As we begin today, we just want to remark that our hearts grieve; they're broken over the circumstances that have happened on the East Coast in Connecticut, up in Fairfield County. And I know people have looked at it in a number of different ways, but I can't help but look at that and just see pure evil in what has happened: a grieving over and for the parents who have lost children, and those who have lost parents even, teachers who have been killed.
The Bible says that we have a real enemy, his name is the Devil, and he's real, and he seeks, the Bible says, to rob, kill, and destroy. We live in a desperate world, and from time to time we see these incidents that remind us that we live in a fallen world, and it reinforces for us a couple of things.
Number one: that we should always show the love of Christ in any situation we're in, to extend love and compassion to people, to reconcile if there's differences that we have with people in our family, to get things right. But it also reinforces our need to preach the gospel.
It is appointed unto every man once to die, and after this the judgment. We're all terminal; no matter what age we go, we're all terminal. And it's important that we get the message of truth out to as many people as possible, and that we become agents of truth.
One of the most loving things you can ever do is to tell people how to get to heaven, and we want to do that, and we want to pray as we start this morning. We want to pray for the families back there, the community. We want to also pray that God would use his people to bring God's comfort in a very real and tangible way. Let's, let's pray.
Father, we know that you have a heart of compassion toward those who suffer. Your Word tells us plainly we have a High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses, and was in all points tempted like we are. You know the human condition; you know it because in the person of your Son, he died a vicious death himself in dying for our sins.
And, Father, for the loss of life on the East Coast, for parents who have lost children, we pray a special comfort that the God of all comfort would indeed comfort these in their time of need, and use your people to do it. Surround them, Father, with your arms. And I pray this will be an opportunity, as your representatives are there on the scene, to lovingly represent the God who loves everyone in this situation.
We pray, Father, that you would prepare us and strengthen us as we have entered into this Christmas season, joyous celebration, that your Son came into the world. I know there's people who are suffering during this time; some are sitting right here, right now. We pray you would touch them, and give them hope, and we ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
December 17, 1903, is a day you remember. You don't remember the date, but you remember historically as I tell you this story. There were two young men from Dayton, Ohio, who found their way to the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and decided to try out their "heavier than air machine," they called it.
They owned a bicycle shop in Ohio, and they put together this contraption because they had a dream that man could fly. And on that date they succeeded with the very first flight as a part of their dream. They flew—get this—for a long time, twelve seconds. That was the airplane ride, twelve seconds, a hundred and twenty feet, that was it.
But it was so exciting that they sent a wire back to their sister Katharine in Dayton, Ohio, and the wire said: "We have actually flown one hundred and twenty feet." And then the next line says, "We will be home for Christmas."
Well, Katharine got the wire, ran down to the newspaper, showed it to the editor, supposing he would be as excited as she was. This was historic, this was monumental, and he looked at the wire and said, "Oh, how nice, the boys will be home for Christmas." What? He just overlooked the most historic news of that time. Mankind had flown; it was the news of the century, and he didn't pick up on it.
You know, that happens every year. Every year at Christmastime people overlook the real meaning of Christmas. That's nothing new to us. They overshadow the news of the century, the news of all history: that Jesus Christ, God's Son, was born into this world to atone for our sins.
We have commercialized the holiday, we know that. We've made it all about giving gifts. We made it all about having office parties. We made it all about a fat man in a red, furry suit named Santa Claus. That's what it typically is all about. Where's Christ? And where is he with us in our thinking at this season?
There was a family who loved to go out every year at this season and go look at all the Christmas displays in town. And there was always this church who have, like, the best nativity set ever, and they went by. And this nativity set this year was beautiful, and grandma and mom and dad, they all remarked, "Isn't that beautiful? Isn't that magnificent? Isn't that awesome? Look at the shepherds. Look at the wise men."
They put them all together in the manger scene. And little granddaughter said, "Well, yeah, it's nice, Grandma, but why is Jesus the same size this year as he was last year? And then she gave the very astute follow up question: "When will Jesus grow up?"
Here's my question: When will Jesus grow bigger in our thinking, in our hearts as believers? That's why this year—last week, this week, and next week we've decided to look a little bit differently at the Christmas story. Not at mangers and shepherds and angels and wise men with gold, frankincense, and myrrh, we've done all that in years past.
We've done all of those stories. But to plumb the depths a little bit deeper, and give you more history and more theology, and give you the underpinnings of this monumental truth, so that by Christmas day you'll not only understand it, but greatly appreciate it.
We've been considering Christmas through the lens of Galatians, chapter 4, which we're going to get to in a moment. Galatians, chapter 4, what Paul tells us here is that this is the news of the century. This is the news of all history, Galatians 4 verse 4, "In the fullness of the time, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law."
No one, and I mean no one influenced the world like Jesus Christ. Aristotle taught for forty years, Plato taught for fifty years, Socrates taught for forty years, an aggregate of a hundred and thirty years of Greek wisdom and knowledge. Jesus taught three— maybe three and a half years, but he is so influenced the world more than all of those guys put together.
He's so important that Encyclopedia Britannica in their article treating Jesus Christ devote twenty thousand words to Jesus. That's significant; that's a lot of literary real estate. That is more than they wrote for Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Buddha, Caesar, Cicero, Confucius, and the prophet Muhammad put together. They recognized this man singularly has influenced the world.
Somebody once said, "Is Christmas is when God came down the stairs of heaven with a baby in his arms." It's a beautiful thought, but that's not the whole story. Christmas is when God came down the stairs of heaven with a Savior in his arms. And so we bring our focus and our attention upon that great truth.
We've decided as our theme this year to explore red Christmas, that's our theme, it's: A Red Christmas. A lot of people go, "Huh?" Because they're used to that best-selling song we mentioned last week, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." But in God's economy it takes red to get white.
The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin; it's the only detergent God ever gave to deal with the real problem. It's a red Christmas in the term of Isaiah 1 verse 18, " 'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord.'Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.' " Or like the Book of Leviticus: "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins."
Now let me just give you a little context. I did a little bit last week; I'll give you a little more this week. In the Book of Galatians, Paul the apostle has been looking back and surveying the history of the Jews, the Jewish nation, the nation of Israel, especially in their relationship to God through the law of Moses.
And he basically says, "That was good. That served its purpose, but that's over now, that's done now. It's time to graduate into a, a whole new relationship with God." And the reason he does that is there were a group in the church who were very legalistic. They're in every church, by the way. They're always around.
They're the legalists; there really is no joy in their life. There certainly is no grace in their life, and they always want to bring people back under the law. So Paul says, "The law—it was good. Now, get over it. It's time to graduate; it's time the grow up. Leave the bondage; get into the freedom of Christ. That was kindergarten stuff."
And now we look at Galatians 4 verse 1, "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is the master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world."
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!' Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
Last week we looked at just one portion of verse 4, did we not? We looked at the fullness of time: "When the fullness of time had come." So we've divided last week, this week, and next week into a three part series: "Christmas—The Right Season," the fullness of time; this week, "Christmas—The Right Person"; and next week, "Christmas—The Right Reason"—all out of this verse.
So I want to talk to you about the right person. At the right season God sent just the right person, and there's three things that you need to note about this right person.
First off, this right person was sent by God, notice the wording: "When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son." Now, notice it doesn't say, "In the fullness of time God created his Son, or God made a Son." In the fullness of the time God sent forth his Son," that implies preexistence. You're sending somebody who is with you in your presence, out from your presence, that's the idea. God sent forth his Son.
Now, the word for "sent forth" is a single word in the original language. As I say it to you, you're going to recognize a word you're familiar with. Here's the word: Exapostello. Exapostello, we get the word "apostle" from that. Exapostello means to send out, or commission, or infuse as an ambassador from our presence on a mission, that's the idea of it. To spell it out this way: Jesus Christ was in the presence of the Father, as the second person of the triune God, then at just the right time, the fullness of time, he came forth from that presence on a mission to the earth.
Here's the amazing thought: Jesus Christ is the only one who ever lived before he was born. Try that one on for size. Just let that one wash over you for a moment: Jesus was the only one who ever lived before he was born. He preexisted with the Father, at the right time he was sent out, he came forth from the Father.
Now that is hinted at when Jesus prays in John 17. Remember the prayer? "Father, restore unto me the glory that I had with you before the world was." That was also predicted by the prophet Isaiah. We pull it out every Christmas season: "Unto us a child a born, unto us a Son is given." Preexistence.
Then Jesus stated it very, very plainly when he confronted his enemies in John 8 verse 42, he said, "I proceeded forth and came from God, I did not come of myself but he sent me." Again in John 6 verse 38, "I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." So the right person was sent by God, he existed with God, and he was sent out from God.
Now, it's hard to get our minds around that, but have you ever heard of culture shock? If you've ever talked to a missionary, or, or if you've ever been on the mission field you know what culture shock is. It's the shock of going into a culture that is so totally different than your own.
I experienced that when I lived in the Middle East for a period of time. And it wasn't like I was living in the slums of India, but it was pretty primitive. I mean, it's like I don't have air conditioning, I don't have a refrigerator, I don't have a car, and I remember the stress, the cultural stress I felt.
And then when I came back to America, what we call reverse culture stress set in. I looked at my refrigerator and I went, "Wow! That baby is mine." Even though I was only renting. I thought that was pretty cool.
Okay, now, just—and you can only imagine it—leaving heaven, the glories of the Father, and coming to earth, talk about the ultimate culture shock. He was sent; the right One was sent by God.
There's a great old story that comes to us from Persia, from ancient Iran, that is often used to illustrate. There was a king, a shah, who was fond of putting on peasant clothes, workmen's clothes, and going among his people and talking to them, and just sort of listening to what they were like and what they needed. He loved to do that.
On one occasion he went to the lowest worker in his palace, the one who tended to furnace down in the basement. And with the clothes of an ordinary peasant, he sat with this man, had a relationship with him over time, ate food together, shared stories and background, but all the while the king didn't reveal who he was. The peasant thought he was just another peasant, another worker come to tend the fires.
One day the king revealed himself as his king, the shah. And then he said to this newfound friend, this peasant worker down in the basement, "Now that you realize who I am, you realize what I can do for you. I can make you rich. I can make you famous. I can give you a city. I can make you a ruler."
The tender of the furnace bowed his head slightly, he said, "You left the palace of your glory to come visit me in this dark and dreary place. You brought me joy to my heart. To others you may give your gifts, to me you have given yourself."
Which reminds me of that old hymn, the words of which say, "Out from the ivory palaces into a world of woe." At just the right time, what Paul calls the fullness of the time, God sent just the right person, in fact, the only one God ever sent into this world as a Savior.
He didn't send us Donald Trump—not that I have anything against Donald Trump, but I'd like to be, like, a friend of Donald trump. But God didn't send us him, because that was wasn't our greatest need. He didn't send us Albert Einstein, because he wasn't our greatest need. He didn't send us some Grammy winning actor, because that wasn't our greatest need.
In the words of a Christmas card I got several years ago that I've still kept: "If our greatest need would have been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need would have been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need would have been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need would have been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; but our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior." The right person was sent by God.
Number two, notice also in our text: the right person was the Son of God. Not just sent by God, the "sent by God" One, was the Son of God. For it says, "God sent forth his Son."
Now we are diving headlong into the mysteries of what we call the incarnation, God becoming man. I call it mysteries of incarnation, because that's what Paul said. Paul said to Timothy, "Great is the mystery of godliness: that God has been manifested in the flesh."
You go, "Now, how does that work, Skip? How, how does God become a man?" Don't ask me that. It's funny how we love to ask questions that are unanswerable: "No man knows the day or the hour." "When do you think Jesus is coming back?" [Laughter]
Here Paul says the only One that God sent was his only begotten Son. Now, let me clarify something, when you see the term the Son of God, understand that term means deity, it implies he's God.
I have a son; in fact, I have an only begotten son. A one and only son. Never had any other child but Nate. We wanted more, he's the one God gave us. I have an only begotten son. He has the same nature that I do. He's a very different person than I am, but he shares my nature. He's human, I'm human.
The Son of God implies he shares the same nature with his Father. His Father is deity, Jesus Christ as the Son is also deity. So when you see the phrase Son of God in the singular, it speaks uniquely of Jesus Christ who was God in a human body.
Make no misunderstanding about that; even Jesus' enemies knew that. In the Gospel of John it tells us: "The Jews sought to kill him . . . because he said," Jesus said, "God was his Father, making himself equal with God." So Jesus Christ is the Son of God in that unique sense that he's deity. And that's the term, I'm using it, that's the term the Bible uses. Not in the "Oprah" sense, son: "Oh, we're all children of God." Dr. Phil said, "We're all children of God."
This is the unique Son of God, Jesus Christ, and people are confused about that. The Son deals now with his position in his incarnation: he has submitted to the Father.
Now, listen carefully, Philippians tells us Jesus was in the "form of God" and he didn't think "it robbery to be equal with God." So here you have Jesus who is equal with God, but he emptied himself, he poured himself out, he came to this earth as a human being and he surrendered, submitted himself to the will of the Father as his Son.
Now, here's the best place in Scripture to get it all put together. It's the first chapter of John: "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So here we have Jesus, he's God. Skip down to verse 14, "And the Word became flesh," that's the incarnation, "dwelt among us, we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
And we go down a couple more verses to verse 18, "No one has seen God at any time. But the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him."
So here you have Jesus, he never became God, he was God. He was God, he was deity: pre Bethlehem, pre Mary, pre manger. He was God before he was born. He was God after he became man. But he became the Son of God when he came into this world and he took on a body of flesh: "And the Word became flesh . . . and we beheld his glory . . . as of the only begotten of the Father."
So and we talk about it every year in the Christmas story, typically. When the angel came to Mary and told her what's coming down, "Hey, by the way, you're pregnant." "How can that be? I've never had sex with any man." And then the angel explains how it was possible. The angel said to Mary, Luke 1 verse 32, "He will be great, and will be called," future tense, "the Son of the Highest."
Verse 35, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy One who will be born will be called the Son of the Highest."
Question: Why did God send his Son? Why did God have to send his Son? If he, at the right time is going to send someone, why his Son? Here's the answer: because God wanted to reveal himself. The best way to reveal himself is with his Son. God sent his Son into the world because God wants to reveal himself to the world. He is Immanuel, which means "God with us." He's God with us.
Somebody once said, "Jesus Christ is God spelling himself out in a language we can understand." That's important because the ancient Greeks when all this was written in the Bible, the ancient Greeks believed whatever gods or singular god existed, he was or they were unknowable. Plato said, "God and man can never meet."
Then Jesus comes on the scene and he says this, blew their minds, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." In other words: "If you want to know what God is like, just check me out. Watch me. Listen to me. I embody the will of my Father in heaven." That's powerful.
That means when you see Jesus healing a blind man, you are seeing a compassionate God. When you see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, you're seeing a brokenhearted God. When you see Jesus teaching a crowd, you're seeing a concerned God, concerned that people know truth. When you see Jesus dying on a cross, you are seeing a determined God, determined to do something about the sin that has plagued this world.
"If you've seen me, you've seen the Father," that's powerful to us. It means that we not only have a God who is up in heaven, aloof and apart from all of our tragedy looking down on us and going, "Oh, those poor humans, they got it so bad. But here I am up here; it's pretty nice up here. Got the AC going. Got the music going. Oh, those poor earthlings."
No, we, we have a God who feels our pain. He came to this earth. He knows everything we go through. But he also has all the resources of heaven to deal with what we go through. So at the right time God sent just the right person. The right person was sent by God. The right person was the Son of God.
And here's the third and final one: This right person was surrendered to God. Look at the rest of verse 4, "God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law." Let's take a moment and focus on that, shall we? Now, we're emphasizing not the deity, but the humanity of Jesus. Not that he was God in a preexistent state of the same nature of the Father, but he was born into our world, that he came into our world, that he had a human birth. He was not only 100 percent God, he was 100 percent human.
So to put it all together: at just the right time, at the appropriate time, in the fullness of the time, culturally, spiritually, politically, prophetically; God sent just the right person who is God, and who is man. Larger than universe; confined to the womb of a woman.
My mind goes buzz—zap! The fuse just goes out at this point. God as a zygote, a fertilized egg? God as an embryo? God as a fetus? God as a newborn baby? That's mysterious.
Philip Yancey wrote: "Imagine for a moment becoming a baby again. Imagine giving up language and muscle coordination. Imagine losing the ability to eat solid food and control your bladder. God as a fetus! Or imagine yourself becoming a sea slug—that analogy is probably closer. On that day in Bethlehem, the Maker of all that is took the form of a helpless, dependent newborn."
Now, I beg your attention closely for just another moment. In order for Jesus Christ to be a Savior, he had to be, had to be both God and man. If he wasn't we're doomed, we're dammed, we're hopeless. He had to be God, and he had to be man.
Let me explain: He had to be God for his sacrifice to have any infinite value; that is, for his sacrifice to have enough value to atone for sin he had to be God. Only God has the power to deliver us from the power of sin, death, and hell. If Jesus Christ was not God, then Jesus Christ was not perfect. If Jesus Christ was not perfect, then he can't impute any righteousness to us; he has none to give.
And when he dies, he can only die for himself, not for anybody else. And we have none to receive from him. So we are all doomed and hopeless if he is not God. But Jesus must also be man, because only a man can substitute in death for another man; feeling what it is like, going through all of those revulsions during that time of pain. To be an adequate substitute, he must be a man.
So to put it in a nutshell, he had to be God to have the power of salvation; he had to be man to have the privilege of substitution. That's why Paul puts it this way, it's very neatly put and theologically put: "He was born of a woman." Interesting there's no mention of a man, because Jesus wasn't born of a man, was he? He was born of the Holy Spirit, this was a virgin birth.
And then it says this: "Born under the law." What does that mean? Means he wasn't just born a man, he was born a Jewish man. He was circumcised the eighth day like Jewish boys were. He was also dedicated in the temple as many Jewish boys were during that time. He was raised in a home reading the Torah and the Tanak, the Old Testament.
He was raised in a home praying to the God of Israel, attending the synagogue services. He was born of a woman, born under the law. Like every Jewish man, he had the responsibility to obey God's law. But unlike any other man, he obeyed it perfectly. He lived the perfect life we could never live.
So, wrap it all together this week: At just the right time, in the fullness of the time culturally, spiritually, politically, prophetically, God in heaven sent forth One who preexisted in his presence into this world who was both God, had to be God; and man, had to be man; and Jewish, had to be Jewish. It says in verse 5, "To redeem those who were under the law." And we'll get to more of that next week.
Bottom line: God sent his Son. God sent a Savior. God didn't send a Santa; he sent a Son who is the Savior. Now, honestly, I have nothing personal against Santa Claus, he never did me any wrong; except he made a lot of threats, because he was checking the list twice to see if I was naughty and nice. And you know what? His threats really didn't pan out, because even when I was naughty I still got gifts.
But I have nothing against Santa Claus. In fact, I've told you before that there was a real historical person that Santa Claus—Sinterklaas, as he was called in Dutch—came from. That there was a man in history name Nicholas who was the Bishop of Myra. He was a pastor of Myra in ancient Anatolia, which is a part of Asia Minor, Turkey.
He was a man who was generous, compassionate, gave especially to the poor, developed a reputation of giving gifts in the name of Christ to people who needed them. But more than just a nice guy who gave gifts, did you know that Nicholas was at one of the most significant church counsels in history called the Counsel of Nicia, from whence comes the Nicene Creed which we still hold to?
In AD 325 historic conference took place, and there was a division. Some people believed Jesus Christ, according to Scripture, was God—a very God like we believe. But there was another group of heretics, under the name of a guy named Arius, who denied the deity of Christ.
And during that heated counsel when Arius stood up and said, "Jesus Christ is not God," good old Saint Nick, Nicholas of Myra, walked over to him, slapped him in the face for blasphemy. Yeah! My kind of guy. Loving Jesus, passionately in love with him, and called a spade a spade: "You, sir, are a blasphemer."
So good old Saint Nick, Santa Claus, was more than a fat guy in a red suit giving gifts. He was a guy who loved the Lord Jesus Christ. So, so when you tell the story to your kids, tell them as Paul Harvey says, "The rest of the story." That's the rest of the story.
And I suppose if Santa Claus would have had a prayer, it would sound something this:
The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed, but Santa still knelt by the side of his bed.
"Dear, Father," he prayed, "be with me tonight, there's much work to do and my schedule is tight. I must jump in my sleigh and streak through the sky, knowing full well that a reindeer can't fly.
I will visit each household before the first light, I'll cover the world and all in one night. With sleigh bells a ringing, I'll land on each roof, amidst the soft clatter of each little hoof.
To get in the house is the difficult part, so I'll slide down the chimney of each child's heart. My sack will hold toys to grant all their wishes. The supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.
I will fill all the stockings and not leave a track, I will eat every cookie that is left for my snack. I can do all these things, Lord, only through you, I just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.
All this to honor the birth of the One that was sent to redeem us, your most Holy Son. So to all of my friends, lest your glory I rob, please, Lord, remind them who gave me this job.
Well, to be honest, we've given him this job. If anyone has exalted a man of history to play a part that he never really played, and to forget the real role that he did play is wrong, because the real Santa Claus pointed at Jesus, worshiped Jesus. Yeah, we've given him the job bringing joy to every person; that's a myth. This is reality.
As we pray I want you to consider your life. I want you to consider where you're at this Christmas season. You know, for a lot of people Christmas is, like, not happy. It's, it's an empty time; tragedy has happened in the past, there's been a loss of a loved one. Christmas is a, a downer, it's a reminder of that. Or it's simply really empty, it accentuates the emptiness they've felt all year long. It comes out very, very poignantly at this time.
Friend, I want you to think about your life and ask yourself this question: Do you personally know Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth? I didn't ask you, do you know facts about him? I didn't ask you if you're willing to come to a church and learn about him. You may come to church, but you may not have come to Christ.
You may not have personally surrendered to him. You say, "Well, I'm a religious person." That's a bummer. That is a bummer, because it's keeping you from the truth of the reality of a person risen from the dead, active and dynamic, who's in the business of changing lives. And he wants to change your life. He'll knock at the door, but he won't kick it in. He needs you to open it up.
Maybe you've never really surrendered your life to Christ. Or maybe you had some experience in the past, that was years ago, but you're not walking with him now, and you want to come to him. You're just tired of waking up every day like Groundhog's Day—same thing, same thing, grind, no happiness, no satisfaction. Give, give your life to Christ. Let's bow our heads.
Father, in this moment what happens now in the next few minutes within our hearts, by the choices that we make, is more important than anything that is done or said this day. Would your Spirit be the One who does a work in bringing the truth to these human hearts so that life change does occur.
If you're here this morning and you've never personally made that transaction with the living God, you've never said, "Jesus, be my Savior, come into my life and my heart. I give you who I am. I give you my life, my service, my very soul."
Or if you have strayed from him, you miss the walk you once had with him. It was so long ago. You, you haven't been living in obedience, and you want to come back home. I'd like to pray for you as we close this service. But I don't know who you are; I need you to identify yourself. So as our heads are bowed, if you want to give your life to Christ, surrender to him, I want you to raise your hand up. I'll acknowledge your hand.
I'll pray for you as we close this service. Just raise it up, say, "Skip, pray for me. I'll be honest with you, I need him." God bless you, and you. To my left, yes, ma'am. Yes, sir, right in the middle toward my left. Anybody else? Raise your hand up. In the balcony, I see your hand. Toward the back, I see a few of you guys. God bless you all. Way in the back to my right. Anyone else? Right over here to my left, yes, ma'am.
Father, it is my prayer sincerely, along with those of my brothers and sisters gathered around, for all these with those hands up; behind every hand is a life with real issues, real struggles. Lord, you love them and I pray you would convince them of your love for them, of your interest in them.
Lord, I pray that as they surrender their life to Christ that you would bring a sense of hope, peace, and satisfaction they have not known up to this point.
Wherever you are, if you raised your hand up, I want you to say right now, you can say it out loud. If you want to be bold, that'd be great; if you want to say it in your heart, that's fine.
But say this to the Lord: Lord, I'm a sinner. Forgive me for my sins. I give you my life, I believe Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead for me. And I turn from my sin, I leave my past behind. I turn to you as my Savior. The One sent for me. I want to live for you as my Lord, help me, in Jesus' name, amen.