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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Be Free Indeed

Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Be Free Indeed

Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Be Free Indeed
TOPICS: I Have Decided, Freedom

It's really good to see you today. We are in week number 2 of a four-part sermon series called, "I Have Decided," and I'll tell you more about that in just a second; but as always, I'd like to start the service by just making sure every campus that is joining us right now knows how much I love them. I pray for every single one of our locations, their pastors, the teams every single day of my life. Love you guys so very much. We are one church that meets in 26 different locations across Alabama and Georgia. And what an incredible honor it is for us to bring this into more than 22 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities across the state. And I love you guys so very much, pray for you, just as well. You're not a project to us. You are our church family.

We're so glad that you're along for the ride. And, of course, we have people that are watching somewhere around the world. I have been getting more people lately that have been letting me know that they're watching from Delaware, or Oregon, or all over the nation. Church, would you put your hands together and say the biggest hello to everybody that's joining us? God bless you guys. And before we jump into the message, I'll remind you something you already know, hopefully, that we are in week number 2 of 21 Days of Prayer. Today is Day 8 of 21 days of prayer, and I want to encourage you to join us in this prayer-focused time, that we've been doing this since actually before the church started 23 years ago, and it's something that really is a hallmark of who we are as a church, that we start the year off declaring our dependence upon God, and we want you to join us in whatever form fits your life.

We are gathering together every single day for 21 Days of Prayer. At 6 o'clock in the morning, we join together and seek God together at all of our locations. And so you can physically join us. If you can't physically get here, you can watch it live or you can watch it on-demand. We archive it for 24 hours, that prayer service. So, we'd love for you to join us. And, of course, we join Saturday at 9 o'clock, and then Sundays that prayer time is in these church services, but we'd love for you to join us; also, the fasting, of course. If you don't know much about fasting, I would encourage you to take these 21 days and set something aside to get closer to God. Set the world aside. And if you don't know much about fasting, I did a brief little overview in last Sunday's message.

If you weren't here, or you can actually go to our website or our app on 21 Days of Prayer. It gives you a whole bunch of fasting resources that will educate you, some great tools from Dr. Bill Bright and others that will just show you what fasting does and how it works. And so we want to encourage you to do that, as well. This is a powerful time that we have together. We're in this series called, "I Have Decided," because the new year marks a time when most people are trying to make some kind of fresh decision that is different from your previous decisions, to make your new year better. It's something about turning the calendar helps people see that they have a fresh start. I'll remind you, God will give you a New Year's Day every day of your life.

Okay, like, he just loves forgiving you and giving you a clean slate. But for us, somehow, this calendar thing kicks us into the mode of saying, "You know what? I'm gonna do something different. I'm gonna live a little differently". So we're all making decisions, by the way, with very moderate success. Research says that 80% of all resolutions are broken by Valentine's Day. Can I get an amen, somebody, right? Isn't that terrible news? I know. So we're not actually that good at resolutions; because, actually, God didn't want us to experience a resolution. He wanted us to experience a revolution. Resolutions are external; revolutions are internal. So, I heard one guy say a lot of us really don't want, we don't want changed lives. We just want changed circumstances. So, I want to be skinnier, but I don't want to stop eating.

You know what I'm saying? It's like, so we want changed lives. We just don't want to change circumstances. So, if you're the person here today that is frustrated by your inability for your life to get better, because we all know we have an area of our life, that if we could make some better decisions, our lives would be better. I personally believe that they're spiritual in nature, because you're not a physical being having these Sunday spiritual experiences. You're a spiritual being having this temporary earth experience. Like, you're more like God than you realize, and so more of the solutions of your life can be found in how you follow God, and that's why I love my job so much; but we cannot make progress without making decisions, and I want to help you with some decisions.

So, the goal of this series is to actually bring you to a decision point every Sunday and urge you to go to a place you probably haven't been yet. That's what I do. I like to nudge you. I want to encourage you. I believe God has more for you, and I want to show you what that is; but, of course, you have to make the decision. I tell people all the time, "I am not your pastor. I'm your tour guide, everybody. I'm going to show you parts of the city you didn't even know was there, and you're going to go, 'Ohh, this is amazing.'" Well, of course, it's amazing, but you just needed somebody who may have already been there just a little ahead of you to show you that exists.

So, last week, I brought you to the decision point that perhaps, just perhaps, there's more to faith in Christianity than maybe what we experience, especially here in the Deep South, where a lot of the Christianity is very cultural. You know, we attend church, belong to a church, but we don't probably take our Christianity very seriously, and Jesus does. So, we talked about how he described followers and the depth that he took people to follow him. Today, I want to bring you to another decision point, and it's an important one, and this is the decision that, "I have decided that it's time to be free indeed, like, really be free. I'm tired of this thing that has attached itself to me, just this lingering sin that I just constantly repent of, but I don't break from, or this habit that I know it's not good for me, but now it's beginning to mark me. It's becoming a part of my identity. I feel in some ways I'm even losing my life. But I'm faking it, and I'm telling everybody else it's okay. I've got this".

But you really ain't got this. It's not working out for you. And it's the area of your life that if you know if it wasn't in your life, your life would be a whole lot better. And you've probably have had moments where you've tried to get rid of it or deal with it, but you've even actually gone to this place now, "I don't think it's going to go anywhere. I think it's one of these things now I have to manage, and I have to keep". And I want to. look straight into this camera and into every one of your eyes and tell you that's a lie from the pit of hell, that the enemy is lying to you and telling you something about your life that isn't true. You can be free indeed. Can I gear a good amen, everybody. You really can.

So, last night we had a little incident at the Hodges house in the middle of the night. I go to bed very, very early on Saturday nights because of you. I like to go to bed very early, get up very, very early and prepare and pray. You know, I take the message that I prepared all week, and I get up in the morning, and I put that message in the oven and hopefully get some heat on it and make that food taste good to you guys; and, hopefully, God will put his hand upon it and anoint it. So, I take all that very, very seriously. And if I'm honest with you, most nights, Saturday nights, I actually don't sleep well, and I'm a very good sleeper. I get 8 hours every night. I'm a good sleeper, but on Saturday nights I have this anxiousness about Sunday, and so I'm always just a little excited.

So, I have that, kind of, I'm fighting against, because I can't hardly wait, and I still have nervousness, not to stand in front of people, but the sheer responsibility of what I have to do every Sunday. I take it, kind of as the fear of God in my heart about, "Man, Lord, this has got to be great, and I want, only want this to look like what you want to look like". So, I'm kind of, I'm kind of dealing with my own nervousness that I face all night. So, I had a hard time last night, once again, on a Saturday night, getting to sleep. And I bet it was an hour and a half before I actually fell asleep; and then about 2:30 in the morning, I wake up to this sound. And it woke me up from deep sleep. I know what deep sleep is now, because I wear this ring, okay, this ring that my precious wife has allowed me to put on my wedding finger, but it's a ring that kind of checks your sleep.

It tells you when you've gone into deep sleep, when you're in light sleep, when you're in REM sleep. It's tracking your activity; and, hopefully, it's gonna make me a little healthier anyway. So I'm more conscious of my health. And so I know, and I was in deep sleep. Deep sleep means that it takes a lot to wake you up. And so I was actually dreaming this sound before I heard the sound. You know what I'm talking about. Like I thought it was a part of my dream. And so I'm tolerating and thinking, you know, this is all a dream, but then I finally woke up. It's a reality. Well, I'm happy to report Miss Tammy's still sleeping. Y'all hearing me, all right? Like, she's just gone over there. And so I'm convinced it's her phone, which she has by her bedside. I don't plug mine in by the bedside. I still use an old-fashioned alarm clock, and mine is downstairs somewhere.

And so, I nudge here like, "Baby, baby". Like, it took a lot. "Baby"! You know, like it's, it's, "Stop the sound". And she goes, "It's on your side". Like, "No, it's not. It's not on my side". So, we were having this argument 2:30 in the morning, and I'm like, "No". And so I get up. I'm thinking now it's in the bathroom, like something's plugged in there, and there it's that's not happy, and I go in the bathroom. Now I hear it in the bedroom, like, "I told you it's you, it's you". Well, she was already up out of bed, and we have a key pad in our bedroom of our alarm system, and she was over there, and sure enough, it was our alarm system, and the alarm code said, "Broken glass in basement". How many of y'all are glad I'm still standing here right now, everybody? Okay, all right. "Broken glass in basement". I'm like, "Oh, my goodness, somebody just got in our basement".

And I said, "Honey, go see who that is". I did. I mean, I have to preach tomorrow. You know what I'm saying? I said, "Baby, go see about it". She goes, "I'm not going down there unless you come with me". And I said this. I said, "I'm not going down there". I said, "Go lock the door down to the basement, and let's go back to bed". I figured whatever they could take us, you know, I just like, I live with it. I just, I wasn't ready to confront somebody at 2:30 in the morning. Well, we just did, we actually did that. We actually went back to bed, not knowing if something was going on down there. And but I didn't go back to bed, because I was in bed, but I didn't go back to sleep. I was up all night wondering what's going on in the basement. And I was actually going through an inventory. I'm such a math person. I was going through an inventory of the things that I was going to have to replace.

And I spent all night miserable because of a lie, because I got up this morning, and nothing was wrong down there. It was a sense, a little sensor went bad or something and just gave us that alarm, but there was nothing wrong there at all. Praise God for that. And but I was tormented, believing something that wasn't even true. There are some of you who are in the bed of life. You're laying there miserable, because you're believing something that's not even true. The devil has lied to you: "This is just going to be in your life forever". And so you've tried resolutions, you've tried things which you've given up. And I'm here today, it's time to decide, "Nope. Nope. This is going to be the year that I'm going to be free indeed".

Come on, say amen right there, everybody, okay? All right, so let's get into the Word. Go to your app if you want to follow along. You'll see all these notes, and you can fill in the blanks with me. Jesus said, watch this, "If you hold to my teaching, you're really my disciples". You need to know that my research for this series, I went through the Bible and found every place where it says, "No, no, no, this is what real Christianity looks like". You can define it how you think it is, but you're wrong. Jesus said, "No, let me define to you what Christianity really is. It's people who hold to my teaching". And then he gives us one more glimpse into what real Christianity looks like. "Then you will know the truth".

When you get into the Word, you're going to know truth, and the truth is going to set you free. And they answered, "Hey, we go to Church of the Highlands. Don't tell us I need to be free. I'm already serious about this. We're Abraham's descendants, and we ain't ever been slave to anybody". And this is the denial that a lot of us in this room are in right now. "This ain't no problem for me. I've got this". Well, you don't have this. How can you say, "I need to be set free"? Some of you are even offended at the fact that I'm bringing it up to you right now. And Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins..." And that literally means keeps on sinning.

So if you have something that you know God is not pleased with, and you keep on doing it, you, sir, ma'am, have become a slave. "And now a slave has no permanent place in the family", which literally means you can't receive all that God has for you, because you're stuck in the past too much to even see God's future for your life, "but a son belongs to it forever. And if the Son sets you free, you'll be free indeed". I want to talk for a few minutes about this struggle with sin that all of us face, because there's a bunch of us that have a habit and addiction. We have an attitude or an emotion that is dominating our lives, and it's time for that to end, everybody.

Now, all I can do is bring you to a decision point. I'm going to do the best I can to expose some lies, and then I'm going to bring you to how you can make that decision effectively, so this is not something you deal with next year. By the way, if you want to know if you're in good company, even the great Apostle Paul, who ended up through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writing about two-thirds of the New Testament, he says, "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what's right". So, your heart's right. I'm not questioning your heart. I'm questioning how it all pans out in our lives. "I really want to do what's right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate". Don't you love the Bible? "I have discovered a principle of life, that when I want to do right, I inevitably do what's wrong. I love God's law with all my heart".

I want you to see this is good theology that some of you don't even have. "But there's another power within me". Some of you have never even been told that I can be a Christian and still struggle with something that God is not pleased with, that it literally is a power. It's a spirit that attaches itself to you. It's a lie. It's all based on a lie, by the way, "that is at war in my mind". You believe something. You believe somebody's in the basement. You believe it. You stay up all night, because you wonder what's gone. This power makes you a slave to that sin that is still within you. And then he says this, what a lot of us do, we beat ourselves up. So instead of fixing it, we just beat ourselves up. "Oh, what a miserable person I am. Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death"?

Now there's a lot of things that go into the journey of actually being set free, and I would like to think that if you became very involved at Church of the Highlands, we would expose you to every single one of them. Like, we have a playbook, if you will, we have a process, if you will, that we can take you on that will help you actually experience real freedom, and that's why I always beg you, don't just, you know, just come once in a while. No, no, give us a year of your life and do everything. And what do you have to lose, by the way? I'm gonna tell you what you have to lose is the thing that's attached itself to your life that you don't want in your life anymore. That's what you're gonna lose, and my job is to get on the stage and try to say it in a way that urges you to go, "Yes, I'm gonna do this finally".

Well, I want to give you just one of them, because I only have a few more minutes to share with you one of most powerful principles that I want to make sure you at least know, and it's your decision, your choice to actually decide if you're going to do that or not, and I'm going to show it to you in a Proverb in chapter 28, verse 13. And the Bible says this, that if you choose to say, "I'm going to conceal this, so, I know it's there, and I'm going to work it out. I'm going to handle it". They never prosper. "Whoever conceals that sin never prospers, but the one who", this is the word of the day, "the one who confesses". "I'm going to finally let God and somebody else know what's going on my life". "Whoever confesses and renounces it finds mercy".

Now there's two places that you must, if you want to be truly free, there's two places that you actually must confess in order for things to actually change in your life. The first one, of course, is God. The Bible says, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify", that means actually remove the stain, the spirit, everything that's controlling you. He will purify us from everything that's not right in your life, unrighteousness. Unrighteousness simply means everything that's not right. All the areas that are not right, God says, "If you'll come to me and say, 'This is not right,'" that he begins this miracle.

And by the way, this happens in a moment, where we admit that we need help, we repent and turn around. We reject the lies of the devil and believe the truth of God's Word. And by the way, tomorrow at 21 Days of Prayer, we're going to go through this in a deeper level and a prayer level, and I'm going to lead you through what I've just said to you. We're going to be free indeed. Tomorrow on Dr. Martin Luther King Day, the man who coined the phrase, "Free Indeed," we're going to get free indeed. Amen, everybody? We are. But that's not enough. That's not, that's not enough. James 5:16 says don't stop there. Confess your sins, not just to God, but also to somebody else, to each other, and then include prayer.

So, we know this is a believer, because you're gonna pray about it. You're gonna say it, then you're gonna pray about it for each other, and then you're going to be healed. So here's the way I say it. We go to God for forgiveness, and only God can forgive you truly. But we go to God's people for healing. And what I mean by that is some of you, your only plan has been this first one. So, when you mess up, you come to God and say, "Guess what, God? I did it again". And God is faithful and just and will give you a bazillion chances. There's nobody more patient and merciful than our God. Aren't you grateful for that, everybody? He'll forgive you every single time. "His mercies endure forever," the Bible says. He'll constantly do it; but just because you told God, "I'm sorry," doesn't mean you're not going to do it again.

Let me say it this way. This one only deals with what you did, but this one will make sure you don't do it again. And this is the one I'm trying to add into your life; because we're supposed to go to God and say, "God, I'm so sorry". And then we're supposed to go to some person and say, "Let me tell you what I'm battling with, and I'm gonna need your help to walk through it". And the Bible says to the people who choose, "I have decided to do that," those are the ones that don't just experience forgiveness. They also get healed, which means that it'll never mark your life again. And that is why our church is a church of groups. We have about 10,000 new people in our church just from last year alone that are now in our church. And I'm not giving you this explanation, so I'm gonna take about a minute or so and just explain to you. The Sunday services aren't who we really are. We really are a church of groups.

In fact, the way I like to say it is our church isn't even big. It's actually very small, 5,000 times small, because our church meets in groups. So, we let people choose which one they want to be in, their affinity groups, meaning you find what interests you, and you gather together. And it can be something along the lines of activities, like, you know, hiking and running. We have running groups. We have ultimate Frisbee groups, a bunch of young people. And there's some, a bunch of them around Bible studies and just learning things out of God's Word. Others are trying to solve a certain problem, like addiction, or debt, or parenting, or some things, every type of group. But in all the groups, they also include the same things: prayer, relationship, accountability, like people who actually know your name.

And then they pray for you, and the hope is that every one of you, and I'm urging you to do this, to make this decision today, all I can do is bring you to the decision point, but to say, "This is going to be a year where I'm not just going to go to church. I'm going to involve a small group of people in my life, and I'm going to get close enough to them where I gain the confidence to let them know what's going on in my life, not everybody, just a few people". And what you're going to discover is you're going to get accountability. Every one of you know this. You know this. If you really actually want to work out and be faithful of going to the gym, you'll do a whole lot better if you get someone to go to the gym with you. Like, we all know this, that if you'll do that, that's how it happens.

And we have all kinds of groups. We even have a group that's called Freedom, a group that is designed to take you through one of our semesters. We have semesters, 13 weeks, 6 weeks, 13 weeks, 3 semesters in the calendar year, and this these Freedom groups literally are designed that week by week you slowly peel back the onion of all the things that the enemy has attached to your life, that you may not even know about, or you just settled in, a habit in your life, and you can't figure out a way to get rid of it. In fact, there's only one type of group that I've always encouraged everybody in our church. Just be sure you take one semester in your time here at Highlands and get in a Freedom group because we want you to experience real freedom. "I've decided this is the year I'm going to be free indeed".

So, in just a few weeks, we'll have what we call our Winter/Spring Small Group Semester. It's 13 weeks, February 4 through May 4. And I just want to encourage you in; and, in fact, a bunch of you ought to even consider being the host of one of those groups today. And at every campus, we're training Small Group leaders or campus pastors. We'll give you details, but it gives you a chance just to open your own doors at a restaurant, or at your office, or at a playground, or in your home. And just gather with some other friends, pick an affinity. We have tons of curriculums that we can offer to you and just, but we're gonna get close to one another. 'Cause here's what I know, and that is that if you really want real life change, it happens in relationships: first, in your relationship with God; secondly, in your relationship with other people.

In fact, I told you last week that I watched these documentaries over the Christmas/New Year's break. And I was sick a bunch through that, and so I ended up on the couch a lot, and I watched some documentaries on the Blue Zones, where they have centenarians, people who live, because of their lifestyle, they live more than 100 years old, and these are people all across the globe. So, it's not even just one area. I think there's six or seven different Blue Zones, and they were trying to find the things that all Blue Zone people have in common, and one of them is they all are people of faith, and they attend faith services every single week. They're not sporadic in their attendance to their faith journey. They take it very seriously.

And I shared that with you last week, but another one is, is they all are in small groups. And they said this phrase that I wanted to pass on to you, because I thought when I heard it, I'm bringing that into week number 2. That is brilliant. And I'm watching this documentary and they said because your friendships are contagious. And whatever habits your friends have are the habits you're going to have. So if your, if your friends are healthy, you're going to end up healthier; but if your friends are addicted, you're gonna become addicted. Like, so it brings the importance of who you're hanging out with. And, of course, the Bible affirms this in so many ways that habits are contagious. They're contagious. So be intentional about the people you hang out with.

So, I wanted to close today and show you how. And I'm going to meddle in your life a little bit here. And just deal with it. All right, so you just deal with it in your own way, but I'm going to dive in here a little bit and encourage you, because I'm trying to get you to all that God has for you. Who wants all that God has for you today, everybody? Of course you do, of course you do, I know. Okay, so I've used this little tool. It's been 4 or 5, 6 years since I've used it, but I've used this little tool called the Johari Window, and it shows the four aspects of a person's life, and the first is the arena, and the arena is just what, it's what you know, but it's also what I know. It's what, it's the public you. It's the part of you that we already know about you. It's what you're allowing everybody to see about you.

Here's the problem. For a lot of us, the arena, the public you isn't the real you. So, the way I say it is you're bigger on the outside than you are on the inside. And for a lot of you, you're working hard to maintain that image. Now lean in for a second. And that's exhausting to have to put up a façade that's not who you really are. And many of you, you would characterize your life by it. I'm exhausted. I'm completely exhausted because no one really knows what's going on. Now, Jesus addressed this, with the people who called themselves good Christians or good religious people. In Matthew, 23, he says, "Everything they do is just for people to see. They make their phylacteries".

Phylacteries were this little box that held the Torah, and they bound it to their head. They put the, basically, the book of the law on their head, a phylactery. And it was letting everybody know, "Look at me. I've got the Word of God right there". But God didn't want it right there. He wants it in here. But they made it, they made it, they made it wide, and the tassels represented prayer. And so they showed people like they're praying, but they didn't have prayer in their heart. And he called these people hypocrites, like. In fact, he goes on to say this: "You're like whitewashed tombs". So you're attuned, you're actually very dead, but you're just trying to make it pretty with flowers and cleaning it up really good, which looked beautiful on the outside, "but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean".

And if any of that describes you, I've decided it's time to be free indeed. The second area is the mask, and all of us are wearing one, by the way, because there are things you don't know about me that I don't let you see, right? But the question is, am I the only one who knows those? Because what the mask is, is the part of my life that I know, but you don't know. And the healthy people make sure there's at least one person, and I actually recommend several people who do know, people that you love so much and trust so much that you're able to take your mask off and say, "Can I tell you what I'm really battling with and what I'm dealing with"? Why? Because you will always stay as sick as your secrets. And I want that just to hit your heart today, that if you if you say that "I've been trying and trying and trying," yeah, but maybe it's time to tell God, and tell God's people, and involve somebody in this process.

I love the way the psalmist David said in Psalm 32. He said, "When I refused to do this, when I just said, like I'm gonna, I'm gonna handle this on my own, my body wasted away". In other words, you can feel the drain that's coming from your body to have to uphold this façade that's not even true. But then, he said, "But then I acknowledged it and didn't cover it up, and I said, 'I will confess my transgression.'" And if you read the rest of the psalm, you can see how much lighter he talked, how much more beautifully he talked. And I know what you're thinking. "PC, if you even knew what I was battling with. Like, nobody knows how addicted I am, nobody knows how angry I actually am, nobody knows what a mental nut case I feel like sometimes. And if I tell them, PC, they're going to think so bad of me".

Look at me, every eye. It's not true. It's not true. Let me tell you what's going to happen. It's what C.S. Lewis said, that "friendship is born at the moment when one person says to the other, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" And now you have the beauty of what the body of Christ is really all about. Church, listen to me. The backbone of our church is not my preaching. The backbone our church is not our worship services or how many campuses we can build. The backbone of our church is our Small Groups. You wanna know what makes us a strong church? It's that we are in covenant relationships with people who bring accountability, discipleship, growth, friendship, support. And you need this. You need someone watching over your soul, not just you.

"Well, my mama prays for me". Yeah, but she don't know what you're really doing. I've got about seven people at this level in my life. I tell them everything. When I say we communicate, every day, communicate. My highs, my lows, and I'd also give that to them myself. Paul had it. Paul had a friend named Epaphras. You guys don't even know his name. Paul said, Epaphras, who's actually one of you. You didn't even know who he is, "and a servant of Christ Jesus. He's always wrestling for me in prayer, that I might stand firm in the will of God". Who's doing that for you? And if you don't have that, you're missing out on one of the most beautiful things in the body of Christ. And that's why don't just attend a group and treat it like a mini church service. No, no, no.

"Here's my phone number. Let me check on you. Oh, you're traveling this weekend. I'm gonna check in on you, buddy". "Yeah, please do. You know, I get in those hotels, and man, my mind wanders, make some bad decisions. I wandered down to that bar, you know, and next thing you know, I'm being stupid". "I got you. What time you want me to call"? "Check up on me about 9 o'clock". "Okay, I got you, buddy. I got you". And that needs to happen. Are y'all listening to me? I'm very serious. Some of you, some of you need a place where you just dump what's going on, your prayer request. You know, when I grew up in the Baptist Church, we had this thing in the Baptist Church called the unspoken prayer request. Y'all remember that? "Has anybody got any prayer requests? What is it"? "Unspoken".

That's your problem. Spoke it. I'm gonna leave that right there. I just think you got that. All right? But guess what? You already also have some blind spots. You have an area that you can't even see. Guess what? The rest of us are seeing it. It's the hanger. Come on, everybody. Y'all know what a hanger is? Friends don't let friends have hangers. Mm-mm. Tammy and I have signals, you know, like, "Baby". When we're in public settings, she'll just go... you know, let me know, "You deal with this". The Bible says it this way: "Wounds from a friend, of what you should be trusting, but too many of us have an enemy who's actually multiplying kisses". You're wonderful, you're great, you're awesome, you're cool, you're just, you're just the best, you're the best, you're the best. And we gravitate to that when we actually need to find somebody we trust to say, "No, here, here, here's what's going on".

They check on you, they encourage you like Hebrews says: "See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But don't just get your encouragement from God, encourage one another". I like this little quote I found: "I may not be able to fix your problems, but I promise to not let you deal with them alone". I've got your back. All I can do, guys, is bring y'all to the "I have decided". Would you trust me with this? One of the best decisions you'll make in 2024 is that I'm gonna let somebody in my life know what's really going on in my life, and I'm going to be free indeed. Because you also have this fourth area of the Johari Window called the potential, and you don't know it.

And by the way, the person you come to doesn't know it either. Only God knows, but God's system for you finding it is getting close to somebody else, where discipleship takes place. The Bible says is it this way, that if you'll get with another believer who's trying to grow, that iron will sharpen iron, and we get better. We get better. Bottom line is, we're just better together. We're better together. And if you want to be free, I know you do, I know you do. You want to be free, and it feels so vulnerable. I get it, especially for men.

Men have the hardest time with this. Find somebody, because the devil's been lying to you for far too long. And I woke up earlier this morning, and I don't think I've done this but two times in 23 years, where I was supposed to pray a little bit more of aggressive prayer than I normally pray on a Sunday morning. And so receive it, if this is for you. If this is not for you, you can just, just listen to it. But I felt like, and just get ready for this, I felt like I was supposed to break the curse of the devil off your life, that he's lying to you in a load of areas. And if you're okay to receive that from your pastor today, to let the enemy's lies and the control that he's had on your life be free once and for all, open your hands before the Lord right there.

Father, I pray for these precious people, and I curse every bit of depression, fear, anxiety, worry, sleepless nights. Every person who's been tormented in their minds, God, I'm telling you, Lord, I pray, God, that in the name of Jesus, they're going to be free indeed, every person who's addicted to substances, drugs, alcohol. God, I thank you, Father, you're setting them free, in the name of Jesus. Every person who's been battling with lust, pornography, unfaithfulness, God, just dealing with these things in their heart that draw them to these places that they know are unholy God, this is the year that they're going to be free indeed. I speak to every bit of anger and the things that are going on inside of our hearts, hatred, malice, God, racism, I break its power off our lives right now. In the name of Jesus, every person who's been battling with greed and materialism and just been enamored with what the world has to offer, God, that spirit is broken off our lives. I break every spirit of witchcraft and the occult, in every place where we've been cursed, God, every negative word that's been spoken to us by a coach, or a dad, or an uncle, or somebody in our life who said something that just stuck to our life. God, I break the power of that negative word off their lives, in the mighty name of Jesus. And I speak the truth of God's Word over them, God, that this is going to be the year that they're going to be free indeed. God, let us never be the same, in Jesus's name.

Keep your heads bowed, your eyes closed. I close this service, I never close a service without giving people a chance to follow Jesus. And if you're here today, you say, "Chris, where I am with God is not as serious as it's supposed to be, and it's time for me to completely surrender my life to Jesus". For some of you, you've never made that decision. Others, you're a Christian, but you know it's not right, and this is the decision you can make right now in a simple, heartfelt prayer that you believe in your heart. If that's you, then repeat these words with me, just whisper them right there where you are. Say:

Jesus, thank you for going to the cross and settling my bill, past, present, and future. My sin is forgiven, and I receive it. Forgive me for living my life without you. And today I invite you into my life, a life completely surrendered to you. Be my Lord. Because I believe you're the Son of God who rose from the dead, and today I'm putting my faith in you. In your name I pray, amen.

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