Craig Groeschel - Time To Be Bold
I wanna tell you a story today about a trip that I took in Chicago, on the train that's called the L. Anybody ever been on the L before? I am from Oklahoma, where Uber is not nearly as exciting as the L is in Chicago. And I was there for an event, and had the evening off. And so we decided to travel across town with a little adventure on the L, the train. And I happened to be sitting next to a guy that I met. He introduced himself, we had very casual conversation. His name was Julio, and after a few minutes on a long ride, Julio said, "What do you do for a living"? And I have never lied when people ask me what I do for a living, but I am always tempted, because every time I tell them, the tone of the conversation always changes. Either it immediately goes to, "Praise the Lord, brother"! Or it just dies right there on the spot.
So when he asked me what I did for a living, and I kinda held my breath, and I said, "Well, I'm a pastor". And he paused, and he stared, and he said nothing, for the longest time. And I honestly felt prompted, like I should follow up with a spiritual question. In the moment, I thought I should, but I hesitated, and I didn't do it. I didn't wanna be pushy, I didn't wanna make him feel weird. I didn't wanna be that annoying preacher, that's got the guy trapped on the L until the next stop. And so I hesitated, and I didn't say anything about faith. And so he reengaged in the conversation, and we continued to have a really good conversation. Train stop, people got off, and we kept talking. Train stop, people got off, and we kept talking. And several stops into it, he said, "Hey, since you're a pastor, and I don't have anybody else to ask, what should I think about God"?
And his question was so direct, that it threw me off. I've got like 14 good spiritual approaches, and can do any one at any time, but when the question was so direct, I couldn't figure out where to go. And so I fumbled, and I started saying something, and then I backtracked and said something else. And then I dropped in a little question to see where he was. And then I tried to re-enter the conversation. And several awkward minutes later, he said, "Well, Pastor, I'm sorry, but here's my stop". He stood up, the door opened, he looked at me and he said, "Thanks for trying". He walked off, and the door closed. And I thought to myself, "Why did you hesitate"?
For those of you that are followers of Christ, if you're a Christian, I can almost promise you that this week, in the next few days, you will have multiple opportunities to share life and the love of God. And they may look like really normal interactions, like a guy on a train, or a person at the coffee shop, or someone that you work with, or someone that you go to school with. It may look like an entirely normal conversation, but in many cases it's not normal at all. What it is is a divine appointment from our heavenly Father, who has the heart of someone else prepared to hear the hope that you have in your heart, if you have the boldness to share. And there will be times, how many of you know what I'm talking about, when you actually do feel prompted? Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about.
Those of you online say, "I know what you're talking about," type it in the chat. You just feel like, "This is an opportunity I probably should". And when God prompts you, you have a choice to boldly obey. And when you obey boldly, key thought for the day, you never know how God might use one moment of boldness to change someone's life. You never know how God might use one moment, one word of faith, one moment of boldness, to change someone's life. And so this week, for those of you that are Christians, you will have a prompting. If your heart is ready, and your eyes are open, you'll have a prompting. And you will either respond boldly, or, you'll hesitate, and you'll do nothing. And that's why the title of today's message is "To Hell With Hesitation". Oh, come on somebody, we're going there today. Don't you think we're gonna be easy today. We came to play in church today.
So Father, we ask that by the power of your Holy Spirit, you would embolden us to share the good news of the love of your Son, Jesus. We pray in his name and all you bold people say? Amen. Amen and amen.
Well, we are in a message series called "Holy Moments". And last week, Pastor Sam preached one of the best messages I've ever heard on a moment of surrender. Thank you Pastor Sam. And we are looking at four moments in the story in Scripture about the birth of Christ. Today we're gonna be in Luke 2, and we're gonna look at Mary and Joseph, when they gave birth to their Son, the Son of God, Jesus, who was born in a manger. And we're gonna start in Luke 2:8, and this is what the Word of God says, "That night, there were shepherds staying in the fields". Everybody say I like shepherds. I like shepherds. Type on the chat, just type in the chat, "I like shepherds". You may say, "I've never met a shepherd," but I promise you, once we're through with this message, you will say?
I like shepherds. I like shepherds. "There were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. And suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them". Scripture says, "They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid,' he said, 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David.'" The angel makes the prophetic declaration, "I bring you good news and great joy. Today in Bethlehem, a Savior has been born unto you".
What's so interesting to me is this prophetic world-changing, history-altering moment actually followed 400 years of silence. The last time that God has spoken was through the prophet Malachi, which is Italian for Malachi. The last time that God has spoken was through the prophet Malachi, when the prophet said that God would turn the hearts of the Father back to the children, the hearts of the children back to the Father, and then silence. And now God is speaking again, and what's profoundly interesting to me is that this angel, on behalf of God, didn't announce the birth of a Savior to a king, or to the elite, or to anyone in power, but instead the angel announced it to shepherds tending their sheep at night, which if you know anything about 1st century shepherds, and their status in society, would raise a question like, "Why in the world shepherds? Why shepherds"?
I did a lot of research on shepherds, and it's really interesting, there's actually two dominant thoughts from scholars. There are some scholars who believe that these shepherds were not ordinary shepherds. They actually believe that these were what's known as shepherd priests, that they were in the field, preparing the sheep for the Passover, which would be really, really cool, if you're par preparing the sheep to give their life, when the Lamb of God is born into this life. And so we don't know for sure if that was the case, or if there were ordinary shepherds. Sincere theologians debate this. What we do know is that during this time in history, most shepherds were despised, and had very little or no respect in society. They had four kind of ongoing significant issues that held them back again and again. At its root, they simply weren't trusted.
And I'll show you the four big problems that shepherds dealt with. The first thing is they were not even allowed to testify in court. So if there was a crime, and a shepherd saw the crime, they were considered so untrustworthy that their word was not a valid testimony, because no one would trust a shepherd. Second issue is that they rarely sold property, because if you were buying something from a shepherd, you'd think, "This thing is probably hot, it's probably stolen. It probably doesn't even belong to them". So they couldn't buy and sell very easily. Third issue is they were ceremonially unclean, meaning they were considered unworthy for temple worship. So if you had a heart for shepherd, and wanted them to invite them to church, they wouldn't even be allowed in, because they weren't considered clean, and therefore were turned away. And finally they were known as social outcasts, kinda like the bottom rung in society, like a tax collector, or like a dung sweeper.
Somebody goes, "I didn't even know that was a job". Yes, there's a dung sweeper. There were considered like prostitutes, and some parents would teach their children, "If you see a shepherd coming, you walk on the other side of the road, because you don't wanna get too close to someone who is so unclean". And here we see in Scripture that God sent the heavenly hosts, and he chose out of every type of person on Earth, the unpolished, unremarkable, uneducated shepherds to declare the greatest news in the history of the world, "The Savior has been born". And the moment the shepherds hear the news, they said, "We gotta go to Bethlehem, we gotta see what happened". And with no hesitation, Scripture says, "They hurried to the village, and found Mary and Joseph". They hurried to the village, with no hesitation, "And there was the baby lying in the manger".
I love this, there was no hesitation, there was no holding back, there was no, "Let's think about it, let's pray about it. Let's see if we're ready. Let's see if we can get our frequent flyer miles to cover this trip". You know, "Let's get everything ready, and make sure we got this thing planned out". No, they hurried, there was no hesitation. I would love it, and one of my greatest prayers for kind of the modern day American church, would be that we'd get rid of spiritual hesitation. That there would be a sense of spiritual urgency, and anticipation. I mean like all the way down to I would love it if people would say, "I wanna be the first one into church, because I wanna be in the presence of God. And I don't ever even want to go to church alone, because I wanna bring somebody with me, because every time we're there, God does something". And I would love it if people would recognize, kind of like they did in a New Testament very early on, like "I think Jesus may be coming back soon".
I don't know about you, but when you look at the way things are going in the world, I just kinda hope he comes back soon. And if I think he might be coming back soon, then I'm not gonna hesitate. I'm gonna have a sense of urgency. I wanna get someone to church. I don't know about you, but do you know what's coming this week? This is the week that we celebrate the birth of Christ. This is the week, that according to surveys, is the number-one most likely week of the entire year for someone who's far from God to say yes to an invitation to be close to God. This is the most likely time that someone will actually say yes to an invitation to church, even more than Easter, in Christmas time.
Oh God, give us a sense of urgency. God, give us a heart for those who are far from you. Give us eyes to see in any interaction, that we may be able to invite someone and bring someone. 'Cause you have no idea what God might do through one moment of boldness, to change someone's life. With no hesitation, they ran to see the baby Jesus. And Scripture says this next, after seeing the baby, what'd the shepherds do? "The shepherds told everyone what had happened, and what the angel had said them about this child". What did the shepherds do? What'd they do, they? Told everyone. They told everyone. Don't miss for a moment the courage that it took to be a despised people group, overlooked, not even deemed clean enough to come into the temple, don't overlook the courage that it took for those shepherds to boldly share about the birth of Jesus, because they had every reason to hesitate. They were nobodies, people didn't like them, they didn't believe them.
People said, "They're probably lying. These people, they're not even worthy enough to carry this kind of message". And so the next time you're tempted to hesitate, and maybe you do, I wanna remind you, you're not alone. We all do it. We're all tempted to do it. Why is it that we hesitate? Well, we feel maybe a little bit insecure, like if we start talking about this, and they ask a question, we're not gonna be able to answer it. We don't wanna be pushy. We don't wanna be that weird, annoying, obnoxious Christian. There's a lot of 'em out there. How many of you know what I'm talking about? Raise your hand, everybody. Leave your hand up for a second, leave 'em up, leave 'em up. Those of you online, just type it in the chat, "I know what you're talking about". They're weird, leave 'em up for a second. Leave 'em up, just leave 'em up. They're weird, annoying Christians ever.
I want you to look around right now, I want you to look around. There's someone who's hands not up. We don't wanna be that guy, right? We don't wanna be that. But when your life is changed by Jesus, when your sins are forgiven, when all the old, that stuff you don't want anybody to know, is gone and forgiven, and you're made new, you're born into the family of God, you inherit all of God's glorious riches, and you didn't do anything to deserve it, you just can't keep that to yourself.
When you're current, meaning like you're, it's on the front of your mind of what Jesus did, and who he is to you, and what it means to be a child of God, and what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God, and for him to direct your steps, and to know that your life is not your own, that you exist to glorify him, and to shine his light, and to be a voice of hope and healing in a dark world, when you're current with that, you don't care what anybody thinks, you just can't hold back, "I've been changed by Jesus, and I have to tell you about it". And the shepherds told everyone, everyone, everyone, "The Messiah, the one you've been praying for, he's here. He's here, you gotta know". And with urgency they proclaimed to everyone. And Scripture says this, "All who heard the shepherds' story, they were astonished," they were blown away.
When's the last time you just stepped back, and said, "The gospel, the fact that God's goodness, his love, his mercy covers our sins, that's astonishing, that we can be made right with God, that Jesus loved us, and while we were still sinning, he gave his life for us". What was their message? It was bold and they were telling everyone, "The virgin was prophesied 700 years prior. The virgin gave birth to a Son. His name is Jesus. And he came to save all people from their sins". Their message was easy, and simple, and clear, that God reached down, so you could be lifted up, that God took our sins, so we could take his righteousness, that God was born into poverty, so we could experience his eternal riches. And God didn't announce this message to royalty in a palace, but to shepherds, who are outcast in a field, so the world would know that no one is too far from God's reach, and no one is too low for God's love.
Come on, and no sin is too great for God's grace. He reached out to those who were despised and overlooked, and chose the lowly shepherds on a remote hillside, outside of a tiny Judaen village, why? Because God often chooses the unlikely to do the extraordinary. He often chooses people just like you, and just like me, those who don't feel educated enough, and those who don't feel holy enough, and those who don't feel worthy enough. And he calls us, and he calls you, and he prompts you. And that's why I wanna tell you, if you're a follower of Jesus, I promise you, this week, this week it'll be a guy on a train. It'll be the new girl at your office. It'll be that boss that you sometimes you'd rather pray for than witness to. But you will have multiple opportunities.
If you have eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a heart to care, and God will prompt you. And you have no idea how God might use one moment of boldness to change someone's life. Or you might hesitate. And that's why I say today, "To Hell With Hesitation," "To Hell With Hesitation". To hell with it, I kinda like saying that in church. Part of the reason I like saying it is because what I know right now is it actually bothers some people. And if it bothers you, it's probably the wrong in church for you, because some of you are more upset than I said hell in church, than you are that people are actually going to hell. And at some point, at some point, we have to care more about those that are outside, than we do about our little rules on the inside, and go out with the love of Jesus, and say, "No matter where you are, no matter what you're in, no matter what you're doing, no matter, Jesus' grace is real, and it's just as real and current for you as it was for me".
And you take his message out. No more hesitation. No more hesitation. God's been working on me in this, and I had a really unique moment with a person that's relatively well known, and very influential. And so just to tell you, like I'm not bragging, I was actually kinda nervous to be around this person, and I felt a real weight and a responsibility because it was obvious this person was not a follower of Jesus to me. And when we started talking, we just connected. Do you ever know how sometimes when you're with somebody, that you just know the conversation's flowing, and it was really, really flowing. And I was trying to ask him questions. He was trying to ask me questions, and we just, I had so much respect for him, and he appeared to for me as well. And I felt prompted to ask him a spiritual question, which would've been a little bit awkward, 'cause we had just met and only talked for about an hour.
And so I hesitated, and in my mind I thought, "Play the long game, keep developing the relationship. This is going really, really good. Keep building trust, hear his story, hear his story, hear his story, care about him, care about him. Don't push, don't push, don't push". And I was prompted again. And so I just asked the question. I said, "Man, I have so much respect for you, and I love what I'm seeing from you, so I'm just curious, I mean like I almost like care about you in an hour, and so I just wanna ask you a question, where do you stand spiritually"? And he said, "Well, I've got a kind of a mixture. Like I kinda have a little new age, and I like self-help, and I like the way Jesus treated people, so I like to treat them like Jesus. I like the values of Jesus. And, but I like new age as well". And so he said, "So I'm probably a Christian".
And I kind of smiled back at him, and thought, "I can let that go". And then I just said, "Man, I love your heart for people". And this guy really does have good morals, I mean really. I said, "You've got morals that are like better than a lot of Christians I know". But I said, "I just like you, and because I like you, I gotta tell you the truth, you're not a Christian". And he looked at me and he paused and he said, "Well, thank you for telling me that, 'cause I didn't really think I was". And so I presented the gospel to him, and when I did, he fell to his knees, lifted his hands, cried out to Jesus, and started speaking in tongues right in front of me. That didn't happen, that didn't happen at all. That had been cool, that didn't happen at all. You guys are so easy, like, "Ah, ha ha". But that isn't what really happened.
And I said, "You're not a Christian". I said, "If you wanna talk about what it means to be one, I would love to do that anytime". He said, "You know what? This is a longer conversation than we have. Can I fly out to Oklahoma, and set up a time and spend a day together? I really wanna know, this is important to me". So we will have a time together where we'll have a follow up conversation. And he thanked me for being truthful with him, because in many other conversations, others have just rolled with that kind of answer. And in the moment with everything in me, I wanted him to like me without being pushy, but you never know, you never know how God might use one moment of boldness to change someone's life.
So when you think about this story, that the angel announces the birth of the Messiah, the Savior, who knew about the birth of Christ, who knew? There's Mary, she was there. There was Joe, he never did much, but he was a good man. And there were some uneducated, unlikely, unkept shepherds, who told everyone about the birth of Jesus. And here we are today, in this moment, 2,000 years later, because of the boldness of a few unlikely shepherds. And I want you to feel the weight and the joy of that, that you have no idea how God might use one moment of boldness, one moment. I'm gonna ask you in a moment to pray a very bold prayer. And the prayer I'm gonna ask you to pray is this, "Make me bold". Let's go ahead and practice, want you to say it, say, "Make me bold". Make me bold. Go ahead and type that in the comment section, and let's say it one more time, "Make me bold". Just say it. "Make me bold."
And I'm gonna ask you to pray that in a moment. You just said it, so now you know you can do it. But I'm gonna ask you to pray it in a moment. And I gotta warn you, when you do, you might start seeing some more opportunities than you saw before, they're everywhere. And you might start to declare boldly by faith, the good news, the best news, the most amazing news in the history of the world, that a Savior is here, a Savior is here, a Savior is here, a Savior is here, a Savior is here, a Savior, and then you may just start preaching it everywhere you go. You might start talking to your depression, and saying to your depression, "A Savior is here, I wanna be delivered from this". You might talk to your finances and say, "A Savior is here". You might talk to your hurt and your pain, and say, "There's healing in Jesus, a Savior is here". You might tell your sins and your shame and your sorrows, "A Savior is here, I've been set free". "Who the Son sets free is?" Is free indeed.
Is free indeed, and since you're telling everything in your life, you also tell your boss, and you tell the people that you work with. And you tell your child that's running far from God, and not in a weird way, but in this amazing, "Oh my gosh, this is the best news ever. There's a Savior waiting for you. It's the moment you're ready to come back home, there's a Savior waiting for you". And you tell that person in your life, you know the one, the one that you had a little bit of faith for at sometime, but you think, "There ain't no way, hell's gonna freeze over before that person ever comes to Christ". You know that person? And I would say to you, don't give up on them. Don't give up on them, 'cause God didn't give up on you. His grace is real. You keep praying, and keep believing, and keep being sensitive to the voice of God.
What will happen if you hesitate when you're prompted? And the answer is not much, not much. The door will close, thanks for trying. And then you wonder. But what if there was an urgency born out of a really transformed life? Like a, I want you to know the freedom, I want you to know the joy, I want you to know what it's like to be forgiven. What would happen if you're bold? One moment of boldness, the lost might be found, the blind might be healed, the deaf might hear, the dead might come to life, and God might break the chains of addiction, and free people from depression, and restore broken relationships, and answer prayers, and change countless lives, because you have no idea how God might use one moment of boldness to change someone's life. What's the message? It's simple, the Savior's here, his name is Jesus. He was born to save people from their sins.
So Father, make us bold. Make us bold. When you're not looking around right now, if you're watching online, just close your eyes. I know you can cheat and peek and all this stuff, just don't do it for just a moment. Just close your eyes for a moment, and I just want you to just to be prayerful and think, are you willing, and I'm gonna tell you a lot of reasons why not to do this, are you willing to pray to God, make me bold? Before you say yes, I wanna tell you why you don't wanna do it. Because you're gonna be uncomfortable at times, and you're gonna feel like it's gonna take faith sometimes. And sometimes you're gonna see immediate miracles, and other times, you're gonna see nothing at all.
I personally would rather have the satisfaction of knowing that I did what I was asked to do, rather than carrying the pain of hesitating, 'cause I've hesitated too many times. But I wanna warn you, don't just pray this prayer, because if you pray, make me bold, you're gonna start seeing people everywhere you go, and opportunities everywhere you are, to be the light of the world, because a dark world needs a bright light. So if you're willing, and don't pray it lightly, but if you're really willing, let's pray it, and get ready to see God give you lots of moments to be bold. If you're willing to pray that prayer, would you just lift up your hands right now? I'm gonna pray, "Make me bold". Those of you online, you can type it in the chat, "Make me bold," just type it in the chat.
Now Father, there's a lot of people right now praying this prayer. And so I thank you in advance for all the divine opportunities you're gonna give us this week. God help us to be interruptable. Let us be, help us to be willing to let you prompt us. Even when we're on our own schedule, even when we're not in the mood, God, help us to see the opportunities. God, give us an urgency. Help us to see people. God, this week we can invite them to church. One of the easiest ways to be a light, God, prompt us to invite them. And then God, at the right times, when your Holy Spirit leads us, give us the words to say, and the faith to believe that we'll plant good seed into good soil, and one day see a harvest.
Just pray it, just right where you are, wherever you're watching from, just, kinda just quietly say, "Make me bold". Just say it right now, "Make me bold". Just pray it, "God, make me bold, God, make me bold". When you wake up in the morning, "God, make me bold. God make me bold. God make me bold". All right everybody, look up here. Get ready, 'cause you may not be able to walk out the church door without showing some good news to somebody, or praying for somebody, or giving something to somebody. What I want you to think about now is this, in the same way I asked my new friend, "Where do you stand spiritually"? I'd ask you, where do you stand spiritually? Because a lot of you say, "I'm not really sure".
And I was a guy that grew up kinda going to church, and I woulda been there on Christmas, but if you'd asked me where do I stand with God, I would've told you, "I'm not really sure," because I always knew that no matter how hard I tried, I could never seem to be good enough. And I was very aware of my own sinfulness, but I didn't know what to do with it. And that's where some of you are right now, where you know you've done some things that are wrong, and you feel guilty about it, and so you maybe try to be good, and hoping, da da da da, and I wanna just tell you really, really clearly, as clearly as I can, is that a Savior is here. A Savior, his name is Jesus. He was born of a virgin, why does that matter? He didn't inherit the sin nature of an earthly father, but he had the spiritual nature of a heavenly Father. He was without sin, he was perfect. If the shepherds were preparing sheep for a sacrifice, Jesus was known as the Lamb of God. He was sinless, he was the perfect sacrifice. He was God in the flesh, who died in our place so we could be forgiven.
So how do we receive this forgiveness? Well, very simply, we just gotta step away from our sinfulness, and by faith, we call on his name. That's what we do, like that's too easy. This is why it's called good news, 'cause it's really good news, that he paid the price. And when you confess that he's first in your life, he's Lord, he forgives all of your sins, all the old stuff is gone, and you become brand new. And that's the very reason some of you are here, or watching today. So we're gonna do, we're just gonna be a little bit bold, meaning like with everybody watching, we don't care, this is good news. Hey, if Jesus can save me, change me, I want all of that, I want everybody to know. I don't wanna hold back.
So right now, wherever you're watching from, those of you who say, "No, I don't really know where I stand," or, "I'm not really walking with him right now, but I want it," what we're gonna do is we're just gonna say boldly, "I'm giving my life to him". When we do that, Jesus just said this, he said, "Hey, if you confess me before people, I'll tell my Father about you. But if you're ashamed of me, I'm not gonna talk about you that much". So he says, "You might as well just go bold". Wherever you're watching from, let's go bold. Campus pastors, help me out on the stage right now. Those of you who say, "I need his forgiveness, I need his grace. I know I'm a sinner, I need a Savior. Today, I'm stepping away from the old. I'm trusting him with my life, boldly before God and everybody, I declare that I need Jesus, I give my life to him". If that's your prayer, lift your hands now. Lift him up and say, "Yes," boldly in front of anybody and everybody today, say, "Yes, I need his grace".
Come on church, give him praise. Praise God for you. Let's go, come on, church, come on. Come on, church, come on. Those of you online, just type in the comment section, "I'm giving my life to Jesus, I'm giving my life to Jesus". Type it in the comment section, "I'm giving my life to Jesus". It's good news, it's the best news. Today, a Savior has been born, a Savior is here. Praise God for you guys, just keep it going, keep it going, and let's just all pray together, wherever you are. Pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive me for all my sins. Jesus, save me. Be my Lord. First, and every way. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Forever. I'm your disciple. My life is yours. Make me bold. Make me new. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.