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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - Not of This World

Chris Hodges - Not of This World

Chris Hodges - Not of This World
TOPICS: The Book of Daniel

All right, who's glad to be in church today? Anybody? Come on, give Jesus a big handclap of praise, everybody. Oh, it's so good to see you guys. I love you so much. I'm so glad you've joined us today to worship God and now study his Word. Let me look into the camera and say hello to all of our locations. We are one church that meets in 24 locations here in Alabama and Georgia. God bless every single one of you guys. And gotta say hi to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections. It's always a joy to be into 21 of those facilities across our great state, and God bless you guys. I always like to say you're not a project to us. You are our church family, and we love you very much. And, of course, there are people watching online or on demand later in the week. How about we give them a big handclap everybody?

Come on, say hi, that's everybody that's watching right now. We are in week number six of an eight-part series that is a verse by verse book study through the book of Daniel. So, we actually started in week number one with a kind of an introductory message, and it sent us into our Serve Day, and kind of gave you what I believe is the big overarching idea of the book of Daniel, and then we came back to chapter one in part two, and now we're just going chapter by chapter until we get through chapter 6. So, there are 12 chapters. There's not going to be 12 parts. The first six chapters are historic; in other words, they actually tell stories of things that actually happen, that I personally believe serve as a playbook for how the church today is to live in an ungodly culture, a culture that's like Babylon, and we'll talk more about that in just a second.

But then the last six chapters, chapters 7 through 12, are all prophecy, of which most of them had been fulfilled, and there's some yet to be fulfilled. And so I'm going to actually teach all six chapters in one message, chapters 7 through 12, and we're going to talk about the end times. You won't want to miss that. That'll be in two weeks. All right? But this book happens, the setting of this book happens when the children of Israel were taken as slaves into Babylon because of their constant rejection of God. So, God warned them over and over. In fact, most of your Old Testament is prophecy, warning them, "Hey, if you don't turn, if you keep doing that, it's going to cost you". They wouldn't listen. They actually ended up taken by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon, which today is where Iraq is.

That's what was called Babylon back in those days. And what's interesting is these Hebrew boys, four of them that are featured in this story, were not only able to stand firm in their Hebrew faith, their faith in God throughout that ungodly culture, but they also had influence into that culture, and I set that kind of as the target for what we're trying to accomplish. We want to live in whatever world we end up living in and staying true to our faith. Can I hear a good amen, everybody, right? And that's not always easy, sometimes difficult. We'll talk about that a little bit, but also we want to have influence into it. So, I don't want to do the two extremes that I think that are out there sometimes in the church world, and one extreme just says, "Look, we're right, you're wrong, and I don't care if you like it or not".

And they're right, but they're not effective, and God didn't just call us to be right. He called us to be effective. And then there's a whole other group, it seems like to me sometimes that forsakes truth, forsakes the truths of scripture in order to have influence in a culture, and they compromise at the same time, and I don't think it has to be an "either/or". I think it can be a "both/and". Jesus came into the world, the Bible says, full of grace and truth. He had them combined, and we talked about that in week number one. So, we're going to dive into this, but in the middle of all this, we're in the middle of 21 days of prayer, and it's been spectacular. In fact, can I applaud you, everybody? More people are showing up for prayer than ever before. We're 13% up over last year.

Come on, give God praise for that. It's awesome. And you guys have really leaned into that. And then in the middle of all of this, we wanted to combine all of this, this book study, prayer, and also revival nights that are beginning tonight and going through Wednesday night. Wednesday night, by the way, is men only. And, men, we do need you to register for that, so we have enough boiled shrimp for you. Can I get a better amen, somebody, right? So, we'll have a little food at the beginning, and then we're going to have a spectacular time together. But these first three nights, tonight, Monday night and Tuesday night, it's just going to be extended worship. We're really going to lean into the presence of God. Every one of these services will begin at 6:30 p.m. At most of the locations, and your campus pastor will talk about it, there are going to be food trucks available before the service.

So, if you're coming from work, of course, that's not, for most people, not tonight, but if you're coming from work, we'll have some food available for you. And then we have every intention of ending around 8, knowing these are school nights now. So, we're very excited about it, but there's going to be a full children's experience. They're having their own revival night, everybody, in children's church. So, our teams are ready for that, and we've got some great speakers coming for us, and Miss CeCe Winans is going to come and lead worship one of those nights. It's going to be spectacular, and I really want you guys to come be a part of that. But in the middle of all this, we're learning about culture. I really feel like God wants to put inside of us some courage about culture and how to navigate through it.

And today I really want you to prepare your heart, as we begin, you know, revival nights, and then this particular topic, because this is not one I can just tell you in your head. There's a goal of today's message, and that is to put courage in your heart for when things don't look so well on the outside. And I know that when we're trying to navigate culture, and we're trying to look at, you know, how things seem to be sliding away, it can be very disconcerting. It can be, you know, just something that's hard to deal with. And maybe even if it's not culture, perhaps you're dealing with something right now that has caused your heart to faint. You're not doing okay right now. And I really believe God has a word for you today out of chapter 5 of the book of Daniel that'll encourage you. So, let me just teach you the book of Daniel, and then we'll give what I believe the Lord wants to say to us today.

So, Daniel chapter 5, verse 1, here we go. King Belshazzar, so, there's a new king. Nebuchadnezzar is dead. This is his son. "Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. And while Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem". So, these were the holy things out of their temple. Now, they're going to use it as a mockery, and they're actually going to drink from them, "so that the king, and his nobles, and his wives and concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, wives, concubines drank from them. And as they drank, they praised the false gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. And suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared".

Not all of this is "Addams Family" type out of a box. I don't know. Right? Or if it's just kind of suspended in air. I don't know. It doesn't give us that, use your imagination and enjoy the story, okay? But "Suddenly these fingers appear and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. And the king watched the hand as it wrote". And his face turned pale, and he was so frightened that his knees had fellowship with one another, everybody. They knocked together, okay, "and his legs gave way". And the king called out for the enchanters, the astrologers, all of his wise men of Babylon to try to interpret this. And he said, "Whoever reads the writing," because it wasn't in their language, what was written on the wall. "Whoever reads this writing, tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and I'm going to make him third highest in the kingdom".

And none of his guys could do that. Nobody could interpret it. And then his wife, the queen, remembered, "Hey, there's this guy, Daniel, that when your dad was going through some dreams that he couldn't interpret, they brought in this Hebrew boy to try to interpret this stuff". And by the way, can I just pause right here and say there will be moments in society that we can be ready for, where the world does not have the answers for what they're facing, and they're going to look for someone who's full of God to come and kind of bring sense to it.

I actually had that experience this week, where a business leader, a friend of mine had an associate who was diagnosed with cancer, and it so shook everybody in the organization. He said, "Pastor Chris, can I get everybody in our organization and all of our investors, and all these business leaders, literally from around the world, can we get on a Zoom call and cry out to Almighty God"? Now, I don't even know if half of them were even Christians; but all of a sudden, I found myself on a Zoom call with all these very, very important people, and all these investors and leaders from around the world, and they're just crying out to God. They're desperate, because they got in a desperate situation. Are you listening to me? Do y'all remember when that NFL player just had a heart attack on the field and died, and they resuscitated him, how all of a sudden everybody is all interested in prayer. I mean, they're praying on ESPN, right? What happens?

When they end up in a desperate situation, they're looking for the people of God. That's why I encourage you to stay steady, stay full of God, everybody. Come on, God will use you. Do y'all believe that? Come on, give God praise if you really believe. I do believe it. So, Daniel is brought in. They're like, okay, let's bring in the Hebrew boy, the boy that we don't even agree with his God, let's get him to help us, right? "And the king said to him, 'Are you Daniel, one of the exiles that my father the king brought in from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods'", he couldn't even describe, he just knew he was different, "'that the spirit of the gods is in you, that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. And the wise men and enchanters and all my guys were brought in to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they couldn't do it. And now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations, and you're able, you were able, nobody else is, but you're able to solve difficult problems. And if you can read this writing, tell me what it means, oh, you're going to be clothed in purple and have a gold chain place around your neck, and I'll make you the third highest in my kingdom.'"

And Daniel basically said, "You can keep your food, and your gifts, and your chains, and even your positions. I'll do this, but I'm going to do it in the form of giving you a prophetic warning". And I think this one, today, by the way, teaches us something. And for some of you, it's actually going to speak to you. Okay? So, just be prepared. It says, "Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven". And I want you to notice, of all the ways he could've described God, he described him as the Lord of heaven. So, he sets the whole tone of his interpretation, watch this, don't miss it, on the fact that, "Hey, you're not just, we're not just dealing with earthly things right here. There's a God who is in heaven. He's the Lord of heaven".

Just notice that redirect, because you're going to see it throughout the story. "And you have had goblets from the temple brought to you and to your nobles, and your wives and concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, wood, stone, which cannot see. They are not even real gods. They don't understand anything, and you did not honor the God". Notice the redirect to eternal things again. "You didn't honor the God who's holding your life in his hands". Like, you don't realize that these things aren't just natural. They're spiritual, and they're eternal. Don't forget that. "Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. And this is what the inscription was", of course, they didn't understand it, "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. This is what the words mean".

I'll give them to you one at a time. Mene means, watch this, again, notice the redirect to eternal things. Do you know what that word mene means? Is that "God has numbered the days of your reign. He's numbered the days of your life, and it's going to come to an end". Tekel means, "You have been weighed on the scales. So now we've weighed your life, and it doesn't add up. It's found wanting. And then Peres means your kingdom is divided. In other words, everything you've built, and everything you've accumulated, and all the work you've done your whole life, guess what? It's going to be divided and given to somebody else". And what he does is he reminds him, this king, and I think it's a reminder for us, and you're going to find out how this actually helps us in culture when we remember that our days are numbered.

So, I know this is not going to be the most encouraging thing you've heard all day, but Hebrews chapter 9 says you're destined to die. Aren't you glad you came to church today, everybody? God bless you. All right. Like, there's a finite number to the days of your life. Last time I checked, one out of one. All right? Nobody lives forever. There's a finite number, and that that is actually a healthy thing to have. For some people, that's a discouraging thing, but it's only discouraging for those who aren't ready for what's on the other side of that. But if, actually, you know, "Look, my time on earth is short, my life, I actually live forever, just my time on earth is short". You know, they have that phrase, "YOLO. Let's jump off this. Let's drink this. Let's eat that. Let's go there. Let's spend this 'cause YOLO, you only live once". I'm like, "No, YOLT, you only live twice".

You're living again, y'all. That's gonna happen, right, right? Your days are numbered here on earth, but you're going to spend eternity in heaven, and that's actually a healthy thing. You're going to see how it helps us navigate culture. I'll show you in just a second. But in that second phrase is that there's gonna be a moment where your life is weighed, or maybe a better word for that is judged. So, whether you like it or not, you're going to stand before God and be judged. You're actually going to have a moment before the Creator of the universe where he says, "Hey, what did you do with my Son, Jesus. I sent him to pay for your sins. Tell me what you did with that". And the answers can't be, "Well, sang about him, went to his house, had his book". No, no, the answer is, "I had a personal relationship with him, and I gave him my life".

Like, your life is going to be weighed. You're actually going to have a moment where you stand before Almighty God, and everything you've ever done here on earth, all your things, everything that you've accumulated is going to be given to someone else. I heard one preacher say, "I've never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul". That's supposed to be a little funnier. Y'all are a little nervous about these phrases, aren't you? Like, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, this is sad, ha, ha, ha, ha". I'll give you a little comic relief, since I can tell y'all are a little uptight right now by all this news, and I'll get back to the message. I'm from South Louisiana, and I tell Cajun stories, you know, jokes. And the most typical last name in Louisiana is not Smith or Jones. It's Boudreaux or Thibodeaux. And so we tell Boudreaux stories. And Boudreaux went to his wife one day, and he said, "Marie," he said, "if I die, are you gonna get married again"?

And she goes, "Boudreaux, I don't want to talk about that. I don't want to talk about that". He said, "But I have to know, are you gonna get married again"? She goes, "Well, I don't want to be lonely, so, chance, yeah, I probably will get married again". He goes, "Oh"! He said, "You gonna let that man sleep in our house"? Said, "Boudreaux, I don't want to talk about that". Said, "I have to know. Is you gonna let him sleep here"? She said, "Well, it don't make sense to buy a new house. So, yeah, he'll probably sleep in here". He goes, "Oh"! He said, "You gonna let him drive my truck"? Said, "Boudreaux, I don't want to talk about that". He goes, "But I have to know. Is he gonna drive my truck"? She goes, "Well, you now, it don't make sense to get a new truck, so he'll probably drive your truck". "Oh"! He said, "You gonna let him play with my golf clubs"? She said, "No, he's left-handed".

Anyway, all right. That was a real laugh. There you go, okay. A merry heart does good like a medicine, everybody. Y'all needed some medicine right there 'cause I was talking about all these eternal things. But listen to me. Let me go ahead and give you the punch line of this message. You can't really hurt a person who has the hope of heaven. Like, earth can't have its effects on you like it has on everybody else, if you know where you're going, everybody. And what Daniel does to Belshazzar says, "Listen, sir, I want you to hear something, that while you're mocking God and living like you want to on earth, you need to know that there's the Lord of heaven, who's watching right now, and your days are numbered, and your life's going to be weighed; and, actually, your kingdom is going to be given to someone else".

"And then, at that very command, Daniel was clothed in purple, gold chain was placed around his neck. He was proclaimed third highest in the, ruler of kingdom". And that same night Belshazzar dies. And Darius, who we're going to study next time we get together, the Mede took over the kingdom at the age of 62. So, I know one of the phrases that gets mentioned in culture, it's been around, it seems like to me, for about 3 or 4 years now, maybe it's longer than that. It seems like it's pretty prevalent these days is a cancel culture, cancel culture. What cancel culture is, is that if you don't do what I want you to do, believe what I want you to believe, think like I want you to think, embrace what we tell you to embrace, then we're going to threaten you with something that's going to bring pain to you. We're going to take something from you, or your reputation, or your whatever. I don't know. But we're going to cancel you.

And what the hope is in that is that you'll care so much about what they took away, that you'll cave. But what if you don't care about what they're taking away? Are y'all following me, everybody? And that's when Jesus was teaching his disciples that, "I'm doing the very best I can right now to teach you as a disciple, as a follower of Jesus". If Jesus were right here teaching us how to navigate this, he would tell us things like this: "If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you". So, in other words, don't worry about the fact that it doesn't love you. "As it is, you do not belong to the world". And the world, by the way, doesn't belong to you. We're not of this world. We're in it, but we're not of it. And if you ever become in it, then it has its way with you. "But I have chosen you out of the world, and that is why the world hates you". He went on to say two chapters later, "I have given them your word". He's praying now in the garden.

John 17 is the prayer that Jesus prayed before he went to the cross, the night before he went to the cross. If you ever want to read it in its entirety, it's right there in John 17. And in verse 14, he says, "I have given them", he's talking to God, "I have given them your word. I gave them truth. I gave them principles that go against everything culture says is real and right. And guess what happened? The world hated them because of it, for", and he says it again, "they are not of this world". I've actually entitled this message today, "Not of This World," because if you're not of this world, this world can't have its impact on you, whatever culture does or says, everybody. He says, "any more than I was of it". And then he goes on to say, "But my prayer is not that you take them out, because I actually need them to bring the gospel, and help the poor, and we've got to figure out a way to be in it, but not of it. So, I'm not going to take them out of it".

That would be the easiest thing, right? Just like, well, just get them out of there. Well, no, we have work to do. "But you can protect them from the evil one while they're in it". And then he says it again: "They are not of the world, even as I'm not of it". So, here's my big thesis of the message today that I want every one of you to embrace, and that is you're gonna have a better time navigating a shifting culture if you're not of this world. If you see yourself as this is your world, this is your life, my life is I need earth to be, I need it to be everything I ever wanted it to be, man, it's gonna disappoint you. Now, let me be clear. I pray that stuff works out. I'm like you. "Lord, heal this disease. And, Lord, help me with this problem".

And from time to time, by the way, God does intervene on planet Earth. I pray just like you do, but you cannot be successful on earth just with an earthly perspective. You've gotta have the eternal perspective, and you've gotta know that you're really just passing through. That's why Paul said it this way, watch this, "For as often, I have often told you before, and now I'm going to tell you again even with tears". And by the way, he's writing this from a prison cell. "Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ". Why? Because "Their destiny is destruction, and their god is their stomach". That's a phrase to mean they follow their feelings. Whatever their body tells them to do, they do it, and their feelings have become a god. By the way, in this culture today, our feelings have become a god. We trust it more than we trust the truth of God's Word. And he says, "Your god is your stomach, and your glory is in your shame". And then he summarizes it. Why? Because they have "their minds set on earthly things".

And then notice what he says next. He says, "But our citizenship isn't here". I'm here right now, but this is not my home. My citizenship is not in Israel or America. "It's in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ". Now, I'm going to give you one of the most important truths for you to have in your faith arsenal, not only for culture, but for anything, and that is, is that I don't put all my stock in earth, but I put it in the eternal. All throughout the Bible, if you really study the Bible, it's kind of different than what maybe you even hear in some sermons that are preached today. Because you hear a lot of sermons, like, "God's gonna come through". Well, when they say that, it's like God's gonna come through on earth, and sometimes God comes through in heaven. That's just how he does it, because he doesn't see everything just in this earth.

This earth, the Bible says, and your life on it is a mist. In the light of eternity, this is just a blip on the screen, and we want everything to work out here. And God says, "Well, sometimes I do; but, really, really, the ultimate solution is heaven". That's why Jesus said, "In this world, you're going to have tribulation". I mean, nobody, like, "That's my favorite verse. Got it on my refrigerator. You know, I'm gonna have tribulation. Woo"! No. You want to know what the promise of Jesus is? Life's gonna be tough. All right, amen. But he says, "Take heart, I've overcome the world". Jesus would say things like, "Don't be afraid of the one who can kill your body. Be afraid of the one that can throw both body and soul into hellfire".

You're focused on, you're buying insurance, and locking doors, and putting on seatbelts, and taking medicine, and trying to stay alive, and that's not a bad thing to do. He says, "But don't be afraid of the one that can kill your body. That's just the tent you're living in". He said, "Be afraid of what's going to happen in eternity". And he redirected it. When the disciples were discouraged, you can go read it. It's in John chapter 14. The disciples came to him all discouraged, and he said to them, "Do not let your hearts be troubled". And then you would think his next line is, "Because I'm gonna pray for you, and it's all gonna be better here in just a minute". And his next line is, "In my Father's house are many rooms, and I'm going to go there and prepare a place for you". His solution to their earth problems was an eternal home.

I'm gonna tell you, our grandparents understood this, because they didn't live with the same luxuries that we have today. We have so much expectation, and we have anything we want, when we want it. You know, we have everything is fast, everything. I mean, the other day I was ordering something on Amazon, and before I even clicked "Send," somebody was knocking on my door with it. I mean, they got there so fast. I don't know how they do that, right? And it spoiled us a little bit to earth. Can I get a better amen out there, everybody? But I remember my grandfather. We grew up, my dad's parents lived in Baton Rouge, and my mom's parents lived in Ruston, which is four hours north in north Louisiana. And we would go up there once a month on a weekend, drive up when dad got home from work on a Friday, and spend the whole weekend, you know, just fishing, and hanging out, and playing, and all kind of fun stuff on Saturday, and to go to church.

And we'd actually leave from church on Sunday, and we did that at least once a month. And then every year in June, on the fourth Sunday of June, we had a homecoming of all my relatives on my mom's side at this little church out in the woods that only had one service a year in it. It just was a box. There's no bathroom. There's an outhouse outside, but it was just a box with just benches. You can't even call them pews. They were just benches, and just an old piano, and there was a graveyard next to it that I had three generations of grandparents, great, great and great, great grandparents buried in the cemetery, and they'd been serving God, and loving God, and having church in that building for generations. And then every year we'd have this reunion of all of my mom's side of the family, and you young people don't even know what this means. We had dinner on the ground.

You're thinking, "What do you do with the food on the ground"? That was actually what they called having a pot luck. You know, it actually was on tables. It wasn't on the ground, but it was on tables, and everybody brought something, and you ate the best food. Oh, my goodness, it was just the most incredible. But on the Saturday night before this homecoming service, they gathered in the church with one little lightbulb in the middle, and they gathered in the church, and they had a sangin'. Some of you old folks are laughing like, "I did that". A sanging. A sangin' is they'd just all get in there and just sing, and there were hymn books, and they'd all, you know, everybody would open up, and everybody pick a hymn that they'd like and, "Do 148". And the keyboard player would do her thing like, clink, clink, clink.

But my memory of that is that all of the songs were about heaven. There were none of them like maybe some of the songs that can be sung today of, you know, "Lord, you're gonna do it here. You're gonna work it out here". No, they were all, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory". Bum, bum, bum, bum. Thank you. I'll be here all day, folks. Thank you very much. Thank you. But what I'm trying to tell you is their hope wasn't in things working out here. They knew they had the hope of heaven. The reason why I'm teaching you this, when we got to chapter 5 in Daniel, is I think when you have that solidified in your heart, earth can't hurt you, man. If culture shifts, it won't discourage you. You'll step into it with courage.

And I'm convinced that the church of Almighty God needs to step into the shifting culture, not with fear and intimidation of being cancelled, but we've got to step into it with courage in our hearts, everybody. We have to. Come on, give God praise if you believe it. The famous Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard from the 19th century said this: "When the sailor is out on the sea and everything is changing around him", so, we're in a season of that now, "and the waves are continually being born and dying". So that may be what your life feels like. It crashes, it rescinds, it crashes, it rescinds, "he does not stare into the depths of the change or the waves, since they actually vary. He tries to find something steady. He looks up to the stars. And why? Because they're faithful, as they stand now, they stood for patriarchs and will stand for the coming generations". He says, "So by what means then do we conquer changing conditions"?

And then he gives you the thesis of this message. It's through the eternal. How do you stay stead when everything is falling apart? Through the thing that never changes, "the eternal. By the means of the eternal, one can conquer the future, because the eternal is the foundation of the future". So, I want to give you three little phrases. I want you to write them down. I want you to put them in your app, on your notes, on your phone, in your mind and your heart; because if you'll have these in your faith arsenal, if these are grounded in your heart, I'm telling you, church, you're gonna be all right. And Lord knows I want things to work out for all of us. I will pray with you and believe God for a miracle for anything you're facing.

And by the way, I've seen God do things that I can't even understand how he answers our prayer and helps us through desperate situations. But there is one thing we all possess, and that is the eternal. If you know God, let me say it this way. If you know God, if you know God, and you're a person of faith, you believe in Jesus Christ, this is as bad as it gets. It only gets better. If you don't know God, and you do not have your faith in Jesus Christ, this is as good as it gets. It only gets worse. And so I'm trying to get you grounded into something that is eternal, and you do it three ways. One is by disciplining yourself to look up and not around as much.

So, we have to discipline ourselves that when stuff starts crashing in on me, are we gonna look at the waves, or are we gonna look at the eternal? Jesus gave this as a recommendation, a prescription, if you will, in Luke 21, when he was talking about wars, rumors of wars, pestilences, the end times. He says, "And when you see bad days begin, this end time begin, stand up, lift up your head, because your redemption is drawing near". Again, the way they survive the changing conditions and the waves of life, and in this case the end time dynamics, was that we're going to be people who don't stare into things that are going to pass away anyway. We're going to focus on the eternal. In Revelation, now we're in the middle of the tribulation, and some of you even know this verse. It's a very famous verse that only gets half quoted, and that is they triumphed over the devil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.

And most people stop right there. "Man, because of my testimony, what Jesus did, I'm gonna overcome the devil". And it continues, though. "But they also did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death". In other words, they weren't intimidated with earth things, because they had the hope of heaven. That's why when the Apostle Paul, listen to me. I'm trying to help you here. This is true pastoral, this is a true pastoral message here; because when Paul was being threatened, "If you don't stop preaching, we're going to throw you in prison," he'd go, "Great. I was this close to winning that jailer to the Lord, and I was almost done with the book of Ephesians. I mean, like, I'll get some more writing done. Thank you. Lock me up". "Okay, well then if you don't stop preaching Jesus, we'll kill you". "Would you? To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". He went on to say, "To live is Christ and to die is gain. You can't threaten me with heaven".

I need you to have this in your arsenal, in your faith. Yeah, I want earth to be good. I pray just like you do, but you can't threaten me with heaven. "We'll kill you". It's a win. I'm in a win-win situation. Are y'all hearing me, everybody? And I want you to have that; because when it happens, in fact, some of you in this room, you've been attacked by fear. I felt like I was supposed to speak this over somebody today. You have, literally, you have an enormous amount of fear going on inside of you about something. Maybe it's the health of your children. Maybe it's the future. Maybe it's your job. I don't know what it is. It's gripped you, it's gripped you, and we have to replace that today. We have to replace that with the fact that we know God's got us in his hand, and we have the hope of the eternal.

So, I'm going to focus my life, not on what's around me, but I'm gonna focus my eyes on what's above. The second thing you do to have this in your heart is we focus my life on the unseen, not the seen. And what I mean by that is now I'm gonna let my life's work be focused on stuff that shows up in heaven. So, one of the things that we do here at Highlands is we try to encourage you to be on a Dream Team. And we're not doing that really because we need more people to volunteer. We do that because you need it. So, we encourage people to do something eternal with their lives, because the truth is the best way to pastor you is not to help you through your problems.

The best way to pastor you is to give you something in your life bigger than your problems, that when you did it, you think, "Okay, that made a difference". And that's why Paul was so successful. He said, "I am hard pressed on every side, but I'm not crushed; I am perplexed, but I am not in despair; I am persecuted, but I'm not abandoned; I am struck down but not destroyed". Well, that's amazing. How can you go through all that, and it's not bugging you? He said, "Because I know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead is going to raise me too. I'm going to go to heaven. You can't threaten me with heaven". And he goes on to say, "So, therefore I don't lose heart. Even though I have every reason to, I don't. Though outwardly it's no fun, I'm wasting away. but inwardly I am being renewed".

I'm trying to renew the inside of you today. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving me a glory that outweighs them". So, I have something that's going on that is better. And do you know what that glory is? I'm making a difference with my life. He knew, he knew that even though he had all these problems, he knew he was all right, because he had the hope of heaven and that his life was making a difference in the lives of other people. So, "I fix my eyes not on the things that are seen, because the seen things are temporary, and the unseen things are eternal". And again, that's why I encourage you guys, listen to me, the Growth Track, Dream Team, and all that happens next week, step two and three next week, because of the revival nights, but we don't do that for us. We're doing that for you.

You need something in your life that makes your life make sense, and that's why Jesus, I won't read it, too much of it, because we need to go, but Jesus said, "So don't store your life on earth things". Because, remember, it's going to get weighed, because that's all going to be destroyed. "But store up treasures in heaven". You want to be successful in all the stuff that's going on in your life, if you want to be successful through a shifting culture, be a person who lives their lives making a difference. "And wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also," he said. It's gonna help your heart. Here's the last one. So, instead of looking around, I'm going to look up, and I'm going to focus my life on eternal things, unseen things. And this is the last one. This is the best one. And that is I'm going to focus my heart on faith. I'm going to be a faith person, not a fear person. "PC, how do you do that"?

Come to church. But you don't need it one day a week. You need it every day. You need it every day. That's why tomorrow, get up in the morning, even if it's just for 5 minutes, and start your day off in prayer. "I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, and he freed me from all my fears". Then open that Bible. Get that Bible out. Psalm 119, "My soul's fainting," because I've got a lot of reasons for it to faint, "but I have put my hope in your word". And you'll walk out of that room from that time with God in the morning with faith in your heart. Are y'all listening to me, church? This is what I want for you. Yeah, go ahead, and if you want to clap, that's all right.

So, one closing story. I like a good closing story. Okay. So, we're not the first generation to have massive amounts of fear in us. Seventy-eight years ago, the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, and the only conversation anybody was having for years after that was, "When's the next one gonna fall, and who's it gonna hit"? Everybody was living in fear of the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb, it was the conversation in everything. It got so bad in England that C.S. Lewis decided to address it, and he wrote an article that was widespread, called, "Living in an Atomic Age". It was written in 1948. So, it was 75 years ago. And I want to read it to you, because I want you to put in place of the word, "atomic bomb," anything you're facing, anything.

So, every time you see those words, just put it with your current fear. He said, "In one way we think a great deal too much about," fill in the blank. "How are we going to live in an age with an atomic bomb? I am tempted to reply, 'Why, as you would've lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would've lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat at any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, syphilis, paralysis, air raids, railway accidents, and motor accidents. In other words, we do not let us begin, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was even invented. In fact, quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways".

Aren't you glad you came to church, everybody? "It's perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of a painful and premature death to a world which was already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not even a chance, but a certainty. This is the first point that needs to be made: and the first action that needs to be taken, we need to pull ourselves together". Courage. "If we're going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb", fill in the blank of whatever your situation is, "let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things, praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint", don't do that one, "and a game of darts, but not huddled together like frightened sheep thinking about", fill in the blank, "they may break our body, but they need not dominate our minds".

Courage, we need courage 'cause we're not of this world. Let's bow and pray. So, Father, help us with our perspective today. Help us, God, not get so enamored with earth things and especially this shifting culture. But God, we fix our eyes on heaven. We're going to have that perspective. And God, we are asking you to help us work through things here on earth. We don't want to live in all the pain and the problems. We know you're a God who answers prayer. But we're like these Hebrew boys, God. We say, even if you don't, we're not bowing to culture, and we're not going to live in fear. We're going to live with faith, knowing you have a home for us in heaven.

With every head bowed, every eye closed, if you're here today, and you're not sure, if you drew your last breath this very second, where you would spend eternity, then you're one heartfelt, faith-filled prayer away from your life being changed right now. And I'm not talking about joining this church. I'm talking about giving your life to Jesus. Your sins can be forgiven, and you can have the absolute hope of eternity with Almighty God. Say, "Well, I'll take that, Pastor Chris. How do I get that"? Then pray this prayer to God and believe it, that you repeat after me, say:

Jesus, I need you, and I receive what you did for me on the cross, and I ask you to forgive me of my sin. I repent, I turn towards you today, and I give you my life fully surrendered to you, because I believe you're the Son of God, and I believe you died on the cross, and you rose from the dead, and today I put my faith in you. So, thank you for forgiving all my sin. Thank you for a home in heaven, and thank you for putting your Spirit in me, so I can live a life you always intended me to live, and I give you all the thanks. In Jesus's name, amen.

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