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Levi Lusko - Swipe Right


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Levi Lusko - Swipe Right

I released a book this time last year, about a year ago, called Swipe Right, The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance. And I thought I would speak out of that topic tonight. It's a book all about God's plans for human relationships, whether you're married, or you're single, or you're in a dating relationship, or you're divorced, whatever your state is. It's a book all about God's heart on sex, God's heart on a relationship. It's not like a book, though, this represents 12 years of work.

My wife and I of 12 years have labored on the message that's tucked into this book, and I'm going to talk around this subject tonight. But it's so serious to me that here's how I describe it. It wasn't like I finished my first book so I needed to write on something, so, oh, I don't know what, here's what I'll write about. I'll write about sex and romance. I felt about this book if I didn't put into book form and put it out into the world what God kind of gave to me, it would have been sin because the Bible says to know to do good and not to do it, it's sin.

And so I knew I had to do this. And so I'm really excited to have the chance to speak out of it, but because in 30 minutes you can't pack up 250 pages into our time together, I'm going to give you a couple of big ideas. But if you at all want to know more about God's plans for your relationships, sex life, dating, there's a lot about marriage in here. There's one chapter called "Date Your Mate, or the Devil Will Find Someone Who Will". And you're like, I don't need a marriage book. Marriage is a long way off for me.

Let me tell you something, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But God has a pound of cure too. There is a balm in Gilead. He is the great physician, and so it's not too late for any one of us. The best time to figure out God's plans for marriage is when you're not in one yet. When's a good time to learn how to fly a helicopter? Ideally before you're in one. You know what I'm saying? So this, let me tell you for real, high school age, college age, this is the time to learn about marriage because it's much better to build a good marriage than it is to try and fix a broken, janky, busted down one. You know what I'm saying?

But if you are here, and you're like, but I have a busted, broken down, janky marriage. OK, hey, God can work for you. He raised his son from the dead. It ain't over even when it looks like it's over. Amen, somebody? But talking about relationships, sex, and dating, the title of the book, title of my message, is Swipe Right. Swipe Right, someone say, swipe right. Swipe right. But before we explain what that means, we've got to acknowledge the fact that there's a lot of swiping going on, isn't there? There is a lot of swiping going on. They say the average American swipes the screen of their cell phone 150 times a day now. Which means over the course of the next 30 minutes, as I'm preaching to you, on average, we would touch our phone five times. Reach for it, light it up, do something on it, put it away, 150 times a day or once every six minutes.

A lot of swiping going on. They say we're doing this so much, and we're doing it so commonly and so often, it's actually becoming involuntary. And many Americans say they are developing something called phantom vibration sensation. You know what that is? It's where you feel like your phone buzzes because you've got a text or an alert, and so you grab your phone, but no one texted you. Has that ever happened you? Raise your hand. I want to see in church. Yeah. Oh my God, look at you guys. This is where the addicts are right here. It's so weird because you're like, oh, bzzz, got something. And you'll grab your phone, and you light it up, and you're like, huh? I could have sworn I... that's OK. I'll just look on Instagram for a second, just buy something on Amazon real quick. That'll be here tomorrow. Honest to God, flying here today, guy next me on the plane, he was talking to someone. And here's how it went.

Yes, I got overnight shipping on the ham radio. You get one too. We still have 24 hours to learn how to use it before the hurricane hits. I'm like, what? So then I went on Amazon. I'm like, well, how much is a ham radio? It'll be at my house tomorrow. I need to figure this, I'm joking. These are the jokes, people. So we're doing this so much, it's messing us up on the inside. It's crazy. And of course, this has everything to do with sexuality because 36% of the internet is pornographic. A full 36% of the data transferred online is porn. And one out of four Google searches is sexual in nature. So there's a lot of swiping going on, and this is now impacting what we're seeing. But it's also impacting how people are hooking up.

You see, there's this enormous proliferation of dating apps. There's dating apps like (I'm not telling you these so you can write them down) OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, Happn, and the biggest one of them all is one called Tinder. Now Tinder, in case you've never heard of it, just look at me with a confused look on your face if you're on it because no one will know. But you might want to put your phone on vibrate. If you get a Tinder notification while I'm preaching this sermon, you will go straight to hell, straight to hell, to hell. That is a fact.

Tinder is an app that you download, and it allows you to find other people who are single and looking to mingle basically. You see someone's profile and you will swipe left if you're not interested in them, swipe right if you are interested in them. And if they swipe right on you, and you swipe right on them, you're brought into a conversation where you can then meet in person, and you'll ask her dad to marry her, and then you eventually get married. That's how Tinder works. I'm just explaining how Tinder works. That's how they invented it to work. How people are using it, though, is a way to have no strings attached sexual encounters. But it's not that popular, so pray for it. That's a joke. It's very popular.

A while back I was doing some research. It turns out Tinder had had over a trillion swipes (with a T), a trillion swipes. Over 100 million downloads in America, so very common. It's actually such a phenomenon, they say it represents one of the two biggest Titanic shifts in dating in human history. The first was when we stopped being nomadic and settled down in agricultural farms. So I mean it's literally one of, its seismic what's happening to us. Rolling Stone's reported on it, New York Post. They're trying to figure out, because in a place like New York, for example, 80% of 18- to 24-year-olds are on Tinder.

So it's so common. And people are foregoing any kind of relationships. They're not just saying I don't want to get married. They're now saying, I don't even want a boyfriend. I didn't even want a girlfriend. Young graphic designer, young lawyer, young guy in marketing whatever, he's like, hey, I don't want to have a girlfriend, but I still want to have sex. So I'll fire up the app, find a new person, have sex with them, and then next morning, it's like it never happened. This is happening two, three, four times a week. And so this is a shift happening in our culture. This is what people are doing. Basically, the mobile app experience has caused sex to be as easy to order as an Uber in our day.

And so the reason I tell you this is because you live in this world. You live in this culture. And as you guys come out of high school, come out of college, enter into life, this is what's happening in our culture. Like I said, there's a lot of swiping going around. One young lady, it broke my heart to hear it, she said in the interview I read (this was in Vanity Fair magazine) she said, young men today have no interest in dating, have no interest in relationships. All they want to do is, quote, hit it so they can quit it, to hit it and quit it, just hit it and quit it. Sex as a commodity, sex like something that you'll grab with Amazon Prime. What are we to do, living in this world full of this constant swiping?

Well, Moses found himself in a similar predicament. Exodus, chapter 2, look at it with me on the screen. This is chapter 2, verse 12 of Exodus. It says so he, Moses, looked this way, you could say he looked to the right, looked this way, you could say he looked to the left. And seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Moses had a passionate feeling. Moses had a great sense of desire. And so Moses looked to the right. Moses looked to the left. And then he chose to take action. But you know this story. You know that this caused him to have to enter a period of going into the desert for 40 years.

Now, the crazy thing was his desire was a good desire. He just acted on it prematurely. He acted on it in the wrong way. God didn't want him to bury one Egyptian in the sand. God wanted him to bury the entire Egyptian Army in the Red Sea, when horse and rider were cast into the sea. But he did the right thing, at the wrong time, in the wrong way. And many of us can do the exact same thing. We don't need to quit swiping. We just need to swipe right, and up is the right swipe. Come on, somebody. If Moses would've looked up, he wouldn't have had to take this action.

So it's not that we need to get rid of our cell phones and go back to churning butter and making our own clothing. The answer is for us to look up and to not just look to the right, not just such a left, not just see what our friends are doing, not just see what they're doing in the movies, not just see what they're doing in Hollywood. But to look up, to lift our eyes to the hills, to see what God has to say, to not say my will be done, but say thy will be done and to believe the father knows best. Because guess what? Newsflash: God wants you to have amazing sex. It's not just pleasurable. It's also powerful. Ironically, once God tells us how to use what he invented and gave to us as a gift, that's where we cop an attitude. Whatever. He doesn't want me to have any fun. But when do you use that logic anywhere else?

Do you go to Home Depot, buy a chainsaw, see all the manuals, like, whatever, they don't want me to have any fun. No, you just intuitively know they don't want you to chop your freaking arm off, right? We assume the best positive intent on Home Depot but get all huffy with God, who made us, as though he doesn't know anything that we don't know. Y'all, I'm 35 years old. Got doesn't even have a birthday. I figure there's a few things he knows that I don't know. And so rather than arrogantly puffing up our chests and stiffening our neck and saying, my will be done, I think we ought to humbly bow our knee and say, thy will be done. That's a better way to live your life.

So here's what God knows that you need to know. When you take what he's told you not to touch, it can keep him from being able to give you what he wanted you to have all along. See everything that happened in the Garden of Eden as proof. But so it is when it comes to sexuality. It's like pineapples. This here is your common garden variety pineapple. Now none of you oohed and aahed and gasped when I brought that out of the tiny crate under that chair. But there was a day when this would have absolutely blown you away to see a pineapple with your own eyes.

You see, they were discovered by Europeans in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And I know it's a drama right now. Los Angeles just disowned him, but here's the thing. When Columbus came to New World, these pineapples which had grown in South America but had then been transplanted to the Caribbean, they had never been seen by any European eyes. And they were dumbfounded by this mysterious fruit that was shaped like a pine cone but juicy on the inside like a Golden Apple. So they called it a pineapple, and he brought it back to Europe. Everybody freaked out. All the royalty, all the kings, the who's who of Europe had to get their hands on a pineapple.

So they would be brought over by the ships that would cross the Atlantic Ocean, and people basically went nuts over them, to the extent that at the height of the pineapple craze, it would have been the ultimate status symbol of a lifetime to have a pineapple in your possession. They were sold in today's currency at the height for $8,000 for a single pineapple. This informed art. This informed architecture.

When Christopher Wren designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London, look at the top. What did he put on top of it? A golden pineapple. They're all over London. They're all over Europe. Y'all thought just it was a Williams and Sonoma symbol of hospitality. That's how it eventually became, but it was power. It was prestige. Many people couldn't get their hands on an actual pineapple that they would own themselves. So they had rental services where you could rent it for the day. You would just rent it. What would you do with it? You couldn't eat it. No, no, no, you couldn't, if you eat it, you bought it, y'all. You would have it in your home, and you would have a party, and it would be a viewing party where at some point in the night they would reveal the pineapple. Whoa. Whoa. Take it all off. And the cover would be coming, they'd be putting dollar bills in the leaves.

Man, you're like, those people from the past are so dumb. Yeah, what do you think they would think about us, just sitting around staring at our Netflix all the time. Ooh, Instagram, right? We think they're crazy looking at a pineapple. I think it's probably more relaxing and better for your soul. That's all I'm saying. So here's what's crazy about this. This obsession went on for a couple hundred years. But then eventually, the demand caused the industrious to realize, I could make a quick buck. So the pineapple plantations started popping up all over Hawaii. Dole got their action on. And the steamship made it easier to get more and more and more and more and more and more across to Europe to the people that wanted it.

And of course as the supply went up, the demand went down to the point that now we have pineapple chunks. This is not something to ogle. This is not something to put on top of a building. This is not something that anybody is impressed by. This is not the ultimate symbol of luxury and privilege because something that's wide available to everybody is hotly desired by nobody. And so it is with sex. I guess sex with everyone is kind of the same as sex with no one. It's just pineapple chunks to be speared one click at a time on your laptop, swipe through one person at a time.

You see, what makes sex so special, what makes sex so amazing, is it was meant to be this ultra guarded experience that out of the whole world, there was one person that you were naked and vulnerable before. It was an ultra exclusive club, so much so that it only had one member in the whole world. That's just this one guarded experience that's to be treasured, that's to be valued. That's what God intends for you to have when it comes to your sexual experience. That's his plan. All right, I want to take the time that remains and expose three lies about sex. If you take notes in church, three lies about sex that maybe, just maybe, you have believed. This is what culture tells us on the subject.

Number one, sex is just a physical activity. This is all around us. It's just biological. It's just what you do with your body. That's what currently, among millennials, that's my generation, born in 1982 and younger, are more and more believing about sex. It's just physical. "Let's get physical". Physical, let's get physical, physical. It's just two bodies touching. No big deal. You and me, baby, we ain't nothing but mammals. So let's just do it like they do on the Discovery Channel, the bloodhound gang saying when I was in middle school.

And that is an honest articulation of a secular humanistic perspective on sex that does not include God. It's just your body. It doesn't matter. You can have a casual encounter. You can boom, boom, boom, swipe. You can hit it and quit it and walk away, and it's like it never happened as long as you do something to prevent unwanted pregnancies and as you are taking the proper measures to curtail the spread of infectious diseases. There is nothing beyond the encounter that you carry on into life.

And God's word says that's simply not true. It's not just biological. It's not just physical. It involves you on the deepest possible level, and the eggs cannot be unscrambled. The two that become one, they cannot be un-oned. You can move on into a new relationship. You can move on and pretend it didn't happen. You can put it behind you. But it still goes on with you on the inside of you. You glued two pieces of paper together. You can tear them apart, but there will be detritus. There will be residue. There will be the sticky residue of the former person that you oned yourself to. Paul put this very clearly, did he not, in the book of Corinthians, this is chapter 6, when he said there's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in scripture, two become one.

Wow. Wow. Which is why you need to be very careful what you do with your body because it impacts your heart. And the Book of Proverbs says, guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it (it's showing up any moment here) flow the issues of life. Any time I randomly start rubbing the bottom of the screen, put a verse up there. I don't even care which one it is. That's just the thing we're going to do this weekend. Guard your heart with all diligence. Everyone say "all". All. Diligence, put your back into it. Put your heart into it because out of it flow the issues of life What happens in your love life, it impacts all of your life. That's right. There's nothing that will impact the outcome of your time on Earth more than who you choose to do that time with and what you choose to do with them while you're doing it and what heaven thinks of that.

So that's the first lie, that there's more to sex than just physical contact. Even pornography is this way. Pornography is sexual experience with someone else through time and space that's not happening while you're in the same room together, right? And that's why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that regular porn users report poorer physical health and higher rates of depression, and those in marriage say if they don't have a background of porn or previous partners, that they report higher levels of enjoyment of the marriage. And if I can get super crass and straight with you, women are twice as likely to have orgasms in the relationship if they're in a committed marriage relationship than in a casual sexual encounter. I'm preaching good on a 10:00 AM, all up in this place.

There is a second lie about sex. Yeah, that one wasn't in last night. I might not be invited back now. You just threw that down. That's intense. All right, second thing you need to know, I can do what I want and have what God wants. This is the lie that we tell ourselves when we're growing up in church. And I don't know if that's your background. That was my background. And this is the lie that basically says, I know that the way I'm living is wrong, and that's why I have an exit strategy. My plan is to be young now and to do what I want now and have a good time now. But then later, I can always pull the ejector button. I can always pull the ejector lever. What are they, I don't fly airplanes. What are they, the ejection seat? I could deploy the mechanism that would cause me to hurl out of my airplane with a parachute in my chair in an upright position.

And I could do that eventually because when I'm older, I'll say sorry. When I'm older, I'll get right with God after I've... here we go, here we go, got it all out of my system. Then I'll serve God. But here's the truth. You don't get anything out of your system by doing it. You put it into your system. It gets loaded into your system. You right now are packing a bag. You are packing a bag. And in the future, you'll have to lug what you load. And what you're loading is what you're living.

So protect your future by living carefully right now. You can't outlive your life. Because as scripture puts it, a man reaps what he sows. Or as Proverbs 6 puts it, I think it's a fresh take on it, can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants? Of course not. What your living now is going to be plaguing you later because long after you've changed your mind, long after you've said, well, now I say uncle; now I tap out; now Jesus, take the wheel, long after you've said that decision, the momentum and inertia of your life is going to continue carrying you in that direction. And there could be for years, or for decades, weeds that are coming out of the seeds that you planted while you were trying to sow your wild oats.

And this notion of a bachelor party, or a stag party, or a girls night out, where you can just have all that crazy sin to just be done with it once and for all, all you're doing is loading your life up with that tender that's going to lead to a wild fire down the road. And so we have to understand that you can't just do what you want and have what God wants. Now, you might be pushing back on this. I get it. The whole sermon is a pushback festival, right? And I'm sorry for those of you at home who can't push back in person because if you were here, you would push back. How would you do it? You would cross your arms, and you would make sure I see it. And you would be like, oh no, oh no.

Well, you know what? In my heart, I receive your crossed arms. But let me just say this to you, let me just say this to you. Your pushback might be, Levi, haven't you ever even read the Bible? God can forgive me. I can do this now and be in my 20s and whatever, whatever, whatever and do this and find myself and self-expression and just figure some stuff out, and I went to Europe for a while, and it's Coachella, and then I can later on say, forgive me God. And if I do, he'll forgive me.

Hey, listen, you won't get any argument from me on that. The Bible's clear. I can actually take it one step further. If you're in Christ now, he already has forgiven you for things you haven't even done yet. OK, that'll... But listen to me. God's highest good for your life isn't forgiving you. He would much rather be blessing you and using you in the coming days rather than forgiving you. Who told you God's highest good is to work out the ramifications of sins that he didn't want you to commit in the first place? I could murder someone today and I believe that, in Christ, I could be forgiven. Where God would look at me, and would be justified, just as if I'd never sins at all. But that doesn't mean that's his highest good for my life. He'll even use me in ministry if I do that, just for the next 50 to 70, it'll be a prison ministry.

Do you see what I'm saying? Consequences and forgiveness are two different things. And the devil has got us so short-sighted that all we see is, well, I can be forgiven or not forgiven. Can I be a Christian and still do this? Can I still be saved and do this? That we're forgetting about walking in our callings, and we're forgetting about our God-given destinies, and we're forgetting about our God-given power because he's poked out our eyes, and he's cut our hair. And we're simply asking the question: is it right, or is it wrong? Instead, we should be asking, at what cost? What power does God want to give me? What freedom does he want me to walk in? What exercise of my God-given authority do I want to give up? The question isn't how close to the edge can I get and not fall? It's how close to God can I walk? And how much of his spirit that can be quenched, that can be grieved, that can be hurt, how many of the dishes do I want out of my sink so God can put the precious wonders in it that he wants to?

One of my favorite versus thinking about this is Hebrews 12, which says in the message translation, "Watch out for the Esau syndrome, trading away God's lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You know well how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God's blessing. But by then it was too late, tears or no tears"? You think about what Esau did. And if you don't know the context of the story. Abraham was this man of faith, great big plan for his life and his family. He was going to be the father of the Jewish nation, the vehicle by which he would bring forth the messiah into the world. And all the particulars of the Promised Land and the plan for those people, all of it was attached to this family line.

And Esau was first in line to receive that promise. All that God wanted to do through his life, all that God was willing to do through his own family as it went forward, he gave away in order to eat a bowl of soup because he let his standards run down. Why? Because it's easy to have lower standards when you're hungry. That's why you should go into a grocery store on an empty stomach. You will just make foul decisions, right? Or you'll do like I do, if I let myself drive home from work with an empty stomach. I'll pull through Taco Bell. My car does it for me. I don't have any choice. It feels like, what am I doing? I'm at Taco Bell. I don't even know... well, I'll just take a chalupa. It's like what is happening to me?

I let myself get hungry. But if I have make sure that I keep bars around, and if I make sure that we have... I told my wife for the new year, just keep always in Tupperware sweet potatoes and chicken breast in the fridge, please. Because if they're there, I'm going to eat that. And if I'm eating something right, I don't have an appetite for what's wrong. It's amazing when you understand your value.

If Esau had woken up that morning that his brother offered him a bowl of soup in exchange for his birthright and had been reciting the promises of God and declaring over himself what God was going to do, and just like God said to Abraham, I'm going to be blessed for 1,000 years, and those who bless me are blessed; those who curse me are cursed, and I'm going to be blessed like the stars of the sky; it's going to be my children, he could have appropriated those promises for himself. Then if when Jacob said, can I have all of your calling for this bowl of beans, he would have pushed the soup off the table and given his little brother a wedgie. Do you know what I'm talking about? But the soup intoxicated him because he wasn't thinking of the eternal. He was only thinking of the physical.

So he, in an evening, gave up what he would regret for a lifetime. And I'm just telling you something. It's easy to give up what matters most for what feels good right now. So think more about your life than just Friday, follow through, follow through, bigger picture, 10 years, 20 years, longer. This is biblical advice, but it's also advice you'll get from some of the great leaders in this world, like Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike. He put it this way in his memoir, Shoe Dog.

"I'd tell men and women in their mid 20s not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling, even if you don't know what that means, seek it. If you're following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear. The disappointments will be fuel. The highs will be like nothing you've ever felt". That is straight out of the Bible, somebody. I'm telling you, if you just keep in your mind when you wake up, my calling, my calling, my calling, and all you do, think follow through. Don't just think right here or right now, what feels good, what makes sense today, what your friends are doing, what they're doing on television and in our culture. Think follow through, think calling. And then even the difficult moments of denial and regret and sacrifice will make sense. And the highs will be like nothing, come on, somebody, the highs will like nothing you've ever experienced.

All right, one last lie, and we'll cut it down. But let me read one more verse to you from that section just because there's no clock, and I can do whatever I want. All right, Galatians 5,13 says, "It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love. That's how freedom grows".

Man, I feel like if that's not a word for our day. Because there's just this pendulum of legalism and antinomianism, legalism and antinomianism. That's a big theological word that describes no law, just do whatever you want. And I feel like we who grew up in the church world, we tend to go the other way. And whether it's with drinking, or whether it's with smoking, or whatever it is that for us was taboo in our home growing up, the tendency is to run away from. I can do it. I have this liberty in Christ. And there's nothing new under the sun. And this has been playing out over and over and over again.

And I'm not saying you shouldn't drink, and I'm not saying you shouldn't smoke. All I'm saying is every decision we make should be done so because we've done it of faith. Because if it's not done of faith, it's done of sin. We should be doing so not to rebel against our parents, church, or whatever else or to be like our friends, but just because we know that that's what the Holy Spirit of God is leading us to do. And what can happen is we were enslaved to sin, and Jesus sets us free, and now we shackle ourselves once again to now new bondage that we bring into our life, addictions we bring into our life. He's saying, what you do with your liberty can lead you back into captivity. And it's so possible for us, who have been brought out of the slavery of sin, to where we were slaves to the devil, and now shackle ourselves willingly by how we choose to abuse the freedom that God's given to us.

I'm going to you the third one, and we're going to get real quickly here. This lie says, sexual temptation and dating, these are only issues before you're married. These are only issues before you're married. Some of you even, like as I began preaching, you could sense, oh, this is a message on dating and all that. I'm good with that. I'm married now, so I'm fine. And you've almost checked yourself out of it. But just so you know, the enemy, his temptations never go away. He just shifts his strategy. He will do everything he can to get you to have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend before you're married and then everything he can to get you to stop having sex with the same person once you marry him. The exact same person, isn't that funny? Because he knows he can get in between you two if he can divide you.

So that's why he's always working through the forbidden fruit. If you right now are not married with someone, the forbidden fruit is that person. And this is why if you're dating someone who's pressuring you to marry you, I love you. I'm going to marry you. We're not stealing anything from anybody else because it's yours and mine technically, since we're going to be married, right? Let me just tell you something: that person is telling you whether or not they respect the authority of God in their life. And you're the forbidden fruit now. There's always forbidden fruit. And the high and the buzz and the fantasy that is you will not be you once you're married because now you're supposed to be who they're supposed to have sex with, and so now, the fantasy and the buzz and the thrill and that euphoria that they're addicted to is going to come from someone else: a co-worker, an assistant, someone they're with on the road, or someone they meet on the internet.

So what we have to do is recognize temptation is not going to go away. The enemy is just going to shift his strategy. And dating shouldn't go away either. When you're married, married people, you've got to date your mate. If you don't date your mate, the devil will find someone who will. Hey. So what you've got to do is you've got to keep working in the relationship just like you did to get the relationship. You know, my wife would tell you if she could grab the mic, she would say, girls, don't just dress up for when you go out with your girlfriends. Don't just dress up when you have an important meeting at work. Dress up just for your husband.

And guys, we should take care of ourselves for our wives and seek to win them and seek to sweep them off their feet still. If your marriage isn't working, it's probably because you're not working at it. You will enjoy it to the level of your exertion. It's not cruise control. A good marriage is spelled W-O-R-K. Come on, the spirit of Rihanna's coming upon me. You've got to work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work. You have to work for what God wants you to enjoy. So these are lies.

There's one final lie, and we have to end with this one. I've already messed up. There's no hope for me. That's a lie. It's a lie. I was preaching this message one time in Dallas, Texas, and a little lady came up to me after the service. And she grabbed my hand, really left an impression on me. She grabbed my hand, and she was probably about 70 years old. And she looked me in the eyes, and there was tears in her eyes. And she said, son, if I could have heard you preach this message 50 years ago, you could have saved me 50 years of regret. And do you know what I said to her? I'm going to say to you the same thing I said to her. I said, "your life's not over yet".

And sometimes there's a sense of despair that settles over us, probably in part because when we have heard this message communicated, we've emphasized God's plan and lifted up on a pedestal the idea of virginity being saved for marriage, but where does that sit with all of us who haven't done things God's way? What does honoring God look like when you've already made a mistake? And I think we should praise the idea and the journey of saving sex for marriage, but I also believe there's always hope. There's always the option to honor God, even in the midst of the darkest place. And so it's not like all or none. If you're here, and you can't say, well, that's what I will experience one day, so there's no hope for me.

No, God said, Jeremiah 29:11, I know the thoughts I have for you, no matter what, no matter how you've messed up. No matter how you've sinned. No matter, even if you feel like the Samaritan woman, and you've been married and divorced five times, and you're currently shacked up with a guy right now, God says, thoughts of goodness, not of evil, to give you a future, to give you a hope. He wrote that to people who were in Babylon as captives because they didn't do things God's way. But he still said, I got plans for you. You're not over yet. And that's what God says to you, but you have to choose to make a decision to enter into his best for your life.

It's not as though you have a scarlet A on you. No, Christ's scarlet blood is the only thing that speaks the word over you that God sees. But you have to choose to say from this day forward. And I believe there's so much power in that statement: from this day forward. You can't change your past, and you can't change the consequences from your past. Those might remain even when you're forgiven. But what you can say is from this day forward, I'm going to honor God. From this day forward, I'm going to fight for his best. From this day forward, I'm not going to be defined by the guys that like me, by the person I'm dating, by these pictures I post for the attention and affirmation that I should be looking to God to give me. Because by the way, your standards get lower when your stomach is empty.

So every day, remind yourself who God says you are, and you won't be looking at anybody else to tell you who you are. That was for free. So listen, you need to say from this day forward. And if you bow your heads with me and close your eyes, I'm going to give us all a chance to be able to do just that. Father, thank you for these words. And thank you for the power of the gospel to redeem and to bring beauty out of ashes. If you're here today at every location, and something in this message has resonated with you: maybe it's dating your mate, maybe it's working for your marriage, maybe it's honoring, because you haven't made any mistakes, maybe it's saying from this day forward because you have.

If that's you I'm describing and something's touched your heart, would you respond to God by raising your hand up in the air? Every single location, just raise your hand up, say God I've heard you. I want to honor you. Every location, just raise your hand up if something's touched your heart today. Maybe your response would be to say I'm going to talk to my kids about this. I'm going to talk to my grandkids about this. Just raise your hand up in the presence of God. Just tell him I hear you, and I'm going to fight for this. Thank you, Jesus. Touched these. Give them strength. Given them grace. Thank you for their honesty and humility. Bless them. You can put your hands down, still praying.

If you're here and you need to give your life to Jesus, you don't have the peace that comes from knowing your sins are forgiven and you're headed to Heaven, I want to give you an invitation, a moment in time where you can ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. I'm going to pray prayer in a moment, and then I'm going to give you the chance to raise up your hand if you'd like to know that when you die and leave this world and that casket closes, or your ashes are scattered, that you're in heaven, and that's what Jesus went to the cross for. It's why he rose from the dead. Salvation is not based on you. It gets placed on you when you receive the grace of God through faith. So if you're here, and you need to be forgiven, at every location, webcast as well, pray this pray with me. I'm going to ask the church to pray it with us. Pray this to God. Say it out loud after me.

Dear God, I give you my heart. I give you my life. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for setting me free. I give you my heart. Please give me new life. I give you mine.


With head's still bowed, everyone praying, no one looking around, everyone having a moment with Jesus, if you prayed that prayer, either for the first time or as a way of re dedicating your life to God, in a moment I'm going to count to three. When I get to three, I want you to raise your hand up. Shoot it up in the air as a way of saying this is my decision. I've given my heart to Christ. I'm going to follow him as my Lord and Savior. On the count of three, just shoot your hand up in the air right where you are, balcony, every part of the church: 1, 2, 3, shoot your hand up in the air. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Come on, let's celebrate church. You can put those hands down. Praise God for all the new life.
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