because the world has gotten itself all crazy, and international travel is dangerous, and now we have a pandemic, and it's increasingly difficult.
But one of my greatest wishes is that you didn't live and die on Highway 280 with 800 options for places to eat. Every one of you needs to go to a place where there's nothing, absolutely nothing, and realize the vast majority of the earth lives that way. And you know what else you'll notice when you go there? They're happier than you. Like, they have a joy. There's nothing like pulling up in a vanload of teenagers and little kids with only one set of clothes and one meal a day with smiles on their faces and tears coming down their faces, just to have people to play ball with them. And you watch them in worship, and you watch them pray, and you see them singing songs, and they have no worries, and they're happy. You know why? Because they're completely and utterly destitute, and they've leaned upon God, and they have the true joy of the Lord. They are the ones who are blessed.
And so, one of the most challenging things for a guy like me is to teach a principle of how to teach you how to be poor in spirit. I'll never forget, when I was learning ministry, I've had several mentors along the way, just great men of God who taught me. And I'll never forget this one guy who was mentoring me on how to do altar calls. Like, he was just good at having people respond to a message. And I'll never forget this phrase that he said. He says, "Chris, you've got to get them lost before you can get them saved".
So, here's my goal in the next 15 minutes is I'm going to try the very best I can with the power and the authority of God's words to show you, you don't have as much as you think you have. You're actually completely destitute, helpless, needy, when you get to that place before God, blessed, you'll get the kingdom of God, when you realize that only the things that you need come from the one who has it. There's a verse in Revelation, it's kind of convicting. These need to be taught, as well. I was going through this study thing: "And Lord, I need to do a whole series on this. I need to teach this".
If you know anything about your Bible, the book of Revelation is the last book of the entire Bible. It's called the prophetic book. It's the only prophetic book of the New Testament. John, who was one of the disciples of Jesus, who actually wrote the book of John, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, was on the island called Patmos, and he had an open vision of what the end times would look like. So, the word "revelation" literally means "apocalypse". It's the end of time. It's what it's all going to look like. And I've taught many times on the Revelation and probably need to do it again, because I think that end time is actually nearing. But in the first three chapters of the book, Jesus is there.
So, Jesus actually appears to him in his glorified body, the same Jesus that John spent time with, Jesus appears in his glorified body before John, and he speaks. And in chapter 2 and 3, I encourage you to go read Revelation chapter 2 and 3. It'll just take you a few minutes. But Jesus, through angels, gives seven messages to the modern-day church, seven churches, and I believe all of those seven messages apply to the church today. But in the very last one, the church of Laodicea, it goes like this: "I know your deeds. So, I know you built Dream Centers, and I know you have prison ministry, and I know you're giving a lot to missions, and I know what you're doing, and I'm excited about that, but I also know that you are neither cold nor hot. So, you've kind of become a little bit of tepid," they call it.
One thing I know, I'm a foodie. The one thing I know about food is it either needs to be hot or it needs to be cold, but it doesn't need to be in the middle. And hot and cold doesn't mean you need to be a Christian or a non-Christian. No, it means be one way all the way is what it's actually saying. And that's why it says, "I wish you were either one or the other. But because you've become lukewarm..." And lukewarmness you're going to find out comes from an attitude of thinking, "I'm okay. I have everything I need. I can just do an hour on a Sunday. I can just do a little bit. I've got as much as I need". "Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I'm rich. I'm going to heaven, got what I need. I've acquired wealth, and I don't need anything else.' But Jesus says, 'You don't realize that you're actually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.'"
He was real vague about how he felt right there, isn't he? And what I would love to happen inside of every one of our hearts is to realize how wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked we are without Jesus. And if you ever get to that place that "I don't have anything except by him, and then everything else that I still need is only going to come from him, that I cannot get them in myself," blessed. You're going to end up being the happiest person you know. So, here's what I thought I'd do. I thought I'd take you through four things you don't have, that you might think you have, but you don't have it and then show you how Jesus supplies all four of those things for you. And the first is this one, that without Jesus, I don't know if you realize this or not, but you end up paying for your own sins.
So, I think people think that they have a role in salvation. "If I come to church, if I give, if I serve, if I say I'm sorry..." Do you realize that you can ask forgiveness of your sins and not be forgiven? Because it's not just the forgiveness of sins that forgives your sins. Your sins are forgiven whenever they're paid for. Like, I don't know if you realize that or not, but God just doesn't come along and say, "Well, thank you for trying so hard to be a really good person. And man, you're trying to be spiritual, and you said you're sorry, so I forgive you".
That's not how it plays out. The fact is the Bible says in Romans, we've all sinned, and we've all fallen short of the glory of God, and the wage of that sin is death. That's the only payment that's accepted for them. And I'm not just trying to be heavy here. I'm trying to help you. But if you don't realize that someone has to pay for what you and I did, and that payment isn't "I'm sorry," and it's not doing things that are spiritual. Sins have a bill attached to it, and the bill is death, but the gift of God, come on, somebody, is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Now, what Jesus did, he came, and then he stepped into your life; and because of him, you have the free gift of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.
A lot of people think that God sends people to hell, that he's mad at, no, no, no, hell is a place where people pay for their own sins. Your sins are going to have to be paid for. But Ephesians says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and your sins, which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world. All of us lived among them at one time. We were gratifying our cravings of our flesh, following its desires and its thoughts. And like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy..." You know what mercy is? It's not getting what you really deserved. "...made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace..."
And grace, by the way, is getting something you didn't deserve. "...by grace you have been saved". Somebody say amen right now. I mean, it's just you've gotta realize that you incurred a debt that has to be paid. And Jesus stepped into your life and paid your bill. And when you realized that you worship him a different way. You don't feel so religious and holy and worthy of these things. There was no way I was going to be able to take care of my sins, except by Jesus, and that'll make you love him and worship him and adore him like nothing else. Here's the second one, and that is that without Jesus you'll only be able to cope through your pain, and you'll just have to put up with your personhood. Like, who you are is who you are, and what happened to you, happened to you.
And without Jesus, I'm gonna tell you what's gonna happen. We're all gonna have to end up just putting a Band-Aid on our wounds, learning how to get over it, still hating people and being hurt by people, but just, you know what, just kind of cope with it a little bit, and work through my issue. "I'm just working through my issues. And my daddy was mean, and my grandpa was mean, and his grandpa before him was mean, and it's just in our family, and that's just who we are. We're just mean people. We're just, you know, guess got us blood, and that's just, this is just how God made me. I can't help it".
That's what people say today. "Well, this is just who I am. This is how God made me". But this is not what God has for you. This is not the kingdom of God for you just to go through life and, "Man, just pray for me. I still am hurting through this issue. Just pray for me. I've still got these issues. This is just who I am". And I'm gonna tell you the world's message, Jeremiah prophesied it, that "They will offer you superficial treatments for my people's mortal wounds". They give you assurances of peace, but you still don't have any. Let me tell you who I am without Jesus. I'm an insecure, bullied 13-year-old, shy, didn't know what to do with my insecurities, other than to act out.
So, I didn't clam up. I went crazy. I figured I'll try to make people laugh, but incredibly insecure on the inside. In fact, I was an accounting major at LSU. Come on, somebody. Help me, Jesus. Accounting major. I didn't know what else to do. That was my dad's profession, so I was an accounting major making C's, just kind of barely getting through, you know? And sophomore year, I had to go through a speech class. I had to do a speech class. And I hated being in front of people. I was so insecure to be in front of people, and I failed my speech class at LSU. Y'all, not the University of Connecticut, LSU. They don't even speak English there.
Come on, somebody. You can't pass speech there, you can't pass. Begged my professor, "Please give me a D, so I don't have to do this again". And look what the Lord has done. I know I'm not the best speaker on the planet, but I'm not nervous anymore, because God has healed me, everybody. He's transformed my life. Because of Jesus, I have the power to be healed and transformed. Let me show you the Scriptures. "He himself, Jesus, bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. And by his wounds, you're healed". Watch the rest of it. "For you were like sheep going astray..." Without Jesus, you're just wandering. "...but now you have returned to the Shepherd and the Overseers of your..." Say the last word. "...of your..."
Do you know your soul can be overseen? Do you know your soul, the condition of your soul right now, whatever condition it's in, can be healed by the power of God? It's like this doesn't happen very often to me, when I'm preparing, but I'm having moments with the Lord. I've been studying this particular topic for probably six weeks now, and I've spent hours. You ought to see how many pages of notes I've deleted, of Scriptures, and I knew I wouldn't have time to be able to teach this to you today. But it was on, I think it was on Thursday I was in my study time just working through these issues, and I was on this point about how much God doesn't want you just to put a Band-Aid on your life, help you get through your life, but he wants to heal you and transform you, to make you into a completely different person. And I promise you, this doesn't happen maybe once or twice in an entire calendar year, I hear the Spirit of God speak to me and say that:
"On this Sunday, in this service, that God's going to heal some of you who have been going through torment. Some of you had panic attacks this week. Some of you have had insecurities and fears and worries. You've had loss of sleep. Your stress levels are higher than they've ever been before, and it ends today. The peace of God's gonna touch your life. And at the end of this service, we're going to end a little differently than we normally do, and I'm going to pray for everybody who's been going through a level of anxiety that nobody even knows about. And today, God heals you by the power of God. Because we're not here just to say, 'Well, come on, just hang in there. It's gonna be okay. Peace, peace.' 'But there is no peace, PC, there is no peace.' But today there is because God didn't come just to Band-Aid you. He came to heal you, in Jesus's name. And when you realize you're utterly destitute, not just healed, transformed".
Do you know you do not have to just stay who you are? You don't have to be shy, you don't have to be insecure, and you don't have to be mean. You can be transformed by the power of God, and that's what Galatians says: "The fruit of the Spirit, " Like, you get around God long enough, and you'll be full of things you don't even recognize about you: joy, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Can you believe that you could actually be gentle? Self-control. Come on, somebody. Do you realize you only get these things when you realize that you don't have them? "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for you'll get the kingdom of God".
Two more, very quickly, that without Jesus, you're just trying to find a life or create one of your own. The number one question I get from young people is, "What is my life all about? What am I supposed to do with my life"? I get it, I hear it all the time. I'm around college students a lot, I enjoy being around college students, but they're always asking that, because everybody internally knows. God says, the Bible says he's put eternity, he's set eternity into your heart. He'll set a sense of purpose inside of you. And here's, I'm so sorry. This is just the way it's going to happen. He's going to set that sense of purpose without being able to find it, to draw you to himself. Because only God, as Jeremiah says, only God knows the plans.
"I know the plans," which means if you look for your plans anywhere else, you're never going to find them. "I know the plans for you, plans to give a hope and a future". And the world comes along and says the opposite. "No, you're just an accident". We were just this protoplasm floating around in a scum pond. We grew hair and a tail, wiggled around, wiggled out of it. Ice age came, tail fell off, hair came back in certain parts. Now I turned into a human being, from goo, to you, to the zoo. That's crazy. It takes more faith to believe that than God has a purpose and a plan for your life. Because of Jesus, I have the ability to know who I am and what I'm called to do. And this is the kingdom of God. Are y'all hearing me, everybody?
Don't settle just for salvation. Praise God for salvation. Praise God you're going to heaven. But you can be healed and transformed and changed, and you can know the purpose of your life. Acts chapter 17, I love this. I want to teach this whole passage because Paul's in Athens, Greece, preaching to a bunch of people who are worshiping a God, and the name of the God was "To an Unknown God". And this was how he appealed to people to follow Jesus. He said, "From one man he made all nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth, and he marked out their appointed times in history".
Did you know that before there was a single first year of history, God already decided to put you in 2021? Like, you were assigned to this time in history, and the exact places you would live, the boundaries it's called. Alabama. God picked me to be right here in this moment, in this state. I think he was laughing while he was doing it. "I'm gonna put that Cajun, that LSU Cajun in Alabama. Watch this". You know, like, but watch this. "God did this so you would realize how spiritually poor you are, and seek him, and reach out for him, and find him, and realize that he's actually not as far as you think he is. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'" And I would like to say to you today you'll never live, and you'll never move, and you'll never have the true life, the being that God intends you to be, trying to figure it all out on your own.
Here's the last one, and that is without Jesus, I'm living my life experiencing temporary joys. The game was fun, and okay now not so much fun, and I enjoyed that meal, and I don't enjoy it anymore. And in fact, when I was studying my book, "Out of the Cave," on depression, I learned a word that I did not know called anhedonia. Anhedonia is a symptom of depression. Watch this. Anhedonia is when the things that used to bring you pleasure don't bring them anymore. Like, it's just you've lost your joy. But you don't have to live that way. "Praise be to the one, the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." Watch this. And not just salvation but "and an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade".
Do you know what your inheritance is? Do you know what it is? Do you know what the purpose of your life is? To impact the lives of others. Psalm chapter 2, "Ask of me, and I will give you people, the nations, as your inheritance". I maintain that the happiest people on the planet, the ones who are impacting other people's lives for eternity. And without it, you're poor 'cause every other joy you chase, vacations, food, football, fun, will last for a minute and fade away. And you know it. But because of Jesus, I can have the joy of living a life that glorifies God and impacts others.
One more verse. "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. But I've told you this so that my joy may be in you and that joy may be complete". You'll never be happy until you're doing something with your life that impacts the life of another. What's the big idea of the first Beatitude? It's simple. The happiest people in the world are the people who say, "Jesus, I need you. I need you". Would you bow for prayer with me, everybody?
Father, I pray for every person in this room. And God, I pray that they would realize how spiritually destitute, how utterly helpless we are without Jesus, God, for our salvation, for our healing, for our redemption, and for our fulfillment. And Lord, I pray, God, that they would experience the full kingdom of heaven, as they come before you completely helpless and destitute.
Before I pray for people to receive the peace of God, I'm telling you God's going to heal you today. I want to pray for those of you who just want to give your life to Jesus. And I want all the campuses just to stay with me. We're going to stay together as one church here for a moment.
With every head bowed and every eye closed, if you're here today, you say, "Chris, I'm so far from God, and I've realized today that I need Jesus". Maybe you're even a Christian or you've been in church your whole life, but you realize you haven't really surrendered your life completely to him, God wants to save you today. He's gonna pay for your sins today, and he's going to take out that old person and put a brand-new person on the inside of you, and you're never going to be the same, in Jesus's name. But it comes with one condition, and that is you just saying, "I need you". It comes when you surrender the control of your own life, and you give it to him. And if that's you today, I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to whisper these words right there where you are. Say:
Jesus, I need you, and I'm desperate for you, and I'm completely empty without you, and I ask you today to forgive me for living my life trying to satisfy myself. But today I lean on you, and I ask you to be the Lord of my life. Take over. (Say it that way) Take over. I believe you're the Son of God. You died and you rose again, and today I put my faith completely in you. In your name I pray, amen and amen.
And if you prayed that prayer, would you please let me know? That connection card, which just says, "I made a decision today," just mark it, and in a moment we're gonna sing, and the ushers are gonna pass the offering containers, and you can give whatever is on your heart. But I'm not closing the service until I'm obedient to what I know God spoke to me. Now listen to me. I'm only gonna ask one time. If I was talking about you a moment ago, and you, hey, there is no peace in your soul, and everybody's telling you, "It's gonna be okay," but you're not okay, and you're losing sleep, or you have panic attacks, or you've had anxiety, worry, or fear that is so crippling...
I want you at every campus to stand on your feet right now. I'm going to pray for you, and you're going to be healed. Whoever it is, stand up, stand up. Come on, receive, close your eyes, don't look up here. Look at Jesus. Whoever's mind is stayed on him, he keeps them in perfect peace. I want you to reach up both hands toward God like a person who is desperate for God.
And Lord God, with all these people at Grants Mill and at every location, who are experiencing the crippling fear, worry, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression, I break its power right now, in the mighty name of Jesus. Lord, I speak John 14:27 over them. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I don't give you as the world gives you," Jesus said. "Don't let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid". I pray for confidence, life, health, and healing in their lives and their minds. I curse anxiety. I curse panic attacks. I curse fear and worry, in the name of Jesus, and I thank you, today, God, you're setting them free. Lord, let the peace of God settle over them, in the mighty name of Jesus.