Chris Hodges - No Rock Is Going to Take My Place
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, yeah. I am so excited. A big hello to all of our campuses. We are one church that meets in 23 different locations, churches all across Alabama and in Columbus, Georgia. God bless you guys today, love every single one of you. And I always like to take a moment and say hi to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections. What an honor, church, to be in 20 of those facilities across the state of Alabama. And then, of course, that are watching online somewhere around the world, we're so glad you're with us.
Come on, let's give them a hand like we never have before, everybody. Thanks, appreciate that. I'm excited because we're starting a brand-new series, but I'm also excited because, man, we have a new addition to the Hodges family this week. We had a grandchild... number 8, everybody. And yeah, and you know it's the grandparents' prerogative, you know, to show pictures. So, I got a picture of little Carolina Grace. Come on, everybody. That, how about that for a country name? Carolina Grace Hodges, everybody, and she's beautiful. She was born on Wednesday. My son Jonathan and daughter-in-law Grace, and we're just so delighted. Any grandparents in the room? Grandparents, grandparents, where y'all at? They always make noises, woo! And that's because like grandkids are better than kids. I'm just gonna tell you that right now, okay?
In fact, it's God's gift for not killing your kids, everybody. So, if you don't have grandkids yet, let your kids live. Better ones are coming. Hang in there, everybody. All right, you might want to write that down, lesson number 1. So, anyway, if I'd known they were this good, I would've had them first. But anyway, so all right. It's awesome. I actually love being a Papa, and Tammy's grandparent name is Honey. We're Papa and Honey, and we just are delighted. And I'm happy to report that Carolina has not only joined the Hodges family, but she's joined the Highlands family as well. She's become a member, everybody. We didn't give her a choice, but she's a member.
All right, so we have a new addition to our church family, as well. We're starting a brand-new series today; and before we get into this series, I want to make sure you guys know what we're doing to help with the conflict and the war that's taking place in Ukraine and Russia. I want you guys to know that any time something like that happens, we go into action almost immediately, contacting our partners and churches. And I just want you to know that you are very well represented there. We have churches all across Romania, Moldova, and Poland, serving the refugees and not only giving them food and water, but also sharing Christ with them. Everybody, you're well represented over there, as we serve in the midst of that conflict. So, God bless you. And on that note, I always love to just thank you for your amazing generosity. You're an incredibly generous church, and we try to steward that generosity incredibly well.
Today is week number one of a seven-part series, and we've provided with you a journal. I hope you got one of these as you came in the door. If you did not, be sure that you get one on the way out. We, for years, had little handout sheets, and then this past fall we decided to give you a journal so that you could take notes during the series. We did that for the Beatitudes series, and it went over so well, we decided to do it again for this one, and this series is called "Seven Days," seven days, as we take a look at the Passion Week, the last week of Jesus's life. And I'll give you a little snapshot of what it looks like today. I'm going to talk about what happened the Sunday before Resurrection Day, the triumphal entry of Jesus. Some call it Palm Sunday. We're going to talk about that today.
Next Sunday, we'll talk about what happened on Monday of the Passion Week, where Jesus cleared the temple, and there were other lessons that take place in that day we'll talk about. On Tuesday, Jesus spent most of the day teaching on the hillside just to the east of Jerusalem called the Mount of Olives, and then on Wednesday there's not a lot of Scriptures on Wednesday. Jesus mostly rested at Bethany, preparing for what would happen next. Of course, on Thursday, as he's preparing to go to the cross, he not only had the last supper with the disciples but, of course, prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. And then on Friday, this will be part number 5 of this series, we'll talk about the amazing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
And every one of us is going to remember what Jesus did for us, as we study the crucifixion. You don't hear a whole lot of messages about what took place on Saturday because, really, it was a day of waiting and warring. It was a day where nothing was happening, and a lot of people were discouraged. And God's already given me the message for this one as we help all of us who are in a season of waiting and warring. You're not seeing what you want, yet, but I've got good news for you, everybody. Sunday is coming. There's going to be a resurrection, and we're going to have a fabulous Easter Sunday in 7 weeks, as we celebrate the greatest day in history, everybody, the resurrection, yeah, of Jesus.
So, the question is why would we spend an entire series on the topic of the last week? And the answer is because the Bible does. I don't know if you know this or not, but the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, for those of you that are new to church or new to your Bible, that's four accounts of the same exact story, the story of Jesus's life. If you add up all of the chapters of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, there are 89 chapters. Now watch this. Jesus lived a little over 33 years, and the first 30 years of Jesus's life, there are only four chapters devoted to those first 30 years. The last 3.5 years of Jesus's life, there are 85 chapters, and you ready for this, of the last week alone, 29 of them are about the Passion Week, the final week of Jesus's life. So, basically, one-third of the gospels are about one week.
In fact, in the book of John, it's nearly half devoted to the last week of Jesus's life. Why is that? Well, in the final week, Jesus would not only give some of his best teachings, and really the things that he wanted us to understand, as he left the earth, but he was also doing something that I hope happens inside of every one of us, and that is he was demonstrating his amazing love for us. And I think sometimes we can study it, and think about it, and get away from the passion of the Christ. You maybe have heard of the movie, "The Passion of the Christ". This is literally called the Passion Week, because in it you get a beautiful picture of how passionate God is and Jesus is in his love for all of us. And here's my hope, and I mean this with all my heart. As we go through these 7 weeks that we realize the level of his passion and then our passion responds to it in a great way.
In fact, in John chapter 3, verse 16, probably the most famous person in the Bible, it says that "God so loved the world" that he did something that I bet there's no one in this room, including the one speaking to you, that was willing to do. And that is in order for God and people to be in relationship, he had to sacrifice his only Son. Now, I love you. I probably love you more than anybody else in the world. I love you a lot. Maybe your mama loves you more than I do. But I'm gonna tell you, I don't know that I love you that much to allow one of my kids to die so that we could be in a relationship. God so loved the world that he offered, he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. And I just want you to feel it. My hope is, through this series, you're able to feel it.
My favorite verse in the Bible, Romans chapter 5, verse 8, "But that God showed his great love by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners". Even before any of us would have received him as our Lord, he was expressing his great love for us. And here's my case for the entire series, so that you can kind of take the journey with me. And then I think that kind of passion demands a passionate response. Let me try that one more time and see if I can get a better amen this time. That kind of passion demands a passionate response. One of my personal pet peeves is just basically Christians who just don't have the level of heart and soul into their relationship with God like God has. And there's this beautiful old hymn that was written back in the 17th century by a hymn writer named Isaac Watts.
I actually grew up playing classical music. I grew up in the Baptist Church. In fact, I started studying music at seven years old. By the age of 15, I had 30 piano students. I was pretty prolific in my classical skills back then. Can't even do today what I could do at 14, 15 years old. But even to this day, I'll sit down at the piano, and because I was raised in the church, I'll sit down and just play some of the old hymns. And I was thinking this past week of this great hymn by Isaac Watts that says, "When I survey the wondrous cross..." In other words, when I pause for a moment and not just glance at it, not just think about it, not just come to church for a few minutes on Sunday and talk about it, but when I do a deep dive survey of the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, one of the verses ends this way.
"It is love so amazing, so divine, and it demands my..." Say the word in yellow. "Demands my soul, my life, my..." That's what it demands, and that's my hope. My hope as a pastor is that your passion level rises to the level of the Passion Week. And today we'll actually talk about one of the most important topics in Scripture. It's where the Passion Week begins. Some call it Palm Sunday or the Triumphal Entry. And all four gospels cover it. We're going to look at Luke's account of the triumphal entry, and it begins at Luke 19, verse 29. It says, "And as Jesus approached Bethphage and Bethany," which were two little villages actually within walking distance of Jerusalem. They were just 2 miles outside the city "at a hill called the Mount of Olives..."
And if you know anything about the geography of the old city of Jerusalem, there was the city and then on the eastern side there's a valley where the garden of Gethsemane is, and then the valley comes up to a Mount of Olives. "He sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 'Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you're going to find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here to me.'"
Can I just pause right here? I almost preached about this, that Jesus hadn't seen the colt, but he knew it was there. Even though he knew it was there, he knew where it was tied. He not only knew that it was tied, he knew that no one had ever ridden it. Can I tell you that Jesus knows every detail of humanity? And he can take care of our lives. I don't know. I just, 10% of you felt the same thing I felt, right? Yeah, no, seriously, I was just thinking, my goodness, the Lord knows every detail of human life.
Why don't I just put my faith and my trust in him? Can I hear a good amen, everybody? I almost preached about that, but let's move on. He says, "If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying this colt,' say, 'The Lord needs it.' So those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he told them. And as they were untying the colt, the owners asked them, 'Why are you untying my colt?' And they replied, 'The Lord has need of it.' So they brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it".
And now he began basically a parade procession into the city of Jerusalem with people like a parade cheering. And some of the gospel accounts, it says they had palm branches that they were waving as they were celebrating. And Matthew and John's gospel includes a detail that Luke didn't, but I want to mention it to you. So, if you go back and read their accounts of the Palm Sunday story, they mention the fact that this colt situation here was prophesied more than 400 years before it happened.
Now, if you were part of the series that I did in January on the Holy Bible, I did an enter message, week number 3, if you want to go back and watch it, and that is why the Bible can be trusted. And in this, I talked about the different proofs that the Bible can be relied upon. And one of them is that it's prophetically accurate, which is very risky. If this was a book written by people, you would never make predictions in it, especially 300 predictions in it, because it would only take one of them not to be true for the whole thing to be able to be thrown out. To me, that shows the validity of the fact that man didn't write it, God did, that there were 300 prophecies, more than 400 years old, about Jesus.
And here's another point that I want to make, that I almost preached on, as well. I have so many things that I want to preach on to you guys. That is, but one of those is if 300 prophecies about his first coming could be true, don't you think that the prophecies about his second coming could be relied on, as well? And I started thinking about it. I actually started studying the Scriptures about the second coming of Christ, and I've already begun some messages. I don't know when I'm going to deliver it to you. I've never done a series just on the second coming of Christ and all the Scriptures so that we can be ready on the right side. How many of y'all would like to hear a message on the second coming? Yeah, I think it'd be great, too. All right, so stay tuned. All right, everybody? It's coming your way. All right, all right. But here's the prophecy in Zechariah. "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous, victorious, lowly, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey".
So, again, if his fist coming was so accurate, the prophecies were so true and came true, I truly believe that the prophecies about this second coming are going to be true, as well. And, of course, I think people are thinking about it because of what's going on in Europe right now with Russia, and that does play into end-time prophecy. So, again, I think sometime this fall we'll see, but we're going to talk about the second coming of Christ. 'Cause listen to me, everybody, look at me, look at me. He's coming again. And when that happens, you will definitely want to be on the right side of history. All right, everybody? Okay. Let's continue our story. Luke chapter 19 says, "As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. And when he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to joyfully praise God in loud voices".
Now, this is what I chose to talk about. Of all the topics that are around Palm Sunday, my mind and my heart were drawn to this phrase, that they were literally, some believe, as much as a million people, because they were all coming from, they basically had come to a pilgrimage of Jerusalem for this Passover celebration. "So, they were coming from out of town. The city would've been packed, and they were joyfully praising God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen," which by the way, the last of which was the raising of the dead of Lazarus. So, they were all very familiar with it, and they basically said, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord". Some translations say, "Hosanna"! which means, "God save us". "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest"!
And watch what happens while all these people were fired up about Jesus coming into the city. "Some of the Pharisees..." And if you're new to church or the Bible, a Pharisee is a religious person who doesn't know God, but they're the ones that will basically tell you all the things that you're doing wrong. And so, the Pharisees spoke up out of the crowd and said to Jesus, "We don't worship like this. Get your disciples under control. We don't do it like this". And the bad news is, church, the people basically followed that. So, the same ones who are celebrating Jesus and saying, "Hosanna, save us," and shouting and praising in loud voices, by Friday, five days later, they would be the very same people who were saying, "Crucify him, crucify him".
They had fickle faith, I call it. Faith that was up, faith that was done, faith that was excited, faith that wasn't excited, faith that could be convinced, faith that could be convinced by somebody else. And Jesus makes a statement. It's the last verse I'm going to read us. Jesus made this statement, and it just, I can't tell you the experience that I had in my study time, as I was reading this, 'cause Jesus said, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, stones will cry out. The rocks will praise me". And I wrote down in my journal, while I was studying this passage for all of us today, I've never written something like this down because this is not really my personality. I'm very more just ordered and linear and just making lists. And I wrote down in my journal, "Ain't no rock gonna take my place"!
So, I know that's bad English, but it's good preaching. Come on, somebody, right? I'm not gonna let a rock take my place. And I began to think about all of the battles for our worship, all the things that are trying to come between your love for God and really all these other things that the enemy would love to present to us. And I think there's a battle for our worship. And I just thought, what a great way to start this series, since we're trying to take the passion of Jesus and inject that passionate side of us to make sure we're not those of the crowd who were fickle, just like the people in the story, who one day praise him and then the next day say, "Crucify him".
And I just felt like even though we're a pretty passionate church, and you guys worship, you really love God, I mean, you do a pretty good job, I felt like all of us, myself included, can raise our passion level to the passion of the Christ. Can I hear a good amen, everybody? So, let's study it for a few moments. Here's my case, and that is I believe we all do it for something. In other words, your passion is going somewhere. And I would ask you to take an inventory right now of the thing that is getting your time, your money, your energy, your loyalty, your affections, and your expressions. Something's getting all of that. And here's the deal. It's okay for you to have loves for things. You see me eat ice cream, it is very clear I love it because it is all over my face. Can I get an amen, right?
But God himself says, "I don't mind you having loves; what I mind is when you have loves that are ahead of me. Thou shalt not have any other gods before me, the First Commandment". You need to know your God's a jealous God. And then when he sees us giving our affections to our football teams, or our ice cream, or to anything else in life, he doesn't mind you having it, but he does mind when you love it more than him. Because he gave his best, his all, his passion, he expects the same in return. So, every day, all day long, you're worshiping something, and worship really is our response or our expression to that which we value most.
Now, this is huge. This is why Jesus talked about worship so much, why the Bible talks about your passions so much; because whatever I worship becomes an obsession. You've seen that. If you can't see that in the state of Alabama every fall, I don't know where else you can see it. And whatever I become obsessed with, I imitate; and whatever I imitate, I become. So, in other words, what you choose to give your time, energy, passions, money, affections, and expressions to begins to shape your life. In fact, Pastor Jack Hayford, from Van Nuys, California, said it this way. "Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the one worshiped".
In other words, if you don't like what you're becoming, maybe we should all take an inventory of that which we've placed on the throne of our hearts, because it's something. And I would suggest to you that the crowd on Sunday, on that Palm Sunday, had the wrong thing in their hearts. They basically had a faith that was situational. "If you'll help me today, Jesus, I'll worship you; but if you're not what I thought, I'll do this". And they were fickle in their faith. And the Bible could not be more clear. In fact, if there's one message that Jesus gave, that he said, "Of all the things I'll talk about, this is the most important", wouldn't you agree with me that we should probably pay attention to that? So, Jesus said, "There's a lot in here, but there's one thing that's most important". Wouldn't you agree with me that we should probably allow our hearts to be influenced by this thought?
In Mark chapter 12, Jesus said, of course, he was with the teachers of the law. They came and heard Jesus in the crowd debating. And they noticed that Jesus always had a great answer, so they decided to ask him a question. Here's the question. "Of all the commandments," here it is, "which of these is the most important"? And Jesus actually obliged them. He said in the next verse, "The most important one..." Would you please take note of this today? That of all the things that are in the Bible, this is the most important one. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one". And then he says, "I want you to fall in love, I want you to be in love, the Lord your God, with all your heart and soul, with all your mind, and all your strength".
In fact, in one place in John chapter 4, Jesus said that God is actively, listen to me, he's actively looking for worshipers. So, he pans through the congregations, and the denominations, and the churches, and even at Church of the Highlands. He's panning through, and he's seeking those who would worship him in Spirit and in truth. It's so interesting because in the original language of the New Testament, which is the language of Greek, those who say, by the way, that the Bible has been diluted over 2000 years, as it's been translated, is a lie. We have the original manuscripts, and the original manuscripts, the original documents of the Bible are written in Greek. And almost every week, I go through and I study original language in the text that I bring to you. And in John chapter 4, he says, "I'm looking for worshipers".
God is actively panning, looking for worshipers. The word in the Greek is the word proskuneó, and proskuneó is defined, you ready for this, to kiss the hand. You're thinking, "Well, that don't sound right. I don't understand that. What do you mean? God's looking for me to kiss his hand"? No, no, no, it's the picture of what a dog does when you come home. How many dog people out there? Dog people, where y'all at, dog people? Okay, now, a cat will not do this, all right? They're like, "You home again"? They could care less, all right? But a dog, we had dogs. We don't have dogs anymore. We have grandkids, everybody, all right? So, but for years we had little miniature dachshunds, and we had this little miniature dachshund named Lady, and she was so in love with us. I mean, so much so that when the garage door came up, while they're still in the car, pulling into the place where we park our car, into the garage, we can hear her from the inside of the car screaming and crying and so happy that we're home.
We get out of the car, and the next thing you hear is this little, she had long toenails, and so she, and you could hear her running around the house. She'd take laps, every time, just... You hear this. You ain't even opened the door, yet. Again, your cat will not do that. And she gets so excited, and then when you open the door... I'm running out of breath here, all right? And she'd lick your hand. "You're home, you're home, you're home, you're home, you're home, you're home, you're home"! That's the word. That's what the crowd was trying to do on one day and had forgotten to do five days later. And you just need to know how important this is to God. Love the Lord your God three ways: heart and soul, mind, strength.
Let me close by giving you these, that this is what God is looking for, and he's looking for this kind of worship. And if our faith can be that fickle, and change from one thing to the next, wouldn't it be great if all of us would begin the Passion Week study with our passion level of worship going to another level? And I'm calling all of us to it, heart and soul. Heart, what does that mean, heart and soul? I believe it means that God wants us to worship him with our affections. Do you know what your soul is? Your soul is your mind, your will, and your emotions. Some people say, "Well, I don't do all that. I've got God in my heart". Well, what if I said that to Tammy? "I don't hug, but I have you in my heart". We'd be in counseling this afternoon, I promise y'all, all right? She'd go, "Wait, wait, something's going on". You know why? Because love, listen to me, is not just felt on the inside. It is always expressed.
In fact, it's not love if it's not expressed. God didn't just so love the world. No. He gave. He acted out in that love. And my question to all of us, as we enter into the greatest expression of passion in the history of humanity, wouldn't it behoove, don't you love that word? Behoove us to bring our passion level to the passion of the Christ. And you see how important it is because there's one book of the Bible that is the longest, by a lot. The book of Psalms, which gives all of these expressions of love to God, which, really, I believe shows God's love language, which by the way, a little note to self, if you ever want to love somebody, you don't love them the way you want to love them. You love them according to their love language, the way they like to be loved. And God took 150 chapters to share with us how he likes to be loved, from clapping, shouting, dancing, singing, kneeling, crying, laughing, bowing, hands lifted. All these expressions of love, he loves.
And by the way, so do you. I don't know if you've ever gotten back from a trip, you're at the airport, it's the worst thing in the world, you get there, and there's piles of people, balloons, and signs, and they ain't there for you. You kind of feel like a dumb person. Like, oh, y'all, you love, somebody, you know, there they are so excited to see somebody. But don't you love it whenever you're the one on the other end of that? Everybody's, "Oh, they're home, they're home, they're home, they're home, they're home. They're back, they're back, they're back"! You love it. So does God. And I'm just trying to call all of us to this passion level. "Praise the Lord". Here's the exclamation point, last chapter with Psalm 150. "Praise the Lord".
By the way, the word praise in the Old Testament language, which is the Hebrew, the word praise means halal. It's the word halal, H-A-L-A-L. For you notetakers, write that down. The truly anointed, amazing people at Highlands are taking notes right now, all right. So, halal. That's where we get the word hallelujah. You ready for this? Every, every Hebrew dictionary in the world, in every pastor's study, the word halal means to celebrate, to boast, to rave, to be clamorously foolish. Again, I maintain that looks more like Saturdays. It's not like Sundays. You do it on a Saturday, they call you a fan. You do it on a Sunday, they call you a fanatic. I'm not a fanatic. I'm in love with someone who is great.
So, "I will praise God in his sanctuary, in his mighty heavens. I praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp, and the lyre, praise him with the timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and the pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals". And after you've clashed them, "let them be resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord"! This is what your God. I had somebody tell me, "Well, I just don't get it. I just don't think I get that. It just sounds, I just don't get it". In fact, I told them this story. There's a story that actually took place the night before Palm Sunday.
So, again, those that are journaling, John chapter 12 is John's account of this day we're talking about. Go back one paragraph, and it says the night before. So, this is the Saturday night before Palm Sunday. Jesus is at Bethany, which is that town just 2 miles outside of Jerusalem, at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the Bible says that Mary took a jar of perfume that would've cost a year's wages, and she broke this nard, it's called, and poured it over his feet, and took her hair and wiped Jesus's feet with her hair. And there was another Pharisee in the room that day named Judas Iscariot. He said, "This ain't right. This is just over the top. It's just a little, it's a little weird". And Jesus said these words. He says, "She's preparing me for my burial". And in another gospel he says, he says, "She's loving this much because she's been forgiven of so much".
And I often wonder, and I'm not just trying to get in your space, but I am just trying to just keep it real here today. I think we need to ask ourselves, have we forgotten? Have you really, have you forgotten what he's done for you? Do we really, do we really understand the depth of his love and how he saved us, healed us, delivered us, broke addictions, and curses, and depression, and anxiety, and fear, and worry, and gave us a home in heaven? Have we forgotten that? Because if you've forgiven much, come on, somebody, you're gonna love much. It's true. There's a military base in North Carolina that just happens to be situated close to an interstate, which causes a problem. I don't know if you've been in the vicinity of a supersonic jet, but when it comes by, you know it. Everything rattles. We lived for years right across the interstate from the Air Force Academy, seven years, when we were youth pastors back in the day. And it was every day. House rattles.
Well, this created so much of a problem at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, because it was so close to the interstate, it was startling people. So, they put up a billboard on the interstate that says, "Pardon our noise. That's the sound of freedom". And when people say, "Oh, man, y'all are a little crazy over there at Highlands". In fact, I had a lady, she says, "I think I know you. Where do I know you? I don't..." I was just out somewhere shopping or something. "I think I'm supposed to know you. Who are you? Like, I'm supposed to, who are you"? I said, "Oh, I'm the pastor of Church of the Highlands". She goes, "Oh, that happy church". I'm like, what's the opposite? Anyway, I said, "Yeah, we're that happy church". And in my mind I thought, "You're going to have to just pardon my noise 'cause that's the sound of somebody who is headed in a completely different way, and I just, I just got a case of the I can't help it".
Pardon my noise, everybody. This is the sound of somebody who's been forgiven, and healed, and delivered, and changed, and set free by the power of God. Is anybody in this place grateful for what Jesus has done for you? Pardon my noise. This is the sound of a free person. Okay. And I'm not even like a preacher, preacher. Like if there was a real preacher around here, they could bring this home, man. It's just, but I believe that I'm a pastor, though, and everything in me wants you to come up to the level of his passion for you. Don't ever let us get caught with the old right over left, "Yeah, Jesus saved me from my sins". Well, why don't you worship him? "Man, I don't like that song too much. That's not my favorite song, just..."
Come on, clap your hands, all ye people. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph. Come on, he set us free! The piano is playing, and I've got two more points, then it's time to go. Heart and soul, heart and soul. Worship with all your mind. God wants us to have him in our minds, give him our attention. That's what my family wants. They don't want my money, they don't want my trips, they want my attention. I'm not the best husband in the world, but every once in a while I'll just call Miss Tammy. "Hey, babe". She goes, "Yeah, what's up"? "Nothing. Just was thinking about you". I don't have five kids 'cause I'm good-looking. Come on, somebody. Where y'all at, right? That's just smart. Guys, you might want to write that down. 'Cause whatever you love most, you think about most. That's a fact.
Listen to me. God wants to be in your mind. Let me take another step. God wants to be in your schedule. I've got an appointment tomorrow morning, spend time with God. That's worship. The Bible says, "Don't become so adjusted in your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God". And look what. "You'll be changed from the inside out". Worship, you become that which you worship. So, why not make an appointment tomorrow morning. Give God the first 15: 5 minutes of worship, 5 minutes of the Word, 5 minutes of prayer. Watch what your day is like. Heart and soul, mind. And the last thing Jesus said, "Worship me with your strength".
Now, how in the world do you worship God with your strength? I believe God wants us to worship him with our abilities. Tammy just doesn't want just hugs and kisses. She wants me to serve our family, mow the grass, take care of things. 'Cause when I do things around the house, I'm doing it for her. And the same is true with God. I'll show you a verse, and we'll close. Hebrews says, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us," watch this, "continually offer up the sacrifice of praise". Now, how in the world are you going to do that? How are you going to worship God continually? Almost seems impossible. Well, he says in the next line, says do it this way. "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased".
Did you know that when you serve God, do something that God asks you to do, that's worship, too. You know, today is a baptism day, water baptism. And it always amazes me the number of people who God's changed their life, but they think about it, or postpone, or just don't do it at all, be water baptized, when that's the first thing that actually God commands a new believer to do. But do you know that whether you feel like doing it or even understand it, your act of obedience is worship. And I challenge somebody in here. Maybe you weren't even prepared to be baptized today. But I'm just gonna, I'm gonna obey what God said and let that be my worship. I'm gonna serve. I'm gonna jump on the growth track, so I can get on a team and serve God with all my heart. I'm gonna worship.
I heard a story just last night from Pastor Mark Pettus. I'm eat up all things students right now. I just can't stop thinking about it. I'm working nonstop to build world class student ministries for our children, middle school, high school, college. I'm just, and Highlands College. And Pastor Mark told me a story last night about a girl who gave her life to Jesus at our Montgomery campus, 2017, started coming to the youth group and felt the call of God on her life, decided to come to Highlands College, but they weren't going to be able to afford it. She's in a family of six kids, and the parents just simply weren't going to be able to do it, but they stepped in, really, by faith, and scratched, you know, the money they could together to see if they could get going, and they did, and then 2020 and 2021 hit, and she was just getting ready to have to get out of ministry school, and they decided to put it before the Lord in a time of prayer and fasting in our 21 days of prayer.
And on day 11, someone anonymously, we still don't know who it is. Just said, "There's someone who's getting ready to get out of HC, and we want to not only take care of their current deal, but we want to pay their tuition throughout the rest of their time there". And this person just anonymously donated the money that Emmy needed to continue her training in student ministry, and she's getting ready to graduate. And guess what she's graduating in? Student ministry. So, the very thing that reached her now, she will multiply it out to others. And I would submit to you in this donor's life and in Emmy's life, come on, that's worship to our God. Can I hear a good amen, everybody? Let's bow for prayer:
So, God, I just pray for the church, and here's my simple prayer, that our passion level reaches the level of the Passion of the Christ. And so, Lord, we commit to being worshipers. We're going to give you our heart and soul, mind and strength.
Heads are bowed, eyes are closed at every one of our campuses. Be very still just for a minute. If you're here today and you sense the drawing of your heart to God, only the Holy Spirit can do that. Only the Holy Spirit can draw a person to Jesus. And if you sense that, maybe you're a Christian, and you've fallen away, or maybe you're not a Christian, but you're ready to go heart and soul, give your all to God. Let me be very clear. That's what salvation really is. Salvation is not a religion. It's not a church attendance. It's when you go heart and soul, mind and strength, giving your all to him.
If that's you today, I want to pray for you at every one of our locations, or if you're watching online. Would you please make your decision right now? "I'm going to respond. I'm giving my life to Jesus". I'm not going to have you stand up or call you down to the front, but right there where you are, I want to lead you in a prayer, but I think you ought to let God know, "This is me, and this is my day, I'm giving heart and soul to you". At every location, if that's you, put your hand up as high as you can right now. Lift it high, good, good, good. Come on, hold it up high. Just be bold. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you, just all over this room. Thank you, sir. Up in the bleachers, the very top, I see your hand. God bless you. All over, way at the top over here, this couple right here. God bless you. Right here in the back, God bless you. Just hands all over. Slip those hands down. Pray this prayer with me. Say:
Jesus, you gave your all, and today I'm giving my all, everything, heart and soul, mind and strength. Thank you for saving me, forgiving me. Thank you for the way you changed my life. So, be the Lord of my life. I believe you died and rose again. Today, I put my faith in you. In your name I pray, amen and amen.