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Skip Heitzig - Acts 24

Skip Heitzig - Acts 24
Skip Heitzig - Acts 24
TOPICS: Expound, Bible Study, Book of Acts

So we're in the book of Acts, chapter 24 before we take the Lord's supper together. There was a family that moved to a town, and a local pastor in that town invited them to church. And the husband, the head of the family said, well, I don't know if I want to go to church. Maybe one day I'll come, but I want to get my life straightened out first.

So months went by, and the pastor invited them again, and the guy had the same excuse. Well, my life just isn't straightened out yet. But when it is, I'll come to church. A few weeks later that man died, and the wife asked if they could have the funeral at the local church. The pastor said, sure, no problem.

One of the church members saw that the pastor was doing a funeral for this man, nobody knew who he was, and they said, is this guy a Christian? Or was he a Christian? He said, well, I don't know if he ever received Christ. Nobody ever heard him give a testimony. He certainly never come to our church, but I can say this, he's a man of his word. Because he said he would come to church when his life got straightened out, and he did. As he pointed down at that casket, there he was straightened out with rigor mortis.

You know, it's pretty bad when you have to wait to get your life straightened out with rigor mortis rather than righteousness, and God wants to straighten out your life with his righteousness. That man, that husband, that father was a procrastinator. And atheism has slain its thousands, but procrastination has slain its tens of thousands. People just put things off. One day I'm going to receive Christ. One day I'm going to get involved in church. One day, one day, and it never comes.

In this chapter we read a story, not only of Paul the Apostle on his way to Caesarea, on his way to Rome, but we read of a procurator of Judea. A procurator of Judea. The procurator who became the procrastinator. Now, the procurator, when you hear the word procurator, I hope that does ring a bell. I hope when you think of procurator of Judea, you probably think Pontius Pilate. He's the most famous in the New Testament. He was the governor or procurator, appointed leader of that area of Judea 2000 years ago at the trial of Christ.

But after him, came another one and then another one. And then finally a King. And so what we're dealing with here in chapters 24, 25, and 26, so we're not going to read them all. I'm going to make reference to chapter 24. But we have in these chapters a period of two years time that take place in Paul's life. Two years with three trials. And the three trials take place in one city, the city of Caesarea by the sea.

Interestingly, they have a staged stepped theater like this one, only much, much bigger still today in Caesarea. But Paul the Apostle is there, and he is there before two procurators. The two procurators are the names of Antonius Felix, the second is Porcius Festus. You know them only as Felix and Festus, but that's their full name. Antonius Felix. Porcius Festus. And then a King by the name of Herod Agrippa II.

What we focus on here is the trial of Paul the Apostle before that first guy that I mentioned, Antonius Felix, not Felix the Cat, but the guy who succeeded Pontius Pilate as the procurator of Judea. In Acts 24, verse 1, we read, "Now, after five days, Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul. And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation saying, 'seeing that through you we enjoy great peace and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix with all thankfulness. Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear by your courtesy a few words from us. For we have found this man, that's Paul the Apostle, 'a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.'"

Now, that's quite a charge to call somebody a plague, a disease. This guy, Paul, is a disease. Man, he's a plague on our nation. And did you notice that they call him a ringleader of a group called the Nazarenes? Now, that's the very first time, and the only time, the entire New Testament uses that term to refer to Christians. Nazarenes.

We know that they were first called Christians in Antioch. We see that term in the book of Acts, the term Christian. That was a term of derision by the world, by the way. Christians didn't come up with the term "Christian," the world did. But this second word, Nazarenes, was probably also a term of disrespect, because you remember when there was a conversation, and one of the disciples said I found Jesus of Nazareth?" And Nathaniel said, can anything good come out of Nazareth? So to be called a Nazarene was not like a compliment, it was like a chop.

And so, obviously, there was this term used by Jews in Jerusalem to refer to Christians, not as Christians, but as Nazarenes, follower of the guy from that place up north that nobody likes, Nazareth. The term that Christians preferred to use for themselves to describe themselves, was "the way." "The way." Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life. So believers didn't refer to themselves as Christians, but as followers of "the way."

They were messianic Jews for the most part, but they became followers of "the way." Here, they are called the sect of the Nazarenes. Tertullus goes on to say, "He even tried to profane the temple and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law, but the commander, Lysias, came by, and with great violence took him out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself, you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him, and the Jews also assented, or agreed, maintaining that these things were so."

So the trial begins. And the trial begins with the prosecuting attorney by the name of Tertullus. Evidently, he was a Hellenistic Jew, because his name is a Roman name. And so he has a Jewish background, because he is hired by the Council, the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, to represent their case before the procurator, Antonius Felix.

So Tertullus lays it on thick. He's bringing a very heavy charge, several of them against Paul. He's sort of sucking up to the governor. You know, you are so awesome and amazing, and we have peace because of your reign. But then he lays into Paul and brings these accusations.

Then, it says in verse 9, "the Jews assented, maintaining that these things were so." So you got to picture the scene. There in Caesarea, the governor of Judea is there. The lawyer presents the case. Those Jewish people from the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council in Jerusalem, have traveled 65 miles to be in that town for this trial, and they're all sitting in the corner nodding their heads, agreeing, like, yeah, yeah, what he said. As if to persuade the governor that they really have an important case here.

Now, Paul's going to stand up. Now, Paul is all alone. He does not have a representing attorney. He has no defense. He has the Holy Spirit. And he is very competent with words as well. You're going to find he does not fumble at all. He'll get right to the point. But I've always loved what Martin Luther said, and I think Paul the Apostle lived by it. He said with God, one is a majority. They've got their lawyers. They're all lawyered up. They've got their attorneys. They've got the council members nodding their heads. But with God, one is a majority.

Paul will stand up, and in verse 10, "then Paul after the governor nodded to him to speak, answered, 'in as much as I know that you have been for many years the judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, because you may ascertain that it has been no more than 12 days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone, nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to The Way, in my Bible that is capitalized. There' the reference, according to The Way, which they call a sect, 'so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.'"

Paul's defense is clear, and it's simple. I'm not a rabble rouser. I didn't stir up any trouble. I cause no riot whatsoever. But then he says something, and I'm wondering if you can agree with this statement. That last part where he said, "believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets." Can you say that? Do you believe all the things written in the Old Testament, the law and the prophets?

Do you believe the story of creation? Do you believe the story of the worldwide flood as told in the book of Genesis? Do you believe the stories of the Passover and the plagues that happened, and the parting of the Red Sea, and the great fish that swallowed Jonah? Because I know many people who say, I follow the Lord and I read my Bible, but I wonder if they can say, I believe all the things written in the law and in the prophets?

Jesus could. Paul could. Paul believed about the Bible what Jesus believed about the Bible. Our Lord Jesus, the one we claim to follow, said, not one jot, not one tittle will, by any means, pass from the law until all of it, all of it, all of it is fulfilled. That's what he believed about the Bible. The Old Testament, he was referring to. And Paul the Apostle, likewise says, "I believe all things."

Too many people I meet get messed up over this issue. And they have a theology. I would describe it as Dalmatian theology. I had a Dalmatian. I love the breed of dog, but they have a theology like my old dog. Dalmatian theology. They believe that the Bible is inspired in spots. That spot is inspired. And that spot is inspired. And I like that red letter spot. And that psalm is a cool psalm. That's inspired.

But they cannot say truthfully, I believe all things written in the law and in the prophets. Jesus could, and did stated that. And Paul the Apostle, likewise could, and did. That's the legacy that we have.

I'll get even more basic. I hope you own one of these, a Bible. I hope you own it. I hope you carry it. I hope you read it. I hope you study it. And more than that, I hope you believe it.

And if you have struggles with it, I hope you get through those struggles. I had many struggles in my early Christian walk with things in the Bible and stories that I read. And so I went on a search, and I found good answers to those issues. But I love that. "I believe all things which are written in the law and in the prophets."

He continues, on verse 15, "I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept that there will be a Resurrection of the dead. Both of the just, and of the unjust." If you've been with us in our studies in Acts, we've already covered the fact that part of the council was made up of Pharisees. Part of the council was made up of Sadducees. The Pharisees believed in angels, spirits, miracles, Resurrection, all of this scripture. The Sadducees did not believe in a Resurrection, did not believe in miracles, did not believe in the Old Testament scripture, except the first five books of Moses.

So there was a division that Paul capitalized when he was in Jerusalem for the first trial. Now he just says what he believes. I believe, like they believe, at least the Pharisees in that group, that there will be a Resurrection from the dead, of the just and the unjust. "This being so," verse 16. "So I, myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. Now, after many years, I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation."

Paul said, I came to Jerusalem to worship. He stated that a few verses prior. Now he says, I came to bring alms and an offering. He was in the temple making an offering, but he had brought alms. What are alms? Monies. He collected money from Gentile churches and was bringing them to Jewish believers in Jerusalem.

So man, I've been in Jerusalem improving the economy of Jerusalem. I brought outside money in. I brought support to help our nation. That's his defense. It was all true.

Verse 18, "in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with a tumult. They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me, or else let those who are here themselves say if they have found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council." Now, Paul brings up an interesting point. Do you remember what we have read so far? When Paul was arrested in the temple, right before that, it says, some Jews supposed that Paul the Apostle had brought Trophimus the Ephesian into the temple courts with him. That's how the riots started.

It was Jews from Asia who made that first charge against Paul. Now, according to Roman law, if you bring a prisoner to trial like this, and the accusers, the original accusers of the wrongdoing aren't there, they're to be found and tried themselves. There is a stiff penalty for making an accusation, then not showing up in court. Paul New Roman law. He brings this up.

So we have Tertullus, prosecuting attorney, some of the council members, but not the original accusers. So he says, where are the original accusers? They're not here at court. And if the ones bringing the charge who were there in the council, they can think back to the first trial when nothing at all was found against me. He makes a great point.

Verse 21, "unless it is for this one statement, which I cried out standing among them concerning the Resurrection of the dead, I am being judged by you this day. But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of The Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, when Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision in your case."

The author of this book of Acts is who? Luke. Luke the doctor, the physician, the traveling companion with Paul, the historian who wrote the book of Luke also wrote the book of Acts. And did you notice that Luke the historian ascribes to the procurator, Antonius Felix that he is a person who has an understanding, a greater knowledge, a more accurate knowledge of The Way.

Now he succeeded Pontius Pilate. He would have heard of the crucifixion. Big news. He would have heard of the news of the Resurrection. He would have known that Christians are spreading around. That many people are upset that Christianity is spreading around the Middle East. He has heard the rumors. He no doubt has some concern. He has been briefed on the case of Jesus of Nazareth, and his capital punishment, death by crucifixion. So he has a knowledge and understanding of The Way.

Now, who was this procurator? Well, he wasn't a good guy. He was a bad guy. Antonius Felix at one time was a slave who was given freedom by the emperor in Rome by the name of Claudius. Claudius gave him his freedom. But he was a nobody. But this nobody had a brother by the name of Marcus, who was very popular in the Roman court in Rome itself. He got his brother the job as procurator of Judea.

This man, called Felix, is the name he gave himself. It means happy. In Spanish, [SPANISH]. In Latin, Felix. Happy. But he wasn't a happy man, nor did he bring happiness wherever he went. He was a disaster. In fact, the Roman historian by the name of Tacitus said, "He was a master of cruelty and lust, and he exercised the power of a King with the spirit of a slave." He was brutal. Paul knew it. They knew it. Tertullus knew it, but he tried to butter him up saying, you're just so awesome.

But verse 22, we're nearing to an end toward this chapter. "But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of The Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, when Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case. So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for, or visit him. And after some days, when Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ."

Boy, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in those conversations. The procurator calls for the prisoner. The procurator says to the prisoner, tell us about your faith in Christ. And we're going to see what Paul says to him in just a moment. But it says that he was there with his wife by the name of Drusilla.

Drusilla was the youngest daughter of King Herod Agrippa I. Now, I've told you about the Herod's in our studies in the book of Acts. I mentioned that there a mess. I've gone through all the different ones. I'll leave it at that for tonight. I think the wind will blow all recollection of it far away if I were to get into it.

So she was the youngest daughter of King Herod Agrippa I. She was known for her beauty, and she was married at age 16. Now, she comes from the family of Herods's, which means it's her grandfather who killed those babies in Bethlehem. It was her great uncle who had John the Baptist's head severed from his body. So they're a family that was well-known, illustrious, they were an edomite family, but says she was Jewish. So she had some kind of messianic hope. Also, she was married before. She was married at age 16, and Felix, after she was married to whoever she was married to, saw her and lured her away from her husband. And so he broke up that marriage, and got this married woman to become his wife.

Now, it's his third marriage. It's her second, but it's his third marriage. So Felix and Drusilla call for Paul the Apostle. And they sent for Paul and heard him concerning faith in Christ. Now, the last few verses are the best, so I'm slowing down just a little bit. I bet that Felix was simply curious. He was just wondering who is this Paul guy? I keep hearing about him. I've heard about Jesus of Nazareth. I want to know more. I'm curious about this belief system. And I'm wondering, why would a guy risk life and limb, a prominent Jewish rabbi in Jerusalem, travel around the world at the risk of being misunderstood? At the risk of being beaten up and killed, and here, almost killed in Jerusalem. What would motivate a guy like that? He's got to be crazy. He's got to be a nut case. I'm interested in this guy. What does he have to say?

Reminds me a story about a man who went to a store, clothing store, and he bought a shirt. It was a bright green shirt with big purple polka dots. Ugliest thing in the world. He bought it, took it home, but he discovered that in the pocket of the shirt was a note from a girl who worked at the factory. It said, whoever gets the shirt would you please send me your picture.

And so he thought, oh, this is romance. Something could start because of this. So he put the shirt on, got a nice picture of himself, sent it to her, hoping that he would get a letter back, which he did. And she said, oh, don't misunderstand me. I'm just the seamstress at the shirt factory, and I was wondering what kind of jerk would buy a shirt like that. She was just curious. Who's going to buy this thing?

So Antonius Felix, I think he and his wife are curious. She has a messianic hope. She's Jewish. He's been placed there by the favor of his brother, in the favor of Claudius Caesar. They're just curious.

And so verse 25, "now as he, that is as Paul, reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come." Notice that again. "As he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid." Mark that. One translation says Felix trembled. That's a more accurate translation. He started shaking. He started trembling. And he answered, "go away for now. When I have a convenient time, I will call for you. Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul. That he might release him. Therefore, he sent for him more often and conversed with him." I love this verse of scripture. I love these verses.

And if you've been with us in Israel, these are the verses I often cover when we are in the theater at Caesarea by the coast where this took place. What I love is the word "reasoned." Paul reasoned with him. ... is the Greek word. And ... means to think through something. To think it through. To resolve the issue. To reason it through.

I find that the Christian faith is a very reasonable faith. And so I get mystified, because so many people are unreasonable when it comes to matters of faith. Well, why should I believe that? Well, you should just believe it. Well, why? Because I said so. But why? Well, because I've always believed it. And you've always believe it. So you should always believe it. That's not reasonable. Give me reasons why you believe.

The Bible says, we should be able to give to unbelievers a reason for the hope that is in us. And Paul reasoned. He thought it through. He worked it through with him. But what makes me chuckle, it says that Felix trembled. Felix was afraid. And I laugh at this, because it's a role reversal. Who's in charge? Felix. Who's the prisoner? Paul.

Let's see, procurator in charge, prisoner not in charge in chains. Ha. I'm thinking, prisoners should be trembling, procurators should be laughing. No, the guy in charge is shaking, is trembling, because Paul has reasoned certain things through with him. DL Moody used to say, if you throw a stone into a pack of dogs, it's always the one that got hit that does the yelping. This dog's a yelping. The procurator is trembling. Why? Well, it says that Paul reasoned with him about righteousness. Can you hear the conversation? Can you imagine what it must have been like?

Paul, tell me about your belief system. Tell me about your philosophy. No, I'm going to tell you how to get right with the living God. You are not right with God. I'm going to tell you how to get right with God. That's what righteousness means. How to be right with God. Maybe he even went through truths like, if anyone is in Christ, He's a new creation. Old things pass away. All things become new. He described how to be right with God.

Second, he said, he reasoned with him about righteousness, and then self control. What does self control mean? It means the ability to control yourself. It means the ability to restrain your passions. We all have passions. Self-control is putting a hold, a restraint, grabbing hold of your passions. Don't letting them rule you. You rule them.

Now, why would that make him shake? Because he had exercised no self-control in this illicit relationship he had with his wife, Drusilla. It's his third marriage. It's her second. He lured her away because she was beautiful. All he cared about was his flesh and gratifying his passions. So Paul is telling him about how to get right with God, and how to exercise self-control.

Would you say Paul is treading on thin ice here before this governor? I would. I think he's like, Paul don't push it. And there's a third. "He reasoned with him about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come."

I mean, Paul's letting them have it, both barrels. He's not pulling any punches. I think it went something like this, you know, with all due respect, governor, Felix, you're sitting on the throne judging me, but one day you're going to be standing before God's throne. You're going to be judged. You're going to be the one on trial, not me. You. You will face a certain judgment by a holy God. He reasoned with him about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment.

Can I ask you a question? I want you to think about it, honestly. You don't have to answer out loud. You can answer it just in your head so nobody knows. Do you think it's unloving to tell people that there is a hell awaiting them if they reject Christ? Is that unloving to do so? Or is the most loving thing you could ever do is to tell a person the truth about eternity? That there is a God who loves them, and there is a heaven waiting for them, if they turn to Christ. But if they reject, there is a certain judgment to come.

Did you know that Jesus Christ, the Lord of love, spoke about hell more than anybody else in the Bible? Why? Because he knew about it. He had seen it. He had created it for the devil and his angels. And he knew the ramifications, thus he warned about it more often than anyone else. So I want you to think about it. Is it unloving to tell somebody about judgment? I think it's loving. If it's done with a sweetness and a servant's heart, maybe even with weeping if need be.

I always have concerns as church history moves on, and I see trends rise in church movements around the world. And there is a trend to soft pedal the gospel. So don't really talk much about judgment or about blood on the cross, or heaven and hell, but just make people feel good about who they are. Give them something positive. I think the most positive thing you could ever do for a person is to keep them from facing God's judgment in hell. Friends don't let friends go to hell.

There was an ad in a newspaper for a church, locally, and the church ad said this, "If you come, you will meet friends and neighbors, not a bunch of religious fanatics. They might tell you where you can find a good babysitter, or about a job opening that they heard about, but they will not tell you how to live your life." Close quote.

Well, I've got to tell you something. Jesus will tell you how to live your life, because he knows how your life ought to be lived. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Christianity is the way. We're followers of the way. And not "a way," not one of many roads or ways, "the way." Jesus will tell you how to run your life and live your life, because he loves you. And if you're not living your life the right way, he'll instruct you how to do it. That's what I love about truth.

Sometimes we have a fifth gospel. We know there are four Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but some of us have five gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and our own. And we take selected verses that we like, or that we think are nice, and those comprise our gospel. But "the" gospel includes righteousness, self-control, and the judgment, which is to come. Now, his response is sad. Felix was afraid, but he answered, "go away for now, and when I have a convenient time, I will call for you." That's procrastination. Yeah, I'm going to wait till my life gets straightened out, then I'll come. Procrastination, putting it off for tomorrow.

You say, oh, but he trembled. Man, it says he was afraid. Isn't that awesome? Yes, it's awesome. But don't get so excited about people's emotional response. Wait and see how it translates the next day. I love seeing people come to an emotional point and give their life to Christ, but a shed tear is wonderful, but it can only last a moment. What about the changed life? Because some people have shed a tear, but then they have a hardened heart. They harden their heart right afterwards.

And I got to tell you something. Hardening of the heart spiritually, is a lot worse than a hardening of the arteries physically. It's a worse condition. He really hardened his heart, and he said, go away for now when I have a convenient time, then I will call for you. It's one of the saddest scriptures in all the Bible. You know, the Philippian jailer asked Paul the Apostle, remember when the earthquake happened, and Paul said, don't hurt yourself. We're still here. And the Philippian jailer said, what's the question? What must I do to be saved? What must I do to be saved? That's a good question. And he said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.

But I have another question. What must I do to be lost? Answer, absolutely nothing. Nothing. Don't turn to Christ. Let it go. Let it ride. Don't make a choice. Put it off. Absolutely nothing. What must I do to be saved? Believe in Christ. What must I do to be lost? Nothing. And Felix goes into history as one who was the procrastinator. That's why I said atheism has slain its thousands, but procrastination, it's tens of thousands.

Sometimes when I give altar calls, and people come forward afterwards, while I talk to them, some of them will say, well, I just came for the first time, or I just started coming, or I have really first heard the gospel just in this message. But oftentimes, I find people who said, you know, I've come for a long time, weeks, months, even years, and I've heard. But I've just put it off. I was waiting for the day I'd get straightened out.

So once again, before we take the Lord's Supper, I'm going to give you an opportunity here. Quietly before the Lord, to evaluate your own life, your own choices, and ask, have you believed, are you leaning upon, are you trusting in, nothing else, no one else, but the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, I'm going to give you an opportunity to say yes to Him.

I'm going to ask you to close your eyes, bow your heads for just a moment, Father, I want to thank you that you give us in your words, stories of real people in history, in time, and in space, who made real choices. And the choice that he made, Felix made, was to not choose. He chose to not choose. He chose to do nothing. He chose to wait and put it off. Seemingly, it's too late, because we never read of a conversion. Oh, he trembled. His tears may have welled up in his eyes or Drusilla's eyes. But there's no record of transformation.

Lord, what a mercy it was to place the apostle Paul in that courtroom, and then in those private chambers with the governor and his wife. And how merciful you have been to us, to be able to hear the gospel over and over and over again. To hear the word, to get strengthened by your truth. But Lord, perhaps some have just put it off. They've hardened their hearts, and they thought one day, maybe in the distant future, life's a little bit different then, I'm going to give my life to Christ. That day has never come, until today. This could be the day. This could be their day. And you always speak in the present tense. The world says tomorrow. The devil says tomorrow. The Bible says today is the day of salvation. So Lord, I pray if there's anybody sitting among us that you would prompt them to say yes, to release their lives, to respond and surrender their lives to Christ.

So with head bowed and eyes closed, if you've never receive Christ personally, really, authentically, actually, as your Lord and Savior, if you can't think of a time when you made a choice to turn from your past and turn to Him, I wanted to give you that opportunity, right here and right now. Or if you wandered away from Him, wherever you are, you're not following Him, you're not obeying Him, you turn back to him. If either of those describes you, I want you to raise your hand up in the air. Just raise it up in the air high enough so I can acknowledge you, and we'll pray for you as we close. Just raise your hand up. You're saying, Skip, here's my hand.

God bless you, toward the back to my right by that wall. Anybody else? Just raise your hand up. Over here to my left, far left. I see you guys way up in the back. God bless you guys. Anyone else? Anyone else? Just raise that hand up.

Father, for those who have acknowledged their need with an upright hand, or raised hand, that's all it really takes is the acknowledgment. I'm in trouble and I need God. I need forgiveness. Lord, I pray that your mercy or love, your grace will wash over them in this place, even as this breeze is washing over us. Lord, you're the God who takes away our sins. You're the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Those of you have raised your hand, I just want you to pray right where you're seated. You can say these words out loud. You can say them in your heart. But you say them, and you mean them as you say them to God. Say:

Lord, I give you my life. I know, I admit, I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus, that he came from heaven to earth. That he died on a cross, that he shed his blood for my sin, but that he raised from the dead. And that he's alive right now. I turn from my past. I repent of my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Lord and my Savior, my master. Here's my life, Lord, take it, all of it. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and help me to live a life pleasing to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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