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Levi Lusko - But First, Death


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John 11 is where we're going to be this Easter weekend, as we continue and finish a series of messages that we've called Magnificent Seven. And we're going to finish it up in John chapter 11. We have an app also called Fresh Life, really easy to find, where you can catch any messages you miss ever. And those are always on there. We keep a couple years of our archive loaded up there. And you can catch up if you're like, I'm coming in the seventh part of a seven-part series? That's terrible for me. Not if you get the app. And then you can catch up.

But John 11, what's happening here in John 11, Jesus is showing up in a city called Bethany after a friend of his has died. And his friend was named Lazarus. And Lazarus we know was one of Jesus' close friends. And Jesus is showing up not while Lazarus is in the intensive care unit, not while he's breathing his last, not while he's just died, he's not showing up for the funeral. Jesus is showing up after he's already dead, he's already buried, and most of the casseroles from the receptions have already been eaten. And I just want you to know, like, the tone, you know, jumping in to what we're reading. Says in verse 17 of John 11, if you don't have a Bible, we put the verses up on the screen for you so you don't feel out of place: so when Jesus came, he found that he had already been in the tomb for four days.

Now, Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away, and many of the Jews, notice it says many of the Jews, so a lot of people, notable figure dies, a lot of people show up around this scene, had joined the women around Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him. But Mary was sitting in the house. Now, Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you. Jesus said to her, your brother will rise again. Martha said to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? And spoiler alert, Jesus goes on to raise Lazarus from the dead that day.

Father, we just thank you for just even the power of that right there, just reading your word, and what it's like to be together in your house studying it. And we thank you for your spirit here present among us, wanting to not only have us nod our heads solemnly at the story of what happened way back then, but that we would be active participants in what you're seeking to do right here, right now, as we all can relate to some of the different characters in the story. Some of us relate to Martha. We have questions for you, God. Why weren't you there for this? And why did this happen? And if you're so loving, what about that? And if you cared for my brother, why did this happen? And if you are so all powerful, then why didn't you? Some of us can relate to Mary. We're just sad. We're just hurting. We love you, but we're just hurting. And we don't even know. It's not like verses are what we need. We just need you to be there for us. And we just need a ministry of tears, not truth. And others of us present relate most of all in this story to Lazarus, in that there's things in our life that are dead that can't live on their own. Lazarus can't come out, no matter how he tries. You can't wake up from deadness. You can't stir yourself up from deadness. You can't pick yourself up from deadness. Going to church doesn't help deadness. Reading in the Bible doesn't help deadness. Only the voice of Jesus can raise deadness to life. So whatever it is that we need, we know we find it in you. And we have more questions than we have answers, but we look to you in this moment. And we ask for you to do something powerful for your name, for your glory. And we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.


There is something magnificent, something special about the number seven. It's everywhere. Seven is the number of colors in the rainbow. Seven is the number of notes in the musical scale. Seven is the number of days in the week. Seven is the number of books in the Harry Potter series. I mean, it's everywhere. Like what in the world, seven is all over the place. They say seven is the number of stages of grief. Seven. But it's in the Bible a lot, too, from Genesis to Revelation. Seven laps around Jericho. Seven times Naaman had to dip in the Jordan River before he was healed of his leprosy. Someone added it up, they found it, believe it or not, over 700 times the number seven is used symbolically in the Bible. Now you're just showing off, all right? Seven. It's a number that speaks of something that's complete, something that's full, something that's total. It's really kind of the A to Z of something. Seven. It's full. My favorite, perhaps, is the seven times in John's gospel that Jesus told us who he is. He said, I am, and then told us something about who he is. Seven different times.

And John, he's just an eyewitness. John, I mean, John was just this rich kid, his dad owned a fishing business. He didn't want nothing to do with Jesus. He didn't want any trouble, until Jesus called him to follow him. And so he gave up three and a half years of his life, and he followed Jesus. And he wrote down many of the things that happened that caused him to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And he writes his book to the world saying, I wrote this stuff so that you, having heard what I saw, would believe and know that Jesus is the Son of God, and that, in believing, you would have life in his name. And in the Gospel of John, which will rock your world if you read, just read that, just read the Gospel of John. I remember when I was new in my faith, I spent for a season of time doing nothing but reading John's gospel over and over again. I would read chapter one through 21 one chapter a day. And when I ended, I would start again. I did that for a long time because I just really wanted to get to know Jesus. And I just found him in these words. And they came to life for me. And just powerful and special.

When we planted this church 11 years ago, I spent over an entire year just preaching verse by verse through the Gospel of John because I really wanted for this church to be built on the foundation of who Jesus is. And it's been our goal ever since, to just make Jesus famous and to make much of him. And that's been our goal. It's just been all we've ever been trying to do. And that's all we want to do this Easter, is to point your attention to Jesus, who said seven times, I am, and then told us who he is. I love that we don't have to guess. Who's God? Like, who's God? I wish I could know God. I don't know who God is. And Jesus is like, hey, over here, I am the bread of life. You know how you get hungry and you eat stuff to nom, nom, to make you happy? I'm bread for you. It's like, I get it. Like, I don't know who God is. He's like bread. He's the bread that leads to life. I am, he says, the light of the world. Do you feel like you're stumbling around in darkness? What's the purpose, what's the point, what's the meaning? Why should I get out of bed? Right? We're all more alike than we are different. Right.

They go, people are so different. I don't know, I've been all over the world. People are people. We wear different clothes, we eat different food, but at the end of the day, we all have the same big questions. Why am I here? Can I be forgiven of this guilt that I feel? And what's gonna happen to me after I die? Jesus says, I'm the light of the world. Don't stumble around. You can have the light of life to guide you. Jesus opened his mouth again and he said, he said, I'm the good shepherd. He said, you can have that provision to lead you to still waters. You can have someone to safely guide you through. I'll be the shepherd of your soul. I'm a good shepherd. He said, I'm the door. I am the door. Not just the shepherd of the sheep, but the door of the sheep. And we talked about how the shepherd would lie down at the opening of the pen and actually be the door for the sheep, too. He's not just your shepherd, he's also the door. You can go in and out through him and find pasture. He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through me.

Who are you, Jesus? I'm the way to God. I'm the way to know God. Jesus said, I am the true vine, and my father is the vine dresser. And just as branches can't produce fruit if they get disconnected from the vine, Jesus said, if you're disconnected from me, you can't have life. So he wants an organic, life-giving relationship with you, not one that's on-again, off-again that's interrupted constantly, because then the power can't flow through you and you can't produce what God wants to produce through you. So we need to have a connection to him. And then the seventh of the times that Jesus said, here's who I am is what we just read in John chapter 11, where... let's look at it one more time together, Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he dies, he shall live. Who is Jesus? He is the resurrection and the life. That's a perfect thing to spend some time on this Easter. But first, death. That's the title of this talk.

You might have had a busy day one day and someone comes and you're not working and you're like, don't you have a busy day? You're like, yes, but first coffee. First coffee. That's serious business. I am here to preach about Easter. I really am. And I want to end by pointing your attention to how powerful the resurrection is. But I wouldn't be doing a good job if I didn't say, but first, death. But first, death, because the resurrection doesn't mean anything apart from death. It's only necessary and only possible because of death. It's necessary because of your and my death, spiritually and physically, because there's two different kinds of death, and they're both spoken of in this text. That's why it talks about, if you have this life, though you die, you will live. And in another sense, if you had this life, you'll never die, because it's talking about spiritual life and physical life. We're not just dying physically, we're also, according to scripture, we're dead spiritually. That is to say, we're cut off from that life that God wants to flow through us.

And so there's more than one kind of death. But it's truly a part of all of our lives. And death is three things, jot them down, number one, vicious. Death is vicious. This is my Easter outline. Aren't you glad you came to church? Vicious. Death is vicious. What does that mean? It is cruel. It is capricious. It is unkind. Death is not like, oh, if I kill you, you don't have life insurance so your kids won't have a way to go to college or have rent paid next month? OK, I'll let you live. We've all seen so many examples of how screwed up that is. Death is vicious.

One of my first encounters with death was when I was in grade school. I mean, I wasn't further along than second grade when a girl who sat next to me in class named Abby, and she was so nice, she was so excited because her brother was getting married, and the whole family, they were going to be traveling to Hawaii for the wedding. And I remember just as a little kid just being a part of the constant conversation because, you know, teachers are like, what are you doing this weekend, what are you doing spring break, what are you doing. And I remember Abby saying that her family was going to be going to Hawaii because her brother was getting married. And then I remember the whole class being shocked, the whole school being saddened when Abby's brother, on his honeymoon, drowned while snorkeling, and coming back to class and all of us as little kids trying to process what was so vicious. And here's this bride now a widow literally only a couple days into being in this special new relationship. Isn't death vicious? Yes.

Then I think about third grade, when I had a friend who was named Adam. And Adam and I would play Micro Machines. How many children of the '80s remember Micro Machines, and the fast-talking mustache man from the commercials? And Micro Machines. Amazing. And Adam had so many Micro Machines. Then I remember going to a different school and, in fifth grade, getting in touch with some of my friends from third grade and finding out that Adam had gotten brain cancer and died. And just the hard reconciling of that little kid with his whole life in front of him having to go through brain cancer and unsuccessfully face the rigors and pain of chemo, and then eventually succumb to death. Death is vicious, isn't it? That's not cool. It's nothing if it's not cruel. And that's not the only thing, because death is also violent.

That's my second V this Easter. Death is violent in that many people die violent deaths. It's car accidents, it's machinery mishaps, it's something goes wrong and it's a violent set of circumstances that leads to death. But not just violent in that many people die grisly deaths, but also violent in the way it feels to be left behind when someone you love dies. That's violent, too. Yeah, there's seven stages of grief, but when Jennie and I and our family had to face unexpectedly the death of one of our children, as our second-born daughter Lenya had an asthma attack five days before Christmas and died in our arms as we did CPR, we found, in the following days from then till now, some 1,928 days later, that death is violent in that, when you lose someone that you love, you violently careen through the different stages of grief, at times in no apparent order. You hear, oh, there's seven stages of grief, so you just assume it's going to be one, two, three. Goodness, I'm on four. Five has got to be, it's not like that at all, at least in my experience.

You can be in one season, and then all of a sudden, with almost whiplash-causing snap of the neck, no airbags, no seatbelt, now you're in this stage, then you're back in this one. Then you're feeling good for a while, and you kind of think you're through it. Then all of a sudden, something sucker punches you and takes the wind out of you like an uppercut to the solar plexus. And you're left gasping for air thinking you were already through that. Because Valentine's Day triggers something, and this triggers something, and something someone says, and someone you see, and you realize that could be what my little girl would look like right now. And it's violent to face death, no matter which side of it you're on. But it's not just vicious and violent, it's also vile. It's vile. Why? Because, to put it rather bluntly, after someone dies and is no longer living in their body, their soul leaves it and steps off this mortal coil into eternity, the body instantly begins to return to the state in which it was formed out of.

The Bible says God formed us from the dust, and we begin to decompose, whether it's through cremation and return to ash and dust very quickly, or it's through the decomposition of being buried. And that's vile. There's a smell to death. And when you're around really sick people, when you're around death, there's something unmistakable about it, and something wrong about it. And it's in the text we just read. I'm trying to be as delicate and as sensitive as I can, but in John 11, if we were to keep reading, when Jesus finally got to the grave and said take away the stone, Martha objects and says to Jesus, no, because it's been four days and there's going to be a smell. And that's just heartbreaking and vile. And people tell you, oh, death is peaceful and it's beautiful and it's lovely. Let me tell you something, don't believe it for a second. Death is your enemy, not your friend. It's an atrocity. It's terrible. It should sicken us to think of someone made in God's image being sown in dishonor.

That's what the New Testament describes it. It's a dishonorable thing to happen to a body that God lovingly, fearfully, and wonderfully made. It was never meant to happen. You were never meant to experience death. And don't you feel that when you're at a funeral and you sit there and you look in that casket. Doesn't everything inside you say, this is wrong, this is perverse, this is not how it should be. There's something very wrong here. And deep down inside, we sense the signature of God's hand on our soul telling us this was not what he intended to happen. He never wanted us to face it, never wanted us to face death. It's a terrible thing. And eventually, we will not have to face any longer. So there's my outline. Death is vicious, death is violent, death is vile. And at this point, you should see some of your faces, because you're like, whoa. It got heavy quick. This is a lot to process. I think you've given me a lot to think about. Hold on a second, I'm not done. I realize we've gone Donnie Darko pretty good here, but what I want you to understand is that good news isn't good if you don't get bad news first.

And we can't just come in here and be like, yay Easter, and isn't that great, if we don't understand, if our feet aren't standing in a cemetery, because that's what Christ rose out of. That was the circumstances under which the resurrection took place. People grieving, tears streaming down faces, people careening in and out of the stages of grief. The resurrection is only possible and necessary because of death. It's necessary because of your death, but the resurrection is possible because of Jesus's death. Here's my whole sermon in a sentence. He went into the grave to get you out. That was the only way you're coming out. The only way I'm coming out is that he went in. So now that I've told you three things about your death, let me tell you three things about Jesus' death. Jesus' death, number one, was voluntary. Voluntary. And I love it. I love that Jesus didn't have to die, he chose to die. Friend, it wasn't nails that held Jesus to that cross, it was love. It was love for you, it was love for me. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son so that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.

You see this in the fact that Jesus provoked the circumstances under which his death would take place. What do you mean? I mean raising Lazarus from the dead. It's not disconnected from Easter that we would preach about Jesus and Lazarus. This has everything to do with Jesus's death. What do you mean? I mean him calling Lazarus out, as great as it is, it wasn't the big deal that day. I could prove it to you. Lazarus had to die again. And I guarantee you, of all the happy people there at the tomb that day, Lazarus was the least happy about this whole thing. He gets to heaven, he's like, this is pretty good. He's just kind of settling into his new room. And all of a sudden, he's getting sucked out. He's like, I've only been here four days, what's going on? And then he's like, oh, back in my arthritic body? This is the worst. Right? He's totally bummed. I mean, I'm sure he's happy. And then he had to die again. He's like, oh, this again? It's like, eventually, that had to, so that was not the biggest thing that day.

It was awesome, but not the thing. The thing was Jesus doing this, because I told you he did it with a lot of people around. This was the most public instance of Jesus doing a resurrection like this of his entire ministry. And the text, we didn't read it, but it specifically tells us that, John 11:53, from this moment on, they, his enemies, plotted to put him to death. Because now people aren't saying, oh, he's a good guy, oh. It's like, OK, they're saying he calls the dead out. We have to stop him. And Jesus intentionally stood in front of that grave and said, Lazarus, come forth. Oh, by the way, church historian Augustine, he said the reason he said Lazarus come out was because if he had just said come forth, every dead person in that grave that day would have got up and got walking around. So he had to be like, no, just Lazarus. And all the other ones were like, oh, OK, OK. OK, easy boys, easy. Easy. Come on, that's amazing, right? That's good. I don't even care if it's not even, like, theological. That's bad to the bone, right?

So Lazarus, come forth, knowing that it would lead to the series of events that would cause him to be on that cross. And he chose to do it. It was voluntary, for me and for you. Secondly, it was also vicarious. It was vicarious. Jesus' death was vicarious. Now, vicarious means done for someone else or done through someone else. You know, a lot of parents live vicariously through their kids. And that can be sweet, but it can also be really unhealthy, meaning, you know, it's like, you have to go to Yale, Billy. Why, Daddy? Because I went to Yale. He says, every man in this family goes to Yale. He's like, OK. And he's like, you have to do gymnastics, Sally. I want to play basketball. Shut up and vault, Sally. Your mom was a great gymnast, and you'll be a great gymnast, so help me. It's like, ah. This isn't really my sermon, but you know, the job of a parent is like the job of an archaeologist. We're to unearth what God put in, not to be changing what's coming out.

We're just trying to sense and see what God put in our kids and coax that out. We're not trying to change the T-rex into a stegosaurus, right? And to cause our kids, we want our kids to walk in God's footsteps, not ours. And it is the height of selfishness to try and live vicariously in a way that would distort our kids' calling as opposed to them just hearing God's voice and us being the biggest fan, we would do well to have our kids know that we are pleased with them so long as they're doing what God put them on this earth to do, and that we're going to cheer them on regardless of whether it's our career path or the sport we played or this or that or the other. But when I say Jesus died vicariously on the cross, like I said, it's doing something for someone or doing something through someone. And both are kind of involved here because, listen to me, he didn't just die on the cross for you, he died on the cross as though he were you. That's what the Bible says. It says in 2 Corinthians 5 that God made him, Jesus, who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. As he hung there on the cross, he was vicariously dying for you, as God put all the sins that we've committed on him.

God treated Jesus like we deserved to be treated so he could treat us like Jesus deserved to be treated. And if you put your faith in Jesus Christ, God looks at you and sees the righteousness of God. And some days, you feel bad. Oh, I haven't been to church in a while, I haven't read my Bible in a while. And God's like, I don't know, you look like Jesus to me. And when you fall and when you feel lousy and you feel like I haven't been praying, and God just says, I only see Jesus, I always see Jesus. Because as Christ hung there, he paid for your sins. He vicariously died for you that day, died as though he were you that day. His death was vicarious. And that's not all, because for the vicious and vile and violent death that we experience here on this earth, we have Jesus', what is it, it's his voluntary, vicarious and, praise God, his victorious death, because he didn't stay dead.

After he was taken off the cross, he was put into a grave, and on Easter Sunday he rose out of that grave, and he lives today. He was dead, but he is alive. He lives forever. And he can offer the resurrection life to you so that, when you die, you'll know that your soul is in heaven, but you will know that one day your body will rise from the grave. And on that day, ain't no grave gonna hold your body down. He'll stand in front of your grave and say to it, come forth. And you will one day once again live in a refashioned, reformed, resurrected version of the body you live in today. And you will live in it forever. And that is the crown jewel of Christianity. Nay, that's not even deep enough. That's not even enough. That's not big enough. That is the Christian faith. That is the Christian faith. That's the totality of the Christian faith, meaning we're not just following Jesus because he said nice things and did some miracles.

You know, and I think there's this kind of movement afoot to kind of reshape Jesus into this kind of just vegan-eating, you know, guy who said nice things, and man, that guy Jesus, he's the best, you know? Almost like he's just Mr. Rogers with a beard. And to you kids, ask your parents or Google it to figure out what I'm talking about. But just with a cardigan who mostly just wants us to share more, you know? But that's not Jesus. Jesus was radical and wild and said ridiculous things like, I'm God. And if you believe in me, after you're dead, you can have life again. Now, if he's not able to deliver on that, he's not, oh, he's so nice. No, he's a whack job if he didn't rise up from the dead. But because he did rise from the dead and was seen by as many as 500 eyewitnesses who had no incentive or reason to follow him, John is a perfect example. John. He's Zebedee's kid. He's just part of a rich fishing family. He has nothing to gain by following Jesus, but Jesus calls him, so he follows him. And it's pretty wild. He's seeing some things. He's like, man, this is great. Jesus is the guy. And so he thinks it's all going to go one way, but then Jesus gets killed. His disciples were horrified. He thought Jesus was going to be this epic Jewish messiah turned king, and not get slaughtered.

When he got slaughtered, they thought the party was over. They were all going back to their old life, back to fishing, and they're like that was a fun run, but it's done. And so they were mostly scared that they were going to get arrested, too, and get killed, guilt by association. But then Jesus shows up, he's like, wazzup. And they're like, ah! And then he's like, touch me, feel me. Like, ahhhh. And then they're like, what can we do? This guy's got the goods. He rose from the dead. So what's the sermons in the early church? Read the Book of Acts. The first two sermons, they're just like, Jesus is alive. You killed them. That was not a good move, by the way. But he's alive anyway. He'll forgive you if you come. 5,000 people were saved in the first two sermons preached. Why? Because they were saying Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive. If you'll follow him like we are, you'll have life. It was just this radical, unexpected twist, this scandalous, too-good-to-be-true-but-is-true story, that this guy who conquered the grave and shares his life with anybody who will follow him, he'll let you be part of the way. The way? Yeah, because remember when he said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.

The notion of Christian didn't come till much later, and it was an insult. People were trying so hard to follow the way that they were getting made fun of. Have you ever been made fun of for following Jesus? I have. It's a wonderful thing. Jesus said, you should actually consider that a compliment. And so if you get made fun of for following Jesus, I mean, think of how Jesus got treated. Not particularly well. He got crucified. So we're gonna follow him, of course there's gonna be flak. Of course not everyone's gonna understand it. Of course they're gonna say all manner of evil about it. We just can't let that develop into a bitter spirit or a wounded heart. We have to have a tender heart but some thick skin to where we can handle it and love people anyway, love people anyway, love people anyway. Turn the other cheek, and love them anyway. And so they're following the way, they get made fun of, and people are like, you're just a bunch of little Jesuses. And the believers were like, that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said.

And so they took an insult and they put the word circus on their hat. Yeah, love it. Come on. Purveyor of humbug. Like, this is great, this is fantastic, I love the circus. They put the insult, that's why we call ourselves Christians, because we put the insult on our hat and said, yeah, we are Christians, we are proud to be followers of the one called Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified but rose from the dead. And so if he's not alive, we don't have anything. Paul put it this way. He said, look, if Christ isn't risen, then our preaching is empty, and your faith is also empty. I like how J. Vernon McGee put it. He's an old Bible commentator. He's in heaven. I love his Thru the Bible commentaries, read them every week. He put it this way. He said, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very heart-blood of the Christian faith. We cannot make too much of the death of Christ, but we can make too little of the resurrection of Christ.

So without it, we don't have power. The resurrection is the power of our faith. He went into the grave to get us out of it. But don't miss this. The resurrection is not just meant to affect your eternity, but also your journey. Jot that down. The resurrection, what we're talking about, is not just meant to be something for, OK, I'll file that away for when I die one day. You know, because if you're honest, some of you are here, you're reasonably certain there is no God, but the only reason you're here is just to make sure in case you're wrong, and you're hedging your bets a little bit. You know what I mean? And this is probably a good weekend as any because this is probably when God takes attendance if he is real. And you know, but here's the truth. To only think of what is our relationship with God in terms of life after death is to miss out on some of the best parts of what Jesus died for you to experience.

And that's life during life. In fact, it was this very thing, this pushing off of eternal things until just some far-off distant thing that caused Jesus to give us the 7th I am statement. Because Martha, you'll remember, when Jesus said, your brother's going to rise again, she goes, I know, I know, he'll rise again one day. Translation, I know heaven is a better place, I know that heaven stuff, yeah, that's great for then. And Jesus said no, you don't get it. I am the resurrection and the life. Present tense. The resurrection isn't some event for one day, it's a reality to change your today. Resurrection, listen to me, it is not what he does, it is who he is. It's not some event, he's going to get to that someday, so when you die, that's great to know that heaven's there, like fire insurance basically. It's not what he does, it's who he is.

And so if you're in a relationship with Jesus, resurrection is what he's constantly doing. He doesn't just want to resurrect your eternity, but your journey. He wants to resurrect relationships. He wants dead things that have died because of shame and condemnation to live again. He wants potential to blossom again. Anything in your life, as you walk with Jesus, you can find it coming to life. You would think, I thought I would never get to see that, I thought I would never gonna do that. I've walked under this for so long. He says, I am the resurrection. He wants you every day of your life to walk in this beautiful journey of experiencing bursts of resurrection, as everything he touches springs to life, springs to life, springs to life. It's not a once-a-year holiday, it's a whole new, energizing dynamic reality that, every time you need a new resurrection, it's only a prayer away. It's only just a moment away. Jesus, you are the resurrection. I need that new life. It's breathing that in. It's receiving new grace. And so I hope for you that this is maybe a little bit eye-opening as a different way of thinking about this notion of Easter, that we first absorb, yeah, Easter's great, but first we're got to talk about death.

So if you don't mind, let's go forward in our mind's eye to our death, each of us. There's gonna come a moment where, under some circumstances, we're gonna breathe for the last time here. And our spirits are gonna leave our body. My question to you is, where will you be one minute after you die? Because Jesus said, if you believe in me, though you die, you will live. And if you let me put spiritual life inside of you, that'll never die. That can never die. Do you know that you're gonna go to heaven? And do you live right now with peace and hope, like an anchor for your soul no matter what you go through, to know that Jesus is with you in the midst of it? If not, would you like to? Would you like to give your heart to Jesus, to invite him in, to have him forgive you, give you hope, give you strength? Maybe you're here at our church and you're saying, with all my heart, yes, what do I need to do? That's the beautiful thing. You can't do anything. He's done everything. You simply must receive it.

And here's how you do that. You ask in faith, you confess it with your mouth, you believe it in your heart. So I'm gonna, in a minute, pray a prayer. And I'm gonna invite anybody in our church to pray that prayer, or church online, giving your heart to Jesus. And then I'm gonna call you to take a bold step of faith. At the end of the prayer, I'm gonna count to three and just give you a moment in time to kind of, like, take a step of faith. So what's that gonna look like? Well, when I get to three, those of you who prayed that prayer, I'm gonna ask you just to stand up to your feet. Just standing up. And by standing up, you're saying, I'm accepting what Jesus did for me. He hung naked and bleeding from a cross for me. I'm not ashamed to say I'm gonna follow Jesus. And I'll say, from personal experience, a public step of faith like that, while being very scary, I'm gonna acknowledge that, will also be one of the most powerful things you've ever done, and a moment you will never forget. I can right now picture exactly where I was and what I was feeling the moment I took that courageous step of faith.

One of the best things I've ever done. Well, the best thing I've ever done. Like, one time I had a great peach. No, no, like the thing. All right? But getting married, the birth of my kids, you know what I'm saying. But you know I do love a juicy peach. It's a delicious fruit. Maybe nectarine a little better. All right, stop. I'm getting distracted. We're gonna pray and invite you to life in Christ. Amen? Let's pray together. Father, thank you for those you're calling to yourself. And we pray even now for many to rise to life. We know it's impossible without your spirit moving. We sense you knocking on hearts, calling people to yourself. With every head bowed, every eye closed, but every heart opened, if you're ready to give your heart to Jesus, pray this prayer with me. I'm gonna ask the church family to pray with us, as well. Dear God, come into my heart. Come into my life. I believe you died for me. Give me new life. I give you mine.
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