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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Merritt » James Merritt - Smyrna, Grace Under Pressure

James Merritt - Smyrna, Grace Under Pressure

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    James Merritt - Smyrna, Grace Under Pressure
TOPICS: This is Your Captain Speaking, Seven Churches of Revelation, Persecution, Pressure, Grace

Well, I wanna say good morning to those of you who may be watching online, or watching on TV, around the world For those of you who are in the building, and I just wanna begin by asking a question. Everybody kind of laugh when I ask it at the 9:15 service, but I'm really being serious. Anybody here under any pressure at all? Anybody? You probably know this if you keep up any with college football. I was under so much pressure last night for about a half a football game that Teresa took the gun away from me twice. I was just under unbelievable pressure. And I'm about to say something, and I'm not looking for sympathy. I wanna say that I love what I do, God's called me to do what I do. If I had my life do it again, I'd like to do the same thing. But it didn't take me long to figure out once I became the pastor of even my first little small country church, just how much a pastor faces pressure and how much pressure you're under.

We pastors have a little saying, it's called Sunday's coming. And what we mean by that is for you, Sunday, let's be honest, it's a take it or leave it day. You're here today 'cause you chose to be here. You didn't have to be here. You could have gone to the lake, you could have gone down to Atlanta, you could have taken a ride to the mountains. You could have done whatever you wanted to do. You chose to be here. I don't have that option. I don't, if I get up in the morning and I don't feel like coming, I gotta come. If I get up in the morning and I'll say, you know, I'd rather kind of take my boat out on the lake today, I can't do that. Because for me, don't take this the wrong way, Sunday is showtime. Sunday's go time for me, Sunday is game day for me. It's one of the biggest things I do in the week.

And I don't get to skip church if I don't feel like coming or wanna do something else. And so we, you know, and one of the things you don't realize is, we stand before a crowd of people every single week. It's like I'm standing before you right now. And here's what a lot of you are thinking. You would never admit it, but you are. And here's what you're thinking when you sit down and I stand up, you're thinking this thought, it better be good today. You better make it worth my while coming today. You're about to show me whether or not you were lollygagging during the week, or you really did your homework. And if you don't think that's pressure, let me give you an example. Go back to your high school days, your college days.

And I want you to imagine that every week you had to do a term paper, every week. And not only did you have to do that term paper, you had to present that paper orally every week in front of a bunch of professors who are grading your performance, and you gotta do that every single week. I mean, every single week you've got to do this. In fact, your greatest nightmare when you do what I do is people will nod off and they will go to sleep. You know, one man said this about his pastor. "I haven't seen my pastor's eyes in such a long, long time. When he prays, he closes his eyes, when he preaches, I close mine". And so many people are like that. And you also learn, no matter how well you do, one Sunday, you're only as good as your next sermon. And the pressure is relentless, and it never lets up.

And there are all kinds of pressures that I've not even told you about you don't ever see. you don't see the pressure of having to make sure you raise the money to pay the bills, or to grow the church in a post-COVID world. And you don't see the phone calls, and the emails, and the counseling, and the giving advice, and the troubleshooting, and the managing conflict, setting a vision, leading the church, overseeing the staff. You don't see all of that. And don't misunderstand me. I understand pressure, it goes with the territory. My question is today, what pressure are you under? The financial pressure of trying to make ends meet. The marital pressure is trying to hold it together. The relational pressure is trying to handle a wayward, disobedient child. The vocational pressure, making quotas, meeting deadlines, pleasing difficult bosses. The emotional pressure, trying to please a demanding parent or a coach.

Maybe it's the personal pressure of trying to reach the high standards you set for yourself. I mean, I don't cook at all, but you ladies and men know what a pressure cooker is, is when you put the pressure on, and the heat turns up, and it gives you the ability to turn solid fruit into mush. You can turn apples into applesauce, peaches into peach jelly. I believe our culture today is more of a pressure cooker than it has ever been. We're under tremendous pressure to think what everybody else is thinking, do what everybody else is doing, say what everybody else is saying, live the way everybody else is living. Go along, get along, compromise your conviction, your character, your conduct. And the truth of the matter is if you get up every day and you're going to think biblically, and you're going to live a biblical worldview, you are going to be in a pressure cooker.

The question is how do you handle that pressure? So we're in a series we're calling, This is Your Captain Speaking. Jesus wrote seven letters to seven churches, and he wrote a particular letter, if you wanna go ahead and turn in your Bible to Revelation chapter two, the last book in the Bible. He wrote a letter to a church in Smyrna. And today that's the modern city of Izmir, city of about 3 million people in Turkey. It was an unbelievably prosperous city. It was kinda like New Orleans. It had a strategic port, it was a major trading city, it was very prosperous, it was very pagan. They worshiped Caesar, and you had a church there called Smyrna. And they were under tremendous pressure to deny God, to deny Jesus, to worship Caesar, join the cult of conformicy. But they were able to show grace under pressure. They didn't bend, they didn't bow, they didn't budge.

How did they pull it off? How did they handle grace under pressure? Because they remembered. One thing that I want you to remember today, whatever you are going through, remember who you're coming to. Whatever you are going through, remember who you're coming to. Now, I know normally most of you don't take notes. I'm going to encourage you to write down four things today. Because if you don't need them today, you'll need them tomorrow. If you don't need them this week, you'll need them next week. You don't need them this month, you'll need them next month, 'cause everybody goes under pressure. Nobody gets a get out of jail free card. Everybody faces pressure. The question is, how do you handle it? I'm gonna tell you four quick things. Number one, the Lord knows what you're going through. The Lord knows what you're going through.

The first words of this letter must have been a tremendous encouragement to this church. We're in Revelation 2:8. "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again". He said, "I know your afflictions, I know your poverty, yet you're rich! I know about the slander of those who say they're Jews and are not. They are a synagogue of Satan". Now, of the seven churches that Jesus wrote, there are two churches he doesn't have one critical thing to say about, this was one of those churches. Even though it was a church under tremendous pressure, he said, I know the problems that you've got. By the way, the Greek word the for know there means to know by experience, not just in your head. Jesus said, look, I know what you're going through. I've been through it. I know what it is to be rejected, misunderstood, lied about, abused, criticized, and even killed, even when you don't deserve it. And this church was facing the same things we're facing today. Same thing Christians are facing today.

First of all, they were being antagonized. Antagonized. Jesus said, I know your afflictions. The word there, "affliction", it literally means tribulation. It means to be crushed. It's the picture of taking a grape and squeezing that grape until all of the juice comes out. He says, look, I know the pressure you're under. You're under this pressure of standing up for Jesus. You are under the pressure of not compromising truth. Because remember, the center of worship there was Caesar. Everybody worshiped Caesar. And by the way, you did not get a choice. Once a year, everybody in Smyrna was required to take a pinch of incense, go to the temple, walk by a little urn, burn that incense as a dedication to Caesar. All you had to say was two words, "Kaiser Kurios", Caesar is Lord. That's all you had to do once a year. But they wouldn't do it. They didn't take the incense, they didn't go to the temple. Not even once a year.

Oh, they would say two words. They didn't say Kaiser Kurios, they said, Christos Kurios. Christ is Lord. And because of that, they were dragged out of their homes. They were beaten, they were tortured, they were imprisoned, and some of them were even killed. Now, I'm not trying to imply that we're facing that kind of pressure today, because we're not. But I am telling you this, we all know it. There's the pressure today for Christians and churches. Cave in, go with the flow, join the crowd, be in the majority. Don't upset the apple cart. Put your faith to the side. They were being antagonized. They were also being ostracized. Jesus says, I know your poverty.

You say, well wait a minute, I thought you said they were very prosperous city. They were like New Orleans, they were. And you could get a great job if you wanted one. With one exception. They had what was called guilds. We'd call 'em trade unions or labor unions today. To get a job, you had to join a labor union. But every labor union had a God, and you had to worship that God. So if you said, I'm not gonna worship that God, you couldn't join the union. You couldn't join the union, you couldn't get a job. You couldn't get a job, you didn't draw a paycheck. Didn't draw a paycheck, couldn't feed your family, you couldn't buy, you couldn't sell. You were financially out in the cold, in other words, in that day, going to church wasn't good for business, going to church could be bad for business.

And I realized there were a lot of you today. You work in secular jobs, you'll get up tomorrow, and you'll go to work downtown in Atlanta, and you're gonna be under pressure. Don't talk about your faith, don't talk about Jesus. Don't say anything controversial. Don't have a Bible on your desk. You'll be, because if you do, you will be antagonized at worst, and you might be ostracized. But it got worse than that. They weren't just being antagonized or ostracized, they were being scandalized. There were people who were lying about them. In fact, that word "scandalized", that word scandal in the Greek language, it's the word blasfemia. It means blasphemy. In other words, there were people that were telling lies about them, talking about how mean they were, how bad they were.

And we're in the same boat today. I mean listen, let me be honest. All I have to do is make this one statement, just this one simple statement. All sex outside of marriage between a husband and a wife is sin. That's all I gotta say. All sex outside of marriage between a husband and a wife are sin. Guess what? I'm intolerant. I'm homophobic. I'm bigoted. I'm narrow-minded. I'm uncaring. I mean-spirited. I'm judgmental. As a matter of fact, listen, among the nation's non-religious affiliated people, atheist, agnostics, people who don't believe in God, or they don't believe in Christ, they're not Christians, they don't have anything to do with the church.

Listen to this. 45% of those people say this, they agree with this statement. Christianity is extremist. That's almost half. He said, what are some of the things they think are so extreme? Well, if we attempt to convert others to our faith, 60% of adults say that's extreme. If we believe that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are morally wrong, 52% say that's extreme. Those numbers were seven years ago. What do you think it'd be today? The culture's telling us today, you better get with the culture, you better get on our side. And if you don't, we're gonna blame you, we're gonna shame you, we're gonna antagonize you, we're gonna ostracize you, we're gonna scandalize you. We're going to lie about you. Time Magazine, which you know anything about Time Magazine is not a bastion of conservative thinking.

Time Magazine had an article called Regular Christians Are No Longer Welcome in American Culture. Here is what they wrote. "When some American citizens are fearful in expressing their religious views, something new has snaked its way into the village square. An insidious intolerance for religion that has no place in the country founded on religious freedom". Now I want you to hear me clearly. I am not whining, I am not griping, I'm not complaining, I'm not crying in my suit. I understand it goes with a territory. I get it. I just want you to remember this. Jesus knows all that's going on in the church. He knows all that's coming down in the church. He knows all that's going on in you, all that's coming down in you. He knows what you're going through, got it?

Number two, the Lord knows what is true of you. The Lord knows what is true of you. Right in the middle of describing all these problems in the church, Jesus says four words, it's amazing. He says, you are rich. You say, wait a minute. You just said they were in poverty. You just said they couldn't pay their bills. Well, let me be honest. I want you to think about something. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you are rich. If you have treasure laid up in heaven, you are rich. If you have eternal life, you are rich. If you have an abundant life in Christ, you are rich. If you have a family and all of your family is saved, and they're all going to heaven, and you're all going to spend eternity together, you are rich.

If you've got joy unspeakable and full of glory even in the midst of the worst of circumstances, you are rich. If you know the truth, and the truth has set you free, you are rich. He said, look, I don't care what everybody says, I don't care what you think. I don't care what your bank account says, you are rich. 1 Timothy 6:6 says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain". If you're living a godly life, and you're content with what you have, you are rich. Adrian Rogers put it best. He said, "If you wanna know how rich you are, add up everything you've got that money can't buy and death can't take away, that's how rich you really are". Jesus says, "Look, I know what you're going through. I know what is true of you".

Here's the third thing. The Lord knows what you are coming to. He says in verse 10, "Do not be afraid of what you're about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you're gonna suffer persecution for 10 days". Now I'm gonna be very honest, I'm pretty sure the church was not looking for that. I think what they wanted Jesus to say was, hey man, I know what you're going to do, but don't worry about it. I'm gonna take all your problems away. I'm gonna reverse engineer your situation, and I mean things are going to get better. You know what he says? Hey, I got some news for you. Things are going to get worse. This is not a prosperity gospel, this is a prison gospel. He says, some of you're going to prison. Some of you're going to suffer.

And I want you to notice a couple things about it. First of all, this is coming from the devil. And I don't have time to do it, I've got a whole nother sermon on that. Let me just tell you something right now, the devil is real. We make fun of him, we laugh about him, we joke about him. We name football teams The Devils and all that stuff. I get it. Let me tell you something, the devil is real. If you don't believe he's real, just read the front page of your newspaper every day. He is a real being, and he's seeking to destroy marriages, and homes, and family, and the church as hard as he can. And I say all that, say this, we are in a spiritual battle.

Our enemy's not on the outside, our enemy's on the inside. Our enemy is not Democrats, our enemy is not Republicans. Our enemy is not the government. Our enemy is not Wall Street. Our enemy is not Hollywood. Our enemy is not the culture. Our enemy is Satan and spiritual forces. And we are not in a physical battle, a financial battle, an emotional battle, we are in a spiritual battle. And yet the pressure on the outside is relentless because the devil never quits, never takes a vacation. Here's what I want you to understand, this is where it's coming from. It's coming from the devil. But do you know why it's coming? This is so, don't miss this. This is why it's coming. He says, this is to test you. Every trouble, every trial, every tribulation you're going through is a test. The devil tempts us in order to destroy us. Jesus tests us in order to develop us.

You say, why does he do that? Everything you're going through right now, listen to me, financial pressure, marital pressure, relational pressure, emotional pressure, physical pressure, vocational pressure, I don't care what it is. All that pressure, it's a test, because the faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. It's real easy to come to church on a Sunday when the dogs win. You'll get that in a minute. It's real easy to preach with power when the dogs are victorious. But one day the dogs will lose. It won't be that way. It's real easy to say, boy, God is so good when the stock market's up. But it's not up. It's real good to say God is good when the interest rates are down, but they're not down. It's real good to say God is going, the economy soaring, but it's not soaring. But all of this is a test.

But here's the good news. Why does Jesus say it's just for 10 days? Why does he say that, just for 10 days? Why does Jesus say that? Because there is a limit and there's a boundary that will come beyond which even suffering cannot control. Listen, cannot go. Let me just say something to you, I hope you'll get this. God is not only in control. Listen now. God is not only in control of you in your suffering, he's in control of the suffering over you. There's a limit. I don't know what that limit is, but God knows. You say Pastor, is it true that God will not give me more than I can bear? No, that's not true. Life will give you more than you can bear. But it will not give you more than you and he can bear together. There's a limit. He said 10 days. 10 days and it will stop. The Lord knows what you're going through. The Lord knows what is true of you. The Lord knows what you're coming to.

Here's the last thing. The Lord knows what you are to do, 'cause here's the big question everybody's asking. I would be. Look, you're not doing anything I didn't know. Sure, I'm under pressure. That's what life's all about. You know what's really, in a way, it's kind of sad for those of us growing older? You know when you're younger, you think, you know, there's gonna be a day when I'll get to that retirement age, and I'll have my pension, and I'll have my social security, and I'll have my benefits, and everything's just gonna be hunky dory. And then you find out every year there's pressure. Every day there's pressure. Every week there's pressure. The pressure never lets up. The question is, how do you handle it? You're gonna have it. How do you handle it? What's the secret? How do you come out victorious? So no matter how hard, or how deep, or how wide the pressure is, it doesn't matter. How do you handle it?

All right, here's the key, watch this, verse 10. Do not be afraid, be faithful. I want you stop right there. Jesus gives two words of advice. You may be looking for more, but there's no more. Be faithful. Just be faithful. I'm so glad Jesus didn't say be successful. Because when it comes to success, many of us wouldn't make it. If Jesus had said, do not be afraid, be brilliant. Some of us are just not smart enough to make it. If he said be wealthy, some of us would never make enough money to make it. If he said be famous, many of us would be too unknown to ever make it. Here's what he said. "Be faithful", now watch this, "even to the point of death, and you will get a victor's crown". And that's why he tells us, no matter what we're about to suffer, do not be afraid. So let me just kind of let you draw in close here.

What I'm about to say is true of all of us. When you're under pressure, I mean real pressure. I mean nut cracking, grape squeezing pressure, you will become one of two things. You'll become fearful, or you'll become faithful. No in between. You'll become fearful or you'll become faithful. Now when you're fearful, you're full of fear. When you're faithful, you're full of faith. That's why grace under pressure will always begin and end with one thing. How much faith are you going to put in God? Because you're not gonna be faithful unless you are full of faith. That's what I've told you a thousand times. If you're under a lot of pressure right now, every day when you get up and that pressure's busting you right in the face, God is right by your bed, when you get up, he's looking at you. And before you get out of bed, God is looking at you and asking you one question, do you trust me or not? Now, if you don't trust me, I can't help you. But if you trust me, I will help you.

But that's the question. 'Cause if you don't trust him, you will be fearful. But if you trust him, you will be faithful. And he says, faithful to the point of death. Let me tell you what that means. That doesn't mean faithful until you draw your last breath, though you should. What Jesus was saying was, are you willing to be faithful today, even if it were to cost you your very life? Will you be faithful even to the point of death? Here's the good news. Probably nobody in this room will ever be called to die for your faith in Jesus. But I will tell you this, God has called every one of us to be ready to die for our faith. Be faithful unto death.

Now let me give you a fair warning. You say some of you right now are saying, you're kind of jacked up, I hope you are. You know, I'm full of passion this morning and I'm excited about the message, I really am. And I'm preaching to me, you're just getting in the way. And you're going, boy, rah, rah, rah, rah man, I love it when you're like this. Gimme that new Rodney speech. And you're sitting there, yeah baby, I'm gonna be faithful! Time out. I wanna give you fair warning, I don't want to kind of bait and switch here. If you decide today in this world you're gonna be faithful, the pressure ain't going down, the pressure will go up. This is not for the faint of heart. There's no, this is no place today for weak-kneed Christianity. As a matter of fact, the more faithful you are, the more pressure you're going to face. Paul said, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Let me tell you what that means. Do you know the difference between a live fish and a dead fish? Alright, Jack, I know what you Florida guys are gonna say. Well of course one's dead, one's alive. Know it means more than that. Do you know the difference between a live fish and a dead fish? Here's the difference. A live fish will swim upstream against the current. A dead stream just floats downstream with the current. So if you're gonna be a live fish, you're going to swim against the current 'cause there's a spiritual law that's unbreakable. Here's the spiritual law. Compromise brings comfort. Conviction brings confrontation.

And some of you're saying right now, well pastor, I don't like confrontation. Well get in line. Neither do I. But if you're gonna stand for Jesus today, and you're gonna stand for the word of God, and you're gonna speak the truth, you're gonna have confrontation. Oh yes, listen, it's easy. There's nothing wrong with gay marriage. If people love each other, that's all right. A woman ought to have the right to choose to abort an unborn child, take a life. If a man feels like a woman, he ought to become a woman. All I gotta do as a pastor, say that, I'll be feeded, celebrated. Oh, you've seen the light, you've got with the program. You're so full of love. You're so full of compassion. And all I will have is comfort. And I'm not trying to sound arrogant, and I'm not trying to sound prideful. But you know me from, some of you know me for a long time. If that, if I am the last man standing, I am not going down the road of comfort and compromise. It means conviction, it means confrontation, then so be it.

And then Jesus closes with one last encouraging word. "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death". Here's what Jesus said. If you're faithful unto death, here's the good news, you won't experience the second death. You say, whoa, whoa, whoa, what is the second death? You need to hear this. You don't wanna experience the second death. We're all going to experience the first death, all of us. Now the first death is when the soul or the spirit is separated from the body. That's the first death. Unless Jesus comes back first, we're all gonna experience the first death. But the second death, that's spiritual. That's the separation of the spirit from God. And Jesus says, if you're full of faith, and you're full of faithfulness, you don't have to fear the first death, and you'll never have to face the second one.

So I want you to do me a favor, I want you to put down your pads, your notes, you know, your phone, your Bible or whatever. Just give me your undivided attention just for two more minutes and I'll be done. This will be worth coming to church for. I wanna tell you about a pastor that I read about. Never heard of him until I researched my message for this week. His name was Wang Ming-Dao, Wang Ming-Dao. Never heard of him, I hadn't neither. He was a Chinese pastor, one of China's best known church leaders back in the 1930s. When the communists took over the China mainland for a while, they demanded all the churches be shut down. And everybody shut their church down except Pastor Wang. He didn't shut his church down.

So the communists said, well, if you don't shut your church down, we'll shut you down. So when the communist took over the country, they threw him in prison. From 1955 to 1980, Pastor Wang was in prison. Never got to see or talk to his family, never got to communicate with the outside world. Was brutalized, beaten, tortured, half starved for 25 years until finally under tremendous pressure he was released. But this man had been so ostracized, and antagonized and scandalized, the Chinese government officially declared him a non-person. They didn't even literally formally recognize the man even existed.

So Dr. Billy Graham heard about this man and he wanted to go meet him. Dr. Graham said it was the only place he went where none of the police officers or governor officials traveled with him. They wouldn't even go. When they got to the outskirts of the city, they made him take a taxi to this man's place 'cause they didn't want to acknowledge the man even existed. Pastor and his wife lived in a very small third floor apartment in the poorest part of town. Dr. Graham knocked on the door, and his wife came to the door and greeted him. And at that time of course he was old, he was thin, had failing health. Dr. Graham said when he walked in, he was walked into a little kitchen there, and he was sitting on a metal chair asleep, and he was resting on the kitchen table. He was taking a nap. When he woke up, they began to talk.

Actually he began to talk, Dr. Graham just wanted to listen. He wanted to talk to this great man of God, this wonderful man of God, who like those guys at the fire furnace, would not bend, would not bow, would not budge. They talked for a long time. And Dr. Graham said, "Pastor Wang, for the church today, for Christians today, for pastors today, do you have any word from the Lord"? He said, Pastor Wang put his head in his hands for a moment, and he thought. And he looked up at him and he said, "Yeah, Dr. Billy I do". He said, "These would be my last words, if this was my last words on Earth, this is what I would say to every church. And this is what I would say to every Christian. Be faithful, even to the point of death. And I will give you a victor's crown that will never fade away".

I don't know the pressure you're under. I don't know what some of you're going through. And I happily and willingly concede, some of you're going through things I've never been through. I happily willingly concede that some of you kind of listened to the pressures I told you about, and you were sitting there going, that ain't pressure. Y'all come to work with me tomorrow, I'll show you pressure. Y'all ought to come see my marriage, I'll show you about pressure. Let me show you my checkbook, I'll show you pressure. I get it, I understand. But I'll tell you if what I told you today is true, if what that letter wrote, Jesus wrote to that church is true, then don't you ever forget it. You may think sometimes you know nobody, you know the old Negro spiritual, nobody knows the trouble I'm in.

Jesus knows what you're going through. Jesus knows what is true of you. You are rich. Jesus knows what you're coming to. On the way to church today, I had to make a gut-wrenching phone call to a couple in our church, whose 30 year old daughter tragically died Friday night. They had no idea Friday morning, that they'd have a dead daughter Friday night. Jesus did. He knows what you're coming to. But when that moment comes, and life smacks you in the face, and knocks you flat on your rear end, and you think you can't ever get up, Jesus says, just be faithful. You trust me. You believe me. I have never failed you, I will never fail you. And if you will, and the smoke is clear, and the fog is lifted, I will give you the victor's crown that will never fade away. I don't know what the church is coming to

Where is Rick? I saw Rick out there. Where's Gage? Rick, I don't know what the church is coming to in the next 10 or 20 years. I don't know if I live to see it or not. But I know what you believe, and I know what your daddy believed. We're coming to Jesus. We are coming to Jesus. And in the end we will win because he is King of Kings. He is Lord of Lords, and there's not a problem you face, there's not a pressure you're under, you and Jesus cannot handle together. So Lord, may all of us, as we face the relentless pressure of a world that increasingly hates us, let us show the grace under pressure, that we know, we know a God that can handle anything we face.

Would you bow your heads? Would you pray with me right now? There's a power to praying out loud. And I want you to pray this prayer with me out loud, especially if you're under a lot of pressure. And I'm gonna tell you, I had people come up to me after the first service in tears. How did you know? How did you guess? I didn't, I just know how life is. So you're under pressure today, pray this prayer out loud. Listen, there's something encouraging about hearing other people pray with you. So when I ask you to pray, don't be bashful, pray out loud with me. If you're a follower of Jesus, pray this prayer with me right out loud. Pray it right now:

Lord Jesus, you know what I'm going through. I'm not going through anything you've not been through. Lord, you know what is true of me. You've reminded me today, I am rich in the things that count. Lord, you know what I'm coming to. I don't even know what's gonna happen in the next five seconds. You know what's going to happen for all eternity. So when it comes, I will not choose to be fearful. I choose to be faithful. And finally, Lord, you know what I am to do. So Heavenly Father, thank you for the pressure that I'm under. Now I realize it is a test. Every day, help me to pass that test, so that at the end of every day you'll write down these words, well done, good and faithful servant.

Now, you're not a follower of Jesus. You don't know the Lord, you've never trusted Christ. Have you ever thought about why life is so hard? Have you ever thought about why you've got all these pressures? God wants to use those pressures to drive you to him, to draw you to him. Listen, let me tell you something. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, you're going have pressure. And you can go through life one of two ways. You can go through life trying to handle the pressure all by yourself, and I'm gonna tell you right now, it's never worked for anybody, it won't work for you. Or you can go through life knowing that you serve an omnipotent God who can do anything that will handle that pressure with you.

That's why Jesus died on a cross. That's why he came back from the grave, so he could live in you, and give you the power to live for him, and give you the strength to face any pressure and be victorious. And if you've never given your life to Jesus, I'm gonna ask you watching right now, those of you in this room, if you've never truly surrendered your life to Christ, why don't you do this right now? Why don't you say:

Lord Jesus, I believe you died for my sins. I believe God raised you from the dead. I believe you're alive right now. Today, I confess you as my Lord. I trust you as my savior. I surrender my life completely to you. Thank you Lord Jesus for hearing my prayer. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for giving me eternal life.

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