Levi Lusko - Sweatpants on the Inside
If you have a Bible, please turn to the book of Judges chapter 6. Judges chapter 6 is where we're going to be. I want to talk to you about the subject of Overcoming Insecurity. I'm calling this message, "Sweatpants on the Inside". That's the title of my message. If you take notes in church, you could jot that down. I like to take notes in church when I'm listening to messages because it not only staves off ADD, squirrel. Anybody with me on that? I got a short attention span, so taking notes focuses me. But then it also helps me to put some lessons into a doggy bag to live it out later. When you jot it down, you can live it out because you just never know on any given weekend when you're studying God's word what he's trying to speak to you right now and what he's trying to put into your spirit that you'll need down the road. I happen to believe that God can speak a word to you out of season.
A while back, I was doing a study at our church on ants. The Bible says, go look at ants you lazy bones. Consider her ways and be wise. So I did a little study on ants. And I found out that ants have two stomachs, a stomach for them, and what they call a social stomach. Ain't that funny? A social stomach, they say that if you ever see two ants kissing, they're not kissing. One is feeding the other out of their social stomach. And I just like that because when they encounter food, they don't just put something for them into the tank. They also put something for a friend. I found a little cupcake. Come here Johnny, blah! The social stomach, and I just wonder, maybe as God's speaking to your heart this weekend if he might not tuck something into your heart that you might need to give out to a friend in a couple of weeks or a couple of months.
Who knows who you'll encounter down the road, who they'll need to be encouraged by you. And maybe, just maybe, you're going to be in a trial a few months from now or a year from now, and God today is trying to give you the answer that you'll need on that day. And so, come on. Bring both of your stomachs to God's word as we try and load up to house something for down the road. A little background before we jump into Judges 6. What's happening in the Bible, it's always helpful to know the lay of the land. The book of Judges is the story of the nation of Israel stuck in what's called sin cycles. That is to say that the nation of Israel that had been brought out of Egypt where they were slaves, God by his mighty strength and mighty power brought them into this land. He promised them that as long as they followed him, they would never be able to be destroyed. No surrounding nation would be able to take them out in battle as long as they followed him.
And it was this thing where they would get distracted. They would look to the surrounding people, worshipping sex, worshipping money, and they would want to be like them. So they would turn their eyes off of God and turn their eyes to these other things, these idols, and God would allow them to receive the consequences for their disobedience. So one of the enemies would come against them in battle, and God would say, hey, you deactivate the forcefield of my protection. The Death Star is now vulnerable. And so they would get in trouble. They'd cry out to God for help, and God would answer them by sending in a deliverer, or as the Bible calls it, a judge. It's not like a judge today, like a dude with a black gown hitting a gavel. A judge was, think like Avenger. God would send in the Avengers.
And one after the other, the book of Judges is these Avengers being raised up to deal with these situations in the sin cycle because they would learn the same lesson over and over and over again. Like there was this one judge who would get really angry and break stuff. He'd be like, Samson smash, and turn green, and you know. There was this other judge who was a woman, who she was lethal man. She was like a seductress. She was spicy. She got this general to drink her warm milk that she fed him. And just when he got sleepy, boom! She drove a nail through his head. Her name was Black Widow. This girl was not to be trifled with. And here in Judges 6, to deal with an oppression from the Midianites, we're about to see God raise up an Avenger, recruit an Avenger called Captain America, or I guess Captain Israel. Only we meet him in Judges 6 before the gamma radiation when he was like this tall, 90 pounds soaking wet.
OK, so that's what we're about to see, but getting to Judges chapter 6 verse 11, it says, "The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah," Winfrey, "that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son", here we go. Here's our hero now. "Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites". OK, so now we've met our enemies, and we've met our hero. The Midianites were the people that, in this moment, were attacking the Israelites. And they were crazy. The Midianites, they invented camel warfare. They would be rolling up to fight in these camel-ack Escalades. They had the height advantage. I mean someone comes against you on a camel, they're massive. And they had an army of 135,000 troops. Scripture describes them as numerous as locusts. So they were serious business. And one of the things they did to keep the Israelites under their heel was they wiped out all their food.
If they found out the Israelites were planting crops, they would come in in the night and take them out, so they couldn't harvest any food. Why? Because if the Israelites were hungry, they would be obedient. They kept them where they had to shop at Midianite Grocery Stores if they wanted food, therefore, they wouldn't launch any revolution or get any ideas. So now we're introduced to this dude Gideon, who is about to be the one to fight them. But when we first meet him, the text says, "he was threshing wheat in a winepress". Now let's define our terms here. Threshing is what you did to separate harvested grain from the chaff. Because you have a wheat that grows to make bread out of, but it grows with this package around it, a wrapper around it, the chaff. And to get to the grain to eat in the middle, you had to get the wrapping off.
So what they did was after they had cut it down growing in the ground, let it dry, they would roll stones over it to crack it and separate it. But then you had to get the chaff away. So what they would do is they would grab a big pitchfork and stick it in it and throw it up in the air in a windy place. And the wind would take the chaff, and it would float away. And only the grain would fall back to the ground because it was heavier. And then they would collect it all and have that to turn into bread to bake into flour or whatever. Now the text says Gideon was threshing wheat inside a barn, inside a winepress. So he was doing this outdoor activity inside, which of course would prove to be very difficult because he didn't have any wind. And so you can imagine the frustrating scene. He's like grabbing handfuls of this stuff at a time, throwing it in the air, then... He probably is burning more calories than he's getting back in his body because he's having to work so hard. But he's doing it because he knows that if he goes outside to try and do this, the Midianites are going to take him out.
So it's kind of a pathetic scene, and it's not the picture of courage. It's not the picture of bravery. He's hiding out scared to death, doing this inside trying to get a little bit of food, and that is exactly when God comes to him. In verse 12, "When the angel of the Lord", who's that? The angel of the Lord, that's Jesus. You think it's impressive that Samuel L. Jackson showed up to recruit you with an eye patch? No, no. This is Jesus before, coming to the earth at Christmas, showing up here in Gideon's barn. He appeared to Gideon and said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior". How's that for like an epic UFC nickname? The mighty warrior.
"'But sir,' Gideon replied". Have you not seen my general scaredy-cat behavior here? "'If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, "Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt"? But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.' The Lord turned to him and said, 'Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?' 'But lord,' Gideon asked, 'how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.' The Lord answered, 'I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.'"
So Gideon goes from this moment in the winepress and gathers an army. I have to fight this enemy invaders. I'm going to build an army. So he starts recruiting. And he manages to get 32,000 people to agree to fight with him. That's pretty good, right? It's a bigger army than I got. Yeah, but they had to fight an army of 135,000, which is to say they were outnumbered four to one. But never nevertheless, God told Gideon to do it, so he's going to go obey. He gets his guys, and they're about to go fight the Midianites. But just before the battle begins, God stops him and says, hold on, hold on, hold on. You can't go fight them. There's a problem with the numbers. And Gideon says, you know I'm actually glad you brought that up. I see a huge problem with the ratios. And God says, exactly. There's too many on your side. Gideon says, say what? Too many on our side? God says, yeah. If I let you go fight him with 30,000 soldiers, it'll all go to your head. I'll beat them for you, but you'll think it was because of you. So tell all the men, if they're scared, they can go home.
So Gideon says, guys if you're scared, 20,000 of them just leave. Peace out y'all! Like they're gone. Seacrest out. They're just us out of there, and Gideon's left with only 10,000 dudes to fight this huge army. God says, no. There is still a problem with the numbers. Gideon says, I'm actually getting tired of you talking to me. I'm thinking about changing my email address as a matter of fact. This goes on until Gideon is left with 300 dudes. And don't picture the Spartans, OK? These are just guys. They don't have any skills. This is not Gerard Butler. I mean this is just a group of weaklings, and maybe the guys were too hard of hearing to even hear that Gideon had given them all an opportunity to leave. So they're just like walking into this thing with their walkers. I don't know, but 300 and Gideon with God's power. And of course, you know the rest. We're armed with nothing but torches and pitchers and trumpets.
God uses Gideon's 300 to trounce the far superior Midianite army in one of the greatest upsets in military history. Why? Because the battle belongs to the Lord. Come on. Say Amen if you believe it's true. And when you go in the power of God, no weapon formed against you can prosper. And so we come here to this great lesson that we're going to learn from Gideon. What is that? Overcoming insecurity. Would you pray with me? Father, I pray now that, having read your word, you would speak to us through it. We know that the words of a person can't help anybody, but all of us here in this moment, we desperately need to hear from you. We all got problems to all situations we're facing that feel too big for us. Much like Gideon going up against this whole invading army, we have things that we're dealing with that are super hard and super scary and super real. And I just pray right now everything would just slow down for a second and you would open up our eyes to see amazing truths in your word and that all of us would feel like you're just talking to us and giving us what we need.
And I pray above all things that if there's even just one person at the different locations in Santa Fe, at Nob Hill, watching on the internet, or listening on the radio, or here at Osuna who doesn't know you as Savior, who doesn't have that great hope like an anchor for the soul to die with peace to live with hope that you would give them that today as they turn to you Jesus. We pray this in your great name. Amen. What is insecurity? Insecurity is a lack of confidence. Insecurity is an uncertainty about your worth, about your value, about your place in the world. Insecurity is basically feeling like you're not enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, not tall enough, that you don't come from a good enough family, that you don't have enough connections or networking ability. To feel in secure is to feel that you don't have what it takes for a given situation, that you're not one of the cool kids, that the harsh words and lies that have been spoken over your life are true.
To be insecure is to feel as though you are damaged goods because of the difficult things that you've had to go through in life. Insecurity in one way or another comes to us all. And for me, it has been, if I'm to be real with you, one of the most difficult battles that I faced in life. A constant thread along with my journey, my story in this world has been that of insecurity. I remember it really beginning in middle school. I went to Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School right here in Albuquerque. And then in sixth grade, I went to Eisenhower Middle School. And I remember that transition being very difficult for me. I didn't know anybody, didn't have any friends in that school. And I also remember that in fifth grade. I was one of the tallest kids in my class. Elementary school is amazing because the goal of success is how far you can jump out of the swing when you jump out of the swing set. Life was good. But then, middle school, everyone kept growing, and I stayed at my fifth grade size.
I don't know what the deal was. I guess I'm what you call a "late bloomer". I have four kids, but just finished puberty about 15 minutes ago. I don't understand. I pastored a church for 10 years. I still can't grow a proper beard, and I live in Montana. The struggle is real. And so to be in sixth grade, seventh grade, and my friends were getting taller than me, or my classmates are getting taller than me, and I'm like right there. They had armpit hair. I did not have armpit hair. Why do you always get dressed in the bathroom stall? No reason. You girls, I don't know if you can relate. When you first get this stuff, you shave it off. You fools! And you know I got picked on, I got bullied. I had to get glasses in the sixth grade because that's helpful. Only I didn't know I needed glasses. I just know I couldn't see anything. And the teacher would be like, what's it say on the board? I'm like, I don't know. And she thought I was being sassy. And so I'm getting in trouble just for not seeing. It was a nightmare. But fortunately, I had buck teeth and a bowl cut.
So that helped very little. And from then to now, insecurity has been a part of my life. Now I don't know to what extent you can identify with my exact struggle, but I know this, insecurity is a problem for every single one of us. And that's why we all have different ways of dealing with it, different defense mechanisms, coping mechanisms, masks that we sort of hide behind to deal with this. And we all choose different things. Some people respond to their insecurity by lashing out. This is where you feel small, so your goal is to make other people feel small. This is where you lash out with hurtful words to cut people down to size so that they feel as bad as you feel about yourself. Why do we do that? Here's something super important to know. Hurt people hurt people. Lashing out, it's a defense mechanism.
Other people laugh it off. Everything's a joke. Just keep everything jovial, keep everything light, ha ha ha ha. It's just a joke for every situation. Just keep everything slippery, right? Because as long as we're laughing, you don't see that I'm crying on the inside. Others of us, we shut down. We shut down. We don't let anyone see us bleed. We don't ever let anyone get close enough to us to see that we hurt. We keep the stony exterior. And this is the classic, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words don't even hurt me". What do I even care what you think about me. If I didn't get invited to a party, it's because parties are stupid. Obviously, I wouldn't want to go to your dumb party. I'm just going to stay home and look at pictures of your dumb party on the Instagram. Have you ever accidentally liked a picture from someone's feed like nine pages back on accident while you were creeping on all the fun they had that you didn't care about? Yikes. Laughing it off, shutting down, lashing out. Others of us, we numb. We numb the insecurity we feel with something, something we may be addicted to. It could be a substance, sure.
Numb it with not just not a glass or two, like multiple, like we numb it. Or we we're numb it with spending, retail therapy, comfort food we could numb with. Social media, you can numb with social media. Any time you're not feeling liked, not feeling valued, not feeling important, posting something. Like me, like me, like me, like me. Or the classic humble brag, like post about how messed up your life is, but how you're OK with that. This is like the shot with all the laundry and mess and the kids like sticky. And it's like, I'm OK. This is real life. I'm good with it. Do you like how much I'm OK with my life not being perfect? Do you like it? Do you like that I'm OK with I'm not judging. I'm just saying, maybe if you didn't take the picture, you could've finished the laundry. I'm just saying, just throwing that out there, real life, right?
Problem with numbing though is, as Brene Brown put it in her book Rising Strong, you cannot selectively numb. And when you numb yourself to pain, you also numb yourself to pleasure. When you numb yourself to anxiety, you also numb the joy. And so eventually, you can end up feeling nothing. There's another coping mechanism, another mask we hide behind, I'm calling it compensating, where you feel a weakness or a deficiency in some area of your life, so you, with smoke and mirrors, redirect everyone's attention over here. This is the name-dropping, constantly topping, constantly one-upping, throwing money around. Maybe you didn't have a lot of access to things as a child. And so you always, like when I'm older, my kids are going to a better life than I had. So now once you're successful, it's always compensating for some insecurity you feel. Oh, look at the new car I got. Look at the purse I got. You see my jeans? You like my outfit? Driving a big-lifted truck, having big lifted breasts.
I'm not saying if you have either of those things, you're compensating, but it's possible. It's been done. Look at how successful I am. Would you validate me? Would you notice me? This is the person who walks into a conversation, what are you guys talking about? Oh, this is, Bill just got back from a vacation to Florida with his family. Oh, Florida? That's cool. What do you like Florida? Well, yeah it's fine I guess. My family and I went to the Bahamas, so. Hey so and so just said they just met an actor on TV. They were sitting next to him on the plane. Isn't that amazing? Yeah, I guess so. My cousin's Brad Pitt though, so. George Clooney is washing my car right now. I got to go. I'm cool. Compensating, here is the point. Whether lashing out or compensating or laughing it off or shutting down or using things to numb the insecurity you feel, the problem with all of this is that living from a place of insecurity makes it impossible to enjoy the journey. It's exhausting too. Maybe the only thing more draining than being around an insecure person is being an insecure person.
And so I don't know about you, but I think the insecurities, they've got to go. It's high time we get past this victim mentality and stop living from a place of a wounded spirit. It's time we stop trying to measure up and we just live and move from a place where we realize God loves us, and that's enough. Come on somebody. Insecurities are real, but the love of God is more powerful still. It's time that we get comfortable and confident in our own skin who God's made us to be. It's time we stop trying to put our nice face on and best foot forward, and we learn to rock some sweatpants on the inside. If you believe it, give God a rowdy Albuquerque Amen. Come on somebody. I think that Gideon is the perfect person to help us get there. Now we could have picked a lot of different people. If we were talking about insecure people in scripture, it's a very, very long list. But I like Gideon for the job because he, number one, was haunted by a low opinion of himself and he was scarred by the difficult things that he had been through.
And both of these are the objection that he brings to God when God tries to use him like God wants to use you. I put to my notes four little takeaway truths. If you have a worship guide, you could jot them down there, four little takeaway truths from the life of Gideon on overcoming insecurity. The first is this, the cure for insecurity is your true identity. The cure for your insecurity is your true identity. Why? Because when you know who you are, it doesn't matter who you aren't. I believe this. When you know who you are, it doesn't matter who you aren't. So often, the trouble that causes insecurity is we focus on who we aren't, what we don't have, what we can't do, where we can't go, what we wish we had, what we wish we looked like. But when you just start with, who am I? And I want to give you four words that I hope you'll let frame your identity. Get this. You are chosen, you are loved, you are called, and you are equipped.
So there's that. There's that. You're chosen, you're loved, you're called, you're equipped. But I don't have a massive following on Twitter. But I don't have a million dollars. But I don't, hold on a second. You're chosen, you're loved, you're called, you're equipped. When you start with that, and you remember, there's a God in heaven, and he loves you like crazy. He sent his son to die for you. He shed the blood of Jesus to save you. He filled you with His Holy Spirit. He seeded you in heavenly places. He hid you in Christ with God, and he gave you the greatest mission that's ever been given in the history of humanity, the mission to go fishing. It's called the Great Commission. Go into all the world. Preach the gospel to every creature. You're like Frodo with the volcano and the ring, except it's real, #nobigdeal. You're chosen. Your loved. The devil will try and get you to think about what you're not. God always wants you to remember who you are. Chosen, loved, called, equipped, that's the first point.
Secondly, know this, comparison kills contentment. Comparison kills contentment. Nothing will rob you of the joy of who you are faster than focusing on who other people are, which is why it's a problem that we all carry discontentment devices around with us at all times. We have these phones that we can go to look at. Like any time I'm tempted to feel content with the church I pastor, all I have to do is go on social media and see how much bigger someone else's church is and what God's doing through someone else. And all of a sudden, I'm no longer content with what God's doing through me. Now I shouldn't be that way. I should be able to rejoice with those who rejoice, but unfortunately, we compare ourselves to other people. It's all through the Bible. You know that story after Jesus died and about to go to heaven where he gets his guys together at the lake, feeds them breakfast, and then calls Peter to the side, and says, yo Peter, that's the new Levi translation.
Peter I need you to do something for me. Peter says, I'm your guy. What you want? I'll do anything. I'm crazy. I'll kill him. What? And he's like, no, no. Stop, stop. Always with the sword, Peter. He says, Peter, I need you actually to die for me. You're going to die on the cross for me. Peter says, what about John? That's what he said because he's like us, because we compare our calling to other people and we get calling envy. And Gideon did the same thing. Jesus says, Gideon, I need you to go do this. You know what he said? "My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family". What's he doing? He's thinking about his buff uncle. He's thinking about his ripped brother-in-law. He's thinking about his sister who's super good at business. He's thinking about his friend who's super charismatic. And he's thinking, I can't do what you want me to do because I'm not as cool as them. And we do the same thing. We compare ourselves. But here's the problem.
As Beth Moore put it, and I love this quote. She said, "Be careful who you covet because the people who you are jealous of struggle too". She said, "No one's unbreakable here on this planet. Only the dead don't bleed when they're cut. We all fear that we aren't who we're pretending to be". So whoever you would compare yourself to and wish you were like. They themselves have some deficiency that they wish was changed as well. So you just got to be happy with who God made you to be. You just got to come to a place where you realize, listen, your imperfections make you exceptional. If God wanted a droid stormtrooper army, he'd have made us all clones. But he wanted a body, so he needed head and shoulders and knees and toes and knees and toes. Come on. You serve a purpose in the body of Christ with the gifts that you have, with the story you have, with the family that you were raised in, with the dysfunction in your life.
God has something he wants to do through you, so be happy about it. There's the second, and that's it. I already gave it to you. There's the third. The third point I want to give you, I want to check my notes so I get this right. Vulnerability requires bravery, but it's the key to victory. Would you jot that down? The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we are resisting vulnerability. This church, as every great church should, has smaller groups that you can be a part of because here in this large setting, we can't all share our story. We can't all share our journey. The reason it's valuable, in our church, we like to say, we don't want to just listen to the word of God taught and rows. We want to get into smaller circles where we can discuss. And hopefully, you are in those situations, those settings, those intimate atmospheres, you're being vulnerable. You're taking down the armor plating and opening up with your struggles.
The key to victory in this life is vulnerability where you stop pretending or you stop lying, where you stop pretending you're something you're not. When you just are real about your struggle. You're real about your pain. You're real about what hurts. You're real about who you are. And I think that that's what we see in Gideon's life. And that's why, perhaps, God allowed him to build up an army only to take it away. Because he called him, God did. Mighty warrior, go fight them. And so what did Gideon do? He went and he acted like he thought a mighty warrior was supposed to act. And a mighty warrior has a huge army. And a mighty warrior plays the Darth Vader theme song when they walk into a room. And a mighty warrior gets all the soldiers to march in the goosestep formation like a big army shouldn't.
And God's like, yeah, that's not at all what I had in mind for you. If I wanted a soldier, I'd have gone to the barracks. I wanted a farmer, so I went to the winepress. I went to the barn. I want you to do you, Gideon. But to do that, God peeled away all these soldiers because what he had amassed had become his mask. And so God had a tear that off and want Gideon to be exposed. And he wanted Gideon to be vulnerable. And he wanted Gideon to be naked and unashamed to just go with 300 men and to fight like God called him to fight. And that meant pitchers. And that meant torches. And that meant trumpets. And that meant yelling really loud. And in this life, any time you are going to do something great, there will always be the temptation to do it like everyone else does it, to do it like you've seen it done on someone else's life.
Even David when he was going to kill Goliath, Saul tried to squeeze him into armor that he hadn't been made to use. God wanted him to fight like a shepherd, and that meant a slingshot. And in your dreams, and in your passion, in your business that you're meant to launch, the ministry you're meant to lead, the family that you're meant to love on, there's a unique powerful platform that God wants you to use powerfully. And you can't pretend to be someone else and hope that God blesses who they are, you have to find out who God's called you to be. And you got to do you. And you've got to be vulnerable. And that's going to take bravery.
I remember when I wrote Through the Eyes of a Lion, my first book. I just finished my second one. I'm super excited about it. But I remember when I was in the initial discussion with the publisher and with my agent, someone said to me, no one wants to read another grief book because Joni Eareckson Tada wrote one. They said, don't write that book. Write something else. And I heard that, but I felt like there was a unique book that God wanted me to write. Not just a book to help people get through grieving, but a manifesto for a whole new kind of high octane, Holy Ghost-powered living in the midst of your trials. And so I had to write the book that God put inside me, not the book that someone else was telling me to write. And in your leadership, and in your adventures, and in your entrepreneurial activities, don't let anyone squeeze you into some mold. It's going to take bravery to get to vulnerability, but that's the key to victory.
You've got to be who God's called you to be to do what he called you to do. I got one last point. I hope this is helping you. The last thing I want to tell you, I'm going to ask the worship teams to come up all across the church to help us bring this to a conclusion. I wanted to tell you that if God didn't give it, you don't have to keep it. When it comes to your feelings and thoughts of insecurity, if God didn't give it, you don't have to keep it. This is your permission slip. Back to that idea of God in spirit and breath and wind that we began with, Gideon in the winepress huffing and puffing. What a pathetic sight to where he ends up just demolishing this great enemy on the battlefield. I got to thinking about 2 Timothy 1:7 where Paul told Timothy this. He said, Timothy, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind".
I love this verse. Paul spoke it to Timothy, a pastor in this church in Ephesus that was all big and out of control, and Timothy was in over his head. God, I believe, is speaking this idea to Gideon and, today, to all of us. I love that verse because the word spirit in the Greek is the word "pneuma". And if you've ever heard the Bible taught on that passage, you probably know that the word "pneuma" is the word "wind". God has not given us a wind of fear. That's just your own breath. But he's given us a wind of power and love and of a sound mind. I preached his whole message just so I could get to tell you this. Why in the great things that you're trying to do for God, why in all that God wants you to do would you rely on willpower when you could have God's power?
Why would you rely on huffing and puffing and trying to fake it until you make it and being something you're not when you could just look to God. And he will lift up your head, and he will lift up your arms. And it's not just your own breath of what you can accomplish in this world, but he will fill you up with His Holy Spirit like a wind from heaven that will allow you to do what he's called you to do and to go where he wants you to go. Come on. Don't go back to the winepress. Don't try and be who you're not. Just be comfortable as a child of God, as a daughter or son of the king of kings and realize that you have a lane to run in. And you have a voice that he wants you to use to amplify the greatest message ever told, that God loves people and wants us to be a part of his story. Don't rely on your breath.
Let God fill you up with his if you call on his name. And if you wait on him, he'll fill you with His spirit, each and every day to give you a source of energy that's not yours. Do you receive it? Amen. Come on, say Amen if you believe it. Hey, I want to end this message with an invitation for anybody who's never given their life to Jesus to have an opportunity to make that all important decision. My little sister getting married, I did something I don't normally do. I got a suit out of my closet, and I took it out of the plastic, and I packed it in my suitcase. And I'm going to wear a suit to my little sister's wedding. Why? Well, not so she'll let me in. I didn't suppose that if I didn't wear that suit, I wouldn't get admitted into the party. My little sister, she loves me so much, she'll probably never let me hear the end of it. But I could wear a swimsuit and flip-flops and a tank top to her wedding because I'm her brother.
I'm getting in the door because I was invited. I'm getting in the door because of my relationship with her. The way I dress to come to the wedding is not my ticket in. It's just what I do because I'm so thankful to have that relationship. I think sometimes in church, we get the wrong idea and we can send the wrong message to people about what it means to be invited to the party, what it means to get to go to heaven, about what it means to be a part of this whole thing. There's this idea of kind of put your Sunday best on and all this that can cause people to think that we get to heaven because of how good we look. We get to heaven because of what things we've done, but that has nothing to do with it. Listen to me. Good people don't go to heaven. Forgiven people do. It's not how good you can get yourself to be before God, how shiny you can be. It's the relationship. It's the relationship.
It's having a relationship with God that gives you access, receiving that love and that forgiveness that he purchased for you at the cross and when his son rose from the dead. And then the great things we do for God, that's not to earn his love. That's because we already have his love and can never lose it. Do you see the difference there? So this invitation is not us saying, would you like to join a church. It's not us saying, would you like to come back next week, and if you keep doing that enough, you'll get enough stars on your chart in the sky that eventually he'll let you in. It's a once-for-all decision to allow Jesus to forgive you, to make you a child of God, to forgive you of everything you've ever done wrong, and to give you the promise of heaven when you die. Would you bow your head with me?
Father, I thank you for your gospel. Thank you for the power of what happened when Jesus died and then rose from the dead and sent out his spirit into the world to knock on the hearts of men and women, boys and girls so that if we would open up the doors of our heart to you, you would come in and save us and heal us and make us your children. And for anyone who's hearing this message who's never trusted Christ for salvation, I pray that even now you're causing them to be aware of their need for you, and to be aware that no matter what they've done, they could find forgiveness in you.
And with heads bowed and eyes closed, all across this great church, if you would like to come to Jesus to be forgiven of your sin to know that when you die, you're going to go to heaven and to live with hope and peace while you're here on this earth, would you just raise up your hand in the air. Just raise it up high right now. Just put your hand up saying, I want to be forgiven. God bless you and you and you right here, so many in the middle and on the side. Just raise your hand up. Don't put this off. Don't think, I'll do this later. What if this was your last opportunity to get right with God?
God bless all of you to my right. In the family room, I see your hands. Anybody else just in this holy moment, in the balcony, God bless both of you and you right there. Anybody else, hands going up all over the place. Thank you Jesus. You could put your hands down. And I want to pray with you in a simple prayer where you're going to ask Jesus to come into your heart to be your lord and savior and to help you grow in this new relationship with him. I'm going to ask the whole church family to pray this prayer with you to show that we're standing with you in this decision. We're honored to be your family. Say this out loud after me:
Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. I believe Jesus died for me and rose from the dead. Please come into my heart. Be my lord and my savior. Help me to follow you. Thank you for receiving me. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.