Levi Lusko - The Compliment of Unanswered Prayer
Are you ready? Are you ready? Mark 5. "Then they went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills, he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, What do you want with me, Jesus, son of the most high God? Swear to God that you won't torture me. For Jesus had said to him, come out of this man, you evil spirit. Then Jesus asked him, what is your name? My name is Legion, he replied, for we are many. And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, send us among the pigs. Allow us to go into them. He gave them permission and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about 2,000 in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported in the town and countryside".
I bet they did. "And the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been", past tense, "by the legion of demons sitting there, dressed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man, and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave the region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you. So the man went away and began to tell in Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and all the people were amazed".
Now one of the things that just occupies a significant portion of my week, if I'm honest with you, is puzzling over what to call my messages. I probably spend too much time on it, if I'm being honest, because it is really, I mean, you have to have something to write down at the top, I guess, the date, the text. When the message goes out on Spotify, they've got to put something on that episode. They could just put today's date. What are they going to do if I don't send a title one week? Well, let's find out. But that's one of those things that when I read scripture, I'm like, Jesus never gave like a sermon title. You know what I mean? He wasn't like, this is called the Sermon on the Mount. Write that down. He was just on a mountain, so later on, they were like, uh, Sermon on the Mount, right. Paul's Sermon at Mars Hill, Paul's address at Mars Hill, that's just where he was at when he gave this message, right.
So I don't have to give a sermon title, and maybe I'll stop entirely one day. But I mean, we gave this collection of messages a series title, but I haven't even referenced it because when I told you about it, I told the team about it originally, I lost all the energy for that one and I haven't even used it. So they keep putting it down on stuff. I think it's been showing up on stuff, but this isn't even that, so joke's on everybody. But I did make a list of sermon titles that I could use this week. I'm not going to, but I could, and here's the list. I'm going to show you some of my brainstorm. So I was reading this passage and I was just jotting stuff down that came to my mind. You know, this is a brainstorm session so nothing's off limits, right. We could just say anything we want to do, which is how you get to proper creativity.
So here's the first one I wrote down. I wrote down Aporkcalypse Now, right, which is awesome because it has like this Armageddon darkness to it, but it also involves pigs dying, which is good because that's in the passage, right. I'm just being faithful to the Bible, right. Second one I wrote down that I'm not going to go with is Silence of the Hams, which is another brilliant, really honestly, flash of creativity, and this one has more of a horror genre to it, which is appropriate because of thr last 12 months we've all lived out, and it also does again involve pigs dying, which is sort of the center of the story and the most dramatic moment. My personal favorite for my list of message titles that I'm not going to use is The Original Swine Flu, and this one's my favorite because it has a pandemic note to it, but it also has layers because as you think about it more and more, you realize that swine flu, they're flying the swine flew off the cliff when they died, and that one's honestly like a joke within a joke, and it just gets, man, that's nuanced, right.
And then last but not least, sermon titles I am not going with today is, Sooeycide, which is also so cheesy it causes me physical discomfort. But instead, what I would love to have you write down at the top of the notes of remarks I want to make to you from this passage, Mark 5:1 through 5:20, is The Compliment of Unanswered Prayer. That's the organizing thought as we explore this passage. Is it possible that God pays some of his greatest compliments through answers to prayer that he is unwilling to give? We'll come back to that, but let's begin by acknowledging that this is a shocking and startling passage, and I believe intentionally so.
Now of course, this historically did happen. The Bible presents to us exactly what happened, and no one, quite frankly, would make up this if it hadn't, right. It is so ridiculous as you read it and it's presented by no less than three of the Gospels, and you're like, why would they include that. It just happened, right. I mean, my name is Legion for we are many. If you were making up a religion, you would not include this in it. It's just too weird. It's just too packed with details. 2,000 pigs ran off the cliff that day. But it's also intended, I believe, as it's presented, to shock us by seeing an exaggerated caricature of what darkness is able to do in a life given enough time. Played out long enough, ultimately, eventually, inevitably, this man in this state is meant to be for us a glimpse, so to Christmasize it, into the potential future, and be for us a wake up call if we were dabbling with darkness today, sort of a trip for Ebenezer into the ultimate extreme of where you can go if you choose to persist in the way that you're heading if that way is toying with sin and making small compromises.
I wrote down a few different observations based on that premise, that this man shows for us what darkness will look like if it controls you, and I wrote these words down there's a disempowering aspect to giving into sin. Sin always disempowers. Another way to said that would be it weakens you, disempowers you. And the irony as we see this man overcome by sin to the point that, Would you agree this guy is not in control? In the tombs, crying out, cutting himself but not wanting to, unable to be clothed, unable to be bound, clearly not feeding himself, not living well. He is in a completely disempowered state, totally out of control. How does the enemy get us out of control? By offering us the illusion of control.
There must have been something at some point that attracted this man to whatever he did that opened his heart up to darkness, that opened himself up to these demons, right, into the control of the enemy upon his life. He had to get something in the deal, but what happens, I think, we will all agree if we can think about times that we've given in and made small things that have got more and more out of control, is that at the beginning, what we thought we were going to get out of it is very different than what we eventually and ultimately got out of it. All Faustian myths have that in common, that at the beginning, the reason you chose to make the compromising decision that you did and put yourself out there was there was some rush you were going to get from it, some thrill that you were going to gain from it, some power.
So Satan, here's the thing about Satan. He gives power to take power. It's the opposite of Jesus who allows weakness to give us strength. Satan promises life but brings death. Jesus acknowledges that the way to follow him is to pick up our cross and choose death, but in choosing death we embrace life. What is spoken, I was speaking this week at a service. It was really beautiful. Jennie and I were invited to come to Mississippi this week and speak at a revival they were doing. They brought college students in, and all over Mississippi they brought college students in, and we spoke twice at revival, and they just said, would anyone like to get baptized. One and two, by the end of our service, 38 college students have taken the plunge of baptism. It was remarkable watching them come out of the water, and it was so cool because our baptismal tanks that we bought on probably Amazon are black, and everything in our church is black.
And you know, you just watch them come out and watch people come out, every time just a hot mess. But this was a really weird situation because it was like a Shamu tank, and so it was Plexiglas. And I'm sitting in the front. I just finished preaching and they're baptizing, and so you could see them under the water. It was weird in some cases, TMI, but in many cases, to watch their faces. But what stuck with me was every single time, those who were baptizing them put them under the water, they said, identifying with Christ in death, buried with Christ in death, buried with Christ, buried with Christ, buried with Christ. 38 times I heard, buried with Christ. That's the way of Jesus. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, if you would follow Christ, you will hear him saying, come after me. I welcome you to die. Whenever Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. That is what, he's upfront about it. Take death and you receive life. Die to yourself. Die to yourself. You receive life.
Satan is like, no, no, you don't need to do that. Here's life. He promises life only to give death. You see it in the Garden of Eden. You see him saying, did God really say, don't eat from that tree? Well, yeah, he said, if we eat it, we'll die. You will not die. Do what I say, you'll have life. Your eyes will be open. You'll have the greatest life ever. And what do they do? They chose to follow him and it gave them a hit of power right away, but then ultimately he disempowered them. They're cast out of the garden. Sin always has in its mind your disempowering. What you think the Midas touch will bring is great, everything I touch will turn to gold. And it turns out to be a curse, not a blessing.
Second thing, this is not my message, we're just setting things up here, is that sin's control in your life will always be incremental. That's the second word, "incremental". that is to say, the devil plays chess, not checkers, and so where your first move in the game, your first temptation in the game is always going to be justifiable. You'll always be able to talk yourself into it. You'll always be able to sort of rationalize it. And if someone says, should you really be doing that, and even your own conscience that flares up and goes, you shouldn't be doing that, that's not really, you'll be able to go, but no, you don't stand, dadadada, right, dadadadada. And the enemy never comes to you right away with what, long term, he envisions you doing. It's always just the foot in the door, just a little bit more, and then you kind of say, well, that wasn't really good but I did this, so really, but I'm in control here.
And you go, well, I'm not going to do that. This guy at the beginning of his journey, whatever that was, he would say, I'm never going to be naked in the cliffs cutting myself with stones. Like, why would I do that, right? Who wants to be howling out in pain coming off of heroin. I would never do that, but this small compromise, this little, I'm not going to become a meth addict. Nobody sees what the enemy sees, and that is the end in mind that he intends. James puts it this way. "Each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, he's dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, he gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to," say it with me. Death.
So that's where he wants to take you, one small compromise after another. Like the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill, it gets out of control fast. I would never cheat on my wife, but that friend at work who's fun to talk to, is it flirting, is it not? We're together sometimes. There's no doubt a connection and a chemistry. This is how you torpedo your life, slowly. Sin is disempowering, incremental. It divides. This man was split into pieces. What was his name? Legion. That's a number in the Roman army that means 6,000, which ever since I've been preaching, I've been using this joke, that that's a lot of demons no matter how you count it, and he's pretty well on holy Holiday Inn at this point, right. I figure anything over 4,000 is a bunch of demons. That's just a lot of demons. That's how I preached it in the youth group 20 years ago, and that's how I'm preaching it today. Sin always splits the self.
Now, I'm not saying you as a Christian, you're going to have a bunch of demons, and more and more of you. Obviously, as a Christian, I believe that you can't be demon-possessed, that a demon can't live in you because Christ lives in you, and he refuses to be a roommate to darkness. But the enemy does want to split yourself into pieces. And how does it work? Here's how it works. You give in to sin, and you do it but now you have to hide it, and now you have to keep straight what you did that you hid. And so you're always in the moment back here going, now, wait, what did I tell the who, and where did I say I was going to be, and what is it that I told my boss about this purchase, that it was business or personal? And so you're always having to do complex calculations, and who do I act like in this situation, and what do I put out on this social media platform, and what do I have to do to please you here but also, you see what I'm saying? Sin always splits the self.
James said that a man who does not believe God, does not walk in faith, and to not live of faith is to live of sin by definition, is unstable in all his ways. He's a double-minded man. Double-minded, double-minded. That word literally, if you unpack the Greek, is split-souled or fracture-souled. Sin or not walking in faith fractures off a part of yourself, and now it's a piece, and it's a piece, and it's a piece, and it's a piece, and it's a piece, and it's a piece, and it's a piece, and remorse and guilt and shame gets wrapped around it, and now you're acting out of the shame, and now you're covering up the wound. Now what are you doing? You're walking around. You're not just you, you're Legion for we are many. This is who I am on Sunday. This is who I am on Friday. This is who I am on Tinder. This is who I am on Facebook. I am Legion for we are many. It's complicated. It's confusing. It's exhausting.
And it is impossible to be at peace, at ease and comfortable in your own skin, and it starts out at the youngest age when difficulties you face, you're not able to process properly. You develop, you develop, you develop these coping mechanisms. You develop these defense mechanisms, you develop these shields you put up, these walls that you put up, to protect yourself from being hurt no doubt, but it always causes you to be divided, thus weakened, for unity releases strength and division amounts to weakness. So the devil wants to divide you from your spouse, from your pastor. He wants to divide you from unity with other believers. He wants to divide you from God, but he also wants to divide you from you, which is why David prayed, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth".
Notice, "give me an undivided heart". David said, God, I don't want to be Legion. I just want to be David. I just want to be David at church, David in my marriage. I just want to be David with my friends. I don't want to have to sort and sift through my mask closet and pick out the appropriate one to wear for the moment. I just want to be David, forgiven, healed, anointed, called, marred, chosen, loved, broken, David. That's all there. That's all there in who I am. That's all there in what we are, and to the extent that we have an undivided heart, we will get to be comfortable in our own skin, grounded and present in the moment, not always doing calculations and computations in the back of our mind, able to actually then be positioned to be of benefit in any given situation. Still not my message, but it's important to know, which is why Parker Palmer said, "The divided life is a wounded life, and the soul keeps calling us to heal the wound".
Fourth and fifth, sin uncovers and then alienates. The devil does not just want to tempt you to do wrong. His end game is to uncover the wrong. Now at first, he presents himself to be an ally, but then when you give in to him, he goes to the other side and becomes what the Bible describes him as, the accuser of the brethren. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is a demon who masquerades as an angel of light, and so the slithering serpent first shows up docile and tame as your friend, got advice for you. Girl, you've had a day. You need some fruit, right. That's what he'll say. He'll bring you that comfort of sin. David, you've had some battles behind you. Bathsheba's in front of you. You should let yourself have that as a treat. You should reward yourself with that. But then his ultimate endgame is to expose it, is always to expose you, and heap accusation and condemnation upon you for what you did so that he can alienate you, which is why you've been there, I've been there.
In a backslidden state, when you think about going to church, you'll play these kind of mental gymnastics. Oh, I can't go because I haven't gone in a while, and I did all this. I'm not worthy. So you'll think to yourself, I need to straighten some things out, get better, work on this stuff, improve this, and then I'm OK to go to church, which is to buy into the lie that church is a museum for holy people and not a hospital for broken people, which is what this thing is, y'all. But he'll do the same thing with prayer. I can't pray because I haven't prayed. He's keeping you back from the cure. He's not only uncovered. Look, you can't do this because look what you've done. Therefore, you might as well just do this, and now he's going to heap you onto the next thing. He also wants to alienate you, which is why you will not pick up the phone when your Christian friend calls you to check in on you, because you don't feel worthy of the friendship or worthy of the love. He's trying to alienate you and keep you out in the tombs and not receiving the help from people positioned to bless you.
All right, so having gone through all that, we can finally get to the real message because this man in this state who represents the darkest, ultimate condition any one of us could be in, that he lock, stock, and barrel has embraced the devil's plan, given incremental control over himself to the point that, this is crazy, he no longer can be bound with chains anymore. Did you catch that in verse 3? He can't be bound anymore there. Was a point when he could be bound. There was a point when he could be comforted. There was a point when he could be talked down out of the mood he was in, but he got more and more out of control, harder and harder to not give in, and now he is completely out of control, out of any human being's ability to do anything good for him until he meets the Son of Man who can solve problems no man can even touch. No man could bind him, but Jesus Christ with a word unlocks him, and frees him, and heals him, and changes him, and this man ends up sitting clothed and in his right mind, which is, in the New Testament language, a picture of maturity. Maturity is what you wear and how you speak and the thoughts that you think.
That's why Romans 12 talks about having your life transformed by your mind being renewed. You see, your actions start in your mind. So if you can think right, you can ultimately live right. This man in his right mind is now going to live a productive life, live a healthy life, live a wholesome life and contribute to human flourishing, and he's clothed. The New Testament says it is high time that we take off the clothes of darkness, put on the clothes of light, that we present ourselves as covered in Christ. So here's a man who has come a long way real quickly, and time with Jesus will do that for you. He's been set free, y'all, OK. And he comes to Jesus and asks him, can I join your team? Can I join your team, right. And we would think Jesus is so fired up on this, because this guy, regardless of his backstory, seems leaps and bounds in levels of maturity beyond the current help Jesus has around him. And all you have to do is glance at the previous chapter to get a snapshot of the terrified disciples.
Mark Chapter 4, they wake him up from a dead sleep. This guy is having a pleasant nap, and they're like, we're going to die! There's a storm! Do you not care that we're drowning? And Jesus says, what's the matter with you idiots? Don't you know I'm here? Right, I'm good. What's good? He says to the storm, stop, and it's still. And then they come to the other side of the lake. They travelled six miles. Why did they go through the storm? Why did they go across the lake? Because Jesus had an appointment with this man. So we would think Jesus would be fired up to a magnitude of 10 that he would have this man on his team. And what an opening act, honestly. I mean, can you imagine? I mean, they get to a new city and they set up a service, and someone does a song or two, and then this guy gets up and is like, hey, I know I seem pretty clothed and in my right mind, but there was a day, I tell you what. #Naked, right, snap some chains, just show the whole thing, and they talk about the pigs and show some PowerPoint images.
And all right, Jesus, they're ready for you, right. Eventually, it would be amazing. I would have that guy share testimony at a service, easy. Which by the way, tells me something. It tells me that a clue to discovering what you are called to is taking a cold, hard look at what you've been through. Anything in your life that you've had to face that's hard can give us a glimpse into what God has for us. We tend to try and close those chapters and bind them with a chain. My years in pornography where I was held with that darkness that I gave myself to incrementally from sixth grade forward, and I'd have been fine when I got to writing a book about relationships and sex and dating to leave that out because it's shameful. But God told me, Levi, there's other people who struggle with that too, and you talking about what I've delivered you from can help other people have hope that they can be delivered from what they're fighting a difficult battle with.
So a clue to discovering what you are called to is actually acknowledging, here's what I've been through. Here's what I've done. Here's where I've been. Here's where I fell and here's how good God was. And so here's this guy. He's like, I'm willing to do that. I'm willing to do that. I'll tell my story, Jesus. Let me come and help you. You do some ministry. I'll just be there to help you. I'll carry your bags. And what does Jesus say to this man? Who by the way in this chapter, Jesus has a track record of answering prayer. Don't tell me prayer doesn't work. The demons ask to go into the pigs and Jesus answered their prayer. In fact, in one translation, I think it's the New King James, when the demons say, send us into the pigs, it says Jesus at once gave them permission. So they didn't even have to keep asking. They didn't have to have like an all night prayer vigil. They didn't have to have 21 days of prayer and oinking, you know. They just got to, that's my new title. I'm writing it down. Put it on the website. They just got their answer, bam, right. Let us go into the pigs. You want it, you got it, right, and off they go.
And then the townspeople pray, Jesus, we want you to leave because you've cost us financially, and honestly, we don't even care that you gave us back a son of the city. The money means more to us. 2,000 pigs, do you know what they were worth that you drowned? Go away. And the Bible says, immediately Jesus got into the boat. Translation, he will not stay where he is not wanted. He will not stay where he is not welcome. Is Jesus in your marriage? Is Jesus in your heart? Is Jesus in your life? Have you invited him in? He will come in if you invite him but he will not force himself into your story, meaning he is a respecter of your own decisions, your own privacy. The Bible says that he will not always strive with man. He knocks. He waits to be wanted. He waits to be welcomed. If you seek him, you will find him, but he will not he will not force himself to be worshiped. We have free will. He gave it to us as a gift that there might be something called love.
And so Jesus is answering everybody's prayers, demons, townspeople, but this guy has a prayer, and the prayer is, may I go with you, and Jesus says no. What are we to do with this? I believe that we are to walk away with this realization. There is a reason for every rejection and an assignment in every denial. Perhaps there's a compliment God is paying when he does not answer a prayer, for when the man is told no, that could have been for him an opportunity to get hurt. Agreed? What, you're saying I'm not good enough? Oh, man, talk about your insecurities playing. Oh, you don't like demon-possessed people, formerly? What was it that caused him to begin dabbling with the darkness in the first place?
Chances are good it was some sense of, I'm not enough, so all of that would have been flaring up. I'm still not enough. I'm worthless. Jesus doesn't want me. I'm good enough for him to save but not enough for him to call. All that would be going on. But then Jesus offered him hope, and the hope was, I have an assignment for you, and the assignment was not to come with me and help me to minister, but I have ministry for you to do. Go to your home. Tell them what I've done for you. Tell them how much mercy I've had on you. Who? He says, your friends. Go to your family. Go to those who love you and those you love. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you. Perhaps prayer is less about us getting our will done in heaven and more about heaven's will being accomplished on Earth. And to that end, we can maybe just come to a place where we will see in the nos God gives, as much purpose and as much love and maybe even more honor that he's showing to us then in the yesses that he gives.
Maybe Jesus saw that this man was ready for rejection, for when he came to the test of am I going to get offended or not, he also had the opportunity to grow. For as Luke 7 puts it, "blessed is he who is not offended because of me". one of the biggest tests you will ever face in this life is being able to be offended against and not choose offense. You see, offence is an event but offended is a choice. And an offencing event took place. No, you can't come with me. But blessed was this man who chose to see that I'm not going to live in offence, and I'm going to see inside the rejection a reason. I'm going to see inside this denial an assignment.
I want to read to you a statement CS Lewis made in an essay on prayer that I've been pondering over and turning over and over again in my mind. It's a little dense, so you have to work hard as we read through it, but I believe there is a massive statement he makes in it. He says, "I've seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous, but they usually come at the beginning, before conversion or soon after it". The dramatic saving of this man being miraculous, no doubt. "As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals too are not only more frequent, they become more unmistakable, more emphatic. Does God then forsake those who serve him best? Well, he who served him best of all said near his tortured death, why hast thou forsaken me? When God becomes man, that man of all others is least comforted by God at his greatest need". And then he concludes, "if we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent with far less help to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle".
When you become an officer in the army or a private in the army, you have access to endless help and support. There is a base around you. There's always a convoy of something coming. There's a mess hall where a cook has made meals. Someone's taking care of where you're going to go to the bathroom. All this is sorted out, but the higher levels you would go, to the point that you might be a Navy SEAL or a CIA operative inserted into a hostile nation, you are more or less on your own. I mean, you have to really figure things out. The more sophisticated you become, the less support you're given and tenderness that is available to you.
And what CS Lewis is sort of saying is that perhaps the more God trusts us, the tougher he can be on us and the more he can allow us to do things for him without him needing to constantly prove to us, I'm still here, I'm still good, I still love you, as though we were waking up every day and God was on trial for whether he is there, when in fact, the truth is he proved conclusively, exhaustively, definitively, emphatically once for all on the cross that he is good, that he is willing to love us, save us, take care of whatever is holding us back. And now the question is, when the thing we want most of all, to get into the boat of this situation, to get into the boat of this relationship, to see this outcome that we're praying for, and God says no, but to choose to believe in his rejection is an invitation to something better, to participate in his suffering and to be sent to our homes and sent to our cities and sent to our family to tell them how much God has done for us, and that every day, we're not needing God to prove himself once again. He's there. We already saw that. We've already seen enough. He already saved our soul.
Now we are here to participate with him, to bless others, to show his love to people around us. And so Jesus and the disciples are sailing off into the distance, and this man's standing on the seashore trusted with the compliment of an unanswered prayer. Maybe the greatest thing God will ever do through you will begin with a prayer he says no to. The man turns on his heel and heads to his home, but he doesn't stop when he's told those who live there what Jesus has done. That's why my last point, we're going to end here, is that whether God gives a little or a lot through your life is entirely up to you, for this man, the Bible says, began to tell and tell and tell and tell and and tell and tell and tell and tell and tell and tell, until great grace spread marvelously throughout the entire Decapolis, a Greek word that means 10 cities. 10 cities, this formerly demon-possessed man at the time of the writing of Mark's Gospel had spread the word of God's goodness all throughout.
You can have as much as you want. The question is, will you be offended at the unanswered prayer and stop praying? Will you be offended at the no God gave you instead of the yes in his sovereignty and wisdom? Will you be quick to assume that God's not on the job after a month or two or a year goes by where he hasn't coddled you with the initial goosebumps you got when you first gave your heart to Jesus, and conclude that it's not working? Will you get bored of the same old, same old of small group and discipleship, small group and discipleship? Will you need novelty? Will you need new stimulation? Or can you just, is the mission enough? Is the mission enough of, Jesus saved my soul and I got to tell other people about it. Jesus touched me and he told me he wanted me to go into all the world and tell the gospel to every creature starting in my own home, starting in my own neighborhood, and until this city and the next city, and the next city's done. Until that's done, I'm not done.
I don't need him to come back and tell me about the boat. I don't need him to come back and give me anything else. I'm just going to continue to tell the goodness of the kingdom until I see the king return. Ten cities this guy touched. Spurgeon said, "If the Lord does not pay in silver, he will pay in gold, and if he does not pay in gold, he will in diamonds". This man got diamonds because he didn't get pissy or huffy when God rejected his request for silver. "Blessed are the poor in spirit". How do you get to be poor in spirit? God has to say no to something you prayed for. You weren't praying for poverty. What do you get? The blessing, the compliment of the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn". Let me tell you from experience. You only mourn when a prayer you prayed is denied. The compliment is you're opened up to comfort. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled".
In this coming year, in these 21 days, this message is not to say I don't believe in the power of prayer. I hope you see many prayers that you pray come to pass, but I also pray, Fresh Life Church, that you will see that there is indeed a compliment in the prayers he doesn't choose to answer the way that you pray to him.
And Father, we are humbled by what you did in this man from the Gadarenes, in the way that someone so broken, so hurt and so marred could be touched, changed, called, trusted, and not working at a church, not being a part of the apostolic crew, impact ten cities. And so I pray, would you do the same for every teenager who's stepping into a high school, for every single mom, for every dad, for every person who just seems like they're just up against so much? And they're wondering, why God seems to work in so many other people's lives but not in theirs. I pray they would see that you are present and not far, and that it is because they are indeed stronger they are being less tenderly treated, that you are honoring them not by coddling and giving in to every little prayer they pray. You are not a pampering God, but you are in equipping God, a calling God. You are a consuming fire. So Jesus, help us to have the wisdom to not get offended but to embrace the daunting path of discipleship you call all of our feet to walk.
And as we close our service, we do want to give a moment to invite anybody who's never trusted the Savior to do so. This is no mere formality. This is us practicing what we're preaching and saying, we've been saved. We are that demoniac in this story. To one degree or another, we all open our lives to darkness, but Jesus saved us with a word, and we want that for you. If you're with us at every location and you've not trusted Jesus, but you would say in this moment, I want to, your pulse is quickening, you feel a sense of him knocking on the door of your heart, I would say if you feel that, if you sense that, give in. Today is the day of salvation. The Bible never says you can be saved tomorrow, but it says you can be saved today.
Open the door of your heart to Jesus. He will come in. He will save you. Following him will not be safe or predictable, but his paths lead to peace. I'm going to close before we pray the concluding prayer for anybody who would like to trust Jesus for salvation with John 10:10. Jesus said, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and life to the full". If you would rather have your soul dominated by a good shepherd who wants to bring you to life and he's going to get you there by taking you through death as opposed to the thief who promises life but has nothing but death for you, then pray this prayer with me. Pray it in your heart. Pray it with your lips out loud, and I believe you will be saved. Say this:
Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I'm incapable of saving myself, but I hope that you can save me. I believe that Jesus died for me and rose from the dead, so I surrender. Come into my life. Give me an undivided heart. I will follow you, whatever that means. In Jesus' name.
Now with head still bowed, eyes still closed, I want to give you a moment to nail that down I'm going to count to three in just a moment, and when I get to three, I would love for you to shoot your hand up at every location if you just gave your heart to Jesus. It's a small demonstration of what's happening on the inside of your heart. When I get to three, shoot it up. One, two, three. Shoot your hands up. p. We're celebrating with you, every location, making that decision. You can put your hands down. We are so excited, every single one of you.