Greg Laurie — The Secret of Contentment
In this message we're in Philippians chapter four, and the title of my message is, The Secret of Contentment. I was reading the paper today and I noted that there is a 24 million New York lotto ticket waiting to be claimed. So somewhere, I presume in New York, is some person walking around with a ticket in their pocket, in their wallet, in their purse, who knows, they may have thrown it in the trash. If they can retrieve it and get it in on time, they will win $24 million, that's a lot of money. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to win the lottery?
I read about one person, a couple actually, won 217 million, 158 million after taxes. One day you don't have that much money, the next day 158 million. And then the experts, or the lottery officials, told these people, "Take the money and hush, because the moment it's announced that you have that much money, people come out of the woodwork". I read about one woman named Evelyn Bayshore who won the lottery two times. She won $3.9 million the first time and $1.4 million the next time. Her observations? She said, "Everybody wanted my money". And then she said, "Winning the lottery isn't all it's cracked up to be. I won the American dream and I lost it, too. It was a hard fall, and I hit rock bottom". Curtis Sharp won $5 million in the lottery, and according to the article, he blew most of his cash on booze, babes and bad investments. And he concluded, "A fool and his money are soon parted. Honey, I acted like a fool".
Then there's the sad story of Jack Whitaker. You may have heard of him. He won $315 million in the lottery. Eight months after his big score, he was robbed of $545,000 in a strip club. You know, it's a bad idea to go to a strip club, okay? Can we just establish that? But to go into a strip club with $500,000 in a briefcase, even a worse idea. So he got robbed, a month later, tragically, his granddaughter died of an overdose of drugs bought with an allowance that he gave her after he won the lottery. And a short time later his daughter also died of a drug overdose. He told reporters, "I wish I'd torn that lottery ticket up". And I bring this up because I think sometimes we may think, "If I just had that much money, I know I would be content. If I just had this relationship, I know I would be content". And so here's my question, are you a happy and content person tonight? Because the theme of this epistle of Paul to the Philippians, to the church of Philippi, is how to be happy, how to be fulfilled and how to be content. And you think, "Well, if I just had this, I know I would find contentment".
I heard the story of a wealthy employer who once heard one of his employees say, "If I had a thousand dollars, I know I'd be content". He said, "Really"?, he walked over, he said, "You know, I've never found contentment from my money, and I'm gonna reach in my pocket here and give you a thousand dollars, there you go". And he walked away and overheard the person say, "I should have asked for $2,000". That's human nature for you, isn't it? Experts have proven that getting more stuff does not bring happiness or contentment. One psychologist, who had done a lot of study on what brings contentment, concluded, "If people shoot for a certain level of affluence, thinking that will make them happy, they find that on reaching it they become very quickly habituated, and at that point they start hankering for the next level of income, property, or good health". So it just goes on and on. The Bible says hell and destruction is never full, and so is the heart of man never satisfied. But here in Philippians is a man who found satisfaction. And he's sharing the secret with us.
Now, remember that the theme of this book, as I've already pointed out, has been joy and happiness. And Paul had nothing to be happy about. He was actually under house arrest at the time. He didn't know how things were gonna turn out for him. He might be acquitted, or he might be beheaded. Yet, in the midst of all of this, he writes in the book of Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice". So what is the secret to Paul's happiness and contentment? Well, the answer to that is found in a word that is often repeated in the book of Philippians, it's the word "mind". He uses the word "mind" 10 times and also the word "think" five times. Add to that the times he uses the word "remember" and you have 16 references to the mind. So simply Paul is telling us we need to learn how to think right. We need to learn how to think biblically. We need the right mind, attitude, and outlook as we have God's joy in a troubled world.
So let's read together Philippians four, starting in verse 10. "But I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again, though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, but I have learned in whatever state I am in to be content," underline that verse. I have learned in whatever state I'm in to be content. "For I know how to be abased," verse 12. "I know how to abound everywhere and in all things. And I have learned both in being full and being hungry, when I'm abounding and when I'm suffering need," verse 13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," great verse. We think we're gonna find that contentment from a bigger home, a nicer or faster car, a higher salary, or maybe a new spouse. Or a new face or a new body. Because the grass is always green on the other side, right? But real contentment, according to the Bible, is not a state of account, it's a state of heart. Let me repeat that, real contentment according to the Bible is not a state of account, it's a state of heart.
There's a Japanese proverb that says, "Even if you sleep in a thousand mat room, you can only sleep on one mat". And that's true, and as I pointed out, Paul wasn't certain about his future. And if this wasn't enough, the believers were sort of divided on Paul. You would think everyone would think Paul was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, he's like the living, breathing apostle, giving scripture to us, but some had turned against Paul, some were critical of Paul. There was some division about Paul and then others, of course, loved him deeply. So he's facing all of this, yet he has found this great contentment. Listen, contentment can come not just because we have conquered our circumstances, but because we have learned to live with them. I want to say that again, contentment can come not because we have necessarily conquered our circumstances, but because we have learned to live with them. I read about a man who had this very beautifully groomed front lawn, it was just absolutely perfect. And then a heavy crop of dandelions showed up. And he had tried everything he could to get rid of them and nothing worked. So he wrote a letter to the School of Agriculture telling them all of the things he had tried, looking for some advice of how to get rid of the dandelions, and they emailed him back and said, he said, "What should I do now"? and they emailed back this response. "We suggest you learn to love them".
And sometimes we have dandelions in our life, we have problems in our life and we say, "How do I get rid of this problem"? Maybe you need to adapt. It was on this very platform that I interviewed Joni Eareckson Tada, you may recall. In fact, it's on the radio yesterday and today, my conversation with her. And as I re-listened to her, I was just stunned by what she said, sitting in that wheelchair as a quadriplegic for so many years now. She said, "I thank God for this wheelchair". And I'm thinking, "Wow". And the reason she can say that is because she has come into such a deep relationship with Jesus that she's saying, "I wouldn't have it any other way". Boy, you talk about adapting. So I don't know what you're facing right now. I don't know what new problem has come into your life. But I want you to realize that you can adapt to it and you can find a state of contentment.
Listen, Paul says, "I've learned in whatever state I'm in, therein to be content". Notice he says, "I've learned". Know this, contentment does not come naturally. Selfishness comes naturally. Just watch children, you can have a child playing with a couple of toys just as happy as can be, content, another child walks in the room with a different toy, and suddenly that child with the other toys is no longer happy, right? Boy, I'm sure glad we outgrow that, aren't you? Oh, wait a second, we don't. What's that saying, the only difference between the men and the boys is the price of their toys. Haven't you ever had something, said, "I love this, this is so great, I'm so happy with it," and then you see someone with maybe a newer version, a faster version, and suddenly you're no longer happy with yours. Maybe you go to a store and there's something there, you don't really want it, but there's only one left. And you think, "I might buy that. I don't think I'll buy it, I don't really care". And as you walk away, someone else reaches and grabs it and suddenly you want it. Why, because it became more valuable? No, because somebody else wanted it. This is human nature.
Let me re-say that, it's sinful human nature. But we have to learn how to be content. You have to teach a child how to share. And in the same way, we need to be taught, we need to learn how to be content. It's interesting the word Paul uses here for "I have learned to be content," is a word in the original language that could be translated, "I've attained or been initiated". It's sort of a phrase that would be used at the time by the pagans even to talk about attaining sort of a hidden truth. So Paul's almost having a little fun with this and he's saying, "Hey, I found the hidden truth. I've been initiated, I know the secret," what is it? "I've learned in whatever state I'm in therein to be content". But how did you learn this, Paul? Verse 12, "I know how to be abased and I know how to abound". In other words, how to be low and how to be high. "Everywhere and in all things I've learned to be full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer need". Another translation puts that verse this way, "Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, or as with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty".
"Hey, I've learned it," Paul says, and he wasn't angry when he couldn't make ends meet. At the same time, he was not uneasy when God was blessing him with more than he needed. He had found the balance. That reminds us of what it said in Proverbs. In Proverbs 30 verse eight the writer says, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, give me just enough to satisfy my needs, Lord. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, Who's the Lord? And if I'm too poor, I may steal and insult God's holy name". Listen, God knows just the right amount to give us in every area of our life. Okay, so what is the secret of his contentment? It came down to who he knew, not to what he had. The secret of contentment is found not in what you have, it's found in who you know. Hebrews 13:5 says, "Let your way of living be without coveting, and be content with such things as you have, for he has said, I will never leave or forsake you".
When you have Christ in your life and you're having a close friendship and relationship with him, praying and digging into his Word and becoming more like him each and every day, you'll find that contentment because he is with you. This what David meant when he wrote, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want". Only the person who can say the Lord is my shepherd can then say I shall not want. And if you're saying to me right now you're always wanting, it always has to be the next thing, the bigger thing, the latest thing or whatever, is the Lord really your shepherd? Have you really come to know him the way you need to? Contentment is not a state of account, as I said, but a state of heart. Real contentment is found in making the most of the least. Real contentment is found in making the most of the least. Now, look at what Paul says in verse 13. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Now, understand, Paul had the very unusual experience of dying and going to heaven and coming back to earth again, which, you know what, wouldn't actually be that great of a thing. I mean, can you imagine dying and going to heaven and having to come back to earth? We often wish our loved ones who have preceded us to heaven would come back to us, but they can't, and I don't think they would if they could. And I don't think if you were in heaven, if given a choice, you would want to go back either. But here's Paul, he dies, we don't know when exactly it happened, we assume it may have been a stoning in Antioch where he was thought of as dead. So it may have been at that moment he entered into God's presence and there he is and he's welcomed by the Lord himself, "Welcome to heaven, Paul. Well done, good and faithful servant". "Lord, it's great to be here". "Paul, I've got some good news and some bad news". "What's the good news, Lord"? "Well, you're coming back again". "Back again"? "Yeah, that brings me to the bad news. I'm gonna send you back to planet earth". "But Lord, why"? "Well, there's some believers down there praying that you will be raised from the dead". "Lord, don't listen to their prayers". Paul might have said, "They're sinners, I don't want to go back". "Well, Paul, I have a work for you to do still".
So meanwhile back there in Antioch, maybe they're praying for Paul. "Oh Lord, help Paul, Lord, we love Paul". And all of a sudden the color comes back into his face and his eyes flutter and his hand turns into a fist and boom, he hits someone! I mean, that's what I would have done. Like, what are you doing praying for me to come back? But he had been to heaven. Interesting, he didn't write a book about it. So many people have gone to heaven, I'll put that in quotes, and written books about it. Do you believe these stories, Greg? You want my honest opinion? Generally, no. Oh, don't be a doubter. Well, how about if I be a skeptic? The only reliable source on the topic of heaven is the book I'm holding in my hand, the Bible. This is trustworthy. Someone writes a book and says, "I went to heaven, I saw unicorns and rainbows and ice cream". Wonderful, maybe that happened, maybe that didn't happen, I have no way of quantifying your statements. But I know this book is true, so I'm not really gonna attach a lot of importance to what you are saying, but I am gonna attach a lot of importance to what the Bible is saying.
And here's what Paul said. He went into God's presence. He says, "Now look, if I was in the body or out of the body, actually I'm not really sure. But I'll tell you this, I heard things that I can't even explain. And what I saw was paradise". He uses an interesting word in the Greek, it was a paradise, which was a word that was used to describe the royal garden of a king. So think about a magnificent estate with beautifully manicured gardens that went on forever. Paul uses that picture to describe what he saw. But then he goes on to say in the book of Corinthians that the Lord sent him a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble after having a revelation of this kind. And three times he asked the Lord to take it away and the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for you". And Paul says, "So I'll boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me". So are these the words of a mad man? No, they're the words of a man who had found contentment and fellowship with God, regardless of problems or circumstances.
Listen, contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, contentment is the realization of how much you already have. Let me say it again, listen to this, contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, it is the realization of how much you already have. Contentment is understanding that if I'm not satisfied with what I have, I'll never be satisfied with what I want. Here's what the Bible says, First Timothy 6:6, "Godliness with contentment is great gain". We brought nothing into the world, we'll carry nothing out, so having food and clothing, be content. Do you have a meal in your stomach? Do you have clothes on your back? Some form of transportation that got you here to this service? Be content, stop looking over your shoulder and saying, "If only I had this or I had that," because I could just as easily say, why don't you come with me over to the hospital and we'll visit this person that is facing cancer right now? Or why don't we go over here and have another conversation with Joni Eareckson Tada, who has spent most of her life in a wheelchair? And after that, we can go over here and talk to someone who just lost a child. And you're talking about how hard you have it? Look, we all have our trials and tribulations, but no matter what, we can find our contentment in our relationship with God, be content. Again, it does not come from what you have, it comes from who you know.
There's an Arabian proverb, very profound. I'll put it on the screen here so you can take it in. Arabian proverb, "Better to have a handful of dry dates and be content therewith than to own the gate of peacocks and be kicked in the eye by a broody camel". Is that not awesome? Better a handful of dry dates and content therewith than to own the gate of peacocks and be kicked in the eye by a broody camel. I have no idea what that means. But I just like the idea of being kicked by a broody camel. I think the gist of it's pretty clear. That's a real proverb, by the way. I think the gist of it's clear, just be content with what you have. I'm not sure about what the gate of peacocks is or who this broody camel is. I've met a few moody camels. I've met even more spitting camels. If you've ever been to Israel, they'll spit right in your face. But be content with what you have. Now verse 13, a keeper verse. Every believer should commit this one to memory. Let's say it out loud together, verse 13. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Let's say it again, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Love that verse, don't forget that verse. You might need it before the night is over.
The J.B. Phillips, which is a paraphrase, puts it this way, "I'm ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me". Ready for anything. I can do all things through Christ. Take out the word Christ and put in another word, and everything fails. I can do all things through drugs and alcohol that strengthen me. Some actually believe that. Some think, "If I just had a good stiff drink, if I smoked another joint, if I had another hit, everything will be fine". But, of course, it isn't fine. I just read about a lead singer of a rock band that just committed suicide. And he talked about the fact that he had been using drugs ever since he was a young man. Here's a guy with this fame and this fortune and just did a concert last night and then he took his own life. When are we gonna get the memo that these people in Hollywood have nothing to tell us? Nothing, we admire them, we follow them on Instagram, we think they're our friends and we talk about them. And you look at the empty lives so many of them live and how some of them become strung out on drugs and alcohol, some of them take their lives. They can't keep a marriage longer than like a day.
Why do we look to them as our examples? These people really have so little to offer us. I can do all things through drugs and alcohol. No, I can't do anything through drugs and alcohol. In fact, they'll make my problems even worse. How about this, I can do all things through education that strengthens me. If I have a good education, I have my degree, then I can face anything. No, not really, that won't do it either, as wonderful as a good education is. How about this, I can do all things through money that strengthens me. Well, you could do some things with money, but you can't do all things, can you? I can do all things through success that strengthens me. No, that doesn't work either. I can do all things through friends who strengthen me. Well, sometimes friends abandon you, don't they? How about this one, I can do all things through politics that strengthen me. Not at all. You can do some things through politics. There is a place for politics.
I think it's a great thing when people want to run for office and help our country. Though I have to wonder why anyone would want to be in elected office these days in the political climate that we're in and the rancor and the hostility and the venom that's out there, but there's some things you can do, but not all things. But Christ fits perfectly. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That fits, doesn't it? Haven't you found that to be true? Because no thing or no one can empower and enable us to do what God wants us to do, except him. It's him working through us. And this, by the way, brings the perfect balance, it shows the place of God's power and man's response. It does not teach the Christian does everything for themself, nor does it teach that God does everything for the Christian. It teaches that the power and resources that we need are there, but I must appropriate them. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
It doesn't even say Christ does everything and I do nothing, it says I do all things through Christ. But the flip side of that is, according to Jesus in John 15, "Apart from me, you can do nothing". So on one side of the coin, apart from him I can do nothing, on the other side of the coin, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I love it, it's just the perfect balance. As we learned earlier in Philippians, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that works in you, both to will and do of his good pleasure". So there's God's part and there's my part. Work out my own salvation conveys the idea of going into a mine, discovering the gold or the silver and bringing it out, to work it out. Not work for your own salvation, that's impossible, it's a gift, but work it out. Work it out in your life.
But then it goes on to say, "For it is God that works in you, both to will and do of his good pleasure," so God will give you the power, but you must appropriate that power in your life. If you get the fastest car on the road, most horsepower of anyone on planet earth, if you don't fire that car up and put your pedal to the metal, nothing's gonna happen. And a lot of us are in this fast car, so to speak, this wonderful Christian life with all the resources we need and we never start the car and accelerate. And God has given you what you need, but you need to apply it. Listen to this, this might surprise you. There are some things only God can do, and some things only you can do. Some would disagree, "No, God does everything". Actually, that's not true. Maybe I should restate it another way. There's some things only you can do and some things only God will do. It's not that he can't, but he's given you a free will.
Let me illustrate, only God can guide. God will point me in the direction, say "Go there". But is God gonna airlift me over there even if I don't wanna go? I don't wanna go and I'm airlifted over. No, he points, I follow. Only God can guide, only I can follow. Only God can convict me of my sin. Only I can repent of my sin. God will not repent for me. And the problem is we often try to do God's part instead of letting him do it. And by that I mean, if we know someone that's not a believer, we get a little impatient with them. And so we start manipulating a little bit or pressuring them too much and actually make the situation worse. We need to leave it in the hands of the Lord. Now we get down to some nitty gritty stuff as we wrap up the book of Philippians, because we can talk all day about walking with God and being strengthened by him, but if it does not affect the way that we live, and specifically, according to Paul, the way that we give, it means nothing.
Philippians four verse 14. "Nevertheless, you've done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know that in the beginning of the gospel when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek a gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account, and indeed I have all and I am abound and I am full, having received from Epaphroditus," a friend of Paul, "the things that you sent to me, which were a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And God shall supply all of your need according to his richest in glory by Christ Jesus". You know, we quote that verse a lot, that God will supply all of our needs according to his riches in glory, but we need to see it in its context. Now, I mentioned earlier getting more stuff does not bring happiness and contentment.
Let me make another statement now. Giving more stuff does. Getting more stuff will not make you happy. Listen, giving more stuff will, oh yes. Some would say, "Oh, no, no, no, it's all about getting, getting, getting". No, actually it's about giving, giving, giving. Jesus said it's more blessed to give than to receive. Or a better way to translate it, it's happier to give than it is to receive. It's a happy thing to give. And so Paul is bringing this up now as he's talking about these believers. He's commending the believers in Philippi, who were not that well off financially, for helping him out in a pinch. He needed some help financially. He needed food, clothing, other things. And he's saying, "You guys came through for me, even though you really couldn't afford to come through for me. I want to just thank you and tell you this, fruit is going to abound to your account". Verse 17, "It's not that I want the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account".
See, what we need to understand is, when we give of our finances to the work of the kingdom, we invest spiritually, and that will be spiritual fruit to our account. Some are very able to do a lot, and they don't do much. Heard about a wealthy man who was approached about making a contribution to some cause. The urgent need was stated to him and he said, "I know why you think that I can write you a check for a hundred thousand dollars, because I'm a man with my own business and I have all the signs of affluence, but maybe there's some things about my life that you did not know". He said, "For instance, did you know that my mother is in an expensive nursing home right now"? They said, "No, we didn't know that, sorry". "Yeah, well, maybe you didn't know that my brother recently died and left a family of five without insurance". "Wow, we didn't know that either". "Yeah, you probably didn't know that my son, who has a lot of faith, has gone on the mission field and makes hardly any money and he needs the needs of his family met". "No, we didn't know that either". And then he says, "Well, if I didn't give any of them a penny, why should I give you anything"?
Oh, there's people like this, lots of people. And they miss out on the blessing, that's all I'll say. But I have found that often those that have the least will give the most. And sometimes those that have the most will give the least. So what Paul is saying is, "Remember the work of the Lord". You know, you set money aside, if you're smart, for taxes, you set money aside for savings. And I hope you set money aside for the Lord's work. You know, when you go and you get your latte in the morning, as I do, you give a tip to the server, to the barista, right? Here's a tip, thank you very much. In the restaurant, you give a tip. But then when we're in church and the offering is being received, you're like mystified by these weird bags, what are these and why are they here and what does this mean? You're supposed to put money in them, that's what it means.
So you can have fruit abound to your account. So you can be invested in the work that God is doing. And every believer should give. That's what Paul's pointing out, and he's commending them for giving. Now, with that backdrop we understand verse 19, which is a very important verse. "My God shall supply all of your need according to his riches in glory by Christ". Now, understand this verse does not float out in space all by itself. For every promise of God, there is a premise. Let me say that again, for every promise of God there is a premise. This promise is embedded in the context of chapter four. What is the context? The context is, be content with what you have, be generous, give to the work of the Lord, and my God shall supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ.
Now we generally apply this verse to financial challenges. Maybe when an unexpected bill comes due or there's some financial crisis we'll say, "Well, the Lord will provide because he promises, my God will supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ". And that's true, but it's not limited to finances. You could apply it in other areas as well. For instance, if your marriage is in trouble, you could also say, "My God will supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ". Hey, if you're a single person looking for the right person, you could apply this verse. My God will supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. If there's a need for maybe a physical healing, you could apply it there as well. My God shall supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. And certainly you can apply it to your financial need as well. My God will supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
So this has been all about happiness and contentment, and here's what we've learned. Happiness does not come from seeking self-fulfillment, it comes from seeking the fulfillment of others. Doesn't come from seeking self-fulfillment, because then you're like the proverbial dog chasing its tail, because when you get what you think will make you happy, you'll just want something more. Or you can find it in your relationship with God and serving others. Happiness does not come from seeking happiness, it comes from seeking God. When you seek him first and his righteousness, which means his rule and reign in your life, all these things will be added to you. And what are those things? What you'll eat, what you'll drink, what you'll wear. Jesus says, "I'll take care of that for you". You just put God first and you honor the Lord first and he'll take care of that.
Happiness does not come from getting, it comes from giving. Contentment does not come from getting, it comes from giving. Listen to this, no one has ever been honored for what he received, but rather for what he gave. Think about it, has anyone ever been honored for a great gift they received? No, but they are honored when they gave something. And that's the point that is before us. Listen, you can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. And the way you do that is when you live your life for the glory of God and dedicate every aspect of it to him. Coming back to an earlier point and concluding, happiness and contentment does not come from what you have, it comes from who you know.
And here's my closing question to you. Do you know God in a personal way? Because maybe you come here with just a big hole inside of you and you keep thinking something's gonna fill that hole. You think it's a relationship. You think it's an experience. You think it's some kind of a high that you'll get from a drug or drinking. You think it's some possession. You think it's some goal that you've reached. And maybe you've reached those goals and even surpassed them, and I think that's why many times we read of people who've come into money quickly or Hollywood people who have it all are so despondent. You say, "Why are they despondent"? Because when you don't have it, you'll always think, "If I had it, I'd be happy". But when you get it you realize that's not the answer.
I heard a statement from Jim Carrey, actor and comedian, loosely paraphrasing it. He said, "I wish everybody could be wealthy beyond their wildest dreams and have everything they ever wanted so that they could see it's not what they think it is". I think that's true, and so you can have it all and then realize this isn't it. Well, it comes down to a relationship with God. Jesus Christ will fill that hole in your heart. My wife likes to put puzzles together. I don't know why. I see a puzzle on a table I just keep walking. My wife sees a puzzle, my son, too, and they'll stop, let's put the puzzle together. And I'll watch them and I'll fall asleep. It's like, why waste the time? And then they finally complete it. The other day they finished the puzzle, it was beautiful, and there it is, and then they took it apart and threw it in the box. Why didn't you leave it for a while?
Well, we're done with the puzzle. But you know, some people like puzzles, other people don't, but I'll tell you one thing, while she was putting the puzzle together the other night she said, "There's a piece of the puzzle missing". They're searching everywhere for it. Gotta find that one missing piece. Your life is like a puzzle. And there's a piece missing. And guess who holds the missing piece? God, says, "Here's what you're looking for. This is what you've wanted all along, a relationship with me. And I'll fill that hole, I'll meet your needs, you'll be a content person, if you'll ask me into your life".
And I ask you now, if you're trying to put that puzzle together without God, it's never gonna work. But if you ask Christ to come into your life, everything will change for you. He died on the cross for your sin. He paid the price for every commandment you'd broken. Because we've all offended God and fallen short of the glory of God, but three days later Jesus Christ, who died on that cross, rose again from the dead bodily. And he's alive and he's here with us right now, standing at the door of our hearts and knocking. And he's saying if we'll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in. Christ can come into your life right here, right now. He's just a prayer away. And if you've never asked Jesus to come into your life, why don't you do that?
You say, "Well, Greg, I think I'm already a Christian. I was raised in the church". Yeah well, what do you want, a medal? I'm glad you were raised in the church, but God doesn't have any grandchildren, only sons and daughters. You can't live off your parents' faith. You can't live off your husband or your wife's faith. You need your own relationship with God. You need to say Lord, I need you. Maybe you've never even been in a church before, maybe this is your first time in a church in a long time or maybe forever. Well listen, Jesus is here for you, ready to forgive you of all of your sin. I said there's some things only God can do, and some things only you can do.
Listen to this, only God can forgive your sin, but only you can say, I'm sorry for my sin. So in effect the ball's in your court now. So you need to decide what you're gonna do with it. Are you gonna say yes to Jesus and ask him to come into your life, or are you gonna say no to Jesus and turn him away? You say, "How about if I say neither? How about if I just say not now". Well, that's a decision, in effect. To not say yes is to say no. Jesus said, "If you're not for me, you're against me". Don't be against Jesus. He loves and he'll forgive you, but you need to now respond to that. So we're gonna pray in a moment, and I'm going to extend an invitation to any of you here, or you that are watching and listening, if you do not yet know Jesus Christ, respond to this invitation and this will be the greatest moment of your life. Let's all bow our heads and pray.
Father, thank you so much for loving us. And Lord Jesus, thank you for coming and dying on the cross for our sin and rising again from the dead. And we thank you, Lord, for your offer of forgiveness. Now we pray for any here that do not yet know you. Help them to see their need for you. Help them to come to you. Help them to believe in you and have their life changed for time and eternity. We ask this in your name.
While our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying, how many of you would say tonight, Greg, I want Jesus Christ in my life. I've tried to fill that hole in my heart. I've been looking for that missing piece of the puzzle and I want him right now in my life. Pray for me, I'm ready to say yes to Jesus. If that's your desire, if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, if you want to go to heaven when you die, would you just lift your hand up wherever you are and I'll pray for you right now. Lift your hand up and say, I want Jesus Christ tonight. God bless you, anybody else? Raise your hand up, let me pray for you tonight. You want his forgiveness, God bless you. You want to be sure that you'll go to heaven when you die, let me pray for you. Raise your hand up wherever you are. God bless you, anybody else? God bless you too, God bless you as well. Lift it up high where I can see it, please. Just raise your hand up, God bless you and God bless you, God bless you, anybody else? God bless you and you.
Wherever you are, you want Christ in your life. Or maybe you've fallen away from him and you want to come back to him again tonight. He loves you, he'll welcome you, but you must come. Anybody want to make that recommitment to Jesus? Raise your hand up now, let me pray for you wherever you are, God bless you. I'm gonna wait one more moment. If you haven't raised your hand yet, but you want your sin forgiven, you want that fresh start in life, you want to know God in a personal way, raise your hand up and let me pray for you. Anybody else, raise your hand now. God bless you. Father, I thank you for everyone of these that have taken this little step. Now help them to take the next one and receive all that you have for them. While our heads are still bowed, I want every one of you that have raised your hand saying you want Jesus in your life to stand to your feet and I'm gonna lead you in a prayer right here, right now. So everyone that raised your hand, stand up, wherever you are, just stand up, we're gonna pray together.
Even if you did not raise your hand but you want Christ to come into your life, you want to go to heaven when you die, just stand up and we're gonna pray together. By the way, others are standing, you won't be alone. Stand up, we'll pray together. I'll wait another moment. Maybe you did not raise your hand but you're saying, "This is it, I need God and I need him now". Stand to your feet and we'll pray together. God bless you, I'll wait one more moment. Anybody else, stand up and we're gonna pray. Just stand up, anybody else, stand now. Alright, all of you that are standing, I want you to pray this prayer out loud after me right where you stand. Again, as I pray, pray this out loud after me, okay? Pray this now right where you're standing and out loud:
Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, but I know that you are the Savior who loves me, who died for me, who paid for all of my sin. I turn from my sin now, Jesus, and I choose to follow you from this night forward. Thank you for accepting me and forgiving me, in Jesus' name I pray, amen.