Chris Hodges - What We Can Give God
It's good to see you today. What a joy. I love being with you. I love church. I just, I love church. I normally actually take this particular Sunday off, but let somebody else preach, but I just had a little message on my heart, and I actually wanted to spend some time with you today. And as always, I like to look into the camera and say hello to all of our campuses. We are one church that meets in 23 other churches all across our area. God bless you guys today. Love you so very much. And to the men and women in Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities, we are now in 21 of those facilities. We count it the highest honor to be there with you.
I like to always say once in a while, you're not a project. You are our church family, and we love you very much. And there's always people watching online somewhere. Wherever you are, we're glad you're along for the ride, as well. Grants Mill, you want to say a big hello to them? Would you do it for me, please? God bless you guys. So, in the next few minutes, I'd like to do three different things with you. And first is I want to just give you some thoughts on where I want to lead you over the next probably about five or six weeks, okay? So, I'm a shepherd, I'm a pastor, so what I do is I lead the sheep to green pastures, and we eat on different hillsides as seasons change, and I want to just tell you about that just for a second.
And then today is Legacy Sunday. I'll just speak for a couple of minutes on that, just tell you what that day means to us and why it's special. And I've already prepared you for it, so whatever you've prepared to do on this day, do whatever is in your heart. And then I have just a short little simple, I'm almost apologizing for how simple it is, message for you today, but I think it's going to speak to your heart today. But let me give you some ideas of where we're headed first. Because of the way the calendar falls, once in a while our Christmas services actually start on weekends. So, next Sunday will not be our normal church services nor our normal church times. It'll begin 121 services over these days from December 19th to the 24th, and we encourage you guys just to, you don't have to come to all of those. Just come to one of those. They'll be the same, right? But it'll start next Sunday, which also means it'll be new service times, so our Christmas service times.
So, it won't be 8, 9:45, 11:30. Next Sunday, it'll be 9, and 11, 5, and 7. Okay? And so, again, those are all identical. And then we do it again, two more on Monday, then we're gonna give our teams a break on the 21st. Praise God for that. And then two more on Wednesday, two more on Thursday, three more on Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day is, of course, on the Saturday of that week, so it's going to be spectacular. This service is the best it's ever been. I'm telling you, I'm more impressed. We spend a lot of time, a lot of effort working on it. And I've been listening to the music and working on the music with our teams, been working on it since about September. Y'all, it's gonna be best ever, and I'm so excited to share it with you.
And, of course, our special candle lighting time. We do have a reservation system that does not really guarantee seats. It's not a ticketing system, really. It's just a way to spread everybody out a little bit so you don't all come to the same service, and we're really frustrated. So, if you've gone online and looked for a service, and it says they're full, come anyway. We have never not been able to seat someone. 'Cause people take those, and they don't come to them. So, there will be seats. Literally, every service last year, there were empty seats, every single one of them. So, if you didn't get the one you want, just come on. We'll help you get seated, no problems at all, but it's going to be very, very special at all of the campuses. The services are more identical than ever before.
So, I know a lot of people come to Grants Mill, but they're all going to be spectacular. Because Christmas is on that Saturday, and because all week long we would've done 121 services and thousands and thousands and thousands of our Dream Teamers will have served so hard, and our staff have worked so hard, on the next day, on Sunday the 26th we're gonna do an online service only. So, I'll be speaking at it, but we're going to provide you a full worship set. I'm going to speak on that day, but we're going to do it online only because I feel like, honestly, I don't even know if we can get them all to come back to serving, park cars, and hold babies, and all of that, but I feel like it's important to allow our teams to get a little rest. Y'all think that's a good idea, everybody?
So, anyway, so just like you, you want to spend time with your families, we're gonna let our teams do the same and our staff who have worked so hard and served you so well. So, but there's still gonna be a service online at our normal service times. And I can't wait to share this message with you. I've had it in my heart for about two months, and I've been working on it for quite a while. And a lot of people ask me, a lot of especially pastors ask me, but even some of you have asked, "Tell me about your personal quiet time with the Lord every day". And I love that time. I won't get too in detailed to that, but I do have a, I have my most special time with the Lord every year at the last week of the year, and it's when I take about two days, and I reflect on the previous year, and I make plans for the new year.
And I'm going to share that with you, the process that I go through and the things that I do. And, you know, I have lists and questions I ask myself. That doesn't surprise you that I have lists. Right everybody? Where are my list people, where y'all at? Help me out, help me. There they are. I just love you. Y'all get me, all right? And yeah, if I had a list of everything I like, lists would be at the top of the list. I like it. So, anyway, but I have this process that I want to share with you. 'Cause here's what I'm convinced of, and that is there are some things that we've learned in 2021 that we ought to bring into 2022, but there also a bunch of things we need to leave in 2021 and never bring into 2022, and I'm going to show you how to do that in that message.
So, anyway, I'm excited about it. And because again, because of the way the calendar falls, the next Sunday, which we will have our regular service time, is January 2nd. And our team was trying to decide, do we start our 21 days of prayer and fasting on that day, when a lot of people are still traveling? It's so close to January 1st that we decided to just give it one more week, and the 21 days of prayer and fasting will begin on January 9th through the 29th. And I only tell you that because I think to fast well, to do it well, you need to prepare well. And so, we have a lot of material online that you can watch. If you've never fasted, it's one of the most incredible experiences of your life, and there's a lot of different ways to do that.
So, all of that's online. I'm just telling you that so you can do your own personal study and prepare for it. And we'll have you prepared, as well. But I just want you to get prepared for it. Today, as I said, is Legacy Sunday, and years ago we called it Legacy because legacy is what people remember when you're gone. So, legacy is what people are saying about us. Legacy is your legacy. It's what you do, what people are going to remember about your life. And the Bible says that's an important thing to think about. In fact, in Psalm 112 it says, "Those who are righteous will be remembered".
So, the question is, "What do you want to be remembered for"? What do you want people to say about you and about us when they talk about us? And what, they're gonna talk about us, and a lot of people are talking about us now, I know that, but one day they're gonna talk about us. They're gonna talk about our lives. And should the Lord's return tarry, if it doesn't happen any time soon, you know, we're gonna die and go to heaven. And you know one out of one die. Y'all realize that, right? Aren't you glad you came to church so I can encourage you with that great news? And so, that's gonna happen, but that's a good thing. We get this short thing called life to do our best with it and to not just live it and enjoy it, which God wants you to do, but also to make your life make a difference. And we believe it's the reason why people exist.
And so, we've done a lot already. I won't get into that. I normally take some time to talk about some of the great accomplishments of our year. Don't really have time for that today, but our team has put together a very detailed report. For those of you guys that like reporting, if you want to see where about 15 million of your dollars, after you gave it, we gave about 15 million dollars of it out of this house to make a difference in our local areas, our national areas, our international missions areas, and it's been so much fun to invest it in a strategic way to make a difference. If you'd like to see that report, it's at HighlandsLegacy.com. It's impressive, and I think you'll enjoy it.
But today, there's a couple of reasons why we have a Legacy Sunday and a Legacy offering, and it's not because we haven't done a lot, because we have. It's because we have a lot of opportunities, but it is also, I do it, honestly, as a way to pastor us. It's, I think, one of the greatest ways to celebrate the Christmas season is to be intentionally generous to someone else. And I'm saying that not only in this offering. I say do it with your life, as well. Can I get a better amen out there, everybody? I mean, like, really, you want to have a fun Christmas? Go get as much, you know, cash as you can that you can just turn loose of it. I don't care if it's dollar bills, whatever it is, and just go start blessing people. And I'm really, honestly, not as good at it as I want to be. But just this past week, on our little date lunch, the day Tammy and I went out to eat Mexican food, it's her favorite.
I always ask her, where do you want to go? And she always says Mexican food. And so anyway we were out eating a little Mexican food. And our little waiter was so incredible and just so warm to us and friendly. And we just decided to leave him, y'all, a honkin' tip. Y'all know what a honkin' tip is, everybody? For you guys from the north, that's a generous gratuity, all right? So, that's just a, that's a, like a make 'em notice it tip, right? And so, it's so much so, Tammy will tell you. He came out the door and chased us down to our car. And little tears popping out of his eyes. He just grabbed both hands, and he shook my hand like this. He goes, "That means so much to me". And I said, "I want you to know that's a small way to let you know that God loves you. Dios," something like that. God bless you in Spanish. That's all I got, everybody. I said it, and I think he understood what I meant, some way, right?
And I'm just telling you, I think it blessed him. But, y'all, that's fun. You walk out, you know, and hopefully in a godly way. You walk out just, "Yes, Lord". Who else can I touch today on your behalf? Right? Right. 'Cause God cares about people. And all he needs is one of us, one of his strong, young, good-looking sons of the Most High God, come on, everybody, really, to be his hands and feet. He's looking for people just to be his hands and feet, and that's why we have a Legacy offering, too. It's just a way for us to say, "You know what? It's not about us. It's really about others". And everything you give, we're going to give away. And I've prepared. Just don't want to talk a lot about that, but it's going to go in several areas. First into some local areas. I've told you this. We're going to purchase, several of our campus pastors have begged for mobile Dream Centers.
In fact, this is what these mobile Dream Centers look like. They actually are, they're paneled vans, trucks where the side of it turns into a stage. It folds out. And so, we can put supplies and things we're going to give away, and hold services in communities. It's incredible. We're very excited about it. But these mobile Dream Centers, we're going to put into about eight different cities that don't have a Dream Center yet. We're going to go into some brand-new correctional ministry facilities that the state has opened up to us. And then our local ministry partners, we're just going to bless them. We're going to, this week, I wish you could be there. I really do. I wish every one of you could go with our campus pastors in our outreach team, as they knock on doors, and they don't know we're coming.
None of this we told them we were coming. We're going to knock on doors, and we're going to have a check, and we're going to say, "On behalf of the amazingly generous people of Church of the Highlands, Merry Christmas. Do whatever is in your heart for God to do with this". And we found some amazing places, and I will tell you we got a little ahead of ourselves, and we went ahead and gave one away, and we did it because they were having an event. They wanted us to lead. But also, we wanted to be able to show you.
So, this past Sunday night, we went to the Love Lady Center. Yeah, so much of you guys love, you obviously love this. For those of you guys who don't know what this is, this is a place right here in Birmingham that has hundreds and hundreds of women and children who have just recently been paroled out of prison or it's some type of a halfway house, or these are battered women or in desperate situations. One of the few places in the country that allows the children to stay with the mom during the process, which we think is important, and we love them for being able to do that. But we went and brought our teams, held a church service for them, had some worship, and we had just some preaching going on, and gave them gifts. But we surprised them. They didn't know we were doing it. We surprised them with a check on your behalf. You're getting ready to see it. And what I want you to notice is the reaction that they gave. And this just gives you an example of what's going to happen all week long. Take a look.
Female: God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing. And on behalf of the people of Church of the Highlands, we have a check for $100,000.
Come on, give Jesus all the praise, everybody. Isn't that awesome? Isn't that great? And that's what it's going to look like all week long. What's funny about that video is I got the raw cut of that when they got back, and that cheering is about five times as long. They edited it down, but those ladies wouldn't stop celebrating when we gave them that generous check from you. And God bless you for that. In fact, just yesterday we had our flagship outreach project, which is called "Giving Hope". And we love giving hope because this is a unique situation where every campus sets up, basically, like a mall. And you guys have contributed almost two million dollars' worth of gifts to our 23 locations.
And then our teams identified people in need to give gifts to. But here's the catch of it. And that is when these men or women or families come, the first thing that we do is that we bring their children into a place where they can't see what's getting ready to be received. So, they go into a ministry area, and the mom and dad have an individual Dream Teamer as a host that walks them hand-in-hand through the whole process. It's about a two-hour-long process where they shop, unique for their children. We give them all, their children get a Bible. They all get gifts. I mean, nice gifts like bikes and things. Then we take them into a wrapping area. Dream Teamers wrap those presents for the parents. And while they're being wrapped, they go to a ministry area where they hear the gospel.
And I want you to get ready, if you don't shout about this, I'm just telling you I ain't got nothing else for you. Right, everybody? But yesterday along, in those ministry times, one-on-one, 1,038 people gave their life to Jesus! Come on, everybody, that's the greatest gift of all! Woo! I just love it. And so, by the way, when that ministry time is over, they leave, and we get their children back, of course, and they leave together. But we don't give the gifts to the kids. We allow the parents to give them on Christmas Day 'cause we don't want to be the hero in the story. We want the families to be the hero in the story, and it's a beautiful, beautiful thing. And yeah. And I want to thank, by the way, all of our campuses, of course, led by Pastor Dino Rizzo. He's the most generous person I've ever met in my life, so generous we call him Father Teresa, everybody. He's just, he's just the most generous person I've ever met, and our teams just love doing this.
And we had thousands and thousands of Dream Teamers participate, gave an entire Saturday to this project. And, of course, a lot of you guys got involved. And they gave me just a bunch of stories that I could tell. In fact, in Montgomery, at the Montgomery campus, which, by the way, Montgomery blows the doors off every year with the way they do this. You ought to go look on their socials. It's amazing. But a single dad came in who was recently released from prison. No mom in the story. They have four, he has four boys. He came to church during "At the Movies" three weeks ago, accepted Jesus at the 11:30 service, and we were able to present presents and bikes for him and all four kids. At our Uptown campus, a mom went through the "Giving Hope" experience, wrote on a prayer card during the ministry moment, and her prayer card says, "Thank you for these gifts. I may not have a tree, but at least I have gifts to give my kids. Amen".
And little did she know that when we saw that prayer on her prayer card, Dream Teamers went out and bought her a Christmas tree, so she could take home, as well, and we ended up, are you ready for this? Yesterday, Dream Teamers bought 312 Christmas trees for families who didn't have one. Come on, everybody. I've gotta read one more. I just can't help it. Kaitlyn, from our Riverchase campus, is 24 years old, has spent the last four years raising her siblings. Her parents abandoned the family. One of her brothers has special needs. They met Kaitlyn after. We delivered Thanksgiving meal to her just a few weeks ago. Our Outreach Coordinator found out that she works two jobs. This is not a lazy person. This is a big sister raising a family, working two jobs. She works hard, never asks for help. And so, she told us today, "God sent Church of the Highlands into my life to help me and to remind me that I'm never alone".
Come on, give God praise for that, everybody. I just love it. I need to get going. I could, y'all want to hear another story? I just, I love these things. And I'm so sorry if you expected a long message today. Every once in a while, we have to just stop and just celebrate what God is doing in people's lives because this is what we're all about. This is what we're all about. This is what Christmas is all about. And very quickly, of course, some of what we give today is going to go to start new churches, to bless families who are going through difficulties that are in ministry, of course, into our international missions areas to unreached people groups, to Bible translations, which I have become very passionate about.
I'm actually trying to use my leadership and my influence to other churches to finally get the last 3,700 people groups that don't even have a single page of the Bible in their language. And we'll get it done, Lord willing, by 2033, and I'm very excited about that and some church planting. And, of course, finally, we're going to provide for some more scholarships, so more students can come to Highlands College. In fact, just this past week, we opened up the brand-new Highlands College facility that our students will move into in January, and it's just beautiful. It's a gift from heaven above, everybody. It really is. And that just gives you a little snapshot of what this facility now looks like, and our students will move in.
By the way, you'll have the chance to go to an open house first Sunday of February. We're going to have, on our anniversary Sunday, we're going to have an open house, but we opened it this week with our Legacy Christmas party, and there's the grand staircase that walks, go right into placement that says, "The harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few," and answering the prayer of Jesus is something that we've become very passionate about. There's the placement office, where our students are going to be placed in places around the world in ministry. And it's just, it's something that we've become very passionate about, and we thank God that we get to be a part of it. Amen, everybody? It's just a blessing, it's just a blessing. Come on, I know you want to clap one more time. Just do it, just do it. It's okay. I know.
So, as always, I've prepared you. You just do whatever is in your heart. I always like to remind people, when all of us just do a little together, we get to do a lot. And I just want to encourage you in that, and that's what I love about today. But let me close, basically, let me close this service with a very short thought that I think it'll impact your life, and remember this. And that's one of the reasons that I love Legacy, too, is that it allows us to give something to the birthday person, Jesus. Christmas is always, honestly, I genuinely think this every time. I say it's the only birthday party where we get the gifts. And I always thought the best way to celebrate Christmas is to give something to Jesus. It's his birthday.
And if you know the truth about it, I hope you take this the right way, and I'm not saying this to brag or anything. I have loved being a pastor for 38 years. Long before I was a Senior Pastor here for the past 20, I was an Associate Pastor, and I did music. My whole life, I've been doing candlelight services. My whole life, I've worked Decembers, and I've loved it. And I tell our teams, every time, I said, "When we do this, this is not work. This is my gift to Jesus". For heaven's sakes, it's not about me, anyway. It's about him. It's his birthday, not mine. And I've always thought, you know, this is a time for us to think about, this is what I want you to think about, what am I going to give Jesus? And for some people, they say, "Well, I don't think I have anything to give".
And I want to show you a quick little story out of the Bible that'll show you what we can give to Jesus this Christmas. One of the most fascinating stories in the Christmas story is the story of the magi, or the wise men. In fact, in the book of Matthew, my favorite gospel, by the way, the book of Matthew, Matthew gives more real estate to the story of the three kings, the magi, than he does the birth of Jesus itself. It's a fascinating story. And by the way, I hate to bust your bubble, but there probably weren't three of them. There is no such thing as "We Three Kings". There were three gifts, not three people. In fact, most scholars believe it was a caravan of probably 50 magi, because that's historically how they traveled.
And I hate to bust your bubble again, but they probably weren't there, in fact, they weren't there at the stable. They actually showed up to Jesus when he was probably two years old. But don't go home and remove them from your nativity, everybody, all right. All right, y'all weren't there. No, just don't do it. Don't do that. They're a beautiful part of the story, where probably at two years old, just before Jesus and his family would flee to Egypt, to keep from Herod, from killing him, because Herod was bent on killing, he knew by prophetic word that a Savior, a King was coming, and he thought it was going to replace him as an earthly king. Of course, Jesus was a heavenly King.
And so, they had to flee. But right before that, these magi were traveling, y'all know the story, they were traveling the star, and they actually were astrologers. They were actually pagan priests looking for something. They didn't even know what they were looking for. Watch this. They were just hungry for something. And that's true of a lot of you. It's like you're searching. "I don't even know what I'm looking for, but I'm hungry for something". This would've been them. And the Bible says that Jesus was born, you can read about that in chapter 1 of Matthew. So, he's already born. The stable scene's over, in Bethlehem, during the reign of King Herod. And, "About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the newborn king of the Jews?'" Now watch this detail. I'll come back to it. "'We saw his star as it rose.'"
So, they were following, they were following a star, "'and we have come to worship him.'" So, they actually ended up in Herod's palace to try to get advice of how to find him. Herod actually tried to trick them into them telling him where he was, and they realized that Herod was up to something. So, the wise men went their own way. So, they just continue their traveling, now watch this, lean into this for a second- -for probably two more years. So, when they were going after Jesus, following this star, it wasn't like one evening they saw it, popped up, and ended up at a stable. Scholars say they probably traveled over 1000 miles over two years. And they went their way, and the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem, and it went ahead of them, and they stopped over the place where the child was. And when they saw the star, they were filled with joy.
And so, they entered not the stable. Jesus is now at home. He's a little young, a little boy growing up at the house, and they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him, and it was there that they opened up their treasure chest and gave him three things: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. You know that. In fact, I won't teach this part, but the gold represented a gift that you would give a king. It spoke to the royalty of Jesus. Frankincense is what, you would burn it to worship deity. And then finally, myrrh is actually a burial spice. How would they know? They actually foretold the life of Jesus, his royalty, his deity, and his humanity in the gifts that they gave. But some of you might be saying, "Well, I don't have that. I don't even know what a myrrh is, and I don't have any gold, for sure".
And that's my question to you. What do we give Jesus if we don't think we have anything? But there are three things that they gave. You can probably miss it in the story. That's what you have me here for. There were three things that they gave him, but I want to submit to you every one of us can give, and I'll give it to you very quickly because we're almost out of time, and that is that we can give God our hope, our hope. The Bible says that they followed a star. Now, when do stars appear? Like, the stars are out there right now, but you can't see them. When do stars appear? In the darkness of night. And I would submit to you that every time it's dark, you have a choice to make: to follow the darkness or follow the light. And what hope is, hope says, "I'm in the darkest time of my life. And God, you're even acting in some ways that I don't think is, like, you're not doing your job right. And I'm confused, I'm concerned, I'm overwhelmed. It's dark".
And I think that's the beauty of Christmas. It's in the darkest season of the year on purpose. But let me remind you the light shines best in the dark. Jesus says the light shines, and the darkness cannot overcome it, if you'll focus on it. And I think every one of us can give Jesus a gift that will cost you nothing but your intentionality, that in the middle of your darkest time to say, "I don't get it, but I trust you". And I'm telling you, that's as meaningful a gift to Jesus as anything you'll give him, because at that moment your faith says, "I'm just gonna choose to trust you. I'm gonna trust you. I don't understand, but I trust you".
And we give God the gift of hope. This past week, I attended a funeral in Dallas of Marcus Lamb, the Founder of Daystar Television Network. And I didn't know them well, but I'd been on the show. In fact, I was on the show about three or four weeks ago. I would end up being one of the last people he would interview on his show, and he wanted to talk about my book, "Out of the Cave". And I enjoyed it. And we'd been friends from afar, and they're just incredible people at reaching, you know, hundreds of millions of people through Christian television. And at 64 years old, he passed away kind of unexpectedly. And I really wasn't going to, you know, go, because I'm not really that close to all of them. And his daughter texted me. "Will you come to my daddy's funeral"?
I'm like, when you get a text like that, you don't go, "Nah". No, you don't do that. Like, and I said, I just answered, "Yes, I'll make it happen". When somebody's gonna ask you to come and honor their daddy, I just thought that was, Michael, would you please do that? If I pass away, I want you to text everybody in this church. Will you please? I just thought that was the most awesome thing in the world. Like, his daughter said, "Please honor my daddy. Would you please, by your presence"? So, I got on a plane and I went. And it was powerful. I watched this family, of course, cry and grieve. But we don't grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. I watched a family hate the fact that they'd lost their daddy or their husband, and gave God the gift of hope.
I watched Joni, Marcus's wife, who's now assuming the reins of this giant ministry, global ministry, television, look all of us in the eye and say, "I promise you I'll never give up the mission that God gave to Marcus and me. We'll continue". And she said this phrase, and I wrote it down. I actually typed it in my phone because I knew I'd bring it to you today. And she said, "And I've learned to never question God". She said this. "At the end of the day, I don't question God. I don't like what happened, but I don't question God". And that's a person, I think a gift just floated up to heaven, called hope. And those who, Isaiah says, "Those who hope will never be disappointed".
It's a gift that'll give right back to you. His second thing, I've gotta go. The music's playing. It's like the Academy Awards, you know. It's like your speech is over. No, I pastor this church. I'll go as long as I want to. I love Tyler, though, I love him. Sorry, I'm sorry. But they gave him two years, too. Like, they didn't, like, "Oh, there's the star". Well, he wasn't there. "Oh, Herod doesn't want us to go there". You know, some people, some people, when they pursue, they don't keep going, but they kept going. These wise men kept going. And let me say it this way. Wise men still keep seeking him. They still go. Like, even if there's blockades, and things that get in the way, they constantly pursue. And you need to know that's a gift you can give God is that, "I don't have everything you have. Until I have everything you have, I will never stop my pursuit of you".
Like, when you get up in the morning and say, "God, I'm gonna open your Word, I'm gonna pray, I'm gonna seek you again today," it says to God, "I don't have everything you have to offer, and I will constantly and fervently pursue you". And you need to know God likes it. It's a gift. In fact, Jesus said, "There's a time coming, it's really here now, when worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. They're the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. The Father is looking for somebody in love with him". And Jeremiah promises, "If you'll seek him, you'll find him, but you've gotta do it with all your heart".
And for some of you, something's got in the way of your pursuit. Like, have you lost your quiet time? Have you lost your pursuit? Have you lost your passion? Go back after it. It's a gift. "I don't have anything to give today". Yes, you do. Yes, you do. Yes, you do. And the last thing is that we can give God our worship. Now, when I say worship, I'm not talking about your 15 minutes on Sunday mornings at Highlands. I'm talking about something much more beautiful than that. Jesus defined worship for us when he said, when he said this. He said the teachers came and asked him a question. They were debating. "What's the most important commandment to all the commandments of the Bible"? And Jesus said it's this: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love him". And then he defines it. "...heart and soul".
Can I just respectfully say to you that the way you worship God matters? Like, the way you love him, he doesn't really care for passive without heart, without soul kind of worship. Lord, I really do love you. Praise God. Tammy, I really do love you. I think, I just think you're beautiful. What else was I gonna say? No. Believe it or not, she likes big old hugs. And I know it's hard to believe, but even she likes this face to kiss her once in a while. And I know it's hard, I know it's hard to believe, but, no, she wants passionate. "I think you're the most beautiful woman on earth. Get over here and let me give you a big old hug. I think you're God's gift to me".
Jesus is no different. He wants heart and soul. Like, when's the last time you gave him your best worship, your best passion, heart and soul, mind, thinking about him, strength, what you do for him. I think that's the beautiful thing about yesterday was the 5000 Dream Teamers who gave a full Saturday to serve the people that God loves so much, and I promise you it meant more to him than anything we would've sung today individually. We worship him with our strength.
Let me read you one more story before we go. I just, I want you to see all of it. I just can't help it. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Janae came to "Giving Hope" today with her one-year-old son. Her ex-boyfriend, this is from Columbus, burnt the house down just a few days ago. He's in jail, by the way. But she has no house. It's burnt. Janae's aunt is an elementary teacher and heard about "Giving Hope" through two Dream Teamers, who are also teachers at the same school. She lost everything.
So, the Dream Team went over and beyond the actual call and blessed them with more than they expected. And she asked if she could even get a ride to church, and a few Dream Teamers went and picked her up. And shows "Giving Hope," a lady that was shopping for her children mentioned that due to the storms last night, she lost her roof. So, it's just like the same day, the night before the "Giving Hope". Well, when our people at the, shows her that, while she was shopping, the Dream Team, some of the Dream Teamers went to her house, and repairs have already begun on her roof right now. Like, she's getting a new roof. So, what are you going to give? And I'm not talking about this offering. What are you going to give Jesus? Let's make our decision.
Father, I thank you for Legacy Sunday. I thank you, God, that really every day is the day we can do something. Like, we're going to live this day as if this is the day that gets remembered. And Lord, I just pray that you would empower the church to go make a difference in people's lives here and around the world. So, God, what we give today, how we serve today, how we pray today, for the restaurants we'll go into, for our neighbors, for everything we'll do, how we live our lives, God, I'm asking you to anoint this church to go on mission to change the world. And Father, for the offering that's getting, multiply it. Let scores of people find Jesus. Let the hurting be healed. Let buildings be built. Let students be trained. God, let the gospel go forth around the world. And for everything, Lord, we'll give you the praise and the glory and the honor, in Jesus's name.
Heads bowed, eyes closed. If you're here today, and you don't know the Lord, or you're lost, or confused, or dark, or whatever, you know you're only one heartfelt prayer away from your life being changed forever. And if that's you, right there where you are, would you just pray this prayer? Say:
Jesus, I need you, and today I give you my life, and ask you to forgive me of my sin. Cleanse it. I need a heart cleansing. Change me and make me like you. And I celebrate this Christmas by giving you what you really want, and that is all of me, heart and soul, mind and strength. I believe you're the Son of God, and you died, you rose again, and today I put my faith in you. In Jesus's name, amen and amen.