Community Group Study Notes
- Why is it so important that we believe rightly about God, about ourselves, and about sin? What are the consequences in our lives when we don’t?
- How does God’s Word help shape our right belief? What is one area in your life that God has specifically used His Word to correct?
- What is one action step that you can take in response to what you heard in Sunday’s message?
I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. (Psalm 119:104)
Jonathan Drake: Wes Aarum, Jr..
Wes Aarum: Okay, not Jr., I'm not officially a Jr..
Jonathan Drake: No?
Wes Aarum: People called me that all my life. It's not true.
Jonathan Drake: Well, it was in the bulletin.
Wes Aarum: Well, you know, it doesn't make it so. Just 'cause it's on the internet doesn't make it real.
Jonathan Drake: You're really not a Jr.?
Wes Aarum: I'm not, no. My middle name is different.
Jonathan Drake: We're both pastors' kids.
Wes Aarum: Yep.
Jonathan Drake: Both have that in common.
Wes Aarum: That's true.
Jonathan Drake: What was the hardest thing about being a pastor's kid for you?
Wes Aarum: Mine was the first time that I decided to wear jeans to church. That was a rough-
Jonathan Drake: I can't believe I'm in the same car with you right now. You had a busy week last week?
Wes Aarum: Busy week- Oh, [inaudible 00:00:40]. Yeah, it was great. Had an incredible time. Amazing. Lot of stuff going on, meeting a lot of people, seen some cool things, hearing some great bands. I like music. You like music, right?
Jonathan Drake: I love-
Wes Aarum: You're big into music.
Jonathan Drake: Oh, I'm big into music.
Wes Aarum: Yeah.
Jonathan Drake: Totally. I love music. I still remember the first time I heard secular music.
Wes Aarum: Yeah, that hasn't happened for me yet.
Jonathan Drake: Oh, sorry.
Wes Aarum: Yeah, it was another dark day in our household, jeans and secular music.
Jonathan Drake: You were in a big Christian band in the '80s.
Wes Aarum: In the '80s-
Jonathan Drake: Sorry, I didn't mean to pinpoint a decade.
Wes Aarum: '80s and '90s, thank you very much.
Jonathan Drake: I'm blanking on the name, though.
Wes Aarum: The name of the band?
Jonathan Drake: It was something agricultural.
Wes Aarum: Oh, oh.
Jonathan Drake: 'Cause Christians, we love agriculture.
Wes Aarum: Jesus, I am the vine, you are the branches.
Jonathan Drake: Something with farming.
Wes Aarum: Something with farming. It wasn't The Farmers.
Jonathan Drake: It wasn't the Gaither Vocal Band.
Wes Aarum: You know, it wasn't, actually that. The name of the band was Harvest, okay?
Jonathan Drake: Harvest.
Wes Aarum: Leave me alone.
Jonathan Drake: Okay, sorry. That's Luke 10, the harvest is plentiful.
Wes Aarum: There it is, yep.
Jonathan Drake: Is that the inspiration?
Wes Aarum: I have no idea.
Jonathan Drake: You left the band and then you started a career in ministry. Do you ever reminisce, go back in mind to-
Wes Aarum: Think about being in the band?
Jonathan Drake: Yeah, to being in the band.
Wes Aarum: No.
Jonathan Drake: You never do?
Wes Aarum: I never think about it.
Jonathan Drake: You never think about it.
Wes Aarum: Well, I absolutely do not think- It's not a part of my life anymore. I don't think about it. Just leave me alone. I don't think about it. I never, ever think about it.
Jonathan Drake: Wes, Wes.
Wes Aarum: What, what? Oh.
Jonathan Drake: Dude, we're back at church.
Wes Aarum: Sorry, man, I was thinking about you in jeans. It was so good. So good.
Jonathan Drake: You got something to do. Go speak.
Wes Aarum: Okay, alright. I'll see you man. Thanks for the ride.
Jonathan Drake: Absolutely, anytime.
Wes Aarum: Thank you.
Jonathan Drake: Anytime. He never thinks about it. Yeah, right.
[Wes Aarum (entering the stage)]
Okay, first off, just be clear about something, alright? I don't daydream about myself, okay? That's creepy. That's weird. I don't do it, you shouldn't do it. Don't daydream about me, either. That'd be really weird. Oh, man. I'm never gonna live that down. That's awesome. Anyway, welcome to church. My name is Wes. I get the privilege of sharing the word with you today. The reason we do those little videos is not only just to have fun, but we're talking about songs and music because we're in a series called Psalms for Summer. Psalms were actually the songbook, the hymnbook, of the Israelites. They would sing the psalms. They would not only read them, they would sing them.
Think about this for a moment. A Jewish boy or girl growing up would know these. They'd read them and they'd sing them, which means that Jesus did that, too. Every time you read the psalms, you're actually reading the words that Jesus Himself, growing up, read and sang, which is pretty cool when you think about it. Well, today we're going to be looking at a psalm and I believe that God has something very personal to say to every single person. That's why He brought you here. God doesn't waste your time. He wants to speak, I think, very intimately to each one of us if we'll listen. He has something to say. He knows that we have an enemy that hates us, but He loves us and He loves you. No matter where you are in the [inaudible 00:04:36] center, another campus, or online, or in this auditorium, I really believe that God wants to say something to you. Man, I don't want you to miss it.
I'm gonna ask us, even though Jeremiah led us in an awesome prayer here, I'm gonna ask us to pray together. I'm gonna ask you to ask God to speak to you. Would you please bow your heads with me and close your eyes just for a moment? Again, I know that we all have stuff running through our minds and we come into this place filled with stuff. Just push those to the side right now. Just let Jesus take center stage and just silently say, "God, speak to me." He loves you. He knows what's coming down the road for you. He understands what's happening in your life right now and He wants to speak to you with that knowledge. Would you let Him? Ask Him to speak to you today.
Heavenly Father, we bow before you as we gather together. We acknowledge that you're the king. You have the words of life. You're who we need. Lord, you've brought us here because you have something to say to us. Lord, we don't wanna miss it. I don't wanna miss it. God, speak powerfully. Holy Spirit, be our teacher today. Lord, may you be exalted. May your name be made great among us today. In your name we pray these things, Christ. Amen.
If you have a Bible, Psalm 119 is where we will be, Psalm 119. If you look there, we're gonna be there either in a hard copy or maybe an electronic device, that's fine. But we're gonna be there in just a moment Psalm 119. Okay, I wanna start this way. Let's say I held up this stick and I said, "Hey, look at this. This stick is completely straight." You would probably respond, "Wes, you've lost your mind, okay? No, it's crooked." "No, no, no. It's straight. It's totally straight." You're like, "No, see? There's a bend. It's crooked." I go, "No, it's completely straight." Well, how would you solve the dilemma? Well, pretty simply. You'd hold up a straight stick. A standard. You put it against it. You go, "Huh, here you go," because a standard reveals what's really going on, the actual state of something whether it's straight or whether it's crooked. You can see that.
That is what truth does. Truth is a standard to reveal for us what is right and real and what is false and a lie. It reveals what's crooked and what is straight. Without a standard, without truth, everything's up for grabs. We live in what has been called a postmodern culture, which states, that philosophy states, that there is no absolute truth. That means there is no such thing as something that is true for all people at all times in all places. That's absolute truth. They say that doesn't exist. You've probably heard it framed this way. "Hey, man, that might be true for you, but that's not true for me." We are moving into what is now being called a post-truth culture, which says, "Hey, there might be absolute truth but that's not what's most important. What's most important is what I feel and what I think. What I feel and what I think trumps actual facts and truth."
Let me show you what I mean. Just take a look at the video screen for a moment.
Interviewer: Are you aware of the debate happening in Washington state around the ability to access bathrooms, locker rooms, spas, based on gender identity and gender expression?
Speaker 4: I think people should be able to have access to the facility.
Speaker 5: I think bathrooms could and potentially should be gender neutral because there doesn't need to be a classification for differences.
Speaker 6: I think people definitely should have the ability to go into whichever locker room they want.
Speaker 7: I feel like at least public universities should do their best to accommodate for those who do not have a specific gender identity.
Speaker 8: You know, whether you identify as a male or female and whether your sex at birth is matching to that, you should be able to utilize the resources.
Interviewer: If I told you that I was a woman, what would your response be?
Speaker 8: Good for you, okay. Yeah.
Speaker 5: Nice to meet you. I'd be like, "What? Really?"
Speaker 6: I don't have a problem with it.
Speaker 7: I'd ask you how you came to that conclusion.
Interviewer: If I told you that I was Chinese, what would your response be?
Speaker 8: I mean, I might be a little surprised, but I would say, "Good for you." Yeah, be who you are.
That is where that philosophy leads. There's no anchor. There's no solid ground, just a constant quagmire, shifting sand. Over against all that is the Bible, the word of God. This is what Jesus says about that in John 17. He says, "Your word," speaking to God, His Father, "your word is truth. Your word is truth." See, the Bible says not only there is such a thing as truth but that you can know it. You can absolutely know truth. Jesus says, "Your word is truth." Isn't it great to get something so plain, so boom! Hey, what is truth? There it is. What we do with it is up to us, but God says, "I'm gonna tell you the truth 'cause I love you and I want you to know it." He tells us the truth.
David, presumably the writer of Psalm 119, believed that God's word, His laws, His statutes, His instructions, His precepts, all of it taken together was truth. As a result, he makes a powerful life-giving and life-directing statement in Psalm 119:104. It says this, verse 104, "I gained understanding from your precepts, therefore I hate every wrong path. I gained understanding from your precepts, therefore I hate every wrong path." He says, "I gained understanding." He says, "I see what is real and what is right, what is straight. I gained that understanding. As a result, I see what's not right and I hate every wrong path." That word, "hate," is strong. It means he wants absolutely nothing to do with that thing that is hated and the wrong path, that word "wrong" in the Hebrew also super strong because it declares that something that is wrong is totally and completely against God's law, completely worthless, without basis in fact or reality.
It's a wrong path. The psalmist says, "I gained understanding, therefore I hate every wrong path." Because he sees what it is, he sees that it is a perverse twisting of what God has declared right and real. He sees that it's a lie, that it's false, that it's against human flourishing, and he sees where it leads. That's why he hates it. He sees where it leads. We could say it this way: A wrong path always leads to a wrong place. A wrong path always leads to a wrong place. Now, we understand that in the physical world of maps and roads. For example, if I got on our Route 400 going south and I said, "Hey, we're going to Canada," you'd be like, "What is your problem? This road doesn't go there. It's 400 South, Canada's north. Doesn't go there, Wes." I'm like, "No, no, no." It doesn't go there. No matter how much I pray and hope and dream and command 400 South to take me to Canada, it's not gonna happen. Why? Because that road doesn't go there.
What's obvious to us sometimes in the world of physical maps, we miss in the world of life and spiritual application. For example, if I said, "Hey, I wanna be in great health, great shape, so I'm gonna eat as many doughnuts as I possibly can. I think I'm gonna binge watch Netflix every night on the couch." Guess what. That road doesn't lead to better health. No matter how much I want it to, it doesn't lead to better health. If I say, "Hey, man, I wanna have an awesome relationship with God, so I'm gonna neglect reading God's word and I'm gonna prioritize other things over spending time with God." Guess what. That road doesn't go there. I say, "I wanna have an awesome intimate marriage, so I'm gonna choose to be selfish and I'm gonna look at the occasional porn site and the only time I'm gonna sacrifice is when it benefits me." That road doesn't go to a great intimate marriage, no matter how much I want it to. It doesn't go.
A wrong path leads to a wrong place. Listen, if we don't gain understanding, if we don't gain understanding by knowing the truth, then we're gonna think that a wrong path is an okay option and it's probably even gonna lead to someplace profitable. Let me give you three examples of what I'm talking about in terms of the wrong path that we can take, that we have an enemy who wants us to take. Wrong path number one, believing wrong about God. That's been his angle from the very beginning. Shows up in the very beginning of recorded human history in the book of Genesis. You're familiar with it, probably. Now, the serpent, who was Satan, was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say-" Right there. "Did God really say?" Satan wants to start putting question marks in our lives about who God is.
He's doing it here. "Did God really say?" He wanted them to doubt God's goodness, that God was really for them, that He really knew what He was doing and He really did care about them. Satan wanted them to doubt that. You know the story. They bit, literally and figuratively, on that and they took a wrong path. Look where it leads. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. They hid. Why? Because now they believed wrong about God. They believed that God was their enemy. They believed that God was against them. That's what Satan wants you to believe. He wants you to believe that God is not good, that He doesn't have your best interests in mind, that He can't be counted on, that He can't be trusted. Satan says, "Hey, this is God." That's a wrong path.
Wrong path number two, believing wrong about ourselves. We live in a culture, and you know this, we live in a culture that has convinced us that we have to prove our value, that we have to prove our worth. Because we're uncertain about that, we allow people's opinions to really be a big determining factor. If I can perform well, if I can amass enough wealth, if I look good, if I can do something that can get people to applaud me, then I feel good about myself and I'm significant and I'm valuable. But if I can't or if I feel like a failure for some reason, then guess what. My value is suspect and I question, deeply question, my worth. It's a wrong path.
Third wrong path, believing wrong about sin. Satan wants you to believe wrong about sin. He wants you to think that it's no big deal. Sin, that's archaic, man. Come on. At the very least, you can manage it. You can handle it. It's whatever makes you happen. Look, as long as nobody really knows about it, no harm, no foul. No big deal. That's what Satan wants you to believe and it's a wrong path.
How do we find that out? We gain understanding, right? We set it up against a standard. We look at God's truth and we gain understanding so that we can see the wrong path by seeing the right path. Let's gain a little understanding this morning about these paths. What do you do? Right path number one, let's take it. Believing right about God. If you want to expose this for what it is, so that we won't be duped into thinking, "Hey, this is a good decision," you gotta know what is true. We gotta gain understanding. What is truth? What's the right path about God? This is just a snapshot, but man, hang onto this. Here we go. God is good. Always good, never not good. Always good. He's faithful. He's gonna hang in there. What He says, you can count on 'cause He's faithful to Himself and to His character. He's holy. That means there's no sin anywhere in His life. Anything that you and I fear from other relationships in our life, we need not fear with God. Why? Because there is no sin. There is no brokenness in Him.
If you're looking for encouragement and refreshment, just let this stuff grab ahold of you. Love; this is who God is. It's not just an emotion, but man, it's an action. God says, "I'm always gonna do what is loving towards you, always." Regardless of what it might seem like in the moment, God says, "This is who I am and this is how I act. The full story hasn't been told yet, so hang on 'cause I love you." True. He's gonna be true. He's gonna be truthful. Just. Gracious. Eternal. It means boundless. All of God's characters are eternal. His characteristics, they are boundless, which means they're without limit. His goodness without limit, His love without limit, His justice without limit. He is forgiving. This is heart. He gives life. Do you want real life? It's only found with the Father. Only found with God. Relational. He is not a distant deity. He wants a relationship with you and with me. He saves. He has the power and ability. It's who He is and He's perfect. There is no defect in any of those that we've just mentioned, in any part of Him. Let's understand. That's what you've gotta put up against this so you can see the wrong path, 'cause this is the right path.
Right path number two, to help us believe right is to believe right about ourselves. Believe right about ourselves. Again, real quick, three verses. Three verses that God sets the table for us and speaks clearly that is completely contrary to our culture. Take a look at these verses in Psalm 139. "For you, God, created my inmost being." God created your inmost being. That's more than the physical component, man. He knows what's going on with you. He understand how your mind works, how you're wired, what excites you, what challenges you. He knows that. Why? 'Cause He created that. He knows you better than you know yourself. "You knit me together." That word "knit," that is a powerful word because it speaks of that which has purpose and is personal. When you knit something, man, you're engaged. You're involved. There's something you're doing that is personal and on purpose. That is what that's conveying. "You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Fearfully and wonderfully made. Fearful is a sense of awe, overwhelming awe, and wonderful. That means to do the miraculous. You're awe. You're an awe-inspiring miracle. That's what God says about you. That's what He says about you. "Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made that way." "Was made" means to make, to do, to accomplish. God says, "You are my accomplishment." You're a God-sized accomplishment made in the secret place. "When I was woven together in the depths of the earth." Woven together, woven together in the depths of the earth. That's a word picture. It means to take different colored strands, to weave them together in such a way that you produce a masterpiece.
Those three verses alone land us in one inescapable place, that you are a wanted, desired, specifically designed creation by the King of the Universe. You have bestowed wealth, and people and circumstances, because they didn't give it to you, they can't take it from you. They can't take it from you. I have two kids. My wife and I have two kids, Dylan, oldest, Lindsay, daughter. He's 17, she's 14. But I remember when Dylan was born. I was there. My wife got into kind of a challenging pregnancy and then the delivery was a little challenging to be sure. The contractions, they were getting stronger and stronger, so the doctor was in there. I'm watching this whole thing going, "Oh my gosh, here we go." They're getting stronger until the doctor's going, "Hey, you need to support her!" I'm going, "Come on, honey, you can do it. You can do it. You can do it," cheering her on. He goes, "No, you need to support her. Get your arm underneath her to support her back." I'm like, "Sorry, not a doctor."
I get my arm underneath. She puts her arm around my neck. Yeah. I'm like this, she's got around like, "Come on, honey." A contraction hits and she screams and she yanks down with her arm on my neck. She's screaming, I'm screaming, I mean, the whole thing is happening. I'm not lying. She pulled so hard that she actually pulled my back out of joint. I had to go the chiropractor that next week. Yeah. I know. I know, birth was so hard on me. Anyway. Anyway, I'm on her, right? All of a sudden, the doctor goes, "Here he comes." I get rid of the death grip there and I position myself around and all of a sudden, out squirts my son. I mean, there he is, man. I mean, come on. You see these things on TV like, "Oh, look at this beautiful baby with the little puffy hair." Come on, man. They're covered with amniotic fluid and they got all this stuff going on, they're sucking the lungs out and all that. But I'm not lying to you. This is God's honest truth, man, hand on the Bible.
As I'm looking at this life that we had prayed for, that I had prayed over, that I had felt him kicking and we'd been praying for, all of a sudden, I'm like, "You were there and now here you are." Instantly I fell in love with that little kid. Instantly. You know, I'm not lying, you know what God brought to my mind? Psalm 139. Fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm a human parent. I'm flawed. I get it wrong. I mess up. But I was so filled with joy in that moment. Listen, can you imagine the joy in the heart of the Father over you the day that you were physically born? Because He created you. He chose to give you life. Right? That's who you are. That's the right path. The world will tell you something different. God says, "Nope. Nope, this is the right path right here. This is it."
Right path number three, you gotta believe right about sin. Gotta believe right about sin. Doesn't get any plainer than this. Here it is. Doesn't get any plainer. "For the wages of sin is death." Is death. Not "might be death," "could be death," "possibly," is death. Is. Absence of life. Absence of everything that we want, that we really need. That's where sin leads. Now, you don't see that immediately all the time 'cause sometimes it takes a while. There's pleasure in sin for a season, otherwise nobody would be doing it. God tells us that. But when the smoke clears and the emotions evaporate, you're left with death. We play around with sin and say, "Oh, that's not true." We think it's okay. We think we can manage it. We treat it lightly. God says it's death. Sometimes we need real life stories to wake us up. God provides a lot of those in His word, to do that. I want us to look at one real quick. I'm just gonna read it.
What happens when you choose to believe wrong about God, you choose to believe wrong about yourself, and you choose to believe wrong about sin? There's episode from the life of Israel recorded for us in the book of 2 Kings. "The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord, their God, that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city, they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place, they burned incense as the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that aroused the Lord's anger. They worshiped idols though the Lord had said, 'You shall not do this.' The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and seers." I mean, time and time again He was coming after them going, "Come on, what are you doing? Wake up! Don't you remember? Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees in accordance with the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, that I delivered to you through my servants, the prophets."
"But they were not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God, who did not trust in the Lord their God." They believed wrong about God. They didn't think God knew what He was doing, that He could be trusted, that He had their best interests in mind, that He was good. They didn't believe it. It continues. "They rejected His decrees and the covenant He had made with their ancestors and the statutes He had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them." They looked at the culture around them and said, "Hey, that's what's important. That's what's valuable. That's what significant. We need to do that." They believed wrong about themselves.
"Although the Lord had ordered them, 'Do not do as they do,' they forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts and they worshiped Baal. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire." Picture it with me. It's festival day. It's noon. Everything shuts down. People line the street. At the far end of the street, all the priests, robed in their regalia, they're coming this way. The temple at that end of the street. As they walk by, all the people bow but they keep their eyes on what the head priest at the head of the line is holding in his hands. It's a little baby. People filing behind the priests go all the way down. They stop at the edge of the stone stairs. The high priest, the head priest, he walks up to the giant statue, the giant stone statue, of Moloch. He was their god.
He had a huge, gaping mouth, and on festival day they'd put a fire behind it and stoke that fire hot so that when you look straight on at the idol, at the god Moloch, you'd see the fire leaping out of his mouth as fiery tongues. The priests go on up and faced this stone idol. Off to the sides, a couple, mom and dad, they're the parents of that baby. They're the chosen ones. Priest holds the baby up, faces the crowd, speaks words of incantation. He turns around, holds it high over his head, speaks some more words of incantation, and then throws the child into the mouth of Moloch, into the flames. You hear a cry and it's over. Moloch has been appeased. All of the people, they go back to their homes, their shops, their normal life. Everybody goes back to normal except for this couple. As they walk home trying to be strong, they tell themselves, "We were the blessed ones. We were the chosen ones."
But when they got to their house and they closed the door, mom collapses, weeping, and she cries out the very words that have been rolling around in her husband's mind the whole morning. "How could we let that happen to us?" The answer is in the text. The Israelites did secret things against the Lord, little things, small things, things that they thought they could hide from God, little sins. No big deal sins. That's where that path goes. I know you're sitting here going, "What do you mean? You're telling me that if I hang onto some little sin or believe wrong about God about myself, I hang onto that, I'm gonna end up throwing my kids in the fire?" No. No. But listen, you will sacrifice something because the wages of sin is death. That's where that path goes. God doesn't want that to happen. In fact, He didn't want it to happen so much 'cause He knew our condition, that we rebelled against Him.
He didn't want it to happen so much that He sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, to pay for our sin, my sin, your sin, on a cross where He'd been tortured and torn apart. The Romans were experts at crucifixion and torture. Then God put all of our sin on Jesus. One sacrifice, all sin, on Him, and He faced the wrath that our sins deserved. He died. He was buried. Three days later He rose from the grave, conquering hell, death, sin, conquering it so that when we come to Him and we admit that we're sinners and we need a Savior and we lay our lives down and say, "Jesus, come, save me," instantly He says, "I come into your life. I forgive you all your sins." Colossians 2 tells us that He's forgiven us all our sins because He took the punishment. He can forgive. He forgives us all our sins. He gives us a relationship with God, a home in Heaven, and reason to get up in the morning, to live life.
It doesn't mean that everything is perfect and everything's great. We live in a broken world. But we have a God who says, "I am with you and I will never forsake you." Maybe you've gone through a tough time this week. Listen, you need to know what the truth is and it's this. John 10:28, 29, 30, Jesus said when we come to Him, when we invite Christ into our lives, He puts us in the palm of His hand and no one can snatch them out. He says, "The Father, who is greater than me, put you in the palm of His hand and no one can snatch you out," which means even in difficulty it's not about how strong you hold onto Him. It's about how strong He is holding onto you. He says, "No one will snatch you out of my hand. I have got you." That is truth.
If you're here and you've never invited Christ into your life, that can be yours today 'cause it's what God wants and He has made it possible. If you're here and you're a Christ-follower, then the reality is there's no condemnation for you, those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1. God has forever changed His posture for one of righteous condemnation to open-armed acceptance. Why? 'Cause Jesus forgave us all our sins. It doesn't mean God loves all the stuff that we do. Of course not. He says, "I'm never leaving you. I'm calling you to me. I'm gonna encourage you. I'm gonna challenge you. I'm gonna convict you. I'm gonna discipline you." Why? "'Cause I love you. I want you to get off the wrong path." As a believer we can do that. When we find ourselves in a wrong path, we can repent. We can run back to God. He said, "Come on."
For some of you, you're a Christ-follower, but Satan has convinced you of a wrong path in your life, that you've sinned and he's just beating you up with that. I believe that Jesus would say to you today, "Hey, hey, why are you still carrying around the guilt that I paid for? You don't need to. I paid for it. You can go free." Live out of that. Live out of that. How do we do that? We gain understanding. Let me ask you, what is it for you? Which is it for you? Be honest with yourself. When it comes to God, who He is, is it this? He's suspect, you don't think you can trust Him, He's not good, doesn't have your best interests in mind, doesn't really know what He's doing? Or He's the God who sacrifices sin for you, who loves you, who's passionate about you, who chose to give you life even in this moment, and has a plan for your life that is good. He'll be with you and for you. Which is it?
Hey, can I just say to you, if you're a Christ-follower and your thoughts about God when you think about Him doesn't draw you to Him, doesn't excite you about Him, then you're believing wrong about Him. We know that even in human relationships. We have some that we love and we care about, and we think they're awesome and they're incredible and they're a blast to be around and they love us. You don't have to twist my arm to spend some time with somebody like that. If you think, when you think about God as a Christ-follower, you're not moved towards Him, you're believing wrong about Him. How about about yourself? You think your worth is anchored in how you perform and what you can do? Or what God says about you and who you really are? How about sin? It's no big deal. You can play around with it. Or, man, it leads to death? I need to repent and run to Jesus and get life.
"I gain understanding from your precepts, therefore I hate every wrong path." That's what's true. That's what God tells us and He leaves the choice with us. Let's pray together. I'm gonna invite you to bow your heads and close your eyes just for a moment. Thank you guys so much for your grace, your attention, and I really appreciate that. But this is the critical moment right here. This is the critical moment right here. What did God say to you and what do you need to do about it? What does God talk to you about and what do you need to do about it? If you're a Christian, where do you need to rethink and align your heart with what God has proclaimed about Himself or about you or about sin? What do you need to do? Take a moment, silently just respond to Him. He brought you here because He has a plan for you and it's good.
Last question. If you're here and, man, you don't know Jesus, if you died today, and everyone's gonna die at some point, sometime it's gonna happen, if you died today do you know for sure that you'd be in Heaven? Because you can, because the Bible says you can know. You can know that you have eternal life. You can know that you have Jesus in you. You can know that He's with you and He's forgiven your sins. You can know that. Say, "Wes, I want that. I need Jesus in my life." If that's true, if that's you, then tell Him right where you're sitting. Tell Him. In fact, you can pray something like this, not out loud, in your heart. Somebody loved me enough to give me some words one day. Let me give you some words if you're not sure. Just mean these as your own. Say, "Dear Jesus, I'm a sinner. I get it. I need a Savior. I need you. I believe you love me. I believe you died for me and that you have life to give me. I want that. I want you so I turn from my sin. I repent. I turn to you. Come into my life. Save me 'cause I am all yours. I believe you and I'm all yours."
Heads bowed, eyes closed, no one looking around, but if you just prayed that and you meant it, I wanna remember you in a closing prayer. I'm gonna ask you to raise your hand and look right at me. Say, "Wes, I just prayed it. I meant it. Jesus has talked to me. I just gave my life to Him, man. Here's my hand. Pray for me." Somebody loved me enough to pray for me one day. I wanna do that for you. If that's you, I just want you to raise your hand. Hold it up nice and high so I can see it. Hold it up nice and high. Yep. Nice and high and look right at me. Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, look right at me. All around the auditorium, I'm just trying to- Great. Great, great. Right on. Come on, keep it up. Keep it up. Keep it up nice and high. Keep it up as I pray for you.
God, I only see hands. You see hearts, you see souls. You know what's going on. Make it real in their life, God. Help them to know that you are good to your word in this moment. Keep your hands up just for a moment. Just look at me. Did you mean it. If you meant it, I want you to wave at me so I can see it. Mean it? Mean it? If you meant it, here's what I'm gonna ask you to do. Bible tells us to make our decisions for Christ public, so I'm gonna invite you right now. Without anyone looking around, I want you to get up out of your seat. I want you to come. I want you to meet me right here. I'm coming down. If you meant it, I want you to come. Come on. Get up and I want you to come and meet me and I want you to bring a friend. Come on. Right now. Let's do it. If you meant it, you come. You meant it, you come. I'm jumping off the stage and I wanna meet you. You need to come with a friend, bring them 'cause my guess is they've been praying for you.
God's talked to you. You come. God has spoken to you, you didn't raise your hand, but you know you need to come. You say, "I need Jesus." Come on. Stick a spiritual stake in the ground and say, "I'm gonna give my life to Christ and I'm not looking back." Right now. Come on. Come on. If you're in the East Worship Center and you just made the decision, in just a moment we're gonna take these folks, these new brothers and sisters, and we're gonna go over to the Fireside Room just real quick. We're gonna have a quick prayer, quick word with them, give them some material, and I want you to get up where you are and start heading over there now, okay? We can do that. Let's have a word of prayer for our new brothers and sisters real quick. Can we do that?
God, thank you for today. Lord, thank you for your word and for your truth. God, I pray for myself as I pray for everybody else that, God, we would gain understanding for your word, we would be in it, we would be drawn to you. Lord, we pray for our new brothers and sisters, that they would realize that you are good to your word, and that, Lord, you've moved in and that you have the ability to save because you promised. We know it's true in our own lives, God. As we pray for these, we pray that you would make it real in their lives. God, thank you. You alone deserve all the praise and all the glory. It's your name we pray these things, Christ. Amen.
Now, let me tell you where we're gonna go. I got my friend right there and I want you to just head down there and I'm gonna follow you and we're gonna go right across. You can turn around. You folks turn around. Yeah, lead the parade. That's awesome, good. Yeah. One more time, can you do it? Be praying for these folks. That's cool. That's the activity of God, you and I both know that. Nobody can do that but God. He can only change your life. Whatever God talked to you about today, I know He's worked me over with this message. I'm never gonna speak- 20 years with college students here and I never wanna speak a message that God hasn't just (explosion sound) 'cause the truth does that. Whatever God has talked to you about, man, follow it through. Live it out. He loves you. He's good. See you next week.