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Chris Hodges - EROI

Chris Hodges - EROI

Well, good morning, church. How is everybody doing today? Come on, you can do a little bit better than that. Come on, everybody. You know, you always have to kind of make up for the liquid sunshine that's going on outside, but it's good to see all of you guys here, 8 o'clock in the morning. Somebody must love Jesus with all their heart. Anybody in this room love the Lord? Yeah, I was just checking. All right, just wanted to make sure I was in the right place. It's good to see all you guys.

Welcome to week number one of a very short 2-week series that we're simply calling "Generous," and I'll tell you more about that in just a second. But as always, let me look right straight into the camera and say hello to all of our campuses, our locations all across the great state of Alabama and right into Columbus, Georgia, and to the precious men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections; who, by the way, there was a gentleman who was released from one of the facilities, came to our Gadsden campus, went straight up to the campus pastor and says, "I want to get saved, and I want to join the church".

So, we're so glad all you guys are joining us right now. God bless you and those that are watching online. And I do want to give a special shout out today to a campus who was permanent, went portable, and is getting ready to go permanent again, and that is our Grandview location has been meeting in a warehouse at the back part of the Grandview facility while we've been remodeling the auditorium there, and next Sunday, Grandview moves back into a beautiful paid-for facility. Come on, say a big hello to Grandview, everybody. God bless you guys. And I know you already heard this on the news, video news segment about this. In a few days, we'll have First Wednesday, and my pastor, Larry Stockstill, is going to be speaking. I will be in the service, and we are going to be praying for those who are sick.

We have just decided that we are going to take time in every service, and that's even available to you after the service today; because one-third of Jesus's ministry was marked by the fact that he prayed for people who needed miracles and who needed diseases healed. And last Wednesday, we had an emphasis on it, and I preached on healing, and there was a lady who had breast cancer, and just got prayed for in the service, this happened up in Huntsville, and because she felt the power of God moving through her body, went the next day to her doctor, got rescanned, and there is absolutely nothing there. Come on, give God praise for that. So, I mean, we believe that God still heals. Can I hear a good amen, everybody?

And so I want to encourage you guys in that. We will be praying for the sick on Wednesday night. Of course, receive communion, a little longer worship. It's more of a believers type service. So, join us, all right? We'll see you at one of our locations. And as you already heard on the news, we have in 2 weeks from today, we begin a 3-week series that's called "At the Movies". And if you don't know what that is, if you're new to our church, you probably don't know what that is, and that is, really, it's a way for us to tell the gospel story in stories and through stories. So, Jesus did this by using parables. So, 'cause sometimes spiritual truth is hard to understand, and so Jesus told stories to illustrate spiritual truth. And so, basically, this is a modern-day parable.

So, we have found movies, three of them, that have redemption built into the story, and then we'll preach the gospel. And every year, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people give their life to Jesus through this medium. So, we want to encourage you. We don't always ask you to do this, but from time to time we tell you this is what we would call more of an evangelistic type series, which means if you've been looking for an opportunity to bring your friend to church, this is the best time. So, we'll have Cokes and popcorn. And if you're not from the South, Cokes means everything like Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Diet, Cokes is all of them, right? And so we'll have Cokes and popcorn, and we'll actually have these stories that I've been working very, very hard on and recording and getting them ready for you, and I just want to encourage you to find someone.

So, out in the foyer, instead of the little Acts of Kindness cards, which are normally at the exits, that we would still love for you to use, especially in this season, and I'll talk more about that in a second. We have a little "At the Movies" invitations, so grab a fistful of these on your way out, and just start listening to God and looking for people that are far from God or need a home church and invite them to sit with you in church, okay? And that's the way you do it, by the way. Just say, "Hey, come sit with me and join me at one of the services," and we're gonna believe God for loads of people to give their life to Jesus. Amen, everybody? And I love all this. I think that our church was actually built on this foundation that we never really wanted to build a church for church people, and we're glad you're getting blessed.

I hope this church serves you in every way possible. I hope that you feel blessed and served through all that we do. We really work hard at that; but, honestly, it wasn't just for us. It was for the people who aren't here, yet, for the people that God is focused on, the people that are far from God. And also, that brings me to the second thing that happens in this season. I want to go ahead and let you know that we are planning a lot of services; and I think this year's program, which is already completely designed, our teams are already practicing, this is gonna be the absolute best Highlands Christmas Service in the history of our church. Not even a close second. I'm so excited about the music and just all of the theatrics and all of the things that we're going to do to celebrate the greatest gift we've ever seen, and that is King Jesus himself, the gift that God gave us.

And so we're gonna do a lot of services, over 100 services across all of our campuses, and we're gonna make those free tickets, so we can spread you guys out. The free tickets will be available right near the 1st of December, I think on Friday, the 2nd actually, and so we just want to let you know that, so you can prepare to join us during this time. We love what we do here at the church, and the Bible actually makes clear what our job as a church is, and that is to take you on a spiritual journey. So, this is what our job, and this is what I think about, honestly, nonstop. We never stop thinking about how to take you from where you are to where God wants you to be, that God has plans for you. And if you feel hopeless today, I felt led by the Holy Spirit, actually, right there during the news package, I was praying.

I would spend just a few more minutes praying, and I heard God say, "Speak to someone who is hopeless, they feel a lack of hope". And I would want to say to you that there's great hope in the fact that God has a plan for your life, like, he has a plan for your life, and there are steps you can take, and that's all you have to do. God will meet you there at the step that you take. There's a spiritual journey, and we think about this nonstop, that if you're not a believer, or you're far from God, or you don't even know what you are, that you can know God. You can have a relationship with Almighty God. You can have a personal, authentic, dynamic, real, interactive, close relationship with Almighty God.

And that once you do, he gives you power to overcome the things you never thought you could get power over. He'll help you what we call find freedom from your habits, your addictions, your hurts, your wounds, your past people and problems, all the things that'll keep you from the best version of yourself, so that once those are settled, you can discover why you actually were on the planet, and you're never, ever, ever gonna be happy until you find out why you're on this planet. The day you discover why you were born is the day fulfillment is gonna enter into your life, and actually focus is gonna happen in your life, so that you can do the ultimate purpose of your life, and that is the ultimate purpose of my life. It isn't to live for me. It isn't to pay bills. It isn't to get the kids to behave. It's to make a difference in this world. Y'all believe that, everybody?

And that's the progression. That's the place we'd like to take you on. Now, the reason why we pause all of the other series and everything else that we do once a year during this season, as we enter into the holiday season, is, is there's a problem, and the problem is that if you leave any of us alone, that includes me, if you leave any of us alone, the gravitational pull is to selfishness. We get really focused on ourselves, and that's just a fact of life. There's really nothing you can do about it, because there's still that fallen sinful nature that's inside of us that's just trying to get into survival mode, while God is trying to pull us into significance mode. And so once a year, just for a couple of Sundays, we pause and say, "Hey, reminder, reminder, reminder, that you're not really alive just to exist. You're alive to make a difference, and we call that legacy".

Legacy is what people remember once you're gone. Legacy is what your life was all about, once it's over. Legacy is what they talk about at your funeral. Legacy is what they say at your 80th birthday. It is just what people remember. You say, really, are people supposed to remember me? Yeah, actually, God says it's okay for you to have that as a motivation. Psalm 112 says, "Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, and they will be remembered forever". Verse 5, going back to it, "Good will come to them". In other words, God says, "I'll even meet you there, match you at that place, and bring blessing and influence into your life, if you'll just get into this attitude, this mindset", really, it's a lifestyle called legacy. But legacy is not only what people remember when you're gone. Legacy is also what God remembers when you're gone; or better yet, what God remembers when you meet him face to face, and that's what I want to talk about a little bit today.

Hebrews chapter 6 says, "God is not unjust, and he will not forget your work". He's not gonna forget what your life ended up being all about, "and the love you showed him, as you helped people". So, every time you help people, you're loving God. And the truth of the matter is one day we're gonna stand before Almighty God. You're gonna have this moment. And really, one of my other responsibilities as a pastor is to prepare you for that moment. So, it's gonna happen. You say, "I don't know if I believe that". That is not gonna change the fact that it's gonna happen. You're gonna stand before God, and I'm gonna get you ready for that moment. Romans chapter 14, Paul was actually settling a dispute between two people. And he says this to the two people who were fighting. "You, then, why do you judge each other"?

Like, what do you care about what they're doing? What do you care about what they're doing? Why are you guys fighting about that? Or why do you treat them with contempt? He said, "Some of you are fighting with each other, and some of you are not even thinking about each other". And he says they're both wrong. "For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. As it is written, 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow...'" That's the devils, that's every human that ever lived. There's gonna be this moment, I can't wait to see it, where every knee in heaven and earth, from Adam to when it's all over, are gonna bow before Almighty God. Can you give God some praise right there?

Just give him some mighty praise right there, yeah. And they're gonna bow before the Lord and every tongue, we're gonna say, "Oh, wait a minute. You really are the true and living God". They're gonna acknowledge that. And then he says it again. "So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God". So over and over, and over and over the Bible constantly does this one thing that I'm trying to do for these next two weeks, and remind you that is eternity is coming. So, like, it's really easy to be focused on this life, because we live in this life. But James says this life is a vapor. It's a mist.

So, I have a friend of mine who just was healthy as a horse doing just fine and dandy, and all of a sudden got this worst infection that they cannot figure out. He lives in Dallas. This infection is so strong in his body right now, they're throwing every bit of medicine they can at him, and nothing's helping it, and they don't know what's gonna happen. They actually think that he might not make it. And he texted me and said, "It's amazing how you can be one day just living your life, minding your own business, going through life, and the next moment at any second, you could be standing before God, and it's caused me to rethink everything". Okay, I want you to rethink it before you get there. Okay? We did a series years ago, we probably ought to do it again, it was a little radical, called "Thirty Days to Live".

And I actually found four people in our church who doctors had given a death date. Like, they said, "You have this much time". And some of them were like 30 days, and I actually interviewed them as a part of the message series, and the thesis of the series was, "What would you do that you're not doing, if you had 30 days to live? And what would you stop doing that you are doing, if you had 30 days to live"? And you might want to go ahead and do both of those now. And it was a perspective series. And what I'm trying to say to you is that there's really more to life than this life. So, if we had a conversation, probably 99%, if not all of it, would be about this life, this life.

So, we talk about today, the rather, the LSU-Alabama football game. God help us. Come on, everybody, right? We'd talk about some of those things. But the truth is this life is such a vapor that we need to talk more about the life that is to come. And it's easy to forget, because the world is constantly pulling us into this life. So, we even have statements, you've heard me talk about this before. Like, YOLO, YOLO. You only live once. And basically YOLO is such a horrible term. It was actually popularized by, I think it was a rapper. Is Drake a rapper, everybody? Okay. I just looked at, that's what Wikipedia said anyway. All right, so I was trying to figure out where this term came from, and I guess he put it in a song, and it basically, it explains away irresponsible behavior.

So, say, I know I wasn't supposed to do this, and I know I wasn't supposed to spend this, but you only live once, so go for it. Like, you're gonna die anyway. Go for it. And it's horrible advice, because it's horribly untrue. The truth is, everybody, YOLT, you actually live twice. Hashtag. Isn't that what you're supposed to do with those. Hashtag. YOLT. You're not living once. You gonna, in fact, when your body dies, you're gonna be right with the Lord in that next second. In fact, just to brighten your day a little bit, man is destined to die. Aren't you glad you came to church, everybody? Praise God. I'm Chris, I'm your friend. And after that, you're gonna face judgment. And my job is to prepare you for that.

Now, when I was at LSU, I actually, it turns out my brain kind of turned on, like, when I turned 26, 27, 28. And I don't think I'm a very ignorant person. I think I'm a pretty smart guy, but it didn't show up in college. Come on, where y'all at, everybody? I didn't test well. So, I went into every testing, and I got this. I know the material. And D. I mean, it happened every time, and I hated multiple choice. Y'all know what I'm talking about, everybody? 'Cause they all look good to me. A, look fine. B, hm, you look good girl. Like, all of them look good. And I thought I was crushing it, honestly. And I kept getting the worst grades, until somebody told me in my sophomore year at LSU that some of the professors put old exams on file for purchase at the LSU book store.

So, you can see how they test you. And a lot of times, they were asking the exact same questions. So, I got old exams. I studied the material, and then I studied how the professor was gonna test me. And, y'all, I finished 4.0 Let's go, baby. All right, and so I did finish strong, and it brought that 1.7 right on up just a little bit. Anyway, so right? Okay. I'm gonna do the same thing for you today. I'm gonna tell you what's on the test. Like, I'm gonna prepare you for this moment because it's YOLT, everybody. You're gonna face him. I'm gonna prepare you for this, and I'm gonna get to our generous topic here in just a second. But let me just build this theology case for you, so you understand, and here it goes. There's gonna be what I call a two-question test.

And this is what a lot of Christians don't understand is that you actually don't face God once. You face him twice. And the first one has a question attached to it, and it basically is this question. "What did you do with my Son Jesus"? I don't know how it's actually gonna play out. I don't know if he just automatically knows, and then you're in. I don't know if we each get our own turf. "I need Chris Hodges, please". Okay. "Hey, God, my turn"? But every person is gonna stand before God. And in theology, we call it the great white throne judgment. I won't teach it, because I taught it just a few weeks ago in our Second Coming of Christ Series. But I'll read you the verse I read you back in August again, that "there is a great white throne judgment and him, God, who is seated on it. And the earth and heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them".

In other words, time ended. That's all that means. "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne". So from Adam to when it all ends, it's there. It's a big pile of people right there. And the Bible says, "And books were opened". Now, the books is everybody you ever thought, did. It's everything. It's every day of your life. every thought of your life. Everybody say uh-oh. Right? So it's all there, it's in books. And then but another book, singular, was opened, which is the book of life, and that's the book that whenever you give your life Jesus, God records your name in it. Your names are written in the Lamb's book of life, the Bible calls it. So, the moment you say, "Jesus, be the Lord of my life," your name gets entered into a book, and that book is there, too. So, it's a bunch of books, and then there's a book. And then the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded books, plural.

So, the people who don't know God get judge on what they did. But not the rest of us. But those of us who know God, we actually, our names aren't recorded, or our life isn't judged by what's in the books. Our life is judged by what's written in the book, and you get to decide that. Advice: don't do the books. Do the book, all right? Your life could be based on you, or it can be based on what Jesus did, and it's your choice. So, the question is, how do you get your name in the book? And this is what a lot of people don't understand. If you've been at Highlands, you do understand this, and it has nothing to do with your church attendance, nothing to do with the fact that you sing a song. It's nothing due to the fact that you even got baptized, not even have to do with anything that you gave, your money, any of that. Actually, there's no work that can get your name in the book.

The only thing that gets your name in the book is a real relationship with Jesus. And Jesus himself said, "Many on that day, not everyone who says, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but many on that day will actually prophesy, cast out devils, and do miracles in the name of Jesus, and not end up in heaven". And he says, "I'll tell them plainly, 'Away from me. I wasn't looking for what you did. I was looking for a relationship with you". So, the right answer, I'm telling you the test, so you can pass it, everybody. This is my gift to you today. But the right answer is I knew him personally. So, when you get there, that's what you're gonna want to say. Like, I was in relationship with him. You can't say, what won't work is, "I went to Church of the Highlands". I wish it would, but it's not gonna work. Or "I got baptized". Or even that, "I believed". It won't work. But "I was in relationship with God". Everybody got it? Say, "I got it". Okay.

But then there's another one. Now, there's only another one, let me back up. There's only another test or another question, if you pass the first one. If you don't pass this first one, you won't get the second one. The first one determines your eternal existence, whether it's heaven or hell. Everything is based on that great white throne judgment. But here's the one I want you to teach you, secondly, so I can prepare you for this day, because all the motivations for generosity, all the motivations for how we live our lives on earth, according to the Bible, are based on this motivation, and that is that you're going to stand before God, and that is the second judgment. And the question goes something like this. "What did you do with what I gave you"?

Now, I'm not talking about your money. This is not a money talk. I'm talking about anything that you have. I'm talking about your arms. You were supposed to use them to hug people, and greet people, and shake their hand, and pat their back. You were supposed to take every... your smile, your time, your ideas, your talents, your abilities, your car, your house, your family, your clothes, your job, your time, your money, everything you have, you were supposed to take what you had and use it for eternal purposes. And there's a judgment. So, he's gonna stand before, I just want you to be ready, he's gonna say, "Hey, what did you do with all the stuff"? What stuff? Your time, your talents, your treasure, your resource, What did you do with that? And it's called, in theology, it's a second judgment called the Judgment Seat of Christ. And it's a Christian only judgment. So, you're in heaven.

And by the way, the word judgment's almost a little too harsh for our mindset, because you're not gonna be judged like gavel slamming the desk. You're gonna be more judged like an Olympic judge does at the Olympics, where we're celebrating all the athletes. No one's gonna be upset. It's like an awards banquet, so to speak. And so even if you didn't come in first place, you're still gonna go, "Yeah, they ran faster. It's still awesome". It's gonna be a party. It's gonna be a celebratory type judgment or awards ceremony, and it goes like this. "For we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ," and all were Christians, "that each one may receive what is due him for the things done..."

Now, we know this is not the first judgment, because the first judgment isn't based on what you do. Salvation is attained not by any works, so that no man can boast about their works. Only by the blood of Jesus. Amen, everybody, right? But there is a what did you do judgment, the things you did, and it calls it in the body, that means while you were on earth, whether good or bad. "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward..." apodidomi in the Greek. It literally means (check this out) pay you back, which is mind boggling that God is going to pay us back, each person according to what they did while they were on the earth. You think, no, I don't want anything. Salvation was enough.

That's how I feel, too. But guess what? It's not our show; it's his. He's gonna pay you back. He is ready to take however you lived your life, and use it, and bless it, and reward it. In fact, this is one of the coolest things ever. One of the last verses of your entire Bible, and I always think there's something to last things that are said. You turn to the very last page and look at one of the very last verses. It says this, and it's Jesus talking, "Behold, I'm coming quickly, and I'm so excited to pay you back, I'm gonna bring it with me. I can't even wait 'til you get to heaven. I'm bringing My reward with Me, to give to everyone according to their work".

And so the right answer, I'm just trying to do for you what that book store test did for me that made a 1.7 failure rate go to a 4.0. I'm trying to help you for that moment you stand before God, and that is that I used what you gave me. And I not only used it, but I used it for eternal purposes. I let it show up in heaven. Now, I call this the EROI. I'm talking to you today about living a life that gives an EROI. Most people know what a return on investment is, but I'm talking about an eternal return on investment. I want to get you... I have one goal today: get you eternally minded. I want you to live this life, not just on Sundays, not just when you mess up, not just when you need a Savior, or when your life's broken, and you cry out for help. No, no, I want you to live every day with eternity in mind, that you're gonna stand before the Lord, and Jesus would give us all some advice today, and that is live this way intentionally. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, 'cause it's all gonna burn. It's, none of it's gonna last. There are no U-Hauls behind a hearse. Come on, somebody. Are y'all with me?

All right. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. And notice he says for yourselves. He didn't say do it for me, but just be a servant. No, no, he says, "I don't mind you even doing it, knowing you're preparing for these rewards". Store for yourselves treasures of heaven, because that doesn't burn. So, how do we do this? I brought all that to this place. This is my one simple takeaway. Honestly, today's message only has one point, one main point. How do I live my life, knowing that I'm gonna face God, how do I live my life getting ready for that moment? It's very, very simple. I want you to remember this. Don't forget it. And that is be intentional. Be intentional. That's it. Simple message. Like, every moment I'm gonna be intentional, that when I walk out into the foyer, be intentional.

Find somebody who looks sad. Just put your arm around them, say, "Hey, praying for you". Just, I'm gonna live my life going through this week, knowing "At the Movies" is coming. I'm gonna be intentional about finding somebody and saying, "Hey, do you have a church you go to regularly? Would you like to come"? I'm gonna live my life intentionally. Are y'all following me, everybody? Are y'all even one-third as excited about this as I am right now? I'm just fired up about this. I am trying to motivate you. And this motivation, if you do it and listen to it, and realize that it's actually gonna happen, one day you're gonna go, "Oh, I'm so glad I did". To live my life intentionally, I'm gonna intentionally give. So, I'm not gonna do like the rest of everyone else who just gives whenever they put the slickest video, or they show the person who's in the greatest need, or whatever motivation they try to move you to do it. Like, "yeah, I wasn't gonna do it; but now that you've put that up there, I guess I have to now, because I didn't know that they were that sick. I didn't know they were that hungry. And so, okay". Which his fine.

I'm not knocking those motivations. I'm just saying that's not the best way to do it, if you're really gonna be ready. We're going to intentionally give. Give what? Give whatever you have. I'm not talking about your money, but it is included on the list. Just what, you cannot give that which you do not have, but you were responsible to give that which you do have. If you have talents, you were supposed to share it. if you can sing, don't sing out there. Sing over here. If you have this incredible gift of encouragement, don't just encourage a few people. Encourage everybody. Like, find places and ways to do it. And God will make sure you are, you are able in some areas, not all, but in some, you will be made rich. It's not talking about money. It's talking about he will enable you with something that you have more than most with, in every way, so that you can be generous on every occasion.

And through us, your generosity results not just in that person, going, "Oh, wasn't he nice"? No, no, no, they get close to God. They get close to God. That means I'm intentionally giving for eternal purposes, which means you need to do what very few people do, and that is have a plan for it. Like, plan on it. And I really want to encourage you. I want you to take this very seriously. I want you to plan how you're gonna do this. Plan how you're gonna share with what you have. Plan how you're gonna give. And in the words of Dave Ramsey, "If you don't tell your money where to go, you'll wonder where it went". And I just don't want you to stand there and going, "Oops". I want to help you for that day.

Now, I'll tell you right here, I can say this with complete integrity and honesty, 'cause we're not building anything that we don't have money for. Everything that we're doing right now is all paid for, and we operate this church in margins. Everything is fine. There's no offering attached to this message. This motivation, I promise you before God, is to get you ready for that moment when you stand before the Lord, and I just want you to be ready. Now, I hope you take this the right way. This is easy for me. This is easy for me for two reasons. One is I had a dad who really understood money really, really well. I had a checking account before I had a job. My dad taught me. I've been working since I was 13. Not because my parents needed the money. They were teaching me work ethic. So, I didn't play much sports, because they were trying to teach me stuff. And I've been managing money and my own checking account since about 12 or 13 years old.

So, I got saved at 15, but even before I got saved, my dad told me how to give the first of everything that I have to God. So, I've been doing that before I even loved God, just 'cause my dad told me to. In fact, my dad would always give me birthday money. Like, if he gave ten dollars, he gave it to me in all ones. And he would teach me what part belonged to the Lord. So, I was raised in this. But then I was also an accounting major at LSU. Thank God I'm not an accountant today. Come on somebody. All right. Praise. But I understand this stuff, and so I've always been intrigued with and fascinated with money. In my 20s, I was doing financial counseling to grown people. I've get on budges. It's just something I've been doing my whole life. So I've read just about everything that's out there.

And one of my favorite books that I read was years ago by a guy man named Ron Blue, who's one of the best in the area of money and stewardship, and he wrote a book called "Master Your Money," and basically he put that there's five things that you can do with your money. You can spend it, repay debt, pay taxes, save it, or give it. And unfortunately, when I saw this, I thought that's exactly how people live, that you live in this order. And if you do live in this order, basically, it's me first, creditors second, government third, me fourth, others last. And God has called us to live a different way. Can I hear a better amen out there, everybody? And I was told, you can't live like that, that everybody else lives like this, but you can't do it. And I was told at 15 and again at 21, when I kind of got into the ministry, but I had this financial money propensity in my mind, and I was learning everything I could.

I remember being challenged. You can't live this way. You need a plan. You need a plan on being generous with your life. Wealthy or not, you need to plan on giving to God, giving to your local church, giving to people. And so since my 20s, I've been sharing my faith, sharing acts of kindness. I'm not asking you to do anything that I don't do and don't believe in with all of my heart. And I'm not motivated because this church is in need, because we're not, actually. I mean, do we have vision? Yeah. We have lots of vision. There are things that we're waiting to do just 'cause we don't have the money now, but I'm not in a hurry. But I'm doing this for you. I want you to get a plan. I want you to have a plan, if this is your local church, to support your local church.

The Bible says, "On the first day of every week, set aside a sum of money, in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come, they don't have to make a pitch to you to do it". And that's why, for 21 years, I've never made a pitch. You've never heard that. We've never had a campaign, a fundraiser, an appeal, slick videos. Our offering message at the end is do what the Lord shows you to do, and we pray. It lasts 15 seconds. And look what the Lord has done around this place. It's because we've had faithful people. I'm not asking you to do it because we have a need. I'm asking you to do it out of the gratitude, the fact that you love your church. And if you don't, find one that you do, and go invest in it. You know, for a lot of people this year, their investments are in the negative, because the stock market is down. But if you've invested here, the opposite is true.

Your investments are up just this year. Because of your faithful giving, 16,438 people gave their lives to Jesus just this year. And so I'm not even asking you to tithe. I'm asking you just to have a plan, whatever, just have a plan. And if this is your local church, support it. I want you to have a plan when you leave this place, which grab ten dollars and buy somebody a coffee. Before the day ends, show some kind of act of kindness to one of your family members. "Hey, I was just thinking about you". I mean, if it's something as simple as, "Here, I went to the kitchen and I brought you a little snack and a glass of iced tea". And they're gonna go, "Why"? And you need to say, "Because I'm called by God to live this kind of way, and one day I'm gonna stand for everything that I did that served others". Amen, everybody? This is how we live. In a few weeks, we have our Legacy offering. And the reason why I even talk about this, how many weeks is it? Next week at the movies, at the movies, at the movies.

Next week, so it's 6 weeks away. Do you notice that I talked about this not on Legacy Sunday. I talked about it 6 weeks before Legacy Sunday. Do you know why? Because we're not gonna ask. We're gonna tell you way before it happens, and then you plan and do what God shows you to do, 'cause that's the better way. But not only intentionally give, but intentionally serve. Like, you ought to have a serving plan. Don't wait 'til like there's a need. Plan to do it. The Bible says, "Tell them to not only use their money to do good, but they should also be rich in their serving and their good works, and should give happily to those in need, always ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for". Again, look at it, for themselves, not here but in heaven. "It is the only safe investment for eternity".

So, how do we do that? Get on the Dream Team. "But I don't think they need me". That's not why you should. You should do it because that's what you're called to do. Worship one, serve one, find a place. Serve days, I mean we've got our first Saturday serves. And honestly, the November and December ones are the best. Go to one of the first Saturday serves. "Yeah, but that's when LSU and Alabama play". Record it. I'm serious. Like, serve. There's no better way to raise your kids than to say, "Hey, get up". "But Mom, it's Saturday". "I know, but we're gonna just take an hour and run over to the Dream Center and help somebody". There's just not a better way. Next week, we'll have the Giving Hope Packets; because on Saturday, December 10th, we're gonna serve thousands of families. And you're never gonna hear an appeal. There'll be no begging. There'll just be packets out there, and just go do it, take one, and serve a family. Are y'all with me, everybody?

The people who are ready to stand before God, they weren't motivated, emotionally pulled, coerced, or manipulated. They had a plan. They were intentional. And the last is intentionally share Christ. Like, you have to be intentional about this. Why? Because there's a gravitational pull to selfishness. "My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away, be intentional and bring them back. If they wander away from the truth, and they're brought back," look what happens. "You can be sure that whoever brings that sinner back will save them from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins". Live for this. Ready for this? Heaven already does. Jesus says all of heaven throws a party when one, and we had 16,438 parties. Count on it. That's the kind of party God's interested in every time one lost soul turns to God. And I'm just gonna say it plainly. I'm feeling a little aggressive this morning. Is that okay, everybody?

If that doesn't float your boat, if your heart doesn't leap at 16,438, you're in the wrong church. I hate to say it. You're in the wrong place. That is what we live for, and that's why we're gonna work hard to communicate the gospel at the movies. That's why we're gonna have the candlelight Christmas services. "Ah, you're just using your speaking ability to get, for us to get more". Nope. Everything you see has been paid for by faithful people who were never coerced one time. Just faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful. I don't want this for us. I want this for you. I want you to be ready, and you'll never curse me for this sermon. You'll never miss the money you give away. You're gonna miss the money you waste spend in a crazy way, or the money you give to your brother-in-law. Come on, somebody, that's where you're, but I will never miss what I invest in eternity. Are you all with me, everybody? So, let's do it. Let's go be generous. Let's go be generous.

So, Father, that's the best I could do, Lord, to communicate what I know is on your heart, that we are going to stand before you one day, face to face. And, God, we just want to be ready. So, God, I pray that you would stir up radical, irrational, but intentional generosity in the hearts of the people at Church of the Highlands. And not just here in our giving and how we support our church, but everywhere we go with giving hope, with our serving, with Thanksgiving Day outreach that'll feed 6,000 families. God, we're just gonna, we're gonna live generously. And we know one day we're gonna stand before you, and you're gonna ask us about it, and we're gonna be ready, God. Because it matters to you, it matters to us, because you're our King. You're not just our Savior. You're our King, and we worship you.

Heads bowed and eyes closed at every location. If you're here today, and you're not ready for that first question, "What did you do with my Son"? and if your answer would be "I sang about him," or "I have a book about him," or "I even went to his house once in a while," not the right answer. He's looking for relationship. You either have one or you don't. And if you don't, you're one heartfelt prayer away from that becoming a reality. And it would be the honor of my life to lead you in that prayer. So, if that's you, say this prayer with me right now. Say:

Jesus, I need you. I receive what you did for me on the cross, and I surrender myself completely to you. Be the Lord of my life. Be the Lord of my life, number one in my life. I believe you are the Son of God. I believe you died and rose again, and today, I put my faith in you. Thank you for saving me. Now I'm gonna go live my life for you. In your name I pray, amen and amen.

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