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James Merritt - Who Have You Been With?

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    James Merritt - Who Have You Been With?

About a century ago, when the tobacco industry was booming in America, you had a choice, every person had a choice. You could either be a smoker or a non-smoker. Very easy to, you know, decide what you want to do. But beginning in 1965, researchers determined that those two categories were not as neatly divided as we thought they were. Because they discovered, this has been, what, almost 60 years ago, that there's what's called secondhand smokers. I was a secondhand smoker. I'd never smoked in my life, but my dad did. And so there were non-smokers who lived or worked in close proximity smokers, and so they were exposed to cigarette smoke and that also carried serious risk. We thought that was the end of the problem, but there was another problem.

In recent years, scientists have now identified thirdhand smokers. Researchers have discovered that when tobacco is smoked indoors, residual nicotine and other chemicals accumulate on surfaces. And according to the Mayo Clinic, and I'm quoting, "This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix, including cancer-causing compounds, posing a potential health hazard to non-smokers, especially children". Now, what does that all mean? That means if you are like me and you're a never smoker, you've never touched a cigarette, you don't smoke, you don't chew, you don't go with girls who do. So you're just a clean, clean person. Doesn't matter, you can be contaminated by the chemicals, you may even carry the odor of cigarette smoke that lingers long after the smoking stops if you've been in the presence of people who are smoking.

So here's the point. If you're around this secondhand smoke long enough or where people have been smoking long enough, this smoke can cling to your clothes. You can smell it, it can be on your skin. So you may have never smoked in your life, but if you've been around it long enough, people can tell that you have, whether you have or whether you haven't. In other words, they know where you've been and they know who you've been with. When I read that, I was reminded of something that happened in the Book of Acts. And if you brought a copy of God's Word, I invite you to turn. It's right after the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, we're in Acts 4. There's this amazing thing that happened to two men in the Bible. They were named Peter and John. If you don't know much about the Bible, Jesus had 12 disciples. Two of them were Peter and John. They were really two of Jesus' closest friends.

Now, Jesus loved everybody, but everybody's got close friends. Peter and John were very, very close to Jesus. They spent three years with Jesus. And even after Jesus was already gone, long after he was gone, the spirit of Jesus and the aroma of Jesus lingered on them. He was still there. And so we're gonna share this story right now in the fourth chapter of the Book of Acts. Let me kind of set it up. It's been about two months since Jesus was crucified, died, came back from the grave, and it's been about two months since he bid farewell to the disciples and he's ascended back into heaven. Now, in the eyes of many, Jesus was just a momentary blip on the screen of time, just another religious fanatic who had come, who had gone. Pilate had washed his hands off him. The Pharisees were glad to be rid of him. Most people no longer even thought about him because he wasn't the political messiah that they were looking for.

And so, Jesus, everybody thought, well, he's gone. But he wasn't forgotten. These religious leaders, these Pharisees, these Sadducees, they thought that crucifixion was the aspirin that had eliminated their headache. Jesus is no longer a problem. But now these two men come along and give them another migraine. They thought to themselves, "We thought we had gotten rid of this Jesus". But what happened was, filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and John are now going all over Jerusalem healing the sick, teaching the truth, preaching the gospel, that Jesus died, he was buried, he was raised from the dead. And the problem was people were not just listening to them preach, they were believing what they said and they were repenting and they were turning away from their Judaistic faith and they were placing their faith in this risen Lord.

So the story begins in Acts 4. "The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people". So they interrupt the sermon. "They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day". Now let me just stop, let's put this in perspective. Why were they thrown in jail? All they were doing was witnessing to what they had seen. The Jesus they had seen, the Jesus they had heard, the Jesus they experienced, and the Jesus that they knew. So they're thrown in jail.

Well, the next day, they are brought to court. And here they are being interrogated by these PhDs, these brilliant Hebrew scholars, the keepers of the law, the best lawyers that they could hire. But they found out real quickly they were no match for two uneducated fishermen who maybe could barely sign their name, who were filled with the Spirit of God, who preached the Word of God, who testified to the Son of God. And what happened was these men, these Pharisees, these Sadducees thought, "We're gonna be the interrogators". And they were. But Peter and John became the intimidators. Here's what happened. "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled". They're sitting here thinking, "We got PhDs, you guys didn't even go to high school". "They were unschooled, ordinary men".

No influence, no money, no power, no famous last names. "They were astonished," now watch this. "And they took note that these men had been with Jesus". Been with Jesus? The guy's been dead and gone for two months. "But they took note, these men had been with Jesus". What an amazing statement. When you got around these men, you could smell the aroma of Jesus. When you got around these men, you could see the radiance of Jesus. When you got around these men, you could hear the voice of Jesus. These Pharisees and Sadducees had to admit there is something radically different about these men. Their lives were Christ captured. Christ consumed, Christ controlled, Christ centered. And it was not their personality, it was not their popularity, it was not their persuasiveness that was so amazing. The only thing that was different, but it was radically different, was these men had to admit, "We don't get it, we don't understand it. But you have been with Jesus".

Now here's my question to you. When people are around you, can they tell who you've been with? When people are around you, just everyday walk of life, not church, work, play golf, course doesn't matter, can people tell you have been with Jesus? I wanna tell you, when people are around me, I want people to know I have been with Jesus. So that raises the big question you're asking right now. How can people know that I've been with Jesus? I want that in my life, pastor, but how can I make that happen? Here's what you're going to see, this is going to be so practical for us today. Because you're going to see today that what was true of those men should be, will be, and can be true of you if you've been with Jesus. Because when you read what happened, you'll find out there are three marks of a person who has been with Jesus. And I wanna encourage you to write these three things down, all right?

Number one, if you've been with Jesus, you will have the compassion to serve humbly. If you've been with Jesus, you will have the compassion to serve humbly. Now, let's go back to the beginning of the story. Why did these guys get in trouble? Well, all they did was they healed a man who had been lame for 40 years. Because when you go back to the beginning of the third chapter, Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, introduces us to a beggar. This man has been lame since he was born. He's been crippled since he was born. He's not been able to walk sin since he was born. Well, Peter and John are going to the temple and they pass by this guy sitting there 'cause he can't walk. And so the man asked them for money. He says, "Can you give me some money? I need money, I need help". He was asking for a handout.

So Peter looks at him and tells the truth. He says, "Sir, we're broke. We're just two fishermen and we don't have any money. That's the bad news. But the good news is we can give you what money can't buy". And so we read this. "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have, I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'" Now you can imagine what happened. Remember, they're in the Temple Square, people are everywhere, kinda like a mall. And when people saw and heard what happened, everybody came running from everywhere to hear what these two men had to say. Now they let them know right quick, "We didn't heal this guy. This Jesus that you crucified, this Jesus that came back from the dead, he's the one that healed this guy".

And so they began to preach the crucifixion and the resurrection. Now let me just stop right there. Before I go any further, keep in mind, back in those days, beggars were considered burdens. Beggars were seen as a drag on society. So this man had been sitting there for who knows how long, 30-40 years, people passed him by all the time. Most people knew who this guy was, they knew his name. But day after day and week after week and month after month and year after year they'd walk by this guy. They wouldn't even look at him, they would not talk to him, they would not think about giving him any money, they paid no attention to him. And all of a sudden these two men walk by and they stop and they focus and they say, "We're going to meet your need".

Peter and John took the time to show this man compassion. And one of the things of all the many things you have to love about Jesus, one of the things that stands out about the life of Jesus, was how Jesus took time for ordinary, run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen individuals. As a matter of fact, when you read the Gospels, I'm reading through the Gospels right now, so many of the stories of Jesus, you know what they're all about? It's the same thing over and over and over. It's Jesus interacting with one person. A Zacchaeus up in a tree. A man born blind. A man who's been lame from birth. A woman who's had an issue with blood for 12 years. It's the same thing over and over and over. And here's what you gotta love about Jesus. Jesus wasn't too big for anybody. He was never too busy for anybody. He was never too burdened for anybody.

So I just wanna give you a thought. We need a vision like Jesus who had a telescopic view of the whole world, he had a microscopic insight into every single individual. I made a promise to the Lord when I went into the ministry and I've tried to keep it. I said, "Lord, I don't know what you're gonna do with me". I mean, my first church I pastored, you could have fit on the first three rows of this place right here. We ran about 40 people. I mean, I pastored in Tick Ridge, Kentucky. It's not a tourist trap, trust me. And I said, "Lord, I don't know what you're gonna do with me. This may be the largest church I'll ever pastor". But I said, "Lord, no matter what, I don't ever wanna get too busy for the least and for the last and for the lost".

So how can you tell if you've been with Jesus? I'll tell you how. You're willing to take time for people for who the rest of the world is too busy. Don't wanna be bothered. Don't wanna be burdened. And notice something else, they did what they could to meet this man's needs. If the man had been hungry, they would've fed him. If he'd been naked, they would've clothed him. If he'd been thirsty, they would've given him something to drink. If he'd been an immigrant, they would've taken him in.

That's why our church ministers to the homeless in Downtown Atlanta. That's why we feed and clothe people in our CarePort Ministry. It's why we support Obria, which is the the women's medical center. They come alongside pregnant women and give them not just advice and prayer, but financial resources and practical help during and after pregnancy. It's why we're a financial contributor to that ministry. See, Jesus was a servant at heart and he had a servant's heart. One of the most amazing things Jesus said was, "I did not come to be served". But Lord, you're the Son of God, you created the world, we ought to serve you. "That's not why I came. I didn't come to be served. I came to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many".

So I wanna ask you a question right now. And just be honest. Could you say right now you have been with Jesus? Now, before you say yes, let me ask you a question. Everybody buckle your seatbelt. You say you've been with Jesus? Yep. So where are you serving right now? I knew I wouldn't get an amen to that, that's okay. Where are you serving? How many of you, you come here and you leave, and you come here and you leave, and you come here and you leave. Don't serve anywhere, don't do anything. If you've been with Jesus, you have a compassion to serve. So where are you serving in our church? Where are you serving in your community? Where are you serving in your neighborhood? See, if you're like Jesus, you have a compassion to serve humbly. If you've been with Jesus, you have this compassion to serve humbly.

Number two, if you've been with Jesus, you'll have the courage to stand boldly. You'll have the courage to stand boldly. Now, you would've thought everybody would've been happy, right? Here's the man who's been lame. He's been at the same spot year after year after year, no telling like how many years, and he's finally been healed. You would've thought everybody would've been thrilled, everybody would've been happy, it would've been on the front page of the Jerusalem journal, and I mean everybody would've just been stoked. But that actually ignited the fire because once again, what's happened? Jesus has been taken off the cross, he's been taken out of the tomb, and he's back in full force. And people, the religious leaders, don't like it.

So Peter and John are arrested, now they're standing in this courtroom, and it's a mismatch from the beginning. Because these fishermen, they were not feeble and they were not frail. They were fearless. And now, this is what I love, it was the defendants that put the judges on trial. You've got to love this, let's read it again. "When they saw the courage of Peter and John". That doesn't come from you, it comes from Jesus. "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note, these men had been with Jesus". Now listen to how they're described. Unschooled means exactly what it says. No education, lack of education, little education. And then, ordinary. That is they had no degree, they had no pedigree, no social position. They don't have any money, they don't have any influence, they're not known down at City Hall, they never get interviewed by the newspaper. They're just two simpletons from the boondocks standing before the richest, most educated and most powerful men in the entire nation of Israel.

And this is what blows my mind. Were they intimidated? No, they weren't intimidated, they were intimidating. I mean, they were rocking their world because what they saw before them was this uncommon courage. And then they take this stand. You know, you would think they at least would just say, "Can we just maybe get out of here with our skin on"? No, you know what they do? They pour kerosene on the fire, 'cause they take this stand. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved". How do you think that made those Pharisees feel? What do you think that did to those Sadducees standing there who didn't believe in Jesus? The Sadducees didn't even believe in the resurrection.

And oh, by the way, it would tick off the rest of the world because there was a multiplicity of religious beliefs out there and there was this thinking that was one religion is just as good as another, all paths lead to God, you go your way, we'll go ours. And Peter and John said, nope, that's not the way it works. There's only one word of salvation, and that is the name of Jesus. There's only one way of salvation, that is the death of Jesus. There's only one work of salvation, that is the resurrection of Jesus. And let me just be honest with you. We're living in a country today more than ever in my lifetime, if you're gonna take a stand for Jesus, you better put on your big boy britches. You better do it with the public schools. You better do it with universities and colleges. You better do it with a newspaper. You better do it with a politically correct crowd.

You better do it with the people who say, "You better go along if you want to get along". Because I'm telling you right now, that's the day that we live in. Because there is no statement in all of the Bible that's more infuriating, more intolerant, more intrusive to the religious world and non-religious world than this statement. Go back 2,000 years ago. The Romans had all these gods, they wouldn't like that statement. The Greeks wouldn't like it with all their gods. And the Jews certainly wouldn't like it because they didn't even believe Jesus was God. But these men, they didn't care what the world thought. They didn't go along to get along. Someone once said to the great defender of Christianity, Athanasius, they said, "Athanasius, because of Jesus, the whole world is against you". And Athanasius said, "Because of Jesus, I'm against the whole world".

When you have been with Jesus, you have the courage to stand boldly. Now let's be honest, in a way, you really couldn't have blamed Peter and John if they just sat down and shut up instead of standing up and speaking up, because remember who they're against here, right? They're against the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees. Well, now, who's the captain of the temple police? He was like the head of the KGB. He was one of the most feared and powerful men in all of Israel. The captain of the temple guard could have you put to death instantaneously. No trial, no defense. He could have you killed on the spot if you transgressed or trespassed on temple property, which is exactly what these men were doing. But then they go from the prying fan to the fire. "The next day".

You're talking about ganging up on somebody. "The rulers, the elders, the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annes the high priest was there. So was Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others of the high priest family". This is the Jewish Supreme Court. They brought every big gun they've got. Annes, the former high priest, Caiaphas, his son-in-law. By the way, you remember who they were? They were the ring leaders in the crucifixion of Jesus. So you've got all these political leaders and you've got all these religious leaders. And they're telling them, "Sit down and shut up". How does that relate to us? If you're gonna stand for Jesus today, you're going to make enemies in high places. If you're gonna take a stand for Jesus, let me just tell you right now, forget the media. They're not gonna be there to help you.

Don't bother with Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, 'cause they'll come at you with a vengeance as well. You may as well write off the politicians, you won't be able to find them anywhere. The principals, the professors, they won't be coming to your Christmas party. You wanna win a popularity contest, you wanna be put on the boardroom of Fortune 500 companies, you wanna get favorable reviews in your newspapers, you wanna be socially accepted and politically correct, I'll tell you how to do it, don't take a stand for Jesus. That's not the route that works. And you won't, unless you've been with Jesus. But when you've been with Jesus, you'll have the courage to stand boldly for Jesus. Now, that may be to some of you bad news, but let me tell you the great news. When you stand for Jesus, he'll stand with you. When you stand for Jesus, he will stand with you. And can I just be really honest, and I'm not fussing anybody, if the shoe fits, wear it.

To me, this may be the biggest problem in the 21st century church. Because we've got so many people today. Well, you come to church and you'll bring your Bible and you might even say amen and you'll sing the songs and you'll leave. But you'll go back into a world and you don't stand up and you don't speak up, you sit down and you shut up. You go along to get along. You don't want the heat. You don't want the fire. By the grace of God, I'm just being honest, I'm not trying to be a hero, I'm just telling you. I'd rather be in trouble standing for Jesus and standing with Jesus than out of trouble running from Jesus. I'm just not ashamed of the gospel. I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus and not ashamed of the Jesus of the Gospel.

Peter Marshall, the former Chaplain of the United States Senate, once prayed this. He said, "Dear Lord, give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we will fall for anything". And I'm watching church after church after church and sometimes preacher after preacher after preacher, and I'm watching Christian after Christian after Christian, they're falling for everything 'cause they won't stand for anything. When you have been with Jesus, you have the courage to stand boldly. Here's the last thing. When you've been with Jesus, you'll have the conviction to speak truthfully. You have the conviction to speak truthfully.

Now understand the real reason Peter and John got in hot water, it was not because of the miracle that they performed. That wasn't what got him in hot water. It was because of the message they they preached. Go back to verse two. "They were greatly disturbed". Why? Because the guy was healed? They didn't care about that one way or the other. "Because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead". Now let me just kind of help you. This is a good lesson for you to teach your kids and your grandkids, you better teach them early. The world has no problem with Jesus, none. As long as he's not on a cross or he's not out of a tomb. But if you put Jesus on that cross and you bring Jesus out of that tomb, then you know what you have to say if you do that, right?

You know what, there's no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved. There is no other way to God except through Jesus. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. And guess what? When you say that, what else are you saying? Every other religion is false. Every other religion is a dead end street. You can be sincere in it, you can practice it, you can love it, you can do it, but it will get you nowhere. And no other religious teacher, no other religious preacher, no other religious leader should ever be followed except Jesus. So then they try to cut a deal with Peter and John, here's the deal, and by the way, it's the same deal the world will try to cut with you. Here's the deal. "Then they called them in again and they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus".

See if this doesn't sound familiar today. Here's what they said, "Look. You can talk about God. You can promote religion. You can teach people how to lead and live better lives. But don't talk about Jesus". That's where the flashpoint was then. That's where the flashpoint is today. That's where the flashpoint will be 1,000 years from now. Now, the way they responded is the way we ought to respond. I love this. "But Peter and John replied, 'Which is right in God's eyes, to listen to you or to him? You be the judges. As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'" I love sanctified smart alecs, I love 'em. They said, "Boys, you can crack your whips. You can shoot your arrows. You can fire your guns. But read our lips. We will never shut up about Jesus. That's just not going to happen".

Now, let's just get it all out there, there's a cost to that. Because when you talk about the Son of God, guess what? You have to talk about the Word of God, because the Son of God was all about the Word of God. Well, guess what? When you talk about the Word of God, then you have to talk about the truth of God, because God's Word is truth. And in this postmodern age in which we're living, we all know this, truth is not real high on people's radar screens today. Truth is no longer a rock that stands firm and never moves no matter what other people think. Today, truth is a flag and it just blows whichever way the wind is moving. So that's why one day a politician can say, "I am pro life". But the next day a politician can say, "I believe in a woman's right to choose to take an unborn life".

It's why one day a politician can say, "I believe in traditional marriage and marriage should be between a man and a woman". But then turn around five years later and say, "I believe in equality and I believe men should be able to marry men and women somebody be able to marry women. And we call it the same thing, we call it marriage". 'Cause that's the age, that's the day in which we live. And if you speak truth today, you're going to be spitting into the wind. And I'm not telling you anything you don't know. We're living in a day when many politicians are driven by polls, many pastors and preachers are driven by popularity, so a politician can be for one thing today and against something tomorrow. And here's what's happened. The rock of conviction has been dissolved by the asset of compromise and covered with a blanket of cowardice.

That's exactly where we are. Listen, I'm preaching to me right now, I'm talking to me, and I'm talking to some of you pastors that hear me. It's tough to be a pastor today that's gonna stand on truth. It's tough to be the New Testament godly leader that God wants you to be 'cause we are vastly outnumbered. And I'm not griping when I say this, I'm just gonna give you a fact you don't know. The ratio of senior pastors to all other Americans, including minors, is one to 963. So for every 963 people in America, there is one pastor, senior pastor. And I talk to them all the time. Pastors are afraid of teaching about certain topics because of negative reaction. This broke my heart.

In a recent study, 40% of Protestant pastors and over 50% of Catholic priests said, listen to this, they frequently or occasionally feel limited in their ability to speak out about moral or social issues out of concern that people will take offense. Even more disheartening, 2/3 of pastors in Catholic and Protestant churches said they are more concerned about how people inside the church will react to their message than there are people outside the church that react to their message.

Now, I wanna be careful what I say here 'cause I don't wanna sound arrogant in any way, I don't wanna sound like I'm trying to pick a fight, that's not what I'm trying to do. But I'm gonna be preaching on some things in this next year, I wanna go ahead and tell you we're gonna lose some people. I'm just gonna tell you that right up front. Some of you will not be able to take some things next year. 'Cause you fall into this trap, but they're so nice and they're so sweet and they're so good and we should love them. And all those things may be true. In fact, the last one is we ought to love everybody. But if you're looking for a pastor that's gonna affirm what God condemns, you need to find another pastor, I'm not gonna do that.

If you're looking for a pastor... Listen, I'm not trying to get the applause, I'm just being honest with you. Part of it is, look at my age and stage of life. What do I have got to prove? I don't need this job. It's not a job, it's a calling, but I don't need to do this. But I'm gonna give an account for my ministry one day and I'd rather stand before God and have God say to me, "James, you just believe the Bible too much," than say, "James, you believe the Bible too little". I'd rather stand before God one day and God say to me, "James, you preach the Bible too much," than to say, "James, you preach the Bible too little". Yeah, there've been times I sat down when I should have stood up, there are times I should have spoken up. You know how I realized my problem was looking back? I just hadn't been with Jesus. I'd gotten away from Jesus.

See, what's so amazing going by Peter and John, listen to this. They let these guys go, they realized, "Okay, there's nothing we can do. We're done, we're cooked". So they let 'em go. Well, you would think when they let them go that Peter and John would've prayed a prayer like this, right? "God, thank you for freeing me. Thank you for protecting me. Please don't let anything like this ever happen to me again". You would think that's what they would've prayed, right? I want you to listen to what they prayed. "Now, Lord, consider the threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness". You know what they said? Bring it on. We're not only not gonna shut up, we're gonna talk even louder. And that's how you can pray for me, that prayer right there.

So let me again ask you a question, we're gonna wrap all this up. Who have you been with? Who have you been with? I mean, can we all be honest? I'm gonna say something just hard, but it's just true. If Congress passed a law today that you could never, ever say a word about Jesus to anybody again, it would not affect most people in this room. True or false? Doesn't affect me. I don't say much about Jesus anyway. 'Cause most Christians don't. I told the Lord this morning, I said, "Lord, if they ever were to pass law saying I can't say a word about Jesus, I have one prayer. I wanna be public enemy number one. I want my picture up at the post office. I wanna be wanted dead or alive".

And let's, again, we're just being honest, the reason why a lot of people never say anything about Jesus, they never stand for truth, is because we're afraid of what people will say about us and we're afraid of what people will say against us. I'm just gonna say two things to that and move on. Number one, we ought to be more afraid of what God will say to us one day if we don't. And number two, I'd rather displease the world than disappoint God. That's just where I am, so I wanna ask you a question. And this is the big question now, we're gonna get real practical. Are you willing to live a life and live your life in such a way that every day people will know that you've been with Jesus?

Now, listen, be careful. You're a football player in high school, you're a high school teacher. I'm not asking you to break a law in your school, I'm not asking you to, you know, to get up every Sunday, your job's not to preach the gospel in your class, your job's to teach your class, that's not where I'm going. But I do wanna warn you. If you do it, you will stand out. If you do it, you will become a target. If you do it, it will cost you some goodwill. It may cost you a friendship. It will cost you discomfort. And I got news for you. Yeah, there are some people that think you're just slapped nuts.

But I love what Francis Chan said. "Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers". How true is that? So when you've been with Jesus, here's what will happen. You'll have the compassion to serve humbly. You will have the courage to stand boldly. You'll have the courage, the conviction to speak truthfully. And here's the great news. There will be nobody to fear. There'll be no apology to make. There'll be no excuse to be given. Because the Jesus that you have been with is the Jesus that will be with you.

Would you pray with me right now with heads bowed and with eyes closed? To those of you who are watching online right now, to those of you're in this room, let me just make a statement. You cannot be with someone you really don't know. You can be in their presence, but you haven't really been with someone until you know them. You know why some of you have never been with Jesus? You don't know Jesus. You've never trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And I read just yesterday in my quiet time, you know what Jesus said? He said, "If you are not for me, you are against me". If you're not gathering, you're scattering. So let me just be very frank and very honest. You're on one side of a line or the other. You're for Jesus or against Jesus.

Now, I'm not saying you speak against Jesus, you're demonstrating against Jesus, you're riding against Jesus, you're talking against Jesus. But if you've never surrendered your life to Jesus, you're on the wrong side of that line. Jesus Christ died on a cross. He was buried but he came back from the grave. And 11 men who were so afraid of standing for Jesus before he died took tail and ran and hid like scolded dogs. All 11 of them eventually gave their life preaching what they once didn't want to say. Why? Because Jesus did come back from the grave and he changed their life.

So if today you're here this morning or you're watching online and you say, "You know, I've never given my life to that Jesus, I've never surrendered my life to him". Would you like to do that today? Would you like to make the greatest decision you'll ever make in your life? If the answer is yes, would you just pray this prayer right now? He's listening. Would you just pray something like this?

Lord Jesus, I believe you're the Son of God. I believe you died for my sins. I believe God raised you from the dead. I believe that you're alive right now. Today, confessing I'm a sinner in need of a savior, I repent and turn away from my sins. I trust you as my Savior. I surrender to you as my Lord. I accept your forgiveness of all of my sins and your gift of eternal life.

Are you Human?:*