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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Into the Garden

Skip Heitzig - Into the Garden

Skip Heitzig - Into the Garden
Skip Heitzig - Into the Garden
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection, Gethsemane

In the garden was life, beauty, peace, everything in harmony, finding purpose in their Creator. In the garden was creation, breathing, laughing, resting, unaware that a liar, a deceiver, had slithered into paradise. In the garden was death, rebellion, pain, banished from perfection, separated from the Creator, desperate to find a way back. In the garden, there was quiet, prayers, distress, the weight of what awaited him pressed down as blood dropped from his brow. In the garden was creation, yelling, fighting, a kiss, the liar that had slithered into the garden long ago seemed to declare factory. In the garden was a grave, a body, the long-awaited hope lay stone cold and silent. In the garden, there was a voice, a bright light, an empty tomb, the perceived victory of the lie that had slithered in to destroy was undone. In the garden was creation found, restored, still marred by the memories of the lie but redeemed in the light of the Creator. In the garden there is life, peace, comfort. The Creator welcomes you with His scarred hands to journey into the garden.

Good morning. Happy Resurrection Sunday. The best news the world ever heard came from a graveyard 2,000 years ago. When the women came to the tomb looking for Jesus, the angel said, why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen from the dead. I'm just happy to be celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord with you, in this place, at sunrise, all together. We couldn't fit in the stadium, but we fit the stadium on our campus. We have people here in the park, we have people in the back part of the park, we have people in the amphitheater, we have people safely distanced in the sanctuary, as well as in the hub all over campus. And we are celebrating because of the great power, the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ that is alive in us. And we're just so glad that you could be here.

You know, usually, in the stadium, you are facing the direction toward the mountain, so the sun is right in your eyes. Right now, it's not. It's going to warm up a little bit, but it's already a pretty warm day, right? I mean, compared to, it could snow, it could rain, we've had all sorts of crazy weather. So we think that the Lord has been very favorable in terms of weather. This morning, I just want to begin by thanking our worship team, thanking Mac Brock for coming out, and all that he has given to the Christian body of Christ over the years in his music. I want to thank our volunteers. I want to thank our team, our staff, our security. I also want to thank this great video team, and this great sound team that has set up this stage, and makes this available for us. So thank you guys for being here.

Hey, we have people way out in that back section. So if you are sitting in the area of the grass from that second screen on back, would you just let us know that you're there, and that Jesus is alive? OK, good. Awesome, music to our ears. Then in the amphitheater, we know you're there, because I just saw you and I petted some of your dogs. So let us know that you're also alive and with us. Yep, yep, all is good. They're there. And then let's all do it together. Let's just shout it out, 1, 2, 3. Awesome, awesome. We're going to be looking today at four passages of scripture. Now, you can turn to them in advance, or I can just read them to you. We're going to be in Genesis chapter 2, John chapter 18, and then 19, and then Revelation chapter 22. So that's Genesis 2, John 18 and then 19, and then finally, Revelation chapter 22.

It's a message that I'm calling, "Into The Garden". Everybody loves a garden. Whether you like to work in a garden, whether you want to plant a garden, or you just like walking into a garden that somebody else has done all the work in, and you want to enjoy yourself, enjoy the freshness, enjoy the life, the beauty, it's all there in a garden.

Now, some people love to work in gardens. They want to make it just right, they will put in all the hard work necessary, and they're good at it. Some people have what we call a green thumb, that is, whatever they plant, it grows. I, on the other hand, have a brown thumb. It takes a lot of work. In fact, somebody usually has to fix what I have ruined when it comes to a garden. But I heard about a man in New Jersey, an old Italian man, who wanted to plant his annual tomato garden. And it was hard work, though, the ground was hard. He knew it needed to be tilled. And so his only son, Vincent, who usually helped him with the garden, was in prison. So the old man was sad. He knew that he couldn't do anything about it.

And so the old man wrote his son in prison a letter. And the letter was, dear Vincent, I'm pretty sad because it looks like I will be unable to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just too old to be digging up the garden. I know that if you were here, you would dig it up and plant it like the good old days. A few days later, his son Vincent sent him this letter from prison. Dear Dad, don't dig up that garden. That's where the bodies are buried. The very next day, early in the morning, the FBI showed up at that old man's house. The local police also showed up, and they dug the garden, and they found no bodies. But they put all the dirt back, they apologized, they went home. That very same day, another letter came from the prison that said, dear Dad, go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances. Pretty smart guy, right?

He got the police officers to dig up and plow that garden for him. It's estimated that about 70 million Americans participate in some type of gardening activity, from planting vegetables for food, to putting flowers in flower beds and flower boxes, or to just simply getting a nice lawn going, 70 million Americans. My mother loved to work outside in her garden. She did it all the time. And we had, growing up, about an acre and a half, and my mom and dad would plant things like grapes, and asparagus, and squash, and nuts. They grew all sorts of things. Of course, us boys had to do a lot of the work for them and with them. But she loved being outside. And I understand that right now, there's sort of a gardening boom in America. One source even said one out of three American households grow food, or participate in a community garden. It's the highest it has been in more than a decade.

Maybe COVID helped that, I don't know. I don't do much, but yesterday, I was outside working on sprinklers and tooling around my garden. And it's just, I'm not great at it, but it puts my mind in a better place. It's just a fun way to resolve issues and think about things. It's just good, good work. But there was a plaque that somebody put in their garden, and it had this little poem on it. The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on Earth. You know, there is some truth to that little poem. There's something about God's heart when it comes to a garden, because God's plan has always included a garden. God's creative plan, God's redemptive plan, and God's restorative plan has always included a garden.

If you were to look up references in your Bible, you would discover the Bible actually has a lot to say about either gardening or planting, or harvesting, sowing, reaping, planting vineyards, et cetera. It was a very agrarian culture in those days. But the Bible talks about four pivotal gardens, four important gardens. All of them are important to God's plan. Three of them are on this Earth, one of them is not. Two of them I have visited, two of them I have not visited. But one that I have not visited, one day, I will. All four gardens were places of peace, but three of them were also places of sadness. And today, we're going do take a quick tour of all four of these gardens, from the Garden of Eden, to the garden of eternity. We're going to be talking about the garden of creation, the garden of affliction, the garden of resurrection, and the garden of restoration.

The first garden was creation. It is, of course, the Garden of Eden. And in Genesis chapter 2, beginning in verse 8, we read this, "the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden. And there, he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground, the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now, a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there, it parted and became four river heads". This was the Garden of Eden. This was the very first creative event from God, himself. In this garden was creation, laughing, breathing, enjoying, exploring, loving, and even naming animals. It was a great place. The Bible tells us that there were four rivers that watered it. Two of them are well known to geographers and cartographers, and they're still in that part of the world today. One is the Tigris River, and the other is the Euphrates River. And they're both part of the Persian Gulf network of rivers. It was the Garden of Eden.

The word Eden means pleasant, or pleasantness. In fact, there was even a Persian word, when you wanted to say something was pleasant, you would say it is...or Eden-like. It is like the Garden of Eden. And it means pleasant because it says here in the text, every tree that is pleasant to see, and good for food, the Lord put in that garden. So it was a great place. If you're a gardener, listen to this, there were no weeds. There were no thorns, no brambles, there were no diseases, there were no maladies, there was no death, no decay, no coronavirus. There was no sorrow. Everything God made in that garden, God looked at, and seven times, the text tells us, that God said, it was good. Or God said, it was very good. Adam and Eve came into that garden. God made them. God made them, we call it ... in Latin.

That is, God created them out of nothing and he put them in the garden. And when Adam and Eve came into the garden, they came to tend it. They came to, as I said, name the animals. And they came to enjoy it. And not only did they come into the garden, but the Bible tells us God also came into the garden. We're told in Genesis chapter 3 that God came into the garden walking in the cool of the day, literally in the breeze of the day. Probably late afternoon, early evening, perhaps early morning, like it is today. And the language seems to indicate that this was a regular occurrence of God, that God regularly, or daily, would come into the garden to take a walk with his creation. I love that idea. I love the idea of God saying, hey, I'm just going to go take Adam and Eve for a walk every day. We'll just talk things out. So they got to walk with God regularly in the garden.

So to come into the garden was to come into a place of pleasantness, a place of abundance, a place of joy, a place of fellowship, a place of intimacy with God. But someone else came into the garden, a super being, a malevolent super being. It shows up in the garden as a serpent. But one that can talk, and had a conversation with Eve and then Adam. And we know this super being in the garden as Satan, or the devil, or Lucifer. In fact, it's even mentioned in Ezekiel 28, as God is addressing him, God says to him, you were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was for your covering. And so he was there. And he came with a stubborn will, and with a big mouth. And he came to challenge God. And at the suggestion of Satan, man began his journey of sin. He usurped God's will with his own will. And because of that, they were put out of the garden. They came into the garden, but now they were put out of the garden, never to return.

In fact, security guards were placed outside of the garden to keep them from coming back in. So that's the first garden, the garden of creation, the Garden of Eden. But there was a second garden, and this is the garden of affliction. And for that, we turn to the New Testament, John chapter 18. The second garden is the Garden of Gethsemane. We are told in John 18, when Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples, over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. This is the Garden of Gethsemane. This is the place where Jesus begins to enter into the most sorrowful period of his life, a period of suffering.

And the Bible anticipated this. Ever since the fall in that first garden of creation, ever since then, the Bible anticipated and predicted that somebody would be born, a deliverer, a Savior would come. The seed of the woman, it is called in Genesis 3, and he would crush the skull of the devil, of Satan, himself. So after thousands of years, after generations had passed, at just the right time, what the Bible calls in the fullness of the time, Jesus Christ came to this Earth. And he lived, and he preached, and he loved people. And he was compassionate on people. And he offered them hope. But one night, he came into the garden. And that was the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden of Gethsemane, by the way, was and is a garden on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, just outside of Jerusalem, just to the east side of Jerusalem, in an area known as the Kidron Valley. And the word, Gethsemane, is a Hebrew word ... and it means, the olive press, or the place where olives are crushed or pressed. That's where they make olive oil.

So a Gethsemane is an olive farm, an olive garden, a place where olives are picked, where they're grown, they're harvested. And then they are crushed. And when they're crushed, the oil comes out, and the oil is used to light lamps. It was used to cook their food. It was used to anoint themselves for personal hygiene purposes. And because the olive pressing was done in the fall time of the year, when Jesus was there with his disciples, which was the spring time of the year, it was vacant. It was abandoned, nobody was there. They would have had the garden all to themselves.

Now, just a little FYI, if you were to go to Jerusalem today, and I hope you do, we invite you to come, we can take you to the Garden of Gethsemane. But if you go there, there is a section of the Garden of Gethsemane that is run by the Franciscans, and they will point to eight ancient olive trees, eight of them. They look old and gnarled, and they look like they've been there for years. And they will tell you that olives can live for hundreds and thousands of years. And they'll say, these are trees that have been here since Jesus was here, and perhaps Jesus himself leaned up against one of these trees. So they make a big deal out of that. That's nice, but the only problem with that is a thing called history. History tells us that when the Romans came and surrounded Jerusalem, that Titus, the Roman general, needed lumber. And he said, every tree around Jerusalem had to be cut down so that he could use it for lumber to attack the city.

So because the Garden of Gethsemane is such an immediate spot, so close around the city of Jerusalem, like Josephus said, that area would have been destroyed. And probably, those were not original trees from the time of Christ. Let me just say that, none of that matters. What matters is that this was the place where Jesus, himself, was pressed. This is where Jesus was crushed. This is where it all began. As the prophet Isaiah said, he will be bruised, or crushed, for our iniquities. But Jesus came into the garden. He often came into this garden. He regularly spent time with his disciples there, we are told. But on this night, when Jesus came into the garden, he did something he had never done before. The Bible says, he started to sweat great drops of blood. Now, the fact that Jesus was sweating in the evening in the garden, somebody might say, well, must have been so hot in Jerusalem. No, he was not sweating because of the heat.

In fact, the Bible tells us, in John chapter 18, that the weather was cold. That people were lighting fires to stay warm. It's the springtime in Israel, and it can be quite rainy, it can be quite cold. And it was. But Jesus was sweating great drops of blood. So it wasn't because he was hot, he was under emotional strain. Doctors will tell us that it is possible that when a person is in extreme emotional danger, or feels stress to the utmost degree, that the tiny capillaries in the sweat glands and the forehead can burst. And it looks like the person is sweating blood. It's a condition known as hematidrosis. So Jesus was experiencing that. He said to his disciples, my soul is sorrowful, even unto death.

You see, Jesus knew what lay ahead. He knew what was coming. In fact, in his humanity, he even asked, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. He didn't want to have to suffer. Nobody likes to suffer. Yet, in his deity, Jesus qualified that prayer by saying, it's not what I will, but what you will. So in this garden, in this second garden, Jesus began suffering for the sin that started in the first garden. Jesus came into the garden of affliction because of sin and death that began in the garden of creation. But somebody else came into the garden that night, and that was Judas Iscariot. And Judas brought with him Roman soldiers. And Judas betrayed Jesus to the Roman soldiers. They arrested him in the garden, and he went through six trials before he was killed. Three of them were civil trials, three of them were religious trials. Finally, he was sentenced to death on a Roman cross. But Jesus came not only into the second garden, but he came into a third garden, to undo what had happened in the first garden, and consequently the second garden.

Now, the third garden is what we celebrate on this day, we celebrate the Resurrection. And this is the garden of Resurrection. It is a garden that was different from the first two. It was a garden that was owned by a wealthy Jew by the name of Joseph of Arimathea, Joseph, the Bible tells us, was a secret disciple of Jesus. Jesus also came into this garden. Here's the account in John chapter 19, beginning in verse 38. After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave him permission. So they came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 100 pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

Now, in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden. And in the garden, a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. So there they lay Jesus, because of the Jews' preparation day, for the tomb was nearby. Now, Jesus did not walk into this third garden, Jesus was carried into this garden as a corpse. He had died on a cross, he had spent six hours on a cross on a Friday afternoon. He died earlier than most victims died. The Jews were anxious to get the bodies off the cross, get them buried so they could go home and enjoy their Passover feast.

By the way, you can visit this garden today. On our tour to Israel, we always end our tour with communion around the tomb, called the Garden Tomb, where many believe is where Jesus rose from the dead. But this was a garden of hope. The first garden was a garden of despair. The second garden was a garden of death. This was a garden of deliverance, deliverance from death, deliverance from despair. Because you see, where the garden that we're talking about is where death itself was conquered, when Jesus rose from the dead, death died. Did you get that? When Jesus rose from the dead, death, itself, died. Jesus killed death. This is what Peter referred to when he wrote in 1 Peter, he talked about a living hope. He said, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

I want you to think about that for a moment. Here is Peter, once a fisherman, who became a disciple of Jesus, now writing years later saying, you know what? The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a living hope. I want you to think of Peter's life. Before Peter met Jesus, he was a fisherman. He got up in the morning, he put his little fishing cap on, he went out to his boat, took his nets out, fished all day, brought the fish back home, went back to his house, went to bed, got up the next day, did it all over again, day after day, week after week, month after month. That's what he did for a living. He worked hard. In fact, it was monotonous work. It was boring work. I'm sure even Peter would get up and say, is this it? Is this all there is to life? Work, work, work?

You know, I see people with bumper stickers on their car that say, I'd rather be fishing. Peter would not have that on his car. Of course, Peter didn't have a car, but even on his chariot, he did not have that bumper sticker. Because he fished all day long, and life was monotonous, life was routine. Until one day, a man named Jesus came into his life. And said, Peter, I want you to follow me. From now on, you're going to catch men, you're going to be a fisher of men. It was the most exciting three years of Peter's life. Hope filled Peter. A whole new meaning of living filled him and motivated him. But then one day, Jesus, the one he was following, died on a cross. And Peter was more hopeless then than ever before. But three days later, that same Jesus walked out of that garden tomb alive. And Peter, Yes, yes, yes, and Peter went from hopeless living to living hope. In one instant from hopeless living to living hope. Now his hope was off the charts.

Now every promise that Jesus ever made about eternal life suddenly made sense. Before, it really didn't make sense, now it made sense. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will never die. Jesus also said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus also said, he who hears my words and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life. Once Jesus got up out of the grave, every promise he had ever made about eternal life now made sense. That's why Peter said, I have a living hope because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So in the first garden, it brought a death sentence. In the second garden, Jesus himself submitted to the death sentence. But the third garden is where death was conquered. And that takes us to our fourth and final garden in this little tour. That is the garden of restoration.

Now I'm talking about the paradise of heaven. And Jesus came into that fourth garden by an ascension, he ascended, the Bible says, into heaven. And I love what he said to his disciples a few days before that. He said, let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. I am going to prepare a place for you. Now, this is how I think about that. It took God six days to create this beautiful place we call Earth. He did a great job in six days. Imagine if he would have had like a month. Six days, he created the heavens and the Earth. For 2,000 years, he's been preparing a place for you. Can you imagine what that place looks like? It can only be described as paradise.

In fact, we are told, in Revelation chapter 2 verse 7, Jesus said to him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Bible scholar, William Barclay, tells us the word paradise literally means a garden, a walled garden, a Persian garden. And that the king of Persia would often invite special guests to come in and be a companion of the garden. That is, they were allowed to walk with the king in personal fellowship around with him in his walled garden. That was a place called paradise. Well, in the closing chapters of the Bible, we have the final phase of heaven, known as the new heaven, and the new Earth. And it is described as a restored garden, like a Garden of Eden, complete with the tree of life.

Listen to it in Revelation 22, "And he showed me a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life. Which bore 12 fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations, and there will be no more curse. But the throne of God, and of the Lamb, shall be in it, and his servants shall serve Him".

I love that we have the tree of life bearing for fruit every month. So it'd be so cool to walk by the tree of life in heaven. It's like, well, what's on the menu this month? Oh, mangoes, cool, I love mangoes. Yup, come back next month, we'll have apricots. You know, how cool is that, to have that variety? So in heaven, in that paradise, in that garden of restoration, the curse that was once placed on the Earth in the first garden will be gone. If the first garden was Paradise Lost, then this garden is Paradise Found, it is restored

So to sum it all up, because of what Adam did in the first garden, Jesus did in the second garden. And because of Jesus going into the second garden, Jesus was buried in the third garden. But because of the work Jesus did in and between the second and third garden, he invites you into the fourth garden, the final garden. He can now invite you into heaven, to paradise restored. The question is, will you come into that garden? He invites you to come. He invites you. This morning, the God of heaven and Earth, through the holy scriptures, is inviting you into a personal relationship with him, that will one day end in the garden of eternity. In Revelation 22, it says, "the Spirit and the bride say, come. Let him who hears say, come. Let him who thirsts, come. Whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely".

Hey, do you remember what Jesus said to that one criminal who was crucified with him on the cross? That one criminal who seemed to turn his life over to Jesus at the last moment? Do you remember that Jesus turned to him and said, today, you will be with me in what? Paradise, same word. Jesus was inviting him to that special place of honor, to be a companion with him in the courts of heaven. The Lord would want to say that to you this morning. He would love to say to you today, you, one day, will be with me in paradise.

I'm inviting you to that special place of honor. And he can do that because of the work that was done in the second and third garden, he invites you into the fourth, final garden of eternity. And that heaven begins now. You can have eternal life now. You can have your sins forgiven now. You can have new life right now that goes all the way from Earth into heaven. You can have that. It can be yours. You say, how do I get that? You ask him to come in and save you. You ask him to change your life. Let's bow our heads for just a moment of prayer.

Father, we now pray, first of all a prayer of thanksgiving for the great work that you have accomplished. First of all, you made this really cool place called Earth, this great place for us to enjoy, and plant things in, and visit trees in the forests, and be out on the oceans and in lakes, and a beautiful place to play and enjoy each other and you. But Lord, even this beautiful creation is marred, it is cursed. It is not what you originally intended. And one day, you're going to make it what you originally intended. But Father, you invite us to have a deeper kind of life, a more satisfying kind of life, a fuller, richer kind of life that can only be called a living hope, that can only be called resurrection life. Lord, I pray you would breathe life, new life, into so many who have come today. We know that people are here, around this campus. We know that people are watching this broadcast. Father, we pray that you will do a work of bringing life, planting life into these lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Now, as we close, I want to ask you guys to do something, if you have never received Christ as your Savior, or if you've walked away from that life in the Savior, you've walked away from a relationship with him, and you find your life now empty, you find your life not satisfied like it once was, or maybe never was, but if you are willing to take Jesus at his word and invite him into your life, and see things start afresh for you, and get your sins forgiven, your name written in the book of life, and one day, the promise of that paradise of God, if you want that, and if you are willing to receive Christ, I want you to just stand to your feet. Right where you are, just stand to your feet in this place, just stand up. God bless you guys, just stand up. If you're in the amphitheater, same thing, just make a stand. You're going to get lots of applause from people around you for you doing that.

Yeah, see that? See that encouragement? You make a stand. I see people around standing all around. Stand up, if you're in the way, way in the back, just make a stand. Stand up where you are. I'm going to lead you in a moment of prayer. If you're on the inside, if you're in the inside of the sanctuary, you just stand at that chair. Stand to your feet. By standing you're saying, "Lord, I'm willing to make a stand for you, just like you made a stand for me. And you walk to that cross, and you died on the cross for my sin, I now make a stand for you". You stand to your feet. We'll give it just another moment. Stand up. If you need to come back to Christ, or you've never given your life to Jesus, I'm not asking you, are you a religious person? Or are you a churchgoing person? I'm asking you, are you a saved person? Do you know your sins are forgiven? If not, you get up to your feet. Stand up, stand up. Wherever you are, stand up.

Now, as we sing this final song, I'm going to give you an opportunity. You can maybe take the sidewalk up here, or get through the chairs on the side, I'm going to ask you, as we sing this last song, just come stand right up here, right up here in the front. You can distance yourself if you'd like all the way up here, we have a lot of room up here. But I'm going to lead you in a prayer, in just a moment, to receive Christ. If you're in the back, we'll make time for you. To get up and come and then come down these stairs. But come quickly. If you're in the amphitheater, you come over this way. Just come back to the green belt. If you're in that amphitheater, if you made a stand, don't stop there. Walk with those feet, walk with those feet, walk all the way over here. This is a very important moment. Jesus said, "If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father in Heaven". Come and do that, come and do that. Make your way here, make your way here. Come and stand with your families, stand alone, you'll find a new family. Come make a stand.

Again, if you're from the amphitheater, just come. Make your way around the stage and stand with these people who have come from our crowd in front of us. I'm going to lead you in a prayer in just a moment. It all begins with a simple prayer of faith. Jesus did all the heavy lifting for you. He did all the work. You receive that work, you receive his love, you receive his forgiveness. You come as you are, doesn't matter your background, doesn't matter your past, doesn't matter your addiction, doesn't matter how confused your thoughts may be, does not matter. God is a big God, he knows you intimately, he loves you dearly. He is willing to forgive you completely. You get up and come. Don't let this moment pass you by.

Those of you who have come forward, and more are coming, I love that. I'm going to lead you now in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to say these words out loud after me. It's a prayer of faith, it's asking Jesus to come in. So I'm going to pray, you pray after me. You ready? Say this to him. Say:

Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe he died for me. I believe he shed his blood for me. And I believe he rose from the dead for me. I turn from my sin. I repent of it. I turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Fill me with your Spirit. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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