James Merritt - Loyalty, I'll Be There
So good morning to you. Good morning to those who are watching online, those who'll be watching by TV, to our campus at Mill Creek. For technology, it's Apple. For search engine, it's Google. For social networking, it's Facebook. For airlines, it's Delta. For online retailers, it's Amazon. For fast food, it's Chick-fil-A. So what am I talking about? I'm talking about the brands that have the highest loyalty rating in their particular industries. These are the companies that have more customers that keep coming back to them than any other company where they are. They're just some of the winners of the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index which means they have the highest customer retention rates of anybody that does what they do.
And it's a crucial metric because business executives actually watch this very religiously because they know nothing tops customer loyalty for building a business, keeping a business, and growing a business. But loyalty's not just crucial for businesses. It's crucial for friendships. It's crucial for marriages. It's crucial for the military. It's crucial for a nation. We're in a series that we're calling "Mirror Image," and if you're a first-time guest here we have been in this series for a few weeks. And what we've been saying is if you could just imagine that you had a mirror that you could look into and it would not show you what you look like on the outside, it would show you what you look like on the inside, what would you see?
When you're no longer trying to put up a pretense, no longer got the makeup on, no longer putting on a big front, nobody's looking, if you had that kind of a mirror what kind of character would you see? And we've listen already three building blocks that should go into the house of character. We've talked about integrity. That's just doing what you say you'll do. We have talked about honesty. That's just simply telling the truth. And we've talked about humility, never thinking of yourself as more important than you really are. Well today we're gonna talk about a trait that I believe is seen less and less but is needed more and more and that is loyalty.
When we hire new staff people here one of the things that we talk about like my little pep talk, one of the things I emphasize is we expect you to be loyal. You'll get loyalty from me. I expect loyalty from you. And there is a book in the Bible that has as its title and its main character a woman by the name of Ruth. And the only reason that book is in the Bible and the only reason we even know anything about Ruth is because of her incredible loyalty. So to show you where we are today Ruth is such an easy book to find. You go to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and then Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Now I've been telling Joshua he ought to stop but Joshua judges Ruth, okay.
So I know you'll that in about two minutes. Okay, we're here in the book of Ruth. We're in Ruth chapter one. Let me tell you about Ruth. You may not know the story. It is absolutely one of the greatest love stories, not just in the Bible but in all of history. Movies and novels and books had been written about this story and there would have been no love story, we wouldn't be talking about this had it not been for her incredible loyalty. Now here's what's the shocker. The reason why this book is in the Bible, the reason why we know about Ruth is because it is the story, now get ready for this now, it is the story of the loyalty of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law.
Now if you can write a story about that you can write a story about anything because those of us who are married know this. It's hard to understand the whole in-law dynamic unless you have one or unless you become one. And I can tell you in my ministry I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you that I've heard enough in-law stories to make me be absolutely convinced that in-laws ought to be outlawed. Because I want to tell you there are some family dynamics going on with in-laws. Comedians have made a fortune just off telling jokes about in-laws. I was reading the other day about a magic show and after one amazing trick someone screamed out to the magician, "How did you do that"? And the magician kind of replied back and he said, "Well, I would tell you but then I'd have to kill you". The voice came back and said, "Well would you tell my mother-in-law"?
So I want to tell you that I do believe this. I believe a lot of in-laws get a bad rap. And I'll tell you I have been so blessed. My mother-in-law will be watching this program down the road so I just want to just let Lena know I could never have had a better, sweeter, finer mother-in-law than you. I love you, Lena. You are the love of my life. And I can tell you that is really true and I can tell you when I read this story that I'm reminded of my wife and the way she treated my mom and my dad. Because Teresa was not a daughter-in-law to my dad and to my mom. Teresa was a daughter-in-love to my dad and to my mom and that's really the way it should be.
Now to kind of set this story up the book of Ruth is very short. It only has 85 verses in the entire book and it's really just about ordinary people living ordinary lives who deal with ordinary problems. The story's simple. It begins with three funerals and it ends with a marriage and the birth of a baby. But when you read the entire story of the Bible it is no ordinary baby. It's an incredible story of how God used the loyalty of a woman who wasn't even a Jew to make sure that you and I would have a savior. And when you read the story it really will make you appreciate your family more, your friends more, your future more, and your faith more.
Now simple story. Israelites, there are two of them, Elimelek and Naomi. They're married. They have two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. They live in Bethlehem but there's a problem. There's a great depression going on. Work is becoming scarce. Elimelek doesn't think he can provide for his family. He hears that things are going a lot better in a land called Moab so he packs up what little that he has and he takes his wife and he takes his two sons and they go to Moab hoping they can better their fortune. Well not long after they get to Moab Elimelek dies. His two sons marry two Moabite women. One is named Orpah, not Oprah but Orpah, and the other one is named Ruth. Well after about 10 years the two sons die. Now Naomi is got a real problem on her hand. She has no husband. She has no sons. And all she has are two daughters-in-law. And in that culture that was a completely impossible situation because there's no way that three women on their own, particularly widows with no children, no relatives, in a time of famine would ever hope to survive very long.
So Naomi, this mother-in-law is so wonderful, she's so sweet, she's so precious, she says something to her daughters-in-law that only a mother would say. You would never expect a mother-in-law to say this. She's heard that her relatives back home in Bethlehem, she's heard from them that things are a lot better in Bethlehem. So she intends to go back. She's gonna pack up her belongings, what little she has. She's gonna go back to Bethlehem. But for reasons you're going to see in just a moment it really is not a good idea. As a matter of fact it could be very dangerous for these two women to go to a country where they're not going to be welcome. Plus Naomi knows if you'll stay in Moab which is where you were born, it's where you were raised, it's where you grew up, you're gonna have a lot better chance of meeting a man, a lot better chance of remarrying, a lot better chance of having children.
And by the way, you'll still be with the friends and the family that you've grown up with and known all of your life. Well Orpah takes up her offer. She takes her at her word. She says, "I know you mean well and I know you're right". She hightails it back home. But Ruth digs in her heels. She says to her mother-in-law words that have become so famous. They're used in weddings. They're put on necklaces. They're put in rings. It is absolutely one of the greatest statements and definitions of loyalty you will ever find. As a matter of fact, the whole story of this book hinges on what she says to Naomi. Listen to this. But Ruth replied: Don't urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely if even death separates you and me.
And when Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, now that's what in the literal Hebrew it says. When Naomi realized that she was talking to a wall she stopped urging her. Do you want to know what loyalty sounds like? Play those words over again. You want to know what loyalty looks like? Get a picture of Ruth in your mind. You want to know what loyalty smells like? Let the words, the aroma of those words kind of linger in the air because in those beautiful words that this daughter-in-law says to a mother-in-law she tells us four ways we ought to be loyal every day of our life. Number one, we should be loyal to our family. Be loyal to your family.
Now Ruth's loyalty begins where the seed of loyalty is always planted, fertilized, and grown, and that is in your family. Listen to what Ruth says. But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay". Now we read those words and we go how nice. Isn't that sweet? I can't believe that daughter-in-law would be so loyal to her mother-in-law. What you don't realize if you don't know the background of the story is just how much those words are going to cost Ruth to say them. Because remember, she's in the worst state any young woman could be in. Number one, she's not married, she's a widow. Number two, she's childless, has no children.
Now in that culture younger women who were widowed were encouraged to find a husband as quickly as possible but there's a problem. Naomi's going to a country where a) she'll be a foreigner. She will be an immigrant but because she is a Moabite and we'll find out about that in a moment, because of her Moabite background she would find it basically impossible to attract any male that would have any interest in marrying her whatsoever. But it's worse. If she goes to Israel she will be condemned for marrying someone out of a pagan, or he would be condemned for marrying someone out of a pagan background and a country that was at enmity with Israel.
So when you think about Israel and Moab think about America and North Korea. That's what you're talking about. I mean they hated each other. And then she would be condemned for marrying a Jewish man and she would be criticized and castigated for taking advantage of her Jewish mother-in-law. So here she is. She's going to give up everything, her country, her social standing, her friends, her relationships, her chances of remarrying, her chances of ever having children all to spend the rest of her life with a woman she is not even physically related to. It is unbelievable. Oh, and by the way, her mother-in-law has nothing. At best they're gonna struggle to make ends meet. You say man, how do you explain that? There's only one explanation. When Ruth married Naomi's son in her heart if not verbally here's what she said. "You're not going to be my mother-in-law. You're going to be my mother-in-love. And I'm not going to be your daughter-in-law. I'm going to be your daughter-in-love".
And the point is whether it's your mother or your mother-in-law, your brother or your brother-in-law, your son or your son-in-law, your daughter or your daughter-in-law, we should be loyal to our family. One of the things that's made us so wonderful and God has honored it, I made a promise to Teresa. We got married March it'll be 43 years. We got married 43 years ago. I told her when we get married your parents become my parents. Your brother becomes my brother. Your sister becomes my sister. We made exactly the same promise to each other and I don't like to get into this, you know this. There would be some families listening to me right now that would be absolutely transformed in your personal relationships if you totally changed your attitude in that way towards your "in-laws". Be loyal, be loyal to your family.
I've told my boys, you know. I've said to the boys that you know, as you get older you start thinking about hey, my time's getting shorter and nobody knows how long you're gonna be here. So one of the things I've said to my boys as they've gotten older, I said, "I want you to be like my brothers". I've got two brothers, you know that. One is here. In fact they're both here every morning at the first service and we're brothers. I mean we're like that. We're like I was gonna say the Three Stooges but that's such a bad analogy but we're really, we're tight, okay. We're really tight. And I told my boys over and over and I said, "Now guys, when I'm gone I'm telling you right now as your dad you three brothers stick together. You three brothers stay together. You always live like brothers and you always love each other like brothers because that's what we do in our family. We're loyal to our family".
Be loyal to your family. Number two, be loyal to your friends. Be loyal to your friends. Ruth goes on to say, "Where you go I will go. Where you stay I will stay". Then she says this. "Your people will be my people". Now when she said your people will be my people she wasn't just talking about Naomi's family. He was talking about Naomi's friends. She said your people. I mean Naomi, I'm talking about the people that you grew up with, the people you went to school with, the people that you know. They're going to be my people. They're going to be my friends because what Ruth was saying to Naomi was Naomi, I'm not just your daughter-in-law. I'm your friend and I am your friend forever. And that leads me just to say this. The one thing that separates your forever friend from your fair-weather friends is loyalty.
So one of the things you ought to teach your kids is how to evaluate real friendships. You know, one of the biggest trouble our kids can get into, this is true of all of us. One of the biggest troubles, you know this because we worry about it, are the friends that your kids choose to hang out with and the friends your kids choose to have. Now I believe that all of us ought to have unsaved friends and you know, that's not where I'm going. What I am saying is this. We need to teach our kids how do you evaluate a friend. So don't just ask well, are they fun to be with? They may be fun to be with, may not be a good friend. Well they're nice when I'm with them. Well they may be but they may not be a friend. Well they make me feel good. Well they may make you feel good. They may not be a friend and please don't evaluate a friend on how many Instagram followers he or she has.
That is just, I mean you know, ask yourself this question. Do I really believe this is the kind of person that would stand by me if the bottom of my life fell out? Do I really believe this is the kind of person that would come to my house when they just shut the electricity off? When Ruth said these words to Naomi, Naomi knew Ruth, you're not just a daughter-in-law. You're a friend that would stick closer than a sister. And Naomi knew something. You know, you never learn who your friends are in prosperity. You never learn who your friends are when things are going good. You learn who your friends are when you're in adversity. And so that leads me to say this and I've said it several times but it's always good to repeat it. I don't mean to burst some bubbles in this room because some of you I know think you know that you know, you're God's gift to the human race and that's okay but let me just kind of help you on one thing.
None of us including me, none of us has as many friends as we think we have. I mean, I'm just telling you right now. And by the way, for all you Facebook fanatics out there I don't know if you know this or not. I just found out the other day. I thought it was kind of funny. Did you know that Facebook caps the number of friends you can have at 5,000? Can I just let Facebook in on a little secret? Nobody has 5,000 friends. Can I let you in on a little secret? You don't have a thousand friends. You don't have 500 friends, at least not what you think you do. By the way, if you ever exceed the limit on Facebook, you know, the number of friends, they'll send you a message: You have too many friends. Wrong message, here's what they ought to send. You got a lot fewer friends than you think you do because that really is true.
You know there's an old saying, you can't have too many friends, but the real truth is nobody has as many friends as they assume they do. But when you find a friend and you say this is a real friend be loyal to that friend. If the whole world walks out of their house you walk in. If the whole world turns their back on your friend you have their back. One of my favorite stories, three months after Bill Clinton's scandal broke with Monica Lewinsky Time Magazine was celebrating their 75th anniversary with this big dinner in New York City and a thousand people had been invited to come to the event and everybody had been assigned a table.
Well Joe DiMaggio, the former great center fielder for the New York Yankees, had been assigned to sit next to President Clinton. Joe DiMaggio wrote the committee and said, "I don't want to sit next to President Clinton. I don't like President Clinton. I don't respect President Clinton. I don't want to sit next to him. Move me from that table". Billy Graham got wind of it. Billy Graham wrote to the committee and said, "Would you please give me the privilege and the honor of sitting next to the President"? because he was President Clinton's friend. When President Clinton's approval rating was at its lowest Billy Graham's loyalty rating was at its highest. Be loyal to your friends. And the next one's kind of hard to just understand at first. Stay with me. Be loyal to your faithfulness.
Now let me tell you what I mean by that. Ruth says to Naomi, "Where you die I will die and there I will be buried," okay. Now I hope she didn't mean if we were in a Mexican restaurant. That would be kind of embarrassing but anyway. "May the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely if even death separates you and me". Now let me tell you what she was saying. You talk about loyalty. Here's what she was saying. Even if it costs me my life I'm not gonna leave you. I am not going to forsake you. I am going to live my life with you and if necessary I'm going to give my life for you. I am not going to leave you. Wherever you live, that's where I'm going to live. And wherever and whenever you die, that's where I am going to die. I am making a promise with my own life.
So here's something Naomi knew. Naomi never, ever had to worry that if they get to Bethlehem and things are going bad, the fire gets too hot, the food gets too low, the money totally runs out, that Ruth will abandon ship and go back to Moab. She had made a lifetime commitment. Naomi, you'll never be alone. I may be the only person with you but I will be one person that will be with you. I will never leave you. I'm making a promise on my life with my life and I intend to keep it until I die. And I just say all that to say this. She was basically saying Naomi, I'm gonna be faithful to what I'm telling you, so much so that I'm putting my life on the line and we need to learn to be loyal to our convictions and what we believe.
We need to learn to be loyal to our promises and what we say we will do. We need to learn to be loyal to our lenders to pay what we owe. We need to learn to keep our vows when we get married and be loyal to our vows. We need to be loyal to stand up for what we think is right and stand against what we think is wrong. We need to be loyal to our faithfulness. You know, can I just say this? And I get it, I understand the day and age in which we live. Wouldn't it be great, wouldn't it really be great if we could go back to a day when you didn't need to sign 15,000 pages of a contract to buy something? You could just shake hands and just know I'm giving you my word and I am making a promise and I will be loyal to what I promised.
True story, there were two men. One was named Jim, one was named Philip, true story. They grew up together, grew up nextdoor to each other. Became best friends. They went to elementary school together. They went to high school together. They did everything together. They went to college together. They joined the Marines together. And in World War II they were sent to Germany and they fought side by side together. Well their platoon got into one particularly fierce battle and the battle was not going very well so the commanding officer gave the command to retreat. Well as they were retreating Jim looked around and noticed he didn't see Philip. He didn't see his buddy. He was nowhere to be found.
So he ran to his commanding officer and he said, "Look, I've got to go find my friend". And his commanding officer said, "No, you can't go back. It's absolute suicide if you try to go back. I command you to retreat. You'll do what everybody else is doing". Jim literally turned his back on his commanding officer and disobeyed him and ran back into the flay of battle. His heart was pounding, bullets are whizzing by, bombs are exploding, everybody else is running, but he's out there in the middle of that battlefield calling for his friend, "Philip, where are you? Philip, it's Jim. Philip, it's me. Philip, where are you"?
About an hour later his platoon couldn't believe it. Here came Jim staggering back across the field carrying the limp, dead body of his buddy, Philip. His commanding officer was livid. He came running up to him. He said, "You disobeyed my order. You risked your life for nothing. Your friend was dead. I told you he was dead. I told you there was nothing you could do and you went just the same". And Jim looked at his CO and he said, "Sir, with all respect, you're wrong". "What do you mean I was wrong"? He said, "I got there just in time because Jim's last words to me just before he drew his last breath were, Philip's last words to me just before he drew his last breath were 'Jim, I knew you would come. I knew you would come.'"
See, that's loyalty. Jim and Philip had made a promise no matter what happened we'll always be there for each other. We'll never leave each other on the battlefield. No matter what happens we're gonna be there. Never abandon the other in a time of need. Be loyal to your faithfulness. But everything I've just said really won't do you much good and it really probably won't happen in your life unless you're loyal to one last thing. As a matter of fact it's the most important part of any loyalty and that is be loyal to your faith. By far the most important thing that Ruth says speaks to the most important loyalty you will ever have and that's the loyalty she expressed to God because I want to show you the biggest, most life-changing, unbelievable thing that Naomi heard her say. Listen to this. "Your people will be my people and your God my God".
Now you talk about going all in. You talk about selling out. Let me tell you what Naomi had done. Remember I told you Naomi was a Moabite. Now you may not know who the Moabites are so let me kind of tell you just a little bit. The Moabites actually came from an incestuous relationship that a man by the name of Lot. If you don't know who Lot is Lot was the nephew of Noah, Noah and the ark. He was Noah's nephew. Lot had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. The offspring of that relationship became known as the Moabites. They entered into paganism. They worshiped false gods. They were guilty of polytheism. They worshiped a lot of false gods. They used eroticism in their religion. They used temple prostitutes. They even offered human sacrifices, their own children on the altar to practice their religion.
The Moabite culture epitomized everything that the Israelites would hate and despise. If you were an Egyptian you could become an Israelite. If you were an Edomite you could become an Israelite. If you were a, an... I'm trying to think of let's just say a termite, you could be a part of the Israelites. But, but the law was laid down for Moabites. Now listen to this. No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the 10th generation for they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you. Because the Lord your God loves you do not seek a treaty of friendship with them as long as you live. For 10 generations, 400 years, God had laid down the law. No Moabite, no descendant of a Moabite could ever enter into the assembly of the Lord.
Now that time has already passed but the curse still lingers in the air. So here's a young woman who has everything going against her. She has every reason to reject God. Her past is against her. She was raised in a pagan family. She worshiped pagan gods. Her present was against her. All she had was her mother-in-law. No husband, no children, no source of income. Her future was against her. She's about to go to a land and a people where her very ethnicity would be a curse word. A no welcome sign would be put up all of the neighbors' homes. She's about to go into a country where they're gonna let her know right up front if you ever have kids I don't want them to have anything to do with my kids. I don't want you to meet me when I'm on the street. You won't be invited to the neighborhood parties. You're not gonna be invited to anything that we have in the neighborhood. Don't speak to us. Don't talk to us. We don't like you. We hate you. We don't want you here. Go back to where you belong.
All that was true but she said, "I'm going with you, Naomi, because your God has become my God". 10 years she had lived with this woman named Naomi and for 10 years she saw a woman say things she'd never heard a woman say. She saw a woman act like she had never seen any other woman act. She saw a woman worship like she had never seen any woman worship. She saw a woman that didn't worship a pagan god that she was afraid of and tried to appease because she was afraid that god hated her. She worshiped a God that actually loved her and cared for her, wanted her to be a part of his family. And in all those years her heart began to be warm.
And we're not told when it happened. We're not told exactly how it happened. We're not told exactly where it happened but somewhere along the line her life had been radically changed by the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And she had made a decision not just to turn away from her family, not just to turn away from her friends. She had made a decision to turn away from every other false God she had ever known and every other false God her family had worshiped and she put everything on the line to worship the one true God. It is one of the most courageous confessions of faith you'll find in the Bible. "Your God will be my God".
Now here's what's going on. Watch this, this is where you come in. She says I'm gonna leave my blood relatives for you although we have no blood connection at all. You say wait a minute. I thought you just said back in point one be loyal to your family. I did. Now you're telling me that she's doing a good thing by leaving her blood family and going to be with someone she is not physically related to. Yes, but here's why. Because she learned something that I want you to learn. The real family that we have and the greatest family that we have is not our flesh family. It's our faith family. Your real family is the family you're gonna spend eternity with.
Now it's because of your faith family you love your flesh family. It's because of your faith that you want your flesh family to be a part of the faith that you have but the greatest family you'll ever be a part of is not your physical family. It is your spiritual family. It is your forever family. And so Ruth had come to know the God of Naomi. She had forsaken the false god of the Moabites. She had given her heart to the true God. And now to her, this is what's amazing. Did she love her flesh mother? Sure she did. Did she love her flesh father? Of course she did. But you know what she was saying to Naomi? My mother-in-law of faith is more family to me than the mother of my own flesh. Blood is thicker than water. It is not thicker than the Holy Spirit. It is not thicker than Jesus. It is not thicker than the God that made us. It's just not and that is no way to denigrate your flesh family.
There's nobody on this planet that loves their flesh family more than I do. There's nobody that loves their kids more than I love my kids. There's nobody that loves my grandkids more than I love my grandkids. There's nobody that love their parents more than I loved my parents. There's nobody that loves their siblings more than I love my siblings. I absolutely adore them but the end of the day you know why we are such a fantastic family? It's not because of DNA. It's not because of blood. It's because we have a common faith in the Jesus that died for us and the God that made us and one day we're gonna spend all eternity together. That is the real family. That's the family that Naomi was talking about. That's the family that had radically changed her life. And as much as you may love your family, as much as I love mine, the greatest family you'll ever be a part of on this planet is the family of faith.
So what does God do? God honors her loyalty because let me tell you how the story kind of winds up. She goes to Bethlehem. She meets a man, a great man. He marries her. She has a child in a culture that places far more value on sons than it does daughters. She even wins the respect of all the women in town because after she has her firstborn son and all the women are throwing the post-baby party here's what they said to Naomi about her daughter-in-law. Listen to this. "Your daughter-in-law who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons has given him birth". Those mothers, all those women in Bethlehem said man, sure wish we had a daughter-in-law like yours. Boy, she is better to you than seven sons.
And oh, by the way, the greatest blessing of all, the son that Ruth had, his name was Obed. May not mean a lot to you. Obed was the grandfather of David who became the ancestor of Jesus. So because of the loyalty of a pagan Moabite woman who met the true God and gave her life to the true God, guess what happened? You go to the genealogy of Jesus in the New Testament, you'll find four women listed in his family tree. There's Tamar, she was a real piece of work. She was guilty of incest. You upgrade to Rahab. She was a prostitute. You go first class with Bathsheba. She was an adulteress. And then you got Ruth. She was a Moabite. But because of her loyalty God used her not just to bear a son but to change the history of the world.
Now where do you come into the story? What's all this got to do with you? Okay, you ready? Our God is a loyal God. He keeps his promises. He'll never turn his back on us. He will never forsake us. He will stay in your house when the whole world walks out. He doesn't have to walk in when the whole world walks out. He never leaves. He says I will never leave you or forsake you. Now if that is true and you say you know that God and you love that God then let me just make it very plain.
We owe it to that God to be loyal to him and his church in worship. We owe it to that God to find the place of service in this church. We owe it out of loyalty to that God to grow in discipleship, to get in a small group in this church. We owe it out of loyalty to that God to allow ourselves to be sent and to go and to share the life-changing message of the gospel. Loyalty means that when you can be here you will be here. That's what you're sowing. When you walk into, don't you, listen. Don't you think it's a little small deal. I was out in the lobby a while and I was watching people come in. Every one of you come in I said, "Oh God, thank you that they came". Nobody makes you come. Nobody pays you to come but you came. You didn't have to come and don't think I don't take that for granted. I don't take it for granted.
I said, "Lord, thank you that they came". But let me tell you something. Whether you realize this or not next time you don't think it's a big deal let me just tell you this. Every time you get up and I know sometimes it's hard to get up. Listen, there are some, I'm the pastor and sometimes I don't want to get up. But every time you get up whether it's hot or cold, dry or rainy, you get up, you get dressed, you come into the assembly of the people of God, I'm telling you right now God looks at you and says thank you for expressing your loyalty to me and expressing your loyalty to my family and expressing your loyalty to my son.
Thank you for serving whenever and wherever you're needed because when we needed a savior to die for us you know what Jesus said? I'll be there. You can count on me. I am so loyal to you I'll go to a cross to show you how loyal I am to you. How much more should those of us here today every time we get the chance to worship and every time we get the chance to serve and every time we get the chance to be an encouragement to others in a small group and every time we get the chance to be sent out and share the gospel how much more should we say Lord, I'll be there?