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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Live My Life on Purpose

Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Live My Life on Purpose

Chris Hodges - I Have Decided to Live My Life on Purpose
TOPICS: I Have Decided, Purpose

All right. How's everybody doing today? You guys glad to be in church? Come on, everybody. Yeah. It's good to see you. You look amazing, and it's so good to be with you today. We are in week number three of a four-part series called, "I Have Decided," and I'll tell you more about that in just a moment. I always like to pause and just look straight into the camera and say hello to all of our campuses, our locations in Alabama and the two in Georgia as well. We love you guys. So very, very much. What an honor it is to bring all that we are as a church into Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities, literally across the state. We love you guys so very much; and to people that are watching online or maybe on demand later, we're so glad you're along for the ride as well.

Grants Mill, do the best you ever have. Come on, say a big hello, everybody. Oh, yeah. That's awesome. Thank you. And I think you already know this, but let me give you a few thoughts on the fact that we're in the final week of this season that we call 21 days of prayer and fasting, and I always like to say in the third week that if for some reason you haven't had the chance, whether you've been traveling or something going on and you haven't had a chance to participate, just jump into the last week with us. You can set something aside for a few days to fast and join us for prayer Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. Central time, and they've been fantastic. Thousands have been joining every morning.

In fact, there's been a 25% increase in participation this year. Give yourselves a hand for that, everybody. It's amazing. It warms my heart so much that you're a praying church. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. And if you can't make it in person at all of our campuses, we are streaming it live at 6 o'clock in the morning. And maybe you can open a tablet or something in the kitchen or whatever you're doing to prepare for your day and join us that way. And if you prefer to pray later in the day, of course it's on demand for 24 hours. And then on Saturday at 9 a.m. Central, we'll have our grand finale prayer service. Now, if you've never been a part of that, trust me, you'll want to carve out an hour on Saturday just to come be with us. It's a dynamic prayer service I think you'll love very, very much. So make plans on joining us on the final day, and then we're going to PF Chang's. Amen, everybody?

God bless you. That's where, that's literally where I'm headed. All right, so it's going to be glorious, all right. By the way, you wanna hear some good news? Yes or no? Yes? All right, yesterday we had a group of high school and college students in a 24-hour retreat where they had absolutely no food. That was a fasting retreat, and it was packed out. In fact, we sold it out. There was no more room for anybody else, 1,300 high school and college students fasting and praying. Come on, give God praise for that. I don't care what the world's been trying to tell us about this generation. They're hungry for God. Amen, everybody? They really are. And that's why we don't do balloon races and eggs on spoon.

Come on, everybody. We're giving them some Jesus, and they're going after God, and I'm so proud of every one of our young people that are part of that. I honor you guys today. Go after God with all your heart and watch what God does in your life. This is week number three of this series that's called, "I Have Decided," taken from the famous hymn, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus". I'll tell you that story someday. The origin of that hymn was actually a moment in India. The phrase first was heard when this person lost their life because they would not deny Jesus. And so this song is sung in many settings, like Billy Graham Crusades and other settings, basically, to call us to a deeper place with God and to a decision point that what I have been doing is not enough.

I've decided to make some differences in my life. I'm going to go to a deeper level with God, and we're talking about that in this series. In fact, in week number one, I brought you to a decision point in just your relationship with God and how you define Christianity, and I just showed you how Jesus defined it. And then we see in Scripture that he actually calls us to a much deeper level, a place of discipleship and growth that many people never even explore. And so I showed you the importance of deciding to really follow Jesus with everything and what that looks like. Last week, we tackled the topic of "I've decided that It's time for this thing that's attached itself to my life that I don't like. And if it wasn't in my life, my life would be a lot better. I mean, I'm just, I'm tired of this habit, this addiction. I've been carrying this wound ever since that person said", fill in the blank.

And it's kind of marked your life. You've labeled yourself after that event or that habit. And we talked about it's time to be free, indeed. I've decided to be free indeed. And last week I told you what those decisions would have to look like. If you're serious about it, stepping into a new year without the baggage of 2023, you can be free indeed. Can I hear a good amen, everybody? Right, it's true.

Today I want to give you one that is probably has the potential to bring more joy to your life, if you're gutsy enough, willing enough to make the decision, I've decided that it's time for me not to live my life out of focus with no intention, not with the clarity of what God has for me. I'm gonna go into 2024 and not only discover God's plan for my life, but I'm going to allow that plan to be developed, and I'm going to live my life making a difference in other people's lives. You can measure this in both spiritual dynamics and in secular that scientists and sociologists have proven that the highest level of living, they call it transcendent living in sociology, and it's where my life impacts the life of someone else. And it's time for many of you, your life is not marked that way.

In fact, if we had the chance to sit and have coffee and you're to tell me about your life, I've done this with people, and they talk about how it's, they feel like they're in survival. There's a misery to it. And in fact, many people often even use the word, "I feel dead," in some of these. "My marriage is dead. My emotions are dying. My life doesn't have any focus. I feel like I'm just going through this play, this script that doesn't bring any fulfillment to my life. It's time, I have decided to live out my real purpose in life". This is what I know about your decisions, though, that you're not a product of what happens to you, your circumstance.

So, if you say, "No, no, no, I've been dealt a different hand than you, PC. I've got, I've got, you don't understand". No, no, no, you are not what happens to you. You're not your circumstances, and you're certainly not your intentions. Because we all want it, we all think it from time to time. No, no, you're a product of your decisions. And today we're going to talk about how to make the decision to live my life more on purpose. I told you that I was doing this Bible study for this series, and I was going to all the places where the Bible says, "And if you do this, it shows that you're in the real Christianity pile," like this is the ones who actually, this is what I always intended. And this is one of my favorite verses that Jesus ever said is found in John 15. It says, "This is to my Father's glory".

Let me paraphrase that. "God really likes it when you bear much fruit, when your life is being productive and making a difference in communities, and in cities, with your neighbors, and in your church. When you're living your life and there's something to show for it at the end, he says, 'This is who my real disciples are,'" which, by the way, let me pause for a second and give you a little bit of theology that you may or may not know, and that is at one point you're going to face God. Okay, that's going to happen. Should he come back or should you die one day, you're gonna go into eternity, and you're going to face God. Whether you know him or not, you're gonna face God. And there's this moment, there's a judgment that's coming your way, and my job is to prepare you for this final exam that's coming your way, and I'm gonna help you out.

So, there's gonna be this moment you're gonna face God, and he's gonna give you a question something like this. It's like, "I sent my Son to pay for your sins. What did you do with that? Like, what was your response to that act that I did for you"? And it can't be, "I sung about him, had a book on him, went to a building that proclaimed him". No, no, no, "I gave him my life. I mean, I surrendered my life to him. He was my Lord. He's my friend. I gave him my life. He forgave my sins. And I did the very best I could to follow him with all my heart". And then he's going to go, "That's the right answer. Come on in". And it's going to be a relational answer, but a lot of people don't know that there's also another question or a judgment that's coming your way, and I want to prepare you for it. Well, it's not for everybody. It's just for those who get the first question right.

Okay. But if you get that first question right, that was funnier in my head than yours, obviously. I don't know what happened there; but anyway, if you get the first one right, you're going to get another question, and it's going to be something like this. "What did you do with your life? Tell me about your life. How did you leverage it, use it? What did you do to be a person, they can say, 'He bore much fruit. He produced something. He was intentional with your life.'" And you think, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, 'cause God wants that". Notice the "...because," and maybe you don't know what's on the other side of this "..." because you might think it's, "Yeah, because there's all those hungry people and all those lost people, and God's just trying to find some workers to get all that work done on planet Earth".

And that is actually partly true, but that's not what he says. He says, "I want you to bear much fruit. I want you to be real disciples, so you can have my joy in you". Like, if you do it, that's the day you find like real life. In other words, this is going to be the moment where, regardless of what hand you're dealt in life, what's good or bad with your life, when you're a person who is a fruit bearer, you're making a difference in the lives of others. You can lay your head down at night going, "That's how you live a day". Like that's, that's all. And there's a sense of joy, internal fulfillment that I just want so desperately for you.

I had the story that I tell mostly in pastor settings when I'm training pastors. I think the last time I told it was on a video three or four years ago, and it's been a long time. You may have heard it before, probably not. But about 16 years ago, I read this newspaper article about an event that took place in Florida at a greyhound dog racing track. Now, I've never been to a greyhound dog racing track, but I have seen it on Bugs Bunny. Are y'all with me, everybody? I know what it looks like, and I've seen this. And if you don't know anything about dog racing, I'm not a fan of it, but if you know anything about dog racing, people bet on these dogs just like you would bet on horses. The problem is, is that horses have jockeys. There's someone telling them where to go and how fast to go and all of that. Dogs don't.

So what, in other words, what makes them run? Well, there's, in dog racing, there's this arm, that big metal arm that comes off of the interior railing of the track, and it extends over the middle of the track, and it has fur on the end of it. And it's not a real rabbit, thank the Lord, it's a mechanical rabbit. And the dogs are chasing the rabbit, so they dangle it out there, and now the dogs are in those, and they're ready to go, and they open it up, and then they send that rabbit just a little ahead of them, and they're just chasing that bad boy, and it's going. Well, there's newspaper articles. How many know this is going to be on the blooper video at the end of the year? Okay, you're welcome, video team. Okay, there you go. And so they're running around this dog track. Well, the story said that something happened tragically in this race where a mechanical malfunction happened, and the whole rabbit just explodes. Poof! And fur and wires go everywhere, and the dogs not having something to chase didn't know what to do with their life.

So, the story said that one of them just laid down on the track and took a nap right there on the track. One of them got so disoriented and confused by it all, ran through the railing of the track and broke some ribs. Another one just looked up into the stands where all those people were betting and just barked at them. He just barked at people. And when I was reading, I thought, what a picture of life. If you don't have clarity of what you're chasing, you'll take a nap, hurt yourself, or bark at everybody else. You know what I'm saying? It's like, and that's what people are doing. You see this humanity in disarray, and I maintain that it's not just because you know you don't have a relationship with God or because you haven't settled your yesterdays. It's that you don't even have a clear tomorrow. You don't know what your life means.

So, you're in this terrible place. And my heart goes out to you today. It really does. If you're in survival mode, another bill, another day, another day at work. I don't even like my job. I don't even like, I don't even like my house, my things. Just, you're dissatisfied. And I'm trying to let you feel not only the humor of that, but the gravity of that, because Proverbs say it's serious, that where there is no vision, you die. And maybe not physically, but emotionally. Marriage, some of you, your marriage is dying. And it's not the fight you had last. It's the lack of focus and vision for your marriage. That's what's actually missing is that there's no rally cry. There's no flag that you're waving and following to accomplish something meaningful. The NIV says it this way: "Where there is no revelation, you'll cast off restraint". You take off your filters. You don't have no way to make decisions, because it doesn't matter.

You know, whatever, just whatever. I don't know. Whatever, whatever. And too many of you are in a whatever, I don't know. I don't care. Whatever, life. That word, vision, and revelation I do a lot of original language study for you. I studied all this in seminary, original languages, because your Old Testament is written in the Hebrew language, New Testament primarily in the Greek language. And so to get the full meanings of English words, you can go back to the original languages and study them. And the Hebrew word for vision and revelation is the word chazon, not to be confused with calzone, which sounds really good now on day 15 of this fast, I'd just like to point out. But anyway, but it's chazon, and it literally means a dream, a revelation, or a vision. And let me just add to that, that comes only from God.

So when you're really locked into the...oh, no, no, when you could say, "Oh, no, no, no, I know my calling. I know the purpose of my marriage. I know what my money's supposed to do. I know how I'm supposed to live my life. I know what I need to do tomorrow to make tomorrow a day that actually matters in heaven," when you're living at that level, you live, you live. Some of you have no purpose or vision for your marriage, and it's likely to end up in divorce. Some of you have no vision for your finances, and you can actually make a lot of money, and still feel like you're in bondage. Some of you have no vision for your health. And you can want a six pack, but you gonna get a keg. Can I get an amen, somebody? I tell people, I say, "I don't look like Brad Pitt. I look like an avocado pit".

Anyway, so. But a clear purpose for...that is funny. I don't care what y'all say. A clear purpose for your life, what it's going to do, it's going to bring intense focus. So, when people say, "Hey, do you want to," and when you know what you're supposed to do, it gives you a filter, whether you should do it or not. And by the way, if you don't have a clear focus, then earth and life and other people, and even the devil can have an agenda for your life that will actually sound good, because you have no one for your own. Because Hollywood will have one, marketers will have one, and the devil certainly has one. A clear purpose for your life also brings endurance, so you're going to have bad days. I'm so sorry to tell you that you're going to have bad days. I had one lady say, "Well, my God, Pastor Chris, be more positive".

Okay, I'm positive you're going to have bad days. Like, it's going to happen. Those are going to happen to you, right? But what keeps you going when all hell breaks loose? That's a good question. What keeps you going? And that is in the middle of the pain, I still know what the promise is. I watched my precious little wife Tammy, Miss Tammy. We have five children, and the first three of them were born in Colorado Springs, and we were youth pastors. And in Colorado Springs, they have more of a naturalist view of childbirth. So they never even mentioned any type of medication. But the word epidural was never mentioned, not even once. They taught you how to, you know, just grunt it out, baby, let's go. They taught natural. So, we didn't know any different. So, we go into this birthing situation.

And, Tammy, I'm telling you, Tammy had all five of our children without an aspirin. I mean, she had them naturally. And I was there to witness this precious, sweet little lady turn into something I ain't ever seen before in my life. I was scared to death. You know what I'm saying? Like, oh, my God. And she turned, I mean, she got ready to do this task. I mean, she dug her nails into my hands. Like, oh, dear Jesus, Father, help. Now, I had the epidural, and it was awesome. I'm letting you know. But I saw her do, it was the most unbelievable thing. I've witnessed it five times, and she was able to do it because she knew it what was on the other side. Some of you are quitting in the fight, because the focus of your life isn't clear enough. A clear purpose for your life will also bring fulfillment. We've talked about that, and this is actually what I want for you.

I would love for you to be able to walk up to me and say, "PC, my life's not perfect; but, man, I'm just, I love serving God. I have this sense of fulfillment in my life". And if you love everything that I've shared so far, I hope you're asking, "Okay, then how do I find it"? And this is where I want to dive into, just for a few minutes, into some theology. In fact, I'm going to read several, a couple of longer passages of Scripture than normal, because I love teaching the Scriptures, but I want you to lean in and just hear God's take on all of this. Ephesians chapter one, I'm gonna give you three of them. The first one is, the Bible says, in him, in God, we were chosen. And I don't know if you've ever been like at PE and nobody would pick you. You're like that last one, you know. Finally, they act. One captain, the other captain, one captain. They're all picking, and then it's just like all right, Chris, come on over. You like you're on ours.

Some of you feel that way with God. Look at me. Look at me. That's not how he views you. Let me say it this way. You were his first pick, for that which he gave you. He chose you. I want you to hear that. He chose you, having been predestined. In my opinion, there's a lot of bad teaching about predestination. Some people define that as that God's already written a script and ain't nothing you can do to change it. Good or bad, put up with it. God's sovereign, total in control you have nothing to do with it. I don't believe that. I believe this word predestined means he had a predestiny for you, that when he gave you this, when he picked you to be in his team and in his race that he gave you, he also had a plan for you, a predestiny that was good. When my kids were born, and they were...I was raising them. I had a predestiny for them to graduate from school, to go to college, to get married. Like, I had a plan.

Now, they had to choose to do it or not, but I had a predestination for them, and God has a good one for you, too, according to the plan of him, who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. God has a plan for your life. Psalm 16, "Lord, you alone", I love this Psalm. "You alone are my portion". I love that word. In other words, you don't get it all, but you get something. Like, I don't have the responsibility of everything that God wants to do on the planet. God gave me a portion. When I when I was very, very young in ministry, I had an impactful moment with a mentor, an old, African American pastor who was mentoring me. And he said, "Chris, I want to tell you something's gonna change your life". And I said, "Yes, sir". And I had deep respect and love for this man. And he said, "Chris," he said, "Be satisfied with your portion". I said, "What do you mean by that"? He says, "Don't ever covet someone else's gifts, or calling, or assignment. Do yours".

And I can stand before you and say because of that man's influence on my life, I just, I'm happy with what God gave me. I actually don't even think much about other people's. I'm almost never critical about anybody else's ministry, because it's not my business. I've got my portion I'm trying to focus on and do well. Are y'all listening to me, everybody? And you have a portion that he refuses to give to anyone else. It's yours. And you make my lot, my assignment, my place in time, history, and geography, you make it secure. In fact, he goes on and says, the boundary lines for me, because he had this attitude, man, they fell in good places. Like, I even like my portion. God, you gave me Birmingham. I get do it in America with these precious people. Lord, I like my boundary lines. Surely, I have a delightful inheritance. Therefore, watch the result, "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices".

Of course, because you have such clarity for your life. "My body will always also rest secure". And I want to just stop here. It's why I highlighted it, because I feel like I was supposed to just stare into the eye of someone in this room, or someone watching at a campus, or online, that for some of you, your life is so much not like what you want it, you can't even rest well. Like, you feel it, especially in bed and at night. And you almost have a sense of loneliness, even if there's someone laying next to you. And he says, "Man, when you find your boundary, your portion, your lot, your assignment, your body rests secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead".

I'm not living a dead life. But you've made known to me the path of life. The path of...I'm gonna find my path. And my job, as your pastor, is just to get you to that trailhead and say go after it. Here it is. Enjoy the hike. And you will fill me with joy, like, I actually get to enjoy it. And you give me eternal pleasures. I get to make a difference in heaven with it at the same time. Let me give you one more verse, and then we're going to get very practical for a few minutes, and then we'll go to the house. This is back in Ephesians, and this is where we actually want to get you started. I want to show you where the trail head is.

Now, I don't necessarily know for every one of you exactly what your journey is going to look like or what God actually has specifically assigned for everybody. But I can get you to the trailhead, and I'm going to show you where the trailhead is. And some of you are far from the trailhead. So, you have, right now, you're not even close to it. I'm gonna at least get you there in this message, if you'll lean in just for a couple of minutes. And it's all found in this Ephesians 5, and it says that, "Once you were in darkness," so you didn't even know where the trail was, "but now you're in the light. Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)", watch this, "and find out what pleases God". Like, don't make it hard. Just think, "Would God like it if I did this? Okay, I'll do this".

Find out what pleases God, and then it flips the table. So, don't just be focused on what you're going to do, but also think about what you're not going to do and, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness". And actually, what you need to do is figure out where they are in your life and expose it, get rid of it. And then I love this next line so much. I just, I love the Bible. He says, "This is why it said, 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead.'" Can I lean in for a second and say, "It's time for you to wake up". Our 2024 will just be a repeat of 2023 and... hey, wake up. Let's do this thing. "Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you". And then look at the language. "So, be careful how you live, not as unwise but as wise".

And I'm, hopefully, making you wiser today with this message, "making the most of every," kairos is the word in the Greek, opportunity. It actually means a window of opportunity that God's going to open for you. And I'm going to show you where that window is today, too, and it'll be up to you to jump into it. I have decided. But there's an opportunity, because the days are evil, and you know that. I don't have to even make a case for that. "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is". It's just a different way he said it, right? Now watch, watch how it ends. It's beautiful. "And don't get drunk on wine".

Now, this is probably talking about wine, but it's more than wine, because the next line says, "which leads to debauchery". Debauchery means indulging in what your senses want. It literally means senseless indulgence. It means if it feels good, do it. That would be another way to say it. It means I'm gonna follow what's fun. I'm gonna follow trips. But the problem is you went on the trip, and you came home miserable still. And I'm going to buy a bunch of stuff, but you bought the stuff, and you still came home miserable with the stuff. And then I'm going to own, well, but when you owned it, it didn't change anything for you. It was a senseless indulgence. Instead, be filled with what the Spirit wants to do in your life.

Now I've been known to take complex Scriptures like this and to reduce it down to some minimum, some, just some very clear easy next steps. I had one lady give me the best compliment of my life. Some would take it as a criticism. I received it completely as a compliment. She said, "PC, you have this, you're easy, your messages are so easy to understand". And she said, "You put the cookies on the bottom shelf, so everybody can have one". And I'm going to do that now. That verse, that passage of Scripture, I've produced two questions that I'm daring you to ask yourself. And here's the first one, and that is, "What am I doing that I shouldn't be doing". Remember, twice in Ephesians, he said, "Have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness".

So, let me ask you a question very respectfully. And I won't tell you what it is. The Holy Spirit's gonna have to speak to you. And honestly, you already know what it is. But if that thing in your life that you know is dark, it's not right, God's not pleased, you don't even, to some degree, you don't even like it. You're kind of, you must feel trapped in it to some degree. The Bible says if you'll expose it and say it's time for me to stop doing this, it might be a relationship that's just toxic. It might be a decision you make of what you'd look at and allow in your life. Your filters have become way too free, and you're going to tighten up those filters again, saying, this just doesn't help my life. I'm getting rid of it. What am I doing that I shouldn't be doing?

Let me show you a verse in Romans chapter 12. It says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". So, get rid of the world and watch the next word. It's just so cool to me. "Then," not before, in other words, you're never going to find God's will for your life if you still have that old junk in your life. You can go all the classes and do all the Myers Briggs. And I'm going to find... no, no, no, no. Until you settle and expose the deeds of darkness, you can't see the light of what's inside of your future. "Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will".

And here's the second question, and this one is so profound it's going to blow your mind. You're going to be so shocked that this is the question I came up with. "And what am I not doing"? I'm being funny. It obviously wasn't, but I think it is. What am I not doing that I actually should be doing? Because twice in Ephesians, it also said, "and find the will of God and do it". Understand what the Lord's will is. Let me show you a verse. It's gonna be a little, "Oh, my God, that's a strong one," and it's not as strong as you think. Let me explain it. James chapter 4, "If anyone, then, knows the good that they are supposed to do, ought to do, and they don't do it, it's sin for them".

Now, to understand that, you need to know that there's two words in the Greek language for the word sin, and one of them is, "Dude, you messed up. You went too far, bro. You crossed the line, man. That's not good". And the word in the Bible sometimes would be transgression. You went over the boundary line there, my friend. You can't do that. That's not the word. It's actually the very opposite. It's hamartia in the Greek, and it means you didn't do enough. It actually means you missed the mark. In fact, there was a place that, man, you could have gone there; and when you went there, God would have been, "Ah. Thank you. That was very kind of you. That was very... that's amazing".

And when you begin to get rid of the stuff, you're not supposed to be doing and start adding the things that please God, try it and see life is going to come on the inside of you. So, one of the things I guess the church is famous for or has become known for, maybe is a better way to say it, is this promise that I made called the one-year challenge. I have more people now come up to me and say, "PC, I took that one-year challenge and, bro, you're right. It changed my life". If you're new to the church, the one-year challenge is, I say this about four times a year, give us a year of your life, and don't play with it. Like, do everything, like do everything we do. And at the end of the year, and it won't even take that long, if your life isn't remarkably better, I'll stop. I will make a vow to you. I will stop saying that.

In fact, I'll even change churches with you, and we'll go find a better place than Highlands. And I've never had to do that, obviously, okay. Because I don't have, I know what it's going to produce, but it does require kind of this all in, all my heart kind of approach. So, we were in a meeting this week, and we were talking about that, and how that's popular here. And then somebody on my team said, "You know what, PC? You've never really outlined the path of what that would look like if they wanted to do it. You just say give us your life and do everything, but you never told them what the everything is". And so I decided to do that today. I'm gonna close, and then I'm gonna tell you a cool story.

So, I'm gonna give you the one-year challenge, and the first is it means inviting Jesus to be the Lord of your life. If you've been sitting there contemplating it, don't contemplate anymore, do it. Stop controlling your own life. Don't pay for your own sins. Surrender your life to Jesus. And then immediately after, and don't even wait, be water baptized, be water baptized, and that's going to take place next on February 4. And I want you to put it in your phone, make a plan to do it. Like, "I'm going to do this. I've never done that, and I am doing it". Cancel what you have planned and be baptized. So, I'm...and by the way, I'm going to say it stronger than you've ever heard. Just, I actually was praying for you this week, and I felt like the Lord spoke to me and said, "You know what, PC"? He calls me PC, too. "You know what, PC"? He doesn't, he says, "Hey you". No I'm kidding. He said, "You know what? I need you to ask them".

Like, some people just need to be asked. They don't need to be encouraged. They actually need you to say, "Do this. I want you to do this". And so I'm gonna say it a little stronger. It's a little uncomfortable for me, but I'm gonna say it that way. But I want you to do this. And I want you to develop a daily walk with God. And not a lot, but the key word here is daily. Like, what would your life look like if you never missed 15 minutes starting your day with God. Now think about that. You know. And your life isn't worth 15 minutes? Where you read, read God's Word. We recommend, if you're new to the church, the one-year Bible gives you just small little passages, and it's on our app and our website. We do all that heavy lifting for you. It's right there.

And then spend a few minutes in worship and prayer. And you know, you know what your life would look like if you started your day like that. Okay, I'm gonna say this, when I don't normally say it. I don't think I've ever just said this. I'm gonna say it. Attend church every week. What would it look like if you had a "I didn't miss" year? You know, you know. I grew up in a home like that. I honor my dad who's been in heaven for 14 years now. But my dad would not let us miss, and I'm now so grateful. I remember going to Yellowstone National Park for a summer vacation, and we went to a Baptist Church in Montana. I'll never forget it. And I said, "Dad, why are we here, Dad"? He goes, "Because it's Sunday. And even on vacation, we go to church, Chris".

And he passed his faith to the next generation. My brother, sister and I, all of us, serve God with all of our hearts. Because he's intentional. Not only church, but once a month come to the first Wednesday service. By the way, if you're wondering where Communion is, if you're not going to first Wednesday, you're missing out on this. That's where we have a Communion experience and longer worship. I want you to complete the three-week growth track. I don't need 30 Sundays, 300 Sundays, 3 years. I need three, three Sundays where you're going to do it consecutively, start again on February 4 and just go through this growth track. Our membership class is there. You can you can commit to a local church. Listen to me. You need to join a church, not just attend one. Did you know that there are 30 verses in the New Testament alone that you cannot do if you're not in a local church?

I want you to join a Small Group, and I talked to you about that last week. But not only a Small Group, but I encourage you to get in a Freedom group. Like, I ask everybody at some point in your Highlands journey, go to a Freedom, just one semester, go to a Freedom group. And let me say something to you, and it's because you need to be known. And everybody who's in those small groups, they have this sense of "This is the smallest big church I've ever been in my life". And you can be known. Wouldn't you like to be known? I want you to join a Dream Team. I want you to find a team here at the church services or in our community, and let's serve people. You know why? Because you need to be needed.

You have a need to be needed, so I want to say something to you, maybe you've never heard somebody say in a long time. We need you. We need you, not the person sitting next to you, you. We need you. This church works very well without you. It'll work a whole lot better with you. We need you. We need you. We want you to attend our conferences. We do five of them a year with marriage, men, children, students, and women, and they're fantastic. Don't miss them. I want you to participate in churchwide events like 21 Days of Prayer, our Dream Team party, which we have the best. Oh, my goodness, I have the best entertainment. I can't announce it, but you're gonna not like it, if you miss it, if you're on the Dream team. Serve days, revival nights. And then finally, help other people take the one-year challenge.

Oh, by the way, and I'm closing, I don't know if I know a better joy that can be felt than when you know you played a role in someone's eternal destiny. I genuinely don't know if there's a better feeling than to know you just played this role. And I'm asking you to do it, and I'm gonna take it up one more level, and we're going to close, and I'm asking you to do it. Now, like, I don't even want you to wait. Now is the time of God's favor. Now is the day of God's salvation. So, I'll close with a fun story. So, there's this place in our country. I tell the story in our membership class. If you've heard, it's the only place you probably would have heard it. But there's a place in our country called Death Valley. It's in the southern part of California, in the desert area, and it is so hot. It's the hottest, driest place in America. So, nobody lives there. There's not a house, there's not an animal, there's nothing. That's why they call it Death Valley. It looks like that.

In the winter of 2004, seven inches of rain fell in Death Valley. It was a phenomenon. And nothing happened immediately, but by the spring of 2005 this event happened. You can go Google it. It's called the super bloom, and this looked like that. And what they discovered is, is that Death Valley wasn't dead. It should be called Dormant Valley, because beneath those cracks, think about your cracks, beneath the cracks were seeds that just needed to be watered, just needed to be in the right environment, and that somewhere in the middle of all that beauty could be found, if it put itself in that right environment, and I'm here to give you a word today, that right beneath the surface of your life are seeds that can make your life bloom. You're not dead. Stop saying that. You're not dead. Your marriage is not dead. Your life's not dead. You're dormant. And what has been dormant is about to bloom, in Jesus's name. Let's close. Close your eyes.

So, Father, I pray for everybody here today. God, give them the courage I brought them to the trailhead. Now, they've got to decide to take some steps to find fulfillment and to find life.

If you're here today and you need to make the first and the most important decision, and invite Jesus to be the Lord of your life, would you just pray this prayer right there in your seat but mean it? I mean, mean it. Say:

Jesus, I need you. Forgive me for living my life without you. Forgive me of my sin. Today, I repent. I turn my life towards you. Be the Lord of my life, because you're the Son of God, who rose from the dead. And today, I'm putting my faith in you. So, I surrender all. In your name, I pray. Amen.

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