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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - God's Remedy For a Racing Heart

Levi Lusko - God's Remedy For a Racing Heart

Levi Lusko - God's Remedy For a Racing Heart
TOPICS: Christmas

Jesus, who went into the grave so broken, so bloodied, so damaged, He came out glorious. He came out immortal. He came out indestructible. He came out with the old body, the same old body, but restored, made new, resurrected. And the same promise, scripture says, is true for all things. Well, we are so glad all across our church that you would take some time out of your holiday plans and all the things going on to worship with us. Thank you for being here. It's a joy, and I love seeing the defiant hope, the light that shines in the darkness, and that the darkness can't overcome it. And all the feels, all the things, everything we bring to these moments. We don't have to put a nice face on hard things. We don't have to pretend like we're not hurting. You can just come to God as you are.

One of my favorite things about Him is the fact that He became fully human like we are and was tempted in all points without sin. And so we can just come to Him, and He knows exactly what we're feeling, and it's a great joy. If you have a copy of the scriptures, I want to sort of center our hearts this Christmas to catalyze our Christmas worship and affection from Isaiah, Chapter 35. So if you have a way to get there in your Bible or the YouVersion app on your phone, Isaiah 35. If you would say, Levi, I, A, don't have a Bible or know what a YouVersion is, and if B, I did have either of those things, I would not know how to find in Isaiah 35 if my life depended on it, I'll say to you, we have the verses to put up on the screen for you. But we're just glad that you're here especially if you don't know where Isaiah 35 is. We started this church for people who are like, don't know Isaiah 35 or what that is even. You're like, it sounds like an infectious disease. But we are really glad that you have come.

Isaiah 35 is an Old Testament prophecy that is just overflowing with eggnog, although you might not realize it at first blush. It says, "The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted", which, by the way, the best translation of that would be, say to those who have a racing heart. You could call Isaiah 35 God's remedy for shaking knees and raising hearts. "Be strong". Here's what we're supposed to say to those whose hearts race. "Be strong. Do not fear. Behold, your God will come". That's kind of the idea behind the advent season, the coming of God. God coming to us. God coming into our pain. God coming into our world. God coming into humanity. That's the incarnation.

He "will come with vengeance with the recompense of God". He will come and save you. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened. The ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass". Come on. Someone over your desert right now. Say, there shall be grass. There shall be grass. "...with reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called", he's even naming his highway. "It shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray".

I love that. "No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it". You don't need your bear spray. "It shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away". What a thing to think about. We all know what it is to involuntarily sigh to situations that weigh heavy on our chests where you just kind of find yourself in hard seasons just sighing, those heavy hearted sighs that articulate what can't be articulated, just that pregnant sigh. And He says there's coming a day, and He's building a highway towards the moment where there will be no sighing. It shall flee away along with all sorrow.

And so Father, we don't understand or fathom all of these things, all of these truths, but we receive them, and we sure need them. We sit aware of our great need for your streams to flow into our wilderness places, for your rose to bloom in our deserts. Thank you for not leaving us orphans. Thank you for coming to us. And thank you, Father, for welcoming us into your arms and into your house through the love of your Son. We are so grateful for the truth of Christmas, for the promise of Christmas, and for the prophecy of Christmas. And I pray now through Your spirit You would touch the parts of our heart that need your touch, whether or not we recognize or even realize what that truly is. But we love You. We thank You. In Jesus' name, we pray. And the church said, amen, amen, amen.

Hey, Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. We are so glad you're here. It means so much that you would come. And I love that we get a kind of center our hearts around this text that tells us that God gives have a cure for both our shaking knees, for the things that cause our hands to shake, our knees to shake, for us to feel like, I don't know if I can handle this, and for the things that cause our hearts to race. And we are all at once anchored in the promise of His coming. And in those moments, truly, there can be a sense where, like the song says, all is calm. All is calm. The presence of someone who can relate can make all the difference in the world. I think about April 4th, 1968. If you're new to the church, a little history nerd over here, OK?

So of course, I'm going into Christmas thinking about April 4. It was the day that Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Lorraine Motel. If you ever make it to Memphis, it's a touching tribute they've made to him. As you make your way through the Civil Rights Museum, you end standing looking in through glass into his actual motel room where he spent the night before he died. And his suitcase is there with his clothing there, exactly as it was. They've recreated his TV dinner served on the room service tray, which was his final meal on this earth. And it's chilling to think of that moment and, of course, all he stood for and the eerily prophetic statements he made about not getting to see the top of the mountain and all the rest. But on that day when he died, there was similarly, at the same exact time, a presidential race taking place.

And some of you, of course, all of us know about John F. Kennedy, who died tragically while he was president in Dallas, Texas, just a few years prior. But what you might not realize is that his little brother Bobby almost became president in 1968. Just years after his older brother's assassination, he found himself in the unlikely position of pursuing that exact same course of life. Actually, Jackie Kennedy, JFK's widow, warned him not to. She said, if you run, the same thing will happen to you that happened to your brother, which proved, of course, to be exactly what took place. Just two months and one day after Martin Luther King's assassination, Bobby tragically lost his life also in a hotel, although this was in Los Angeles after winning the California primary. And it seemed like he was literally on the fast track to the Oval Office.

And incredibly at the Democratic National Convention, he received like a 16 and a half minute long standing ovation when he just agreed to speak on behalf of his brother's legacy. But the night that King was assassinated, RFK, as Bobby was called, was scheduled to give a speech in Indianapolis. And he had kind of run, his whole kind of campaign was based on meeting people where they were at. Though he came from such a family of privilege and connection and means, he made it his goal to tour through poor neighborhoods, to meet with people, to really empathize and see where people were suffering, and to feel that deeply. And so on this evening, April 4th, he was due to speak in the inner city in an African-American neighborhood and to give a speech, as was his custom. As his plane landed in Indianapolis, word had gotten out that King had been shot, but people did not largely know that he had not made it through it and had died.

And just as his plane landed on the tarmac, the mayor of Indianapolis as well as the police chief met him, and he was informed that King had died and that riots were beginning to break out in every major city where the news was spreading. Race riots were happening. The nation was just about to tear itself in two. And so the police chief and the mayor begged Bobby not to go to his scheduled speech. They said, in fact, if you go, we cannot guarantee your safety. This city is a powder keg at this moment. And Bobby said, take me to the speech. And they said, we literally can't guarantee your safety. He goes, I don't need any police protection of any kind. Just take me. And he persisted and went. Getting to the area where the speech was set to take place, there was a massive mob, and you could tell tensions were high and flaring. And he jumped up on the back of a pickup truck and announced to the crowd, hey, hey, hey. Pulling his tie down, as his characteristic look was, really kind of unbuttoned. He said, getting their attention, that many of that the Reverend King was shot in Memphis today.

What most of you probably don't know is that tragically he didn't make it through it, and he died. Immediately, everyone began to get agitated, and there began to almost seem like there was going to be a frenzy. But he quieted the audience once more and said, many of you will discover, if you don't already know, that the Reverend King was shot by a white man. Now, he had never publicly spoken about his personal feelings about his brother's death. I mean, he was almost swallowed alive in the grief of JFK's death. And summoning the crowd to just be still for just a moment, just to give him a second, speaking from his heart, choked up, and you can listen to the recording of this speech, and it's unbelievable.

One of the great moments in our political history in this country. He said, I know exactly what this feels like, for my brother as well was killed, and he was also killed by a white man. And I understand that many of you are angry. And I understand that many of you want to tear the nation in two. And I understand that feeling as well. But I think what we all need to do is choose, instead, what kind of a country do we want to build? What do we want to do about all this pain that we feel? That day in America, there were 100 major riots that broke out from coast to coast. But if you look into the record, not one riot broke out in Indianapolis. In fact, it was the only major city in on April 4th in 1968 where there's wasn't a riot present at all. All, it is said, was eerily calm that night in Indianapolis. Why? Because someone got on the level and related to them, to the people of that city, with his pain. He didn't sit above them. He got down into the trenches of what they were going through, and he sympathized with what he had been through just as they had.

And this, friends, is the power of Christmas. We don't have just a God up in the highest of heavens yelling down instructions to us, do we? Have him jumping in the back of the pickup truck in Bethlehem and saying, I've suffered. I've experienced all that it means to be human. I'm right here with you. I'm not a God far away. I'm a God who, in the person of Jesus Christ, has come close. I will suffer as you are, I will pick up the cross, and I will do so without sin. So I cannot only relate to you as humans, but because I am fully God as well. Though I've laid aside the use of divine privileges, I can reconnect you to my Father. Is anybody grateful for the power and the truth of God coming close to not just become one of us, but to die as though He were us? And that's the linchpin of Isaiah 35, by the way, the use of the dual phrase redeemed and ransomed at the end of the chapter. Redeemed and ransomed.

Again, some context of the Old Testament story would be helpful. How was anybody throughout the Old Testament ever considered redeemed or ransomed or paid for? How? Someone else had to die. Something else had to die. And that's because in Genesis 3, we took what we should not have taken. God warned us. The day you eat of it, you shall surely die. There's a curse that He promised would be unleashed on this world. The world would have a deadliness to it, a brokenness to it, a fallenness to it. Our bodies would begin to break down, to die. There would be a true curse, like Pirates of the Caribbean where everything in the moonlight is death, right? There's a sense in which this world is indeed cursed. And God promised it would happen. And the only way we could be redeemed or be made right in His sight and live and not die is if a substitute was willing to take on that payment.

And that's why throughout the Old Testament, you have bulls, you have goats, you have animals. And ceremonially, the high priest would lay his hand and transfer the guilt. But that is all a point forward to, a preview, a get ready for Jesus coming to this world to do exactly that, to be our sin bearer, to redeem us from the curse of the law becoming a curse for us that we might be ransomed, that we might be bought back. To use language from The Chronicles of Narnia, it's Aslan being strapped to the stone table and having the dagger run through his heart so that the treacherous Edmund could go free.

Friends, that's Christmas. That's Jesus dying in your place. That's Him paying your bill. That's Him doing everything necessary for you and for me to be saved so that we could live and not die and have all of Isaiah 35 to look forward to, which is what? It's this beautiful three-fold story of restoration, reorientation, and rejuvenation. These are the three words I want you to take to heart this Christmas from this passage, that there's a renovation coming for this world, a restoration of all things. We then can reorient our lives around that. And every day when we get discouraged and when we find our heart's racing, we can be rejuvenated and hear God saying to us, do not fear. Be strong.

Now, to understand all of this, we need to kind of have the context of what Isaiah's mission was in his day, and it was this. It was to speak to three future things from his perspective. OK? The year is roughly 700 BC, and Isaiah has to be the bearer of the bad news, of telling the nation of Judah, which is also nicknamed Israel, although there had been a civil war, and so what we know of as Israel was two different parts of the country. You had 10 tribes in the North, two tribes in the South. The 10 tribes in the North get taken into captivity in the year 722 BC, and Judah, even though they saw what happened to Israel, is cocky and thinks they'll never be taken. They'll never be, because they have the temple. They have Jerusalem, right? God would never judge us because of this city.

They kind of believed sort of like by proximity that we're good. Kind of like, "olly olly oxen free". Remember as a kid? You had your finger on the base so you didn't think you could get hurt, right? That was sort of the safety they felt they had. But here's the problem. God doesn't save us for religious activity. He saves us for a relationship that we have through His son Jesus Christ. And for many of them, it had become this motion they went through and not a true meaningful heartfelt connection to God, who is a person and wants to have a relationship. And so God said, there is judgment coming because you're not walking with Me. There's going to be the consequences of you living all these sinful choices that you're choosing to live. And so you are going to be taken into captivity.

That's what God said was going to happen. Isaiah's job was to say, hey. This is going to happen, and here's the good news. You're going to be brought back from captivity. So 586 BC, as God said it would, the southern two tribes of Judah get dragged, kicking and screaming, to Babylon where they're there for Daniel in the lion's den. They're there for Rack, Shack, and Benny in the fiery furnace, thank you, Jennie, great teaching last weekend, were there in Babylon. And then, it turns into the Persian empire where Esther has this incredible honor of saving the Jewish people while they're in captivity. They, as God said it would happen, get brought back to the promised land under the leadership of Zerubbabel, of Nehemiah, of Zechariah, of Haggai, of Ezra. This return from captivity takes place exactly as Isaiah said would happen.

And that is one of the three things in his mind that he's writing about here. You're going to captivity, but you're coming back. God's going to create a highway. You've heard about highway to hell. This is highway back to the promised land, right? That's what he says it's going to happen. And so that's one of the things in mind. But that's not the only thing in mind. We know he also has Christmas in mind for the repeated use of the phrase, He is coming. He is coming. He, capital He, is coming. Your God is coming. Surely, God is coming. This, all the way going back to Genesis 3, the moment we sinned, was the future promise of a snake crusher, the future promise of one who would make all things right, the future coming of the one who could deliver us from our sins. This is the promise of Jesus, which we know was future to Isaiah but is passed to us today. Because I don't know if you've written the date lately, it's all in connection to Jesus coming to this world.

They can change it to BCE all they want, but we know why. That arbitrary point in time to go BC to BCE. Hello? Christ came to this world. It is a fact of the history. It is a fact of the dictionary, right? We divide time, you realize that? Based on his birth. Every single time we reference the date, it's in connection to when God kept his promise to send a baby to this world who would grow up and deliver us from our sins. But that's not the only thing that Isaiah was writing about. He was writing a future event of a return from captivity. He was also writing about a future event of Jesus coming. But then third and finally and the only of the three that are future to us, he was also writing of the events concerning Christ's return to the world for Christmas has two movements to it. Jesus' coming has two movements. He came once, but He shall come back again.

So many of the events that we read about when we read the prophetic books are passed to us because they wrote to their own day, but there are also events that are future to us still. And Isaiah is writing about things that Revelation talks about, tears getting wiped from eyes, the world being removed... the curse removed from it. And that's why you find so much wonderful, sensual, beautiful, poetic language about mountains clapping their hands and trees singing out for joy and wine running through the streets that you can eat in the mountainous areas. It's Willy Wonka stuff, honey. It's like, grab the teacup. Go ahead and drink it. Eat the teacup. This is awesome. Why does all that move your heart as it does? It's biblical, and it's prophecy.

But here's the crazy thing for you and for me to remember. He kept His word on the return from the captivity. He kept His word on Jesus coming to this world born of a virgin. He kept His promise about where Jesus was going to be born. So what does that mean? That means He's going to keep his promise about every single word, every single thing. So what do you do if your heart's racing? What do you do if your knees are shaking? You be strong for you can remember that the restoration of all things, though it is currently prophecy, will move to history the moment it takes place exactly as He says it will. And the question between now and then is, will we have heart? Or will we forget? Will we grow cold? Will we grow dull? Will we, like the 400 years of silence between Malachi and Matthew, begin to doubt His promises, doubt the realness of His coming? Or will we do what people have had to do all throughout biblical history? Will we daily reorient our lives to His truth and His promised kingdom and resist the urge to orient our lives around the here and the now?

Because that will always lead to failure of heart. That will always lead to your heart racing, to your knees shaking. Because this world, it demands our attention, doesn't it? This life here and now. Gotta have enough, gotta do enough. You just feel such pressure. That's why holidays are so disappointing at times because it just has the ideal of what it could be, what it should be, what it's meant to be. And the magic always ends up disappointing to some degree. And try as you might, making life as epic as it must be, there's always a hollowness to it, isn't there? There's always going to be a sense in which it's like, dude, I'm doing all the things I'm supposed to be doing on paper to be happy, but I'm still empty. I'm still disappointed. And then I'm like, oh, newsflash. You're getting old also and going to die, and people you love are getting old and also going to die. And you're like, oh, that sucks. Yeah, Merry Christmas. That's how it feels, right?

Jennie was making fun of me this morning. She's like, you're making all the old man sounds, Levi. Because I wake up, and I'm like, oh. Right? What age is that, 38? I don't know. It's like, my back, man. It's like, my frigging knees are killing me. Why are my knees always killing me? It's just getting old, and the world's just the same. I mean, this world's got good things to it. The Grand Canyon's cool. I've seen it. It's awesome. Huge hole. Arizona is very proud. It's on their license plate. Grand Canyon State. You're bragging because part of your state is missing, you know what I'm saying? It's deadly. People die every year accidentally falling into the Grand Canyon taking selfies. It's unbelievable. As much beauty as there is to be seen in this world, there's a deadliness to it. I don't know why Instagram showed me, there's people taking selfies in front of an active volcano. I'm like, people are so dumb. I mean, just how dumb do you have to be?

Oh, yeah. Get the magma right behind me. Wait, my eye. My eye. You know? There's a deadliness to this world, but not the beauty of the coming world. The beauty of the coming world, you don't have to worry about your bear spray. He said, there's not ravenous beasts there. Are you kidding me? We just get to like travel? Yeah, I'm going to build an exalted highway that's going to bring you to my best for your life to this new heaven, to this new earth. And as a guarantee of His prophecy, He offers to us the glorious body of Jesus, His Son. Philippians 3:21. He will conform all things, even our lowly bodies, to be conformed to His glorious body. This showcases His abilities to subdue all things to Himself.

Translation? The broken, punctured, bleeding, bruised body of His son Jesus Christ was planted like a seed in that grave. And on the third day, He brought it forth glorious, immortal, indestructible, able to eat and to fly. Hello, somebody. And He was a physical body to live in a physical world. And this world, He's going to do the same thing to this planet. Only when this world is renovated, is restored, is brought out once again, it will be like the seed going into the ground. It will come out the same, but different. The same, but better. And this is what we are to reorient our lives towards, not clinging to any pleasure and power and prestige we can have in this life. This life is to be enjoyed, is to be used as a mission field, as an opportunity to invite more people to get on the highway to holiness, right?

But ultimately, our hope is about a future kingdom. It's about God's plans that are going to come that we'll get to live a part of forever without the flesh pulling us to wrong desires, without all the mixed motives that can creep into our lives, without all the discouragement that can show up in our lives, the depression and the anxiety and the fears and all these other things living on a broken planet. There will be a purity to it. There will be a beauty to it. And there will be the fact that we'll never have to sigh again for in that coming day, sighing itself with sorrow and tears will flee away. I didn't tell you the title of my sermon. Title of my sermon is Huckleberry Christmas. Huckleberry Christmas.

This week, Daisy was asking me, why did you name me Daisy? She asked us at the dinner table. And she knew the answer, but she didn't really understand. She goes, I know it's from a movie. I was like, yeah. It's Tombstone. It's an amazing movie. I don't know if you've seen it lately. It's a great film. Doc Holliday, he's a lunger. And him and Johnny Ringo have this big thing. And he keeps saying, you're no daisy. You're no daisy, like taunting, goading Johnny Ringo into a pistol fight. And at the end when he... spoiler alert. If you haven't seen it now, it's on you. It's been out for a hot minute. He says, you're no daisy. You're no daisy at all. Right? There's some great lines in that movie.

Like when Johnny Ringo says to the perpetually drunk Doc Holliday, you're so drunk, you're probably seeing double. And he says, it's OK. I'll shoot both of you. It's a very good one liner. He says, though, to Johnny Ringo in the end, he says, you're no daisy. You're no daisy at all. And she says, that's why you named me? Because of that? I said, it's a great movie. And Jennie said, also, honey, your aunt's name was Daisy, and she went to heaven after a battle with breast cancer. And I'm like, but Tombstone mostly. And then it reminded me about huckleberries, right? Because he also loves this, like, I'm your huckleberry. And I loved that movie long before I moved to Montana, so God's got a sense of humor. It was prophecy, right? But I was thinking about Isaiah 35 a lot, and I've been kind of camped out here in this idea of a coming kingdom to live in forever, to orient our lives around that can't be taken away from us. Because Christmas, if it's anything, it's a promise.

Again, you see? He's showcasing His ability to do exactly what He's able to do. Kind of like this. I like to travel to preach, and we go out and we do ministry assignments. And oftentimes, I'll see cool cities and places, and I'll bookmark them in my mind to one day come back if I can with my family and see some of the cool things. Because if I'm in and out in 24 hours to get back to life here and all the things, I'll see a hotel. I'll see an airport, and I'll see it inside of a church or a conference center or an arena. And everyone's like, oh, that was an awesome city. I'm like, what do you mean? The church, the conference center, the airport? Because they all look the same from the inside. But a lot of times, I'll bookmark in my mind.

Like San Antonio. I preached in San Antonio one time. I wasn't even on the ground for more than five hours. Land, preach, fly. But I kept hearing how cool San Antonio was. So this trip, we had a chance with the family to have a free day in San Antonio and go see some of, I saw the Alamo. I will not forget. I swore to them in Texas. I'm going to remember. And we got to see the river that curves through the city, and they were telling us about how it's one of the top 10 biggest cities in the country and the number one tourist destination in the state of Texas and all these things. But I was thinking about how I went the first time to San Antonio for work, so the second time I got to come, I got to experience pleasure. Welcome to Jesus. He came the first time. It was work. He came to die on the cross so you and I could be redeemed. But when He comes again, come on. He's coming for pleasure, for glory, for honor, for life, for his new heavens and new earth where we'll get to live courtesy of his work.

And what does that do to us when we go through hard things and suffer? It gives us the imagination, the Holy Spirit imagination, to look at this whole world full of deserts that we're going to walk through, cry our way through, face in this life. And with imagination go, what's this going to look like in the new heavens and new earth? Oh, yeah. Desert? You're going to bloom. Oh, dry place? There's going to be water running through it. This language is also reminiscent of the Exodus, how He fed them with a rock that sprouted water. They were hungry, so bread just starts raining from the sky. It's His ability to do the impossible, to make a way where there is no way so that here and now in this life, we can with Holy Spirit imagination wonder what things are going to look like when the seeds deep down inside are activated by the glory of his coming, when Jesus returns to reign. You get a little snapshot of this when you look at the super blooms that take place in California.

Have you ever heard of these? Apparently in places like Death Valley, Lake Elsinore, places of California that are dry and arid and desert, apparently, they get seeds of wildflowers like California poppy that get buried in the desert. And they'll just sit waiting. For years, they'll sit waiting. For dry year after dry year after dry year, imagine Death Valley, the hottest, lowest place in our country, but seeds just buried in the desert. And then every once in a while, it might be 10 years. It might be four years. It could be 50 years. A flood will come through. A rain deluge will come through. And all of these seeds that are sitting deep down, they'll erupt like this. And you'll have, all of a sudden, a valley of death blooming like the crocus, like the rose. I mean, just keep cycling through some of these. It's unbelievable.

People flock in from all around the world to see the deserts bloom, these seeds that have been sitting there forgotten in inhospitable places. You can even see them from space, literally, from space. It's so powerful and vibrant you can actually see some of these super blooms happening from satellites going by. You can walk around Death Valley. You're not going to see any flowers. God sees them. God knows every seed hiding deep down. And guess what? Every loved one in Christ, every hardship we face, it feels buried. It feels planted. Guess what? He's going to bring it forth in glory. He's going to bring it forth with the brightest display. What are you looking at when you see your pain in your desert? You're seeing roses in disguise. You're seeing rivers in development. And so back to huckleberries as we close. This Christmas, our family is walking through, like many of you, a trial, a setback. Our family has been praying and believing for God to touch my dad's body. He's fighting pancreatic cancer, and it's been a journey, of course, with all the twists and turns that every one of you know from the medical things that we walk through like this.

And I was flying down to spend a day with him. I'd scheduled just a quick 24 hour trip just to be with him for a moment. And before I went, it was summertime, and so I was on a prayer hike. I like to spend time with Jesus, getting out and walking. Sitting down and praying is harder for me than moving around. And so I was out hiking, praying, and I came across all these huckleberries. And it was awesome. But I felt like God prompted me to pick huckleberries for my dad while praying for him. And then when I flew on the plane, I could just bring him with me in my bag and give them to him fresh off the flight. And so I did. But I didn't have any bag with me, so I just emptied out my water bottle. And I literally just picked huckleberries in my water bottle, and I picked till they were overflowing. I said, if these are prayer berries, I'm getting every last one I can in there. And then I was able the next morning with my dad to make waffles with him, and we put the huckleberries on top of the waffles and had a special meal.

But I said, hey. Here's what we should do. We should put half of these huckleberries in your freezer. And then Christmas morning, it felt in that moment like it would take a hand of God moving in our lives to even see Christmas morning. Christmas morning, I want you to, you're going to break these out, and you're going to have these on top of on your Christmas breakfast. And I talked to him yesterday. I said, you got those huckleberries? He goes, I already picked out my syrup I'm putting on the pancakes tomorrow morning. But all the months between that moment and tomorrow has been a sense of waiting. Through the procedure, through the chemo, through the setbacks, through the fears. And I think if I'm honest, all of us have some huckleberries in our freezer. Will we get to this holiday? Will there be a Mother's Day? How will I make it through this challenging time? We got some huckleberries in our freezers. And God says to you, you don't have to be afraid. Your heart's racing. Your knees are shaking. Trust Me. I'm coming. I'm coming to this world to make all things right, but I'm coming into your situation. Because God's word can't be changed, I'm coming into your situation because My spirit is with you. And no matter where you go, I'll take care of you all the way to the end.

And what about if the worst happens? What about if that holiday comes, and we're eating those huckleberries alone? We have our promise in the hereafter, and our hope shall not be cut off for we will pass through the Valley of the shadow of death. And Jesus said, in My father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. So we don't have to worry about the interruption of life here. For if we are Jesus's followers, our life is hidden with Christ in God. And we can hold fast to the promise that He is the Resurrection and the life and that heaven is not just a place. It is a place filled with glory and grace, but it's also a person. Heaven is being with Jesus. And that, friends, is life that can't be taken away. And I guess my favorite promise in this whole passage, I kind of referred to it as we went by it in passing, is the fact that you don't even have to be good at following Jesus to follow Jesus. He says, this highway to holiness is going to be so well built that even a fool could walk on it and he will not trip. Anybody else clumsy just a little bit? Want to honestly admit that? I've had two broken ribs in the past two years. I'm willing to admit I'm a little clumsy, OK?

I remember one time I was walking. I wasn't even texting or nothing. I was just walking. And I walked into a stop sign, like a sideways stop sign, right into it, cut my head open. I'm just bleeding sheets. I'm like, this isn't even a good story. I just hit a sign. Some of us are a little worried about heaven and God's promise because we're like, I am so bad at walking with Him. He says, it's not about your ability to have faith, it's about my ability. I'm building a highway to holiness even a fool can walk on, and you won't miss. It's not about how well you walk with Jesus, it's about Jesus. And He did it all. He paid it all. He's done it all, and He loves you knowing it all, knowing everything you've done. And there's a place for you at His Christmas table if you've not yet made that decision to give your heart to Jesus. Would you pray with me? And as we pray, I would just want to give space for anybody to say, hey, I've got some huckleberries in my freezer. I don't know how this situation is going to work, but I choose to believe anyway. I don't need to know how it turns out to know that God's got it under control. If that's you I'm describing, could you just raise your hand up? Just raise it up. Raise it up.

Thank you, Jesus. Bless these. I'm right there with you. My hands are raised. I'm saying, I don't know, God, but Your kingdom is coming. You have a plan. You're going to be with me to the end. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Father. Bless these.

Church online, you can write there. Say, I've got my huckleberries in the freezer, and I'm believing for a super bloom in this situation. In the meantime, I'm not alone. You came near. You've come near. Thank you, God. Bless the hurting hearts today. You can put your hands down. I want to now invite anybody who's not trusted Christ for salvation to make that decision to give your life to Him, to give your heart to Him. He did everything necessary to redeem you and to ransom you out of your lost state. And I want you to let it sink in how serious your situation was that Jesus was willing to die for you. Why? There was no other way. Friends, you and I were so bad, Jesus had to die. But you are so loved, He was glad to die. Let both those things sink in. It's bitter, and it's sweet. It's not a joke. It's not something to shrug our shoulders about. We sinned. We went astray. We've prized other things. We've put ourselves first. We've been cruel. We've told lies. We've been unfaithful. We've stolen.

And all of that, as bad as it is, was paid for in full by God's Son who hung on that cross bleeding and naked for you and for me. But He didn't stay dead. He rose from the grave. And He, today, bids you, come, welcomes you home, says, friend, says, loved one, come to Me. Come to Me, and don't thirst anymore. Rivers of water, streams in the desert all come to Jesus this Christmas. If that's you I'm describing, and you say, I want to come. I want to have the promise of heaven. I want peace here and now. I want to trust Him not just this life for pleasure and joy, but I want to put my eggs in the future basket of His kingdom and be used to serve here and now, if that's you I'm describing, pray this prayer with me. Church family, pray it with us. No one praying alone, all of us praying together, every location, in Salt Lake City, in Portland, and in the Teton Campus, all across Montana, church online, Spotify, YouTube, right there, right where you are, pray this to God.

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I've done wrong things. There's no excuse for that. And God, I'm sorry. Thank you for loving me when I went astray. Thank you for coming to this world to rescue me. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for rising from the dead, and thank you for saving me. I trust you. Come into my heart. Come into my life. Be my Lord and my Savior. I need you. Thank you, Jesus.

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