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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Lot's Lingering Legacy

Skip Heitzig - Lot's Lingering Legacy

Skip Heitzig - Lot's Lingering Legacy
Skip Heitzig - Lot's Lingering Legacy
TOPICS: Crash and Burn, Lot

Would you please turn in your bibles to the book of Genesis, chapter 11. Genesis, chapter 11. Once upon a time, there was a duck. And this duck loved flying in formation with his duck buddies, going north and south in their cycles through the year. And as they were flying north in formation, and they're quacking it up and flapping it up, the duck decided to go down to a barnyard where there were some domestic ducks and eat corn. So he ate corn and he stayed for an hour. And then he stayed for a day. Then he stayed for a week. And he stayed for an entire month. At the end of the month, his buddies were long gone. He decided that life's pretty good here. And he stayed the entire summer away from his friends enjoying his new environment.

Well, when his friends were flying in formation, this time they were heading south for the winter, they flew overhead. And he looked up. And he saw them, recognized them, heard them quacking it up. And a thrill of excitement came to him. With a great flapping of wings, he managed to take himself into the air and start ascending. But he could get no further than the top of the barn because the food had been so good, life had been so awesome that he had grown, well, a little bit heavier. Later on when they were going north again, he saw them and that same thrill came to him. But again, he could not ascend. When they headed south months later, same thing. He would always look up and that thrill was still there. But eventually, as time went on, that duck didn't even look up. Didn't even notice.

What's the moral of the story? It's simple. Fat ducks can't fly. Or to put it in more applicational terms, if you get too comfortable, you won't be able to fly high enough or go far enough. And you can miss the adventure. Some of us have grown content with far less than we should. We think things like, this is good enough. Life is nice enough. I'm spiritual enough. We've sacrificed enough. I've prayed enough. I've read enough. And enough is enough. We grow complacent.

In today's story in Genesis 11, the duck in the story is a man by the name of Lot. He once flew in the wild in formation with Uncle Abraham. But as time went on, he didn't even look up. He didn't even notice that it was time to move on. And he stayed back. Over the years, I've told you about a book and quoted from that famous Eugene Peterson book. It's called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It's a good book. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. If Lot would have been the author of that book, his title would be A Long Disobedience in the Same Direction, because Lot crashes and burns. But it's a slow crash. It's a slow burn. He just makes one little choice after another, little choice after another, little choice, and eventually, the duck gets fat and cannot rise above the filth of the barnyard.

So we're going to look at Lot beginning in Genesis 11. We're going to cover a lot of ground, so I'm going to be filling in the gaps in between the texts that we read. But I want to look with you at Lot's life in three stages. And first is that he followed a champion. That's Uncle Abram, or Abraham. He goes by two names because the name gets changed.

So let's look at Genesis 11. Would you look with me at verse 27? The story begins "This is the genealogy of Terah. Terah begot Abram." His name will be changed later to Abraham, one and the same. "Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father, Terah, in his native land in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai." Her name will be changed later to Sarah. "And the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, the father of Iscah. But Sarah was barren. She had no child. And Terah took his son, Abram, and his grandson, Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law, Sarai, his son Abram's wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. And they came to Haran and dwelt there."

Now, go down to chapter 12 and look at verse 4. "So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his brother's son, all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan."

Here's the story. Abram, a.k.a. Abraham, was called out of a pagan culture, polytheistic, that is, they worshipped many gods, culture. The town was called Ur of the Chaldeans. It wasn't a podunk little village somewhere in Iraq. It was THE town of the ancient world, 300,000 residents, known for advanced studies in mathematics and astronomy. And the capital of that Mesopotamian region called Sumer was Ur of the Chaldeans. But it was pagan nonetheless. It was polytheistic nonetheless.

God wants to call Abram out of a polytheistic culture, get him alone, and reveal Himself to him. And He does this for a very good reason. And that is because if you have noticed anything in your Bible, you notice that God doesn't tolerate rivals. Or God is never satisfied to be one god among other gods, and you know why that is. Because there are no other gods. They're all fake. There is only one true and living God, and God is about to reveal Himself in a covenant to Abram. So He calls him out and Lot goes with him.

Now, to add to the story, there is a tragedy that pushes its way into the family. Abram's brother dies. Or from Lot's perspective, his father dies. It says that he died before his father. Haran died before his father, Terah. That could mean one of two things. Either he died in front of his dad while his dad was watching him die, which would have been a shock. But that's a possibility. Or it could mean that he died chronologically before his father died. It could just simply mean that. Either way, there's a death in the family, either way, Lot has just lost his father, a terrible shock to him. And that just gives us insight into the family life, because nothing affects a family like a death.

One night, I got a phone call from my father to tell me my brother had died in a motorcycle accident. After the shock of that moment comes the cloud that settles over the family for months. That's something of what it was like to be Lot in this story. Plus, there's something else. Did you notice that Sarai, Abram's wife, is infertile? She can't have children. So here you have a childless couple and you have a fatherless child. And because of the ancient culture and customs of that day, Abram and Sarai took Lot under their wing. So wherever Abram goes, he will go as well. And God is calling Abram out. And I bet when He said, Lot, you're coming with us, I bet Lot thought, Yes! He was up for the adventure. He wanted to get out of town.

And again, I can only speak from my own experience after my brother died, after we went through the funeral, after we worked through all of his things, I remember saying to my mom and dad, I got to get out of town. I took a three-month trip across the United States and Canada in my pickup truck just to get away and to clear my head. So I bet Lot just thought, yeah, I want to get out of town. I'm up for the adventure. And so they go.

They pull up stakes. They migrate along the Euphrates River to the west and to the south through modern day Iraq. They come to the area of Haran. They work their way south into the land of Canaan. That's the promised land, Israel. They then leave Israel and go down to Egypt because there's a famine in the land and Abraham lacks faith. They come back from Egypt, back to the promised land, the land of Canaan, and the story picks up in chapter 13. Please look at verse 1 of chapter 13.

"Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the south." Look at verse 5. "Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents." You could sum up Lot's whole life in two words. He was "with Abram." That's his whole life at this point. When Abram stops, he stops. When Abram goes, he goes. If you were to have met Lot on the road, you'd say, "Hey, what's your name?" He'd say, "My name's Lot." "Really? What do you do?" He would say, "I'm with him. I follow this guy. Wherever he goes, I go."

Now, why do I bring this up and why is it important? Because I want you to see the advantage that Lot had in following a champion of faith. That's Abram. Abram will be called "the father of those who believe," "the father of faith." Yes, his faith was imperfect. But the advantage of Lot to be so close and watch up close the decisions and lifestyle of a man of faith is incredible. He was able to watch a man called by God, a man obeying God, a man fall down, falter in his faith, recover from that and move on, all of that of inestimable value.

I just want to impress upon you the incredible value of the godly relationship of a mentor. If you are a young believer and you can attach yourself to an older believer in the faith who has walked obediently before the Lord, it will pay dividends the rest of your life. They will hold you up when you're weak. They will speak into your life with affirmation. They will hold you accountable. They will be available in a crisis.

Think of the disciples. They had Jesus 3 and 1/2 years. They got to hear Him and see Him close up as He healed people, as He prayed. They got to watch all that, hear it in their own ears. Think of Paul watching Barnabas, who encouraged Paul to get into the ministry. Aren't we glad for Barnabas? And then think of Timothy and Silas, and Aquila and Priscilla, and a host of others who were up close with Paul watching him. In fact, Paul will write in 1 Corinthians 11, "Follow my example as I followed the example of Christ." Don't you love that? Hey, I want you to watch what I do, as I am trusting Jesus Christ. I'm following Him. You follow me and watch what it is to be a person of faith. That's a mentor. That's Abram to Lot. Lot followed a champion.

Watching a life is better than reading a book. Watching a life is better than hearing a sermon. And here I am preaching a sermon. But I'll tell you, to see faith lived in a life, it's close up. It's better than concepts far off. Abram was, for Lot, like a buoy, kept him tethered.

Let's go to the second stage of Lot's life, from following a champion to facing challenges. Verse 6 of chapter 13 gives us the challenge. We're told this, "Now the land was not able to support them that they might dwell together, for", or because, "their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land. So Abram said to Lot, 'Please, let there be no strife between you and me, between my herdsmen and your herdsmen For we're brothers.'" Don't you love how he elevates his nephew to the same status? "We're brothers."

"Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, I'll go to the right. If you go to the right, then I will go to the left." Now, I want you to note here that there is no conflict between Abram and the Canaanites who dwell in that land. There is no conflict between Lot and the Canaanites who dwell in the land. No, the conflict is between relatives. The same family. That's where the conflict lies.

I grew up with three brothers. Three older brothers. I was picked on a lot, which explains a lot. When I was growing up, I also had neighbors, like we all did. I don't remember any conflict with any of my neighbors. I remember plenty of conflicts with my brothers, and that's because we lived close together and were experiencing the same things and were in a tight little house. And fights break out.

But I gotta tell you, sometimes I will talk to Christians who get so discouraged that there's disagreements in the Church, in the body of Christ. We're believers. Shouldn't we get along? Yes, we should. But we're a family. We're a family. And this is normal stuff that happens in a family. We're siblings. It's called sibling rivalry. I don't know if it was a Scottish or an Irish wag who said, "To dwell above with those we love would certainly be glory. But to dwell below with those we know, well that's another story."

And it is. There is no conflict between Abram and the Canaanites, Lot and the Canaanites. But there is between the herdsmen and, hence, Abram and Lot. That's where the conflict lies. You'll also notice why they are fighting. It's because they've got stuff. In their travels, they have done business. It has been profitable business. Their stuff has grown to more stuff. There is more employees on the payroll. There is more animals that they're traveling with. And so stuff has grown. There's nothing wrong with stuff, but understand stuff always complicates relationships. It does.

They need more room for their stuff. Now, most of us can relate to this in that whenever you move from one house to another house, it's when you realize how much stuff you have. And you will say, I didn't know we had this much stuff. And some of it's not all that important. Some of it's in boxes and you open the box and go, yep, that's my stuff. And you close the box. And you will never see it again until you move again.

But stuff complicates relationships. I can prove it. Try to get rid of her stuff. Try to get rid of his box of stuff and he'll say, excuse me. That's my stuff. Yeah, but we don't need it. Oh well. It's mine.

So they have stuff and the stuff now complicates the relationships. There's another problem. Did you notice what it says in verse 7? It's written as a footnote but it says, "The Canaanites and the Perizzites dwelt in the land." Get the picture. They're having a fight with each other as brothers and outsiders are watching it happen. They have an audience. They have an unbelieving audience. The world is watching us.

There's a great story, a sad story but true story, about Michelangelo and Raphael. And I mean the artists, not the Ninja Turtles here. The real ones. Both were accomplished artists. Both were hired by the Vatican to beautify the inside of the Vatican. Both were very different kind of artists. One was a painter. One was a sculptor.

But a rivalry broke out between Michelangelo and Raphael. A bitter rivalry broke out. And even though they worked in separate places in the Vatican, it is said that when they passed each other in the hall, they refused to give each other eye contact or even speak to one another. What was ironic about this is they were working for the glory of God while having a fight. Well, people noticed it and talked about it. In fact, all of Rome found out. They were being watched.

Well, in this situation, how does Lot respond? He has to make some choices. He goes from following a champion to facing a challenge to forming choices. He's going to make some decisions. And I want you to follow with me the decisions that he makes and how he makes them.

In chapter 13, verse 10, we immediately notice that Lot forms his choice based upon looks, based on what he sees. Chapter 13, verse 10, "Lot lifted up his eyes and he saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar." Lot was driven by his senses. It looked good. He saw that and went, ooh, that's nice. That ought to be for me. Since I can have what I want, that's the best and I want the best. It looked good.

Now, that should remind you of something we just looked at two weeks ago. I think it was two weeks ago. When Eve was in the garden and that tree was hanging there, and it says, "She saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes." The New Testament calls this "the lust of the eyes." You see, the eyes long for what the heart loves. He saw it and it looked so good.

Remember how in the New Testament, Paul says, "We walk by faith and not by", finish it up, "sight"? We walk by faith and not by sight. Not Lot. Lot walked by sight and not by faith. In other words, Lot is making a choice based upon what looks good to him materially, not what was good for him actually, spiritually. So he formed his choice by looking.

Let's look at something else. Number two, by leaving. He's looking and now he's leaving Abram. Verse 11 tells us, "Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan. Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent as far as Sodom."

So first he's looking in that beautiful green belt of the Jordan plain and he goes, that looks good. I want it. And so now he's separating and moving toward Sodom in that direction. And why is that a big deal? Look at the next verse. "But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked." It's one thing to be wicked. It's another thing to be exceedingly wicked. It's like wicked turned up to 10. "And sinful against the Lord."

So Lot separates from Abram. It's probably a good day for Abram because he didn't have a guy like Lot hanging around him, which could bring him down. But it was a bad day for Lot because for Lot, Abram was that champion of faith. And Lot could have learned so much. So Lot leaves the place of spiritual strength to move toward Sodom.

I have a question for you. How do you make choices? What values are so important to you that when you make a choice, you bring those values to bear in making that decision? For some people, they make a decision based only upon a job offer. Nothing wrong with a job offer, but if life is all about that, there could be some issues. Some people, it's all about the social life that is available to them. For others, it's all about the material accoutrements that are around them.

Griffith Thomas put it this way. "Even professedly Christian people often choose their home in a locality simply for its scenery or its society or other material advantages without once inquiring what church privileges are there. The souls of their children may starve amid worldliness and polite indifference."

Listen. Lot is on a trajectory and it's a tragic trajectory. Lot is making choices in the flesh for the flesh. So he's looking. He's leaving. Third, by living. He's living. Now, watch something. Go to the next chapter, chapter 14, verse 12. I'm only going to read one verse. So I'm gonna fill in the gap now.

Five kings have joined together in a coalition and they attack the region. And they attack the areas, the population bases, and plunder it. And Lot is caught in the crossfire. Verse 12, "They", the five kings, "also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who", what? What does it say? "who dwelt in Sodom." He's living there.

Now remember. Nothing has changed. The men of the city are exceedingly wicked. But he goes from looking to leaving, pitching his tent toward it. Now, he's living in it. You know, I bet if you were to ask Lot, Lot, why are you living in Sodom? Of all places, why Sodom? I bet he would have had a reason, an excuse. I bet he would have said something like, well, there's a lot of advantages to living in a city like Sodom. It's pretty advanced and I've been wandering around the desert for a long time with Uncle Abe. This is good. This will be good for my future. This will be good for my family. According to rabbinic literature, it says, "When Lot separated himself from Abram, he at the same time separated himself from God. And he chose to settle in Sodom because of his lustful desires."

Now, that's rabbinic literature and I don't know if that's true. That's their comments through the years passed down. And the reason I hesitate there is because when I turn to the New Testament, Peter talks about Lot and he gives him an interesting word. Do you remember what he calls Lot in Peter? He calls him righteous. 2 Peter, chapter 2, it says, "Righteous Lot." Righteous Lot, whose soul was vexed day after day because of the wickedness that was around him. I don't doubt that. It's in the Bible. He was tormented by what he saw. But he lived there all the same.

You know, it's one thing to be in a place, you sort of walk around and you just sort of cluck your tongue. You go, that's horrible. Oh, I can't believe. That's horrible. Pretty soon, because you're still there, you become desensitized to it all. Pretty soon, you don't even cluck the tongue. You say, whatever. This is just the way we, this is where we live.

So he's in it. He's living it. He's righteous Lot. He's tormented by what he saw. He's clicking the tongue. But I got to tell you, his wife and daughters aren't too tormented. Because his wife will be longing to go back to Sodom when she's drug out. And his daughters will marry two men from Sodom who will mock the judgment of God when it comes. So looking and then leaving and then living.

But there's a fourth stage in his making of choices, leading. Leading. Now I want you to skip way ahead to chapter 19. One verse, verse 1. Nineteen, verse 1. The story of Lot picks up again. He shows up in verse 1 of chapter 19. I want you to notice this transition. It says, "Now, the two angels came to Sodom in the evening and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and he bowed himself with his face to the ground."

Why is that important? Because you know who sat in the gates of ancient cities? Leaders. Only the judges, only the magistrates, only the politicians. People of influence occupied the place of influence, which was the gate. Because at the gate of the city, the entrance is where cases were adjudicated by judges or by elders. And he's one of them. So he's not just a citizen. He's a leading citizen. He's a politician in Sodom. Nothing wrong with being a politician. But there is a problem with being a politician in Sodom. He's a leader. He is a leading citizen of the city.

To put it in the words of David in Psalm 1, Lot had walked "in the counsel of the ungodly." He had stood "in the path of sinners." And now he is seated "in the seat of the scornful." He goes from a resident of Sodom to a representative of Sodom. And as someone pointed out, if you walk in the footsteps of bad advice, you will soon sit among those who give it. There's Lot, man. He's one of the bosses in town. I can't resist this.

Look at the very next verse, verse 2 of chapter 19. Do you see the word "house" there? Lot's house? I point that out to you because this is the very first mention of the word "house" in the Bible. And it belongs to Lot. Abram is out there in tents as a pilgrim. Lot is in a house as a citizen. And the New Testament thinks that's important because when we get to Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews, speaking of Abraham it says, "He waited for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker was God." So he's in tents wandering around, waiting for the city of God. Lot's got Sodom and goes, this is good enough right here. So looking, leaving, living. Now he's leading.

And there's a fifth in his choices. And that is lingering. Same chapter, 19. The last set of verses, I promise. Verse 12. "Then the men said to Lot..." This is the showdown at the Sodom corral. This is judgment day. "The men said to Lot, 'Have you any one else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, whomever you have in this city, take them out of this place.'" Get out of Dodge. "For we will destroy this place because of the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord. And the Lord sent us to destroy it."

"So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law who had married his daughters and said, 'Get up. Get out of this place for the Lord will destroy this city.' But to his sons-in-law, he seemed to be joking." Can you hear that conversation? Can you hear those young men who think they are so better educated than Lot. Oh! You believe in the judgment of God?

"When morning dawned", verse 15, "the angels urged Lot to hurry saying, 'Arise. Take your wife, your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.'" Verse 16 is the key verse. "And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to them, and brought them out and set them outside the city."

Please look at that word "lingered" in verse 16. Mahah is the Hebrew word. Mahah And it means "to hesitate" or "to question" or "to be reluctant." So there's Lot being drug out of town, and he's a little bit like, he's not going anywhere. He's like, well, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! He's got some questions about this. He's reluctant to leave. I don't know. I don't know about all this judgement stuff. He lingered.

What a contrast. Lot lingered and the angels lugged him out of town. They had to pull him out, saying, get out of here. What's happened to Lot? He's become deadened to the urgency of separating from the evil that's around him. At one time, he would have been sensitized to it. Now, he's just been there so long he's just deadened to the urgency of, I've got to separate myself from this evil. He's deaf to the messengers that God sends.

And you know what it reminds me of? The pharaoh in the Bible that Moses had the confrontation with, remember the 10 plagues, the Passover? So there's 10 plagues that fall on Egypt. The pharaoh, the dude in charge, faces the brunt of it. And one of the plagues was the plague of frogs where it says, frogs covered the land. They couldn't walk in the floors of the palaces because they'd step on slimy, squishy, gooshy frogs. The frogs were in their bed at night when they got in. Frogs were in the kneading chambers where they make bread. You open the oven, frogs come out. Frog souffle. Frogs are everywhere.

So pharaoh says to Moses, ask the Lord to stop the frogs. And so Moses says this, "When shall I entreat the Lord so that this plague will cease?" And pharaoh gives the craziest answer ever. He says, "Tomorrow." Tomorrow? We would say, right now, please, would be the time. He says, tomorrow. Really? One more night with the frogs? You want that? Tomorrow.

Sin is like that. Pick your poison, whether it's alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, anger, whatever. Nobody wakes up and says, today I will become one of 12 million alcoholics in America. What they do is they wake up and they say, just one more day. Just one more drink. One more night. I can stop whenever I want to. Just one more day. And then they wake up one day and they see that their whole life is filled with frogs. Tomorrow.

Here's Lot. Here's a guy who stood side-by-side with Abram. Here's a guy who flew in formation with men and women of faith. Here's a man who marched from his homeland to the promised land. Now he's a fat duck. I know 2 Peter says he was a righteous man. And he was righteous because at some point, he had a faith experience. He believed God. Abram believed God. And it was accounted to him for righteousness. So he must have followed that and said, I'm going to believe, too. But, though he had a saved soul, he had a lost life. And I know too many people like that. Yeah, they're saved and I'm going to see them in heaven. But their life from here to there, heaven, is just wasted. Saved soul. Lost life.

Lot is a fat duck, unable to rise above the filth of the barnyard that he has chosen to stay in day after day and week after week and month after month. And what this shows you, among other things, is the power and the consequence of choice. A single little choice and then another choice and then another choice and then another choice till you have a barnyard that you're in.

It's time to leave Sodom. Not tomorrow. Today. The Bible uses that word a lot, today is the accepted time. Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation in the book of Romans. Not tomorrow. Today. Make a choice today to turn your life over to Jesus. Make your choice today to turn your back on what you know you should turn your back on and come under the grace of God. Don't you love that last verse? "The Lord being merciful to him" drug him out of town. The Lord wants to be so merciful to you. And He will, but you have to invite Him in.

Let's close by bowing our heads. And if you don't mind, just close your eyes and just think all the people around you, just let them go to the side. Just think about you, your life, your choices, good or bad. Your experience for better or worse. Here you are in this moment hearing these words before your God who is merciful, who loves you deeply, dearly, passionately.

He's demonstrated His love at the cross by sending His son. And it was so good. It was so effective that 2,000 years later, believing in Him still works, still saves, still rescues you from your surrounding environment. And you think about your life and you ask yourself the question, do I know for certain that I'm a saved person? Do I know that when I die, I will go directly to heaven? I know that.

Or maybe you're asking, and I hope you do ask yourself a question, is this all there is? Is there anything more than what I have already experienced in my life that could be fulfilling and satisfying? And then I hope you'll make the choice, because it is your choice. No one else can make it for you, to say "yes" to Jesus as Savior. "Yes" to him as your Lord. It's a simple choice, but it's a life-altering and eternity-altering choice to say "yes" to Him.

I'm going to leave my eyes open. And I'm going to raise my head up, because I'm going to ask you to do something as you're thinking about your life. I want to pray for you if you want to give your life to Jesus. I need to know who I am praying for. So if you are willing right now to surrender to Jesus for the first time, really, in reality, I grew up in a church, but I didn't, till I was 18, surrender my life to Christ.

If you've not done that personally yet, or if you need to come back to Jesus, whatever choices you made in the past, today you're not walking with Him, you're not following Him, I want you to raise your hand. In raising your hand, you're saying, Skip, here's my hand. Pray for me. I'm going to give my life to Jesus or back to Him. God bless you to my right, and you and you. Several of you right over here. Keep those hands up. Thank you. God bless you.

In the back I see hands right there in the middle section. Raise it. God bless you. Yes. Thank you. Anybody else? Raise those hands up. If you're in the family room over there, I see your hand. Yep. I see your hands over there. And right over here to my left. Raise those hands up high. God bless you, right in the middle. Thank you. Anybody in the balcony? Hands up.

Father, thank you. Thank you. Really, Lord. Thank you for how the simple message of the Gospel, whether it's seen in the New or the Old Testament, simple power of choice, how that speaks to us. Thank you for that. Thank you for your Holy Spirit convincing us that we need the God who made us. And it's upon that admission, Lord, that we turn from ourselves and we turn to You. We place our lives in Your hands. Such good hands. Lord, I pray for everyone who's raised that hand. I pray you strengthen them as they decide to follow Jesus. I pray, Lord, you give them strength to flap and rise above the barnyard and to fly strong and to go far in formation, following You and Your impulses. Give them strength. Fill them with peace. Bring peace to a weary soul. Some have not found it for a long time. Show them that peace. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Would you stand, please? We're closing in a song, and I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands to do something that I ask people to do often. And that is to get up from where you're standing, even if you're in the family room. Find the door and come stand right up here where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus. Jesus called people publicly. And we're doing this because there's just something about saying, this is the day I did it, man. I came forward at that service and I prayed. God bless you. It might feel a little bit scary to you, but we'll encourage you as you come.

As people are making their way, some of you have seen this before. You've heard these things before. You've watched as people have done this and, unfortunately, though, you need to be up here. You've just gotten really good at watching it happen around you and just saying, maybe another day. Maybe another day. Like that duck, one hour and then one week and then a whole summer. Pretty soon, he didn't even notice them go by.

The Lord loves you. He loves you. He loves you passionately. He wants to change your life. Let Him in. Give Him control of your life. Let Him have the reins of your life. Some of you, instead of watching this, need to be a part of it. You get up from where you're standing. We'll wait for you. You might be hearing this outside in overflow. You raise your hand up and let a pastor walk you over here. We're going to sing this through another time. We'll wait for you. We'll wait for you. You come. So good. So glad that you came. God bless you. The smartest choice of your life right now, right here. The best thing you could ever do right now, right here, what you're doing. I want you to hear that. I want you to be encouraged by that. We're not talking about getting religious here. I got religious on Sunday. No you didn't. You got eternal life on Sunday.

In fact, honestly, religion has kept a lot of people out of heaven because they feel satisfied by just being a religious person. Now, you're putting your faith in a person, Jesus Christ, who is alive and who will save you and accept you. So those of you who have come forward, and there's a lot of you, and I'm glad there's a lot of you, I'm going to lead you now in a prayer. I'm going to say this prayer out loud. I'm going to ask you to say it out loud after me. OK? Say that:

Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. That he died on a cross. That he shed his blood for me. That he rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. Help me to live for Him. As my Lord. As my Master. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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