Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Skip Heitzig: Hello, Calvary, and welcome back after a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration together. Well, I'm sorry I can't be with you this weekend, but I'm so pleased that Kevin Miller has graciously agreed to come to Albuquerque and share with you this weekend. Many of you will remember Kevin from his years serving at Calvary as the pastor of Velocity our middle school program. Kevin and his wife Jenn answered the Lord's call in 2009 and have planted Awaken Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. The church is thriving and the Lord is blessing and growing the ministry. So, if you will, please give a warm welcome to Kevin Miller. [applause]
Pastor Kevin Miller: Well, it is the end of 2013; can you believe it? Wow! Some cheers, some "oh wows," you know. Can you believe it's the last weekend of the year? And, man, I can't think of a better way to close out the year than in God's house, with God's people, opening God's Word. Amen? [applause] So glad you guys are here. Thank you guys so much for coming. We are in Second Kings, chapter 13. Let's get right into it as we close out this year.
You know, as the final weekend of 2013 what you're going to see all over the place, you've probably seen it already, is there are news agencies and people all over the place doing top ten, recalling what happened in the year, big news stories, "here's some things we learned." And, you know, the great thing about looking back is that it helps us to know how to move forward, right? And that's the cool thing about the Bible.
The Bible is a book that many people think is only a history book. It's not only history, although it is very historical, very accurate. But what it is, it recounts the stories of men and women who walked before us, made mistakes, some of them; all of them made mistakes. Many of them served the Lord honored the Lord. And the cool thing is just like 2013 or at the end of any year, when we look back, it helps us to know how we should move forward in a better way; same with Scripture. Every time we open up the Bible it comes with a challenge for us: What are you going to be; how will you be different; how will I be different after reading the Bible?
So that means anytime we open up the Bible as a church, it comes with that challenge: How will I be different after this? Anytime you open up the Bible on your own, in your home, on your favorite couch with your cup of coffee, wherever, whatever the setting is, you listen to the Bible, you look at it on your iPhone, whatever it might be. How will you be different because of God's Word? It always comes with an application. You saw a picture of my family on the screen. My wife and I have been married for over ten years now. We have a seven-year-old, and a four-year-old, and one on the way, which we're excited for.
And so anytime I read the Bible to my girls, I try to always make sure that they understand this is not just like another princess story, you know. Belle and Sleeping Beauty are nice, but these things really happened and they have some application for us. So, recently I asked them, you know. We finished reading Noah and the flood. So I closed the Book, and I said, "Okay, what are things that we can learn and apply to our lives because of Noah and you know, his whole story.
So, my four-year-old, she goes, "Dad, I know what I learned from this story. I never want to be on an ark, 'cause I'll have to shovel poop all the time." Right? [laughter] Okay that's fair. I don't want to do that either. So, I'm thinking, okay, "Maybe my seven-year-old will come up with something a little more holy than that, you know." So she goes, "Dad, I know what I learned. I want to marry a guy like Noah, 'cause he could build me anything I want." [laughter]
Okay, that's smart too. Dad's not real good with the hammer, so you know, maybe that'll be a good thing for your future. And, you know, so anytime we look back in Scripture at the lives of these men and women who walked before us, we learn by looking back how to move forward. And I thought as we close out 2013, it would be fitting for us to close out the life and ministry of Elisha as well. That's why I've had you turn to Second Kings, chapter 13.
It's coming to the end of his life. We get to see his final encounter with the king. And I've entitled the message "The End . . . or Is It?" Because the idea behind his life and ministry and the idea behind what God wants to do through every single one of us is that if we will be faithful to live a life of faith, then we can pass on a legacy of faith just like this man did. And what we're going to see; here's the whole message summed up.
If you want to understand where we're headed, this is the whole message in one sentence. Here it is: The end of your life does not have to be the end of the impact your life will have; very simple. When you breathe your last, if you have true saving faith in Jesus Christ, your faith keeps breathing; when your heart stops beating, your faith in Christ keeps beating; it goes on. It keeps going. And so, we're going to see that played out in the life and ministry of Elisha as he breathes his last.
Second Kings, chapter 13, let's start in verse 14. He's on his deathbed. He has followed his predecessor Elijah. He's seen the rise and fall of many kings. And now he's on his deathbed; he's 80 or 100 years old. This is his final interaction with the king. Look at verse 14. "Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. And then Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over his face, and said, 'O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!' "
Okay, two things, we want to focus on plenty of things for you guys to write down. I hope you'll take some notes as we go, as the Lord speaks to you. Here's number one, let's start with a life of faith: How can we as men and women live a life that matters? That's what Elisha did. That's what he was faithful for. He wasn't perfect. He lived in a time, ministered in a time where there were many godly and ungodly kings.
Joash was one of those kings that was not wholeheartedly following the Lord. He was one of those guys that maybe this is your story, or we probably all know people like this. That they would follow Jesus when it was easy, when they were surrounded by some other good people that would kind of help them make the right decisions, but when it was not easy or when they were surrounded by a different crowd, they weren't going to follow God. Maybe that's your story. Maybe that's somebody in your life. You know exactly what I'm talking about, though. That was Joash. And even though he wasn't wholeheartedly following the Lord, he understood that Elisha; God had gifted Israel with Elisha.
And he had this amazing God-given influence and power on this nation, so much so that this ungodly king wept when Elisha was about to die. Charles Spurgeon said it so well, as he always does. He said, "Dear friends, let us seek to live so that even ungodly men may miss us what we're gone." And so Joash's words were very telling at the end of Elisha's life. He cried out, verse 14, "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!" Of course, back in the Bible days a nation's power was based on their chariots and their horsemen. If you had a lot, then you were a powerful nation.
And the cool thing is that we know, and even this ungodly king knew, that this man's influence and power was not based on anything that he did. In fact, we got a peek earlier on in Second Kings, chapter 6, at the spiritual army that was leading the way and leading the influence and power that was manifested through the life and ministry of Elisha. It was a really cool scene. Read it sometime when you get a chance.
Second Kings 6, the Syrian army came to kill Elisha. And so his servant walks out, you know, front porch in the morning, probably today have a cup of coffee, and he looks out and there's this Syrian army surrounding their house. Good morning! That's a bad way to wake up. And so the Syrian army is around him. He panics. He runs in, "Elisha! What are we going to do? They're here to kill you!" And Elisha goes, "Hey, I'm enjoying my cup of coffee, all right? Like, give me a break here. I'll make it out there."
And he's totally chill with it. He's not worried. He prays for his servant. "God, open up his eyes to see what I know is surrounding us." And this amazing scene, Second King 6, God does that---opens the eyes of the servant, and he sees. Although there is Elisha and his servant surrounded by the Syrian army, his eyes are opened to the fiery hosts of angels that surround the Syrian army. Here's what we learned from that: even when your life feels like it has you surrounded, God has your life surrounded. Amen?
He is in control. When everything's out of control, God is still in control. When you're stressed, He's not stressed. When you're freaked out, He's not freaked out. When you're panicked, He's not panicked. He has your life surrounded. And it was that host, the spiritual host that led Elisha's life and ministry that made his life matter. You might want to jot this down, if you're a note taker: What you live for often becomes most evident when you die. And I know this from having done ten years now of funerals.
Often times the focus of what you lived your life for shines the greatest in your final days, in your obituary, at your funeral. Because like it or not, you and I currently are penning the words to our own funeral message. Did you know that? The way that you and I are living right now are writing the words that will one day be shared about you when your body is in a container or in a big box, and there's a pastor or some leader, a funeral home attendant, and they are speaking to a group of your sobbing family and friends telling them what your life was all about.
You know the easy thing about a funeral, there aren't a lot of easy things about it, but the easy thing is telling what that person's life was about. Because it's not like, like, like as I do a funeral, I don't have to create a story. I don't have to come up with characters or come up with a background and a plot. And I don't have to do that. All I need to do sit it down with the family, or if I knew this person, just simply relate what this person lived their life for. That's all I do.
That's what you and I are currently writing the words to. One day a pastor will address your family and friends, and he will simply, that person will simply tell what you lived your life for. So the question is---you know, here's a man that we know, he goes down in history as having godly influence and power. The question is: What will you be known for? At your funeral what's going to be the thing that people celebrate? "He had all these plaques on the wall." "He set a record." "He could write a unicycle while juggling flaming swords with a puppy." You know, like, what's, like, the record that you set or the thing that you live for?
You know, maybe it's some trophies that you had displayed. Those are cool. I'm not trying to dis your unicycle riding or anything, okay? But what I'm saying is, why don't we live for something that will last? Because, by the way, you can't take plaques and trophies to heaven; they don't go to heaven with you; they stay here. They don't matter in all of eternity. So, how are you going to be known? Will you be known for something that matters, that lasts? Did you love people? Did you invest in people? Did you live for something that was eternal or for something that will go away when you go away? What you live for often becomes most evident when you die.
But here's the problem with many people: they wait until they reality of death sets in to do something, and then most of their life is gone. Write this down: Don't wait until your deathbed to get serious. Elisha didn't wait. I think I can say with accuracy that he lived every day like it was his last. And the reason I say that is because I think as we're about to read in verses 15 through 19, this is his final address to the king, and it's a call to action and faith. If verse 14 hadn't told us that he was sick and on his deathbed, we would just think this is another day in the life of Elisha. This is just what he does. He calls people to faith in God, to trust Him. He was always doing this.
So this, without verse 14, we would just think this is another snapshot in the life and ministry of Elisha. Because he got what the Scriptures tell us all the time, that life is fragile, it's fleeting. The Bible compares our lives to a dying blade of grass. There's a real encouraging thought for the moment. A passing shadow, a passing vapor, that's what the Bible says. The psalmists wrote, Moses said in Psalm 90, "Teach me to number my days, so I can gain a heart of wisdom." We gain wisdom when we recognize that life is fleeting and fragile. And you might have all the grand plans for next week, month, year, decade, but you're not guaranteed that time. You're not guaranteed tomorrow or the rest of the day.
The breath that you're breathing right now in your lungs is gift of God. And so we need to understand that. And here's---let this reality sink in. Some people wait until their deathbed because they get that, you know, six-month prognosis from the doctor. "You have this much time left to live," the doctor might say. You know, although that's a hard thing to hear, for many it's a blessing, because death sets in and they realize, "I have to get correctly." But let me just give you the other side of this reality. Although many people might hear from the doctor, "You have six months to live," there are many people walking around right now living in their final six months, they just don't know it.
They'll never hear from a doctor. The day will come when they will breathe their last. Are you prepared? Don't wait till your deathbed, because you might not have one. Verses 15 through 19 is Elisha's final address to the king. It's a call to faith, action. Look at verse 15. "Elisha said to him, 'Take a bow and some arrows.' So he took himself a bow and some arrows. And then he said to the king of Israel 'Put your hand on the bow.' So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king's hands. And he said, 'Open the east window'; and he opened it. And Elisha said, 'Shoot'; so he shot.
"And he said, 'The arrow of the Lord's deliverance and the arrow of the deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.' Then he said, 'Take the arrows'; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, 'Strike the ground'; so he struck it three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, 'You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.' "
Let me kind of clarify what's happening here. Back in this time if you were to shoot an arrow or throw a spear toward an enemy, in the general direction of where they lived, that was a declaration of war. So what he says here is open up the east window and shoot an arrow toward Aphek, which was kind of the main camp of the Syrian army. He knew that was a declaration of war against Syria. And then he made it very clear.
Now, this might be kind of a little muddy for our American minds to fully understand here, but let me just make it clear. He made the link between shooting an arrow and a victory that God was going to give him very clear. He said in verse 17, he called these arrows "the arrow of deliverance from Syria," "the arrow of the Lord's deliverance." So, he told them, you know, open up the window, shoot the arrow, that's a declaration of war.
And then he said, "Take the arrows and strike the ground." That doesn't mean hit the ground. That means repeatedly shoot the arrows into the ground. Remember the link that he has created very clearly in King Joash's mind: when you shoot an arrow, that's a visual symbol of victory against Syria. Shoot an arrow, victory. Shoot an arrow, victory. Okay? Take as many victories as you want. Use your whole quiver if you want.
He doesn't give him any direction but you shoot arrows and those will be victories. So apparently he has a whole quiver full of arrows, chooses only to shoot three of them. Not quite sure why, either lack of faith, pride, could be any number of things. But because of that, Elisha gets angry of him. "You should have emptied the magazine against the enemy. What are you thinking? God could have given you full victory and you chose partial victory?"
Jot this down: Don't settle, don't be satisfied with partial victory. I talk with people periodically that are struggling with a sin. Maybe you've struggled with this question before. "I've been addicted to this. I've always done this. Will I ever overcome this sin?" Here's the answer: Yes, in heaven. That's it. Until then, you have a battle to fight. The Bible makes this very clear. It says that with every temptation God has created a way of escape.
That means you have to get away from that. You have to pull a Joseph and run, flee from sin. Second Timothy 2:22, real easy to remember, 2 Timothy 2:22. Okay? Here's what it says, "Flee youthful lusts; pursue righteousness . . . with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." Run from what you shouldn't be doing; replace it with something better with those who are doing the same thing. We have a battle to fight.
First Corinthians, Paul told the Corinthian church, "If you think you stand, take heed lest you fall." If you think you've arrived, just be careful, because that's when you fall. He said in Second Corinthians, "When I am weak, then I am strong." He recognized that when I feel at my weakest, that's often when I turn to God the greatest, when my dependency on the Lord is at its greatest. You know what I found to be true? Although Paul's statement is very true, "When I am weak, then I am strong," I found personally that when I feel strong in myself, then I am weak.
Beware of the "I've arrived" syndrome. "I'm there. Man, I don't struggle with that anymore. I used to. That's not who I am anymore." That's good. You should always seek progress in your life as you follow Christ, the process of sanctification. He's growing you. You should be, you know, the way I've always heard sanctification described is not that you're sinless, but you sin less and less and less. That's the idea, you make progress.
But the moment you get to the place where you say, "Well, that's no longer who I am. And I don't do that anymore. And I don't need that accountability. And I don't need those boundaries anymore, because I've arrived. I have conquered." That's when you will fall. God guarantees us victory as we continue to walk by faith and trust him for it. Joshua, chapter 1, God told Joshua as he was marching into the Promised Land, "Everywhere you step the sole of your foot, I guarantee the victory."
But that meant he had to have courage to step into enemy territory. That meant he had to have faith to keep walking around impenetrable walls. That meant he had to have perseverance to keep stepping when he wanted to give up. I don't know about you, but sometimes I want to give up. I want to quit. This is too hard. How could I keep going? God says, "No. I guarantee the victory." Here's the great thing about following Jesus: we don't fight for victory, we fight from victory.
The victory has been won. "Greater is he who is in us, than he who is in the world." "If God is for us, who can be against us?" But the reality, the reverse is true as well. If you are not for Christ and if Christ is not for you, it doesn't matter who is for you. You need Jesus. And, guys, I'm telling you this generation, more than any, I would say, before us needs to see people who will not back down when God invites you to take a step of faith. You go all-in because we serve the God who went all-in for us. That's what a life of faith looks like. Now here's the result of that: if we will be faithful to live a life of faith, then when we die, we can leave a legacy of faith.
Here's the second part: the legacy of faith. Elisha was, as I mentioned, the predecessor to Elijah. Elijah had this really cool, flashy exit, like one of coolest ways that anybody ever gets to leave. Normally it's kind of anticlimatic in, like, a coffin, but this guy got this amazing, fiery escort into heaven. Elisha was the only one there watching, and there's this whirlwind, this storm, and fiery chariots, and horsemen. They, like, escort him up into heaven. This is an amazing scene. So, Elisha's there. He's the only person that got to witness this. He prays that God would give him a double portion of the blessing that Elijah had.
If you do the math and you look at Elijah and Elisha, many people say that Elisha, through the power that God gave him, performed twice as many miracles as Elijah. So, if we're thinking, okay, if this is like Elijah 2.0, all right, like, if Elijah went out that way, just wait for Elisha's exit. Right? Like, this is going to be amazing. I hope you're ready. Buckle up! Verse 20, "Then Elisha died, and they buried him. [laughter]
Okay, I was a little more excited than maybe I should have been. Uh, it was a little anticlimatic---uh, he died pretty normal. He got old, he got sick, and he died. And that was it. And there was a funeral and some tears and then we've moved on. Good reminder that no one is exempt from death unless your name is Elijah and you lived 3,000 years ago, or Enoch and you just walked with God. Other than those two men, none of us, they were the exception to the rule; none of us are exempt from death, even the godly men and women.
The Bible says, "It is appointed for all men to die once, and then the judgment." I don't know a lot about your future. I don't know what your hairstyle is going to look like in ten years, or if you're still going to be rocking that fanny pack, you know, in ten years. I don't know where you're going to be living or what the style is going to be. There's a lot of unknowns about our future. But I can tell you two things for sure: you will die, and you will be judged.
That's what the Bible says. Welcome to Calvary, you're going to die. That's the point that I'm trying to get across. [laughter] I know, it's like, "Oh, wow, I'm so glad that I came this morning. I'm gonna die." Here's what's I'm getting at, okay? Let's just live in some reality here. We don't need to pretend. Use all the antiaging cream you want, but the Bible says that's where we're headed, okay, toward the grave. "From dust we came and to dust we will return."
The sooner we understand that and how fragile life is, the better because it helps us gain perspective, "gain a heart of wisdom," as Moses put it, when "we number our days." And so, the certainty of death and judgment underscores our need to be prepared. It blows my mind when I talk to people and I ask, "Hey, if you died today, where would you spend eternity?" And people are like, "Oh, I don't want to think about that yet." What do you mean? That's all of eternity.
That's kind of a long time; don't you think? Wouldn't you want to be prepared for that? "Well, I've got 70 years, 80 years here on earth. I'm gonna be 110." Cool, but eternity is a lot longer than 110 years. It's forever, okay? We need to be prepared for that. And if the Bible says you're going to die and be judged, I would think that you would want to be ready for that. So the question is not death and judgment, the question is impact and legacy. What will your life leave behind? That's the question.
I think all of us want to live lives that matter. So Elisha dies, lived a life of faith. Life kind of continues on for months after his death. Verse 20, the winter rains and the wars resumed. Verse 21, these Moabite raiders come into Israel. They did it at a time where there was a funeral procession happening. These pallbearers are carrying the dead body of this man. They see a group of the Moabite raiders; they throw the body into the nearest tomb. They panic and then they just run for their lives.
Well, it just so happens that the tomb that they toss the dead guy in was Elisha's tomb. And God does this crazy thing because Elisha was faithful with his life; God did this unprecedented thing after his death. Watch this. This is crazy. Verse 21, "So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha," remember he was dead, "he revived and stood on his feet."
Are you kidding me? They just put the fun back in funeral right there. The guy is alive, okay? Can you imagine the moment where that guy goes and hides with the guys, the pallbearers who just dumped his body? Can you imagine that? Like, he brush us himself off, "Why am I here? This is weird." And he runs out of the tomb. Maybe he saw the Moabite raiders and he finds the guys who just threw his body in there. "Hey, guys, what are we hiding from?" [laughter]
You know, like, "I saw them the Moabites, though. Did you see them?" They're like, "Yeah, get down." "Whoa, wait a minute. Who are you?" you know. "Uh, I think I was just carrying your dead, limp body a little while ago. What just happened?" You know, physical resurrections are cool. I've done ten years of funerals and I've yet to see one. I think I would want to see one. Although, I think it might freak me out as well. But I'm just going to go out on a limb and say at your funeral there's probably not going to be any physical resurrections that take place, but there can be spiritual resurrections that take place. Cool thing about spiritual resurrections, they last longer.
This guy, I mean, that's cool that he got to come back to life, but eventually he had to die again. That's kind of a bummer. Spiritual resurrections last forever. Let me give you a few ways that you can make sure that there are spiritual resurrections; people have eternal life because of the way that you live. I'll give you a few ways: one, stand for truth even what it's not popular. We need this more today than ever before; am I right? Like, marriage is being redefined in our world. You see the headlines everywhere. We need to stand for truth with our kids, in our homes, in our classrooms, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces. You're not going to make a lot of friends, but that's what we're called to do.
Here's another one: maintain an eternal perspective. Keep in mind what really matters. Live for what really matters. Recognize your limitations. Those are all important. Here's one that's near to my heart as a dad: train up the next generation. You know, Psalm 127 says that, "Children are a heritage from the Lord. They're like arrows in the hand of a warrior." Parents, when God blesses you with a child, you know what he's giving you? He's giving you ammunition to continue the battle in their generation, because the battle continues to go.
It's happening right here through us. But one day, you're going to pass away, and if you've done your job as a parent, then you've given your kids, they are the ammunition that continues to attack the next generation of satanic attacks. And so you have this opportunity. And so as long as you have kids in your home, it's like you are pulling back; if we're going with this illustration of them arrows, it's like you're pulling back that arrow and aiming it.
The day will come; our job as parents is to teach our kids to thrive when we're not there. The day will come where you let go of that arrow. And by God's grace, if you've done your job as a parent, they fly further and have deeper more destructive impact on Satan and his kingdom in that next generation than you and I could ever have. God has allowed us to be a part of that. Maybe you're thinking, "Well, I'm older, we're passed childbearing age. We don't have kids." That's no excuse.
We have Bible Island happening here at Calvary. We have amazing student ministries I got to be a part of for six years, as you saw ninja picture on the screen. There are cooler things you can do as a part of student ministry. You don't have to dress up like a ninja, though, you can if you like. You can disciple people. I mean, there are so many opportunities that you have to train up the next generation. And the great things is as we see from the life and ministry of Elisha, is that when you breathe your last, your faith can keep breathing after you when you've passed it on.
I mean, here we are 2,500 years later and we're still being ministered to by Elisha. Quick side note: this guy resurrected, how do we know that he was alive? Verse 21, "He stood on his feet." That's pretty obvious. People ask me as a pastor sometimes, "Am I saved? Can you tell me if I'm saved? Because one time at summer camp I prayed," or, "I took communion one time," "I got baptized." "Like, I go to church. I read my Bible. That's cool. Am I saved?" Here's how this works---just like this guy, his life had evidence. True faith has evidence. It has feet to stand on. Here's what I've encountered in my own life and the lives of many others.
When your life genuinely is impacted by the gospel and the eternal Creator of the universe, you can't be the same. Did anybody hear me? You can't be the same. There is no possible way when your life is gripped by the gospel that you would continue to just do all of the same things that you've done. Amen? That's what the gospel does. The gospel saves and the gospel changes. And I don't know what brought you here. I don't know why you're sitting in these seats. But I believe that there are people sitting right here in this room or family room or balcony or you're listening to this or watching this wherever you are, and might have come here out of desperation.
You're looking for answers. You might have come here to church out of tradition. This is just what we do as a family on the weekends. But I believe that there are people right here, maybe you've been following Christ, you've known about Jesus for many years. You're like me; you grew up going to church. You think you're a pretty good person. I'm here the tell you today, I believe God has you in that chair or listening to this message not necessarily out of desperation or tradition, but to cause a resurrection in your life. It doesn't matter if you've walked in these doors dead spiritually, you can walk out with hope and with life and with joy and with peace, because our God is alive.
He's alive today, and you can be too. [applause] But that takes surrender. You have to let go. I mean, what a way for this guy to go, right, Elisha? His death brought life. Does that sound familiar? Romans 5 says that; "we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son." Hebrews says that "Jesus tasted death for everyone." And so the beauty of the gospel is that because Jesus died and then stood back to his feet, you and I can stand to our feet as well.
There's hope. You're like, "No, but you don't understand my past. You don't know who I am. You don't know what I've done." True, I may not know you. But I know the God who does. I know the God who's given you breath today. I know the God who wrote the Bible who says that his mercy is new every morning. The skeptics will say, "Well, Jesus said he was coming back, but he said that 2,000 years ago. So, what happened? Did he forget?"
You know, the Bible addresses that question. It says that his delay proves his patience. He's waiting for you. If Jesus came back last weekend, you wouldn't have a chance today. I'm going to give you a chance here in just a moment to commit your life to Jesus, to say, "I want to be drawn out of my sin. I need the answer, and I know now that his name is Jesus. I want that peace and life. I want that." But had Jesus called us home last weekend, you wouldn't have this opportunity today.
The fact that he hasn't returned proves that he loved you enough to wait till this weekend. There's hope for you. So the end of your life does not have to be the end of the impact your life will have. It's the end . . . or is it? Because that's the story of the gospel; at the cross Satan and his demons, I'm sure they threw a party. They got the right guy to betray Christ and sell him. And they beat him up, and they nailed him to a tree, and he breathed his last.
And Satan and the demons said, "The end!" Three days later [knock, knock, knock] or is it? Jesus showed up and he proved that it was not the end, that he was alive. And because He lives today, because He was dead and now lives forevermore, there is hope for us. If you're still breathing, there's hope for you. It's not too late, but it could be too late tomorrow. And that's why right now I'm going give you an invitation to give your life to Jesus, because you're not guaranteed another breath, and you need to get right.
You need to make sure your life is being lived for something that will matter so that when your heart stops beating; your faith will beat on, because that's what true, living faith does. You don't have to be defined by what you did. You are not what you did. God has a much greater plan for you. And the sin and addiction that has gripped your life, you can be set free from as you follow Jesus Christ. Would you guys bow your heads with me? Jesus, that's what we need. We're here because of our need. We gather together because of our need. And so we just ask that right now you would speak to those of us who are followers of Christ. You would remind us to live our life investing in the eternal.
And, Lord, I pray also for anybody who is within the sound of this message right now that you would call them out of their sin and to their Savior. God, they would refuse to settle any longer for the drugs and the alcohol and the relationships and the things that the world says will satisfy, and they will say, "I want to break free of all of that, and I want to experience true freedom in Jesus Christ." I believe that there are Christians sitting in this room who know you. They've known you for years, but they're not currently walking with you, and today you are drawing them back to you.
God, I pray that there would be boldness and repentance as they step out of their chairs; they make it public, as they are at the perfect place to celebrate with people who want to rejoice with him. God, give them that boldness right now as they make a public decision to follow Jesus Christ. As your heads are bowed and eyes closed, I just want to give that moment. I'm not asking you to bow your heads because this is shameful. If anything, would you just pray, those of you who are followers of Christ, would you pray for the people who are around you that do not know the Lord?
You might not even know their names, but I guarantee there is a battle right now waging for souls. And I believe not only are there people who need to come to faith in Christ for the very first time, I believe there are some Christians in just a moment that need to step out of their chair and publicly recommit their lives to following Jesus Christ. You know exactly who I'm talking to. If that's you, your heart is probably pounding, your palms are sweating.
You didn't plan on making this decision. You're like, "My friends are here." That's okay. If they're really your friends, they're going to celebrate with you. If they're not your friends, then it doesn't matter, you follow Jesus. That's what matters. Right now is your opportunity. I want to ask you if you want to make a public decision to follow Christ, I'm going to ask you right here in a moment to step out of your chair and meet me up here at the stage.
I want to lead you in a prayer, but right now it starts by just lifting your hand in surrender and saying, "That is what I need. I want out of my sin. I want to be broken free of that, and I want to turn my life to Jesus Christ." If there's anybody here today, this is your moment. You lift up that hand, I'm going to acknowledge it, and then I'm going to lead you in a prayer to give your life to Jesus Christ.
Wherever you are, if you're here in the sanctuary, if you're in the balcony, if you're over here in the prayer room, wherever you might be, you lift up that hand and I want to lead you in a prayer to commit your life to Jesus Christ. If it's the first time---I see your hand, right over here on the side. Praise God. If it's your first-time decision, that's great. If you need to recommit your life to Christ, you've made this decision, but you need to redo it today and get back on track, lift up that hand.
We want to celebrate with you. I see you over there in the family room; right up here in the front; over here on the side; on the side all the way over. You guys can put your hands down after you've lifted up your hand. Is there anybody in the balcony, listening to this message wherever you are? I see you in the back. I see you all the way---all the way back row, I see you back there. Praise God! Hands going up across the place.
If this is you, don't dig your heels in. God has something great for you. You have to let go to take it. The world says you need to gain control to get peace, Jesus says, "No. Let go. That's how you get peace." God's speaking to you. This is your moment. Let go. Is there anybody else? I see your hand in the back; you can put your hand down. Jesus, I just ask right now as we pray that you would give boldness. I've seen hands go up in the family room and all across the sanctuary.
There may be people outside or in the coffee shop or wherever, listening, maybe around the world that need to make that decision, and I pray that today would be the day where they fully surrendered their hearts to you. God, I pray specifically for the people right here with me, that you would give them boldness right now as we stand to our feet, to step out of their chair and make it public. This is the place. They're going to have to stand in the world, so it begins when they stand right here. Lord, give them the boldness to do that right now, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.