Return to the Lord

Revive Us

Pastor Jerry Gillis - September 11, 2022

Community Group Study Notes

 

  1. Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passages and main idea of the message. 

  1. How did this message strengthen, confirm and/or correct your previous ideas about committing to and serving the Lord, and riding ourselves of idols?  

  1. Interact with this statement: An idol is anyone or anything we give our attention, affection, and allegiance to more than God. What idol(s) do you have in your life?  

  1. How does ridding ourselves of idols help us to better know God for who He is?  

  1. Discuss fasting:  

  1. What is the purpose of fasting?  

  1. Have you ever fasted before? Why did you fast?  

  1. How did you commune with God intentionally during your fast? 

  1. What was the outcome of your fast?  

  1. In what ways can you apply today’s message to your life?  

 

Action Step 

Spend time in extended reflection this week.  

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5 

Pray: Ask God to reveal areas of self-idolization in your life. Repent of self-idolization and ask God to renew your mind and purify your heart.  

Journal: What action step can you take to rid yourself of idols and commit to God?  

 

Sign up for a day to fast and spend time in intentional prayer: thechapel.com/fastandpray

  

Mobilization Challenge 

We will be corporately serving on September 24th. We encourage you to serve with your Community Groups and family! Register for Serve Day at https://thechapel.com/serve-day/ 


Abide


Sermon Transcript

 On September 11th, 2001, just about anyone who is maybe over 30 years old, remembers where they were that morning. I was in a staff meeting at the church that I was serving in Southwest Florida. We always met on Tuesdays. It was a Tuesday morning and our receptionist came walking into our meeting and said, you may want to turn the televisions on and we did. And we watched in horror as these terrorist attacks were being perpetrated on US soil, which we just seemingly thought before that these things can't happen here. We watched this happening in a few different locations and wondered what was going on. As you can imagine, the following Sunday after that Tuesday, there was a swell in attendance of people that were showing up to figure out what was happening, people that were scared, wondering what was going on in their nation, some who were gathering in New York, wondering what was going on in their state and just trying to seek the Lord during that timeframe. Over the next couple of weeks, that attendance continued to be relatively large. And there were national voices in the Christian world who were suggesting that what we were experiencing in the United States was a renewal, a revival of the church. It was not. I can tell you that for sure. It was short-lived. In fact, one professor that I was reading, he's a Duke professor named Mark Chaves who deals both in sociology and religious studies, studied this particular movement and the jolt and the swell that happened and he actually determined that it was over by November. By November, after September 11th, by November just a handful of weeks later, the church was right back to its pre-existing, declining attendance numbers all over the country. Something like that happened a couple of years ago, not a terrorist attack, but instead we were faced with something that we didn't understand, a global pandemic. The whole world shut down during that timeframe and nobody really knew exactly what to do there in 2020. Of course, that happened just a few weeks before Easter and that Easter, because we couldn't open the doors and no one really was opening the doors anywhere, everything was online. We were blown away because quite literally just speaking for The Chapel, tens of thousands of people were streaming with us online, tens of thousands. We figured that it could have been upwards close to 50 or 60,000 inclusive of all families based on the IP addresses that we were able to discover, an extraordinary thing. Many all over the country were experiencing the same thing, those that at least had access to be able to do something like this and stream when we could. And they were saying, this is the new precipice where we're waking up the church and we're gonna be able to reach more and more and more and more people and I can tell you this, that didn't happen. That didn't last. That was relatively short-lived. And after the grind of a couple of years being back and forth and back and forth in the nation that we live in, we saw that there were somewhere in the neighborhood of a 35% reduction in the number of people that were attending churches nationally. That's still in flux and still trying to stabilize all of those things I realize, but I'm reminded of that, that it wasn't the singular reason that we were going to have revival or those kinds of things, it didn't turn out to be that way, but maybe through all of this, on the backside of this, if God's people would turn theirselves back to God, maybe God would revive us. Now I'm talking about that his church nationally, maybe God would do that on our behalf. The Psalmists are often using that language of revive us talking about God's people. The Psalmists used that frequently enough. In Psalm 80 says this, then we will not turn away from you, revive us and we will call on your name, restore us, Lord God Almighty, make your face shine on us that we may be saved. Psalm 85, it says these words, will you not revive us again? That your people may rejoice in you? You see, if we really want to see that, then we probably need to give some attention to when God did that in the scripture, what can we learn from that? And over the next number of weeks, that's what we're going to be doing. It's why we've titled this series Revive Us. That's really biblical language. And we wanna look at some historical times where God has called his people or has revived his people in history. These aren't just something we look back on sentimentally. No, these are things we can look at and God actually did and we can learn from them in the process. We're not asking God to do exactly the same thing, because one of the difficulties that we can find, CS Lewis said, one of the scarier prayers that we pray is encore to the Lord. As if God has to do everything exactly the same way. God may want to do something remarkable, but he may not want to do it in the same way. God is the creator, he never runs out of creativity. And God by his spirit, we're just saying, God, we wanna learn from what you've done in the past and maybe some things that undergirded that timeframe so that we can embrace those in the now so that you might move among your people in reviving us as a people. So today we're gonna start that journey that we're going to be in over the next number of weeks and we're going to start in Samuel's day. Now, if you want to know where you learn about Samuel, go to the book of first Samuel. That's where we're going to learn about him. And in just a moment, we're going to be in chapter number seven, first Samuel chapter seven in just a few moments. But before we get there, I wanna remind you of a couple of things and it's this, is that the first few verses related to first Samuel in the first few chapters, chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, we learned some things about Samuel during that timeframe. We learn about Samuel's family, specifically his mother, but we also learn about his dad. We learn about his birth. We learn about his call. We even learn about his role, that Samuel is going to be a prophet and a priest and a judge. All of these things are going to be true about Samuel and then we get to first Samuel chapter four, verse one and that's the last we hear of Samuel for the next few chapters. We don't hear about him anymore in chapter four, we don't hear about him in chapter five. We don't hear about him in chapter six and it's not until we get to chapter seven that we actually begin hearing about Samuel. Now, why is that? Well, I think the writer is trying to help us understand some things. You see, Israel was in a national crisis during this time. And the crisis was so bad that we're reminded that they weren't even giving voice or weren't even giving ears to the voice of those who were given to them to lead them wisely. Samuel was given as a prophet, as a priest, as a judge, given by God to this people and they weren't even, I think during this time, heeding his voice. It's not that he ran away, it's not that he disappeared. It's just that he's not included in this text because it's giving us the sense that Israel is in a bad spot not listening to God and not walking in the ways of God. There's something to be said for that. The church would get into a very bad spot when it stops listening to sound, wise people in their worlds. That can happen in our lives relationally, it can happen in our churches corporately, but when we start giving attention to the narrative of the world and we start giving attention to everything that kind of scratches our own itch, as opposed to listening to sound instruction and sound godly leadership, it gets us in a difficult place. We were seeing that in chapter four, five and six in the time of Israel's crisis. What is that crisis? Well, they were facing the Philistines at that time. And as Israel is facing the Philistines, they went into battle with the Philistines and they lost. And so they decided, ah, I know how we can win. We're gonna take the arc of God into the battle with us as if the arc of God is some kind of rabbit's foot, as if it is a lucky charm, as if it is that thing that you think you hang from your mirror that brings you good luck. By the way, don't do that. You're like, I'm not superstitious. I'm just a little stitious, Michael Scott. Don't do that. So that's what they did. They looked at it as a lucky charm to bring into battle and here's what happened, they lost. Israel comes into battle against the Philistines with their lucky charm, the arc of God, and they lost again. And then guess what happened? The Philistines took the arc, just as a heads up side note, that didn't go good for the Philistines. They took the arc and every town that the arc was in, they got massive tumors and they were infested with rats. And then they moved it to another city, same, another city, same and then after seven months, they went we're giving it back. We took it, we're giving it back, and they decided to do that. So Israel got it back, but here's the thing. Even the Israelites started playing loose and fast with the arc of God and not treating it as the holy thing it should be and they started trying to look into it and they started dying. Finally, the arc came to rest in Kiriath-Jearim, and it was there for a span of 20 years. And that's where we pick up here in what was happening now in the life of Israel who had been walking away from the Lord, who'd been following false gods, who had not been bringing God into the midst of what they were doing, but were treating him like he was a lucky charm. And now after this timeframe, here's what is described as happening in Israel. First Samuel chapter seven, beginning in verse two, it says then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, if you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and come commit yourself to the Lord and serve him only and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths and serve the Lord only. Then Samuel said assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you. And when they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day, they fasted and there they confessed. We have sinned against the Lord. Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah and when the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines and they said to Samuel, do not stop crying out to the Lord, our God, for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines. Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And he cried out to the Lord on Israel's behalf and the Lord answered him. And while Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle, but that day, the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and he named it Ebenezer saying thus far, the Lord has helped us. You see, when we look at this passage of scripture, what we can realize is that what Samuel did as the prophet and the priest and the judge was he was calling Israel to one predominant thing. Here it is, you can write this down. Here's what he was calling them to, return to the Lord with all your hearts, return to the Lord with all your hearts. This is what Samuel was speaking to them. And to be honest with you, if we look at this, we can understand that Samuel's words were relevant for Israel, but listen to me very carefully, they're relevant for us today. While these were Samuel's words that he was speaking to Israel on God's behalf in this moment, at this time in this place, these are the words of the spirit of God to our hearts. Return to the Lord with all your hearts. This is what God wants to say to his church in this moment at this time, in this place, return to the Lord with all your hearts. So how do you do that? That's the question that we ask. If we understand what's being asked of us, how do we then do that? Well, I think that we should heed the words that Samuel gave to Israel and we can make application of those words to our very hearts right now. In fact, we'll just unpack it in verse number three. If we wanna return to the Lord with all of our hearts, how do we do that? Here's the first thing, we have to rid ourselves of idols, rid ourselves of idols. Now what it says in verse number three is this. It says Samuel said to all the Israelites, if you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths. Now what Samuel was talking about here was the gods of Canaan. You've got the Baals, Ba-al, that's kind of one of the gods there, and then you've got Astarte or what we call the Ashtoreths and in some of your translations, it says, get rid of the gods and goddesses among you. That's really what it was talking about. Baals was representing the gods and Astarte or the Ashtoreths were representing the goddesses among you and they had these foreign gods of Canaan that had infected their very lives that they chose over Yahweh. So in other words, they were saying, we are choosing other than Yahweh to replace Yahweh with other gods who cannot deliver on their promises. What they wanted were things to comfort themselves. They wanted to craft a God in their own image. This is not the first time that Israel wanted to craft a God in an image to be able to do things for them. You might remember at the base of Mount Sinai that there was a golden calf that was prepared there. So this isn't new for Israel, they had done this before, but they were actually substituting other gods for the one, true God. Now their idol worship is just like ours. You're going Jerry, we don't really have that problem here, do we, of building things and bowing down to them? Maybe not so much in our cultural context in the church, but truthfully what's at the heart of idolatry is the same then as it is now. Here's how I would define an idol. It's anything or anyone we give our attention, affection and allegiance to in place of God. There's a pretty simple definition. Anything or anyone we give our attention, affection and allegiance to in place of God. That's what an idol is. Now, if you started thinking about what constitutes an idol in anyone's life and said let's make a list of the things that are or could be in that category that we give more attention, we give more allegiance, we give more affection to than we do God and we put them in his place. Now we don't say that we do that. We wouldn't say, oh, forget about God, but we just start asking that question. Where is all of your affection? Where is all of your attention? Where is all of your allegiance? Have you supplanted God with those? You start making a list of what those could be. That could be a really, really long list. I don't wanna make a list, cause we're gonna have opportunity over the course of the next number of weeks. We'll come back to this idea of idolatry. But I just point one out to you that I think to me is maybe the most pressing idol that we deal with in our cultural context now, it's the idol of self. I think it is the singular one that is manifesting itself among the narrative of the world and is infecting the lives of believers in Jesus, even in the church. You see, the idol itself is not new. It's been around for a really long time, like it was around during this time. They were trying to find gods that were going to serve their purposes. Not letting God just be who God is, not letting God behave as God behaves because he's God, but instead wanting a God who's gonna act in ways that they wanted him to act, to do what he wanted him to do. How many of us are like that anyway? We get that way, don't we, we get exactly that way. And then we start making stuff up about God, not letting God define himself, but we start making stuff up about God. Well, my God would never... Oh, do you own him? You don't own him. God can handle himself. Let God be true and every man a liar, the scripture says because God is who God is. Period, end of story. He doesn't need our defense, but we start crafting him into an image that we want him to become, why? Because the idol of self begins to take over. This isn't new, it was not new for them. And if you fast forwarded a thousand years to where the apostle Paul is talking to Timothy, you could hear the apostle Paul talking about, hey, I can not only see this, but I can tell you what's coming in the days to come. Listen to what he says in second Timothy chapter three. But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves. People will be lovers of themselves. What is that talking about? I think it's talking about the idol of self and do you think that we've got that issue in our present context? Was this just a Paul's timeframe problem? Was this just a Samuel's timeframe problem? No, this isn't new, but do you know what it does? It renews itself in every generation. The idol itself is not new, but it renews itself in every generation and now we're facing it and I think it's one of the most pervasive idols that we have in North American culture, in Western culture is the idol of self. I was really impacted by a book that was written by a professor, Carl Truman, he's at Grove City College. Christian and he wrote a book called the Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. It's really deep, it's not easy reading, but I read it and I was blown away at not only historical significance, but the way that the idol of self has infected everything everywhere. Think about it. When we talk about questions of identity, the idol of self is informing that conversation in the narrative of the world. The idol of self says I am what I feel or I am what I feel like I want to be. That's what the idol of self says. I am what I feel like I want to be. It divorces from reality that we are embodied creatures, that we are created in a way by God and that we are created as embodied creatures and it begins to divorce the reality of that by saying, this is what I was born in, but I'm this. I've got great compassion for the confusion that comes from that because people legitimately have confusion around some of these issues. And those are ways that we try to minister the grace and the love and the compassion and the truth of Jesus in the midst of those timeframes. But that's divorcing reality from itself. Why, because we want to be the arbiters and we want to say whatever it is that we want to become, and you can see where that goes. You can see how far devolved that comes. We actually have, I know that like first hand, I know this first hand from a school superintendent in another state who is being asked by a parent in his school district to put a cat box in the classroom because their child identifies as a cat. Now it's sad because you know what that is? That's a mental health issue, but it's the idol of self that somehow the parents are letting their child down. And instead of sitting across from their child and saying, you're not a cat. I wanna tell you that in love, you're not a cat. You're a human being. Instead, they're going to the school superintendent saying I want a litter box in the classroom. This is divorced from reality and the idol of self is helping to infect this identity. And who's paying for this mostly, kids. Kids are paying for it. Of all the things that kids need, with all the temptations that they have in their lives, with all the transition and changes that they're feeling in their body and with the world around them, we don't need to add these kinds of things to the burden that they're already bearing. We need to be voices of love and grace and acceptance and truth all at the same time. This is the nature and the heart of Jesus. But that's what happens is the idol of self tells us I am whatever I feel like I am, regardless of what reality is. And that same argument has now been taken into the womb because nobody's actually arguing anymore about the science of whether or not a child in the womb is a human being. Nobody's arguing that. Even people who are like, I think people should be able to have abortions, they're not even arguing that cause the science is obvious. Everybody knows that, but they've divorced. Here's what they've done. It's a human being, but it's not a person. This is where we are. The idol of self infects every conversation around identity and it's trying to work its way into the church. It infects the marriages that we see, the idol of self does because if self is the highest thing, then it's all about the maximization of me and myself. And because now I feel like, you know what? As a spouse, you're kind of holding me back. I think I could do all of these things. Now it's just about me and it's not at all about you. So it's no wonder that marriages are failing because it's just about us. We don't have any longer. We don't have, when we allow the idol of self in, we don't have outside of us authority. All authority is now within us. See, it used to be, it used to be that theology and philosophy and rationality where the guardrails around everyone's worldview. And now those are gone and psychology is. Not a shot at psychology per se, I'm just talking about now, it's only about what we think, what we feel, what our opinions are and our experiences, that's it. Objective reality just goes out the window because it's whatever I think, whatever I say. And when you apply that, listen, this idol of self, we allow it in and you apply that to marriage, it's no wonder marriages are failing all the time. We're not thinking about other, we're thinking about our own self-actualization. You can imagine it has an effect on morality as well, right? Because here's the thing. Everybody needs to espouse how moral they are on social media and make sure that everyone else knows it cause here's me, here's you and that's kind of how we have to do all that. I'm moral, you're not, you're gross, I'm awesome. It's like that's how the whole world narrative seems to go. And everybody's got to virtue signal all the time about how moral they are and how immoral everyone else is and by the way, here's the interesting thing. When the idol of self is infecting us, we can say things that are contradictory and it doesn't matter. We don't even care. You cannot lecture me about what to do with my body sexually, but I can lecture you on whether or not you can go to SeaWorld. That's the world we live in. And you know that that's a contradiction, but you don't care, you know why? Cause it's all about you. You get to determine and contradictions mean nothing because you are the arbiter of all truth at that point. There's nothing outside of you, it's only internal to you. Do you see where this idol of self is so pervasive in our culture right now? It affects everything. Imagine how it affects religion. People can make up whatever God they want to. Well, the God that I serve does X, Y, and Z. How do you know? From where do you get that? That's just what I want him to do. Okay, so you made up that God, that's frightening. This is where we are, the idol of self. We need to rid ourselves of idols. There is so much to say here and we'll get to some more of that, I'm just pointing out one, but we need to rid ourselves of idols. Secondly, we need to commit ourselves to the Lord. Rid yourselves of idols, commit yourselves to the Lord. Look at, again, what verse three says. Samuel said to all the Israelites, if you're returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord. See, this is about our heart posture. This is about the authenticity of our seeking after God. This is about our obedience ultimately to God and what Israel did when they were returning to the Lord and Samuel said, if you're really returning to the Lord, you rid yourselves of these idols and you commit yourself to the Lord. You can actually see how that was playing out for Israel. Notice in verse five and six, it says this. Then Samuel said assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you and when they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord and on that day, listen to this, they fasted and there they confessed we have sinned against the Lord and Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah. They fasted and they prayed and they confessed. You know what this is indicative of, committing themselves to the Lord. See fasting, if you're not familiar with it, I'm not talking about some fad diet. What I'm talking about in the biblical sense of fasting is when people pushed away from the table where they had food and by the way, food's a wonderful thing. It's a good gift of God. Does anybody like food, I do. So we all like food, right? All of us. Some of you're going for real, like I like it, I want it now, hurry up. We like food. But fasting in the Bible is we're pushing away from the table of food to feast on God, to hear his voice, to seek his face. Now there's times in the scripture where you see people fasting for different reasons. Like they may be fasting because they're lamenting over sin. That's what was happening here in first Samuel. They're fasting because they're lamenting over sin and they want to just say, God, we know that we've sinned and we're pushing away from the table and we want you to speak and we want you to forgive and we need your help. That's what was going on with them. There's other times where maybe it's a national crisis also was happening in first Samuel. Sometimes it's just about seeking the face of God and needing to hear his voice for decision making going forward, maybe that. Fasting at its very best, friends, fasting at its very best is an indication of a heart that's truly trying to seek after God and hear his voice and know him, know him intimately and deeply, listen to him, rid ourselves of the sin and the idols that have strung us up. But fasting at its worst is actually kind of this spiritual vanity project that endeavors to have people that look at us and go, man, aren't they spiritual? You remember what Jesus said about this, right? Jesus said, when you fast do not, hold right there. What did he say? When, not if. So what that tells me is this, by the way, in the New Testament, fasting wasn't a command, but it was an expectation as a discipline. We're not commanded to fast. But when we do, Jesus says not if we do, do not look somber as the hypocrites do for they disfigure their faces to show others that they're fasting. Truly I tell you they've received their reward in full. You get that, right? What's the matter with you? I've been fasting and seeking the Lord. Wow. That guy, woo. They are really serious about... That's your reward. If it was to impress people, job done. Didn't impress God at all. But if you wanted to impress people, then there you go. That is the worst case. Jesus says, but when you do fast, put oil on your head and wash your face. In other words, he's saying, take a shower, brush your teeth, put on some deodorant, look human. Do that so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your father who is unseen. And your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Do you know what the reward will be by the way, himself. We're always looking for things from God. The greatest reward is God, his presence, the fullness of his spirit. This is the great reward for all of us. So even though it is something that we should do, we're not commanded that we have to do it, but it is a good rhythm for us to occasionally do this to remind our souls who our provider and our sustainer is. And so as a church, we're going to do this for the next 40 days. You're asking me to fast for 40 days. No, I'm asking you to fast on one of those days or multiple if you want to. I'll tell you about it in just a minute. You can go to TheChapel.com/prayandfast or fast and pray, we've got both of them if you get confused and we'll talk about that in just a minute. We want you to sign up for that so that you can fast and pray during this timeframe. And there's some resources on there, more teaching about fasting, some ways to help you pray and fast during that time, they're on there for you. But we wanna do that as a church, why, listen. Because we together want to return to the Lord with all our hearts. That's what we want to do. So how do we do that? Rid ourselves of idols, commit ourselves to the Lord and lastly, serve the Lord only. This is kind of how verse three finishes. Here's what it says. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, if you're returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only and he will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines. Serve him only. He did not say serve him jointly. He said serve him only. You cannot serve God and money. Serve the Lord only. You can't serve him jointly. You cannot serve God and sports. Serve God only. You cannot serve God and anything else simultaneously. Listen to me, brothers and sisters, friends, loved ones, listen. God does not want to be first among other gods in your life. He wants to be all of your life. He doesn't wanna be the first among other gods. He wants to be all that you need. Samuel drove this point home with Israel because Israel had tried to make the arc of God like a lucky charm. That it's somehow it's gonna be my amulet to get me through this war, this battle with the Philistines and Samuel's like, no, no, no, no. So they go back to war. Samuel intercedes for them. He begs the Lord on their behalf and by the way, they did not bring the arc of God into this battle. And what happened, they won. God thundered, caused great distress among the Philistines. God acted on their behalf. And do you know what Samuel did? He wanted to set up a reminder. Here's what it says in verse 12. Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and he named it Ebenezer. We say Ebenezer, it's two real words combined, Eben-ezer, which means stone of help. And he said, thus far, the Lord has helped us. He wanted all of Israel to know he was pointing all of Israel to the reminder that it was God who had done all of this. Not other little gods, not other little idols, not other little lucky charms. No, this was God who had acted on their behalf and this is what Samuel was doing as the prophet, the priest and the judge. He was pointing people to God. But you know that Samuel was really just a foreshadowing of the Messiah to come? Jesus the Messiah would be prophet, priest and king who judges and that ultimately, while Samuel is making sacrifices before God and interceding for Israel, that Jesus would be the perfect illustration of that foreshadowing. The Book of Hebrew says it this way. Here's what the writer writes. Now there have been many of these priests since death prevented them from continuing an office, but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he's able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need. One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself, why? Because he was both the priest and the offering because Jesus is God made flesh. He is the only one who can save. There is no other name under heaven by which people can be saved other than the name of Jesus. So what I recommend is that you turn to Jesus, that you separate yourself from other idols, that you commit yourself completely to him and you serve him only because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father except through him. Maybe we've let in some other little gods and some other little idols, but Jesus will not just be one God in the midst of a bunch of other gods, he wants to be everything and all.` So what do we do with that? Well, we're gonna take an opportunity to be able to pray. And that's what I want us to do here in these moments. I want you to be able to pray, and I'm gonna give you a little bit of space to do that. That's why I stopped a little early. I'm gonna give you some space to pray. And how do you want me to pray? Here's how I want you to pray, exactly what verse three says. Verse three is gonna be up on the screen, you can put it up there now, it's gonna be right up there. And it's gonna tell you rid yourselves of the foreign gods, commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only. You take those three things and you take an opportunity to pray and you get before God and ask God what he wants to do by his spirit in your life. He wants to rid you of some things. He wants to reestablish some things in your heart. And then I'm gonna give you permission even during this time where we're praying. If you bring your phone out, I'm not gonna point you out and put you in church detention. Here's what I want you to do. Take your phone out and sign up to be a part of fasting and prayer as our church does this over the next 40 days. So I'm gonna give you a little bit of space to take time to pray. If you wanna pray right where you're seated, feel free. If you wanna kneel where you are, feel free. If you want to come down like they did and see some folks just coming down front in the first worship gathering, you just kneel before God and spend time with him, feel free. You do whatever God leads you to do in these few moments as you seek him and then I'm gonna close us in just a moment. Take a few moments to pray. Father, I come before you on behalf of your people. I pray that you would remind them of your love for them. Your great desire is that they know you and I pray that each person would receive that from you. Father, we know that sometimes that you by your spirit will carefully and lovingly pull weeds in our lives so that the fruit of righteousness can be sewn and born. Whatever that looks like for any of us, I pray you would do it. Whatever idols may have emerged in our lives: Money, power, sex, fame, success, relationships, most all of them stem from the idol of self that is motivated by the sin of pride. And I pray you would help us to do these spirituals. Inventory in our own lives and that you as the great surgeon of our souls would. Pull out what doesn't belong, cut out what should be gone. That you would plant back in the truth of who you are and what you want to do. Father, I pray that we would return to you with all of our hearts by continually renewing the ridding of our souls of idols. We would commit ourselves fully to you, that we would seek your face in prayer, in your word and fasting as you lead. And that we would serve you only. There would be no one or no thing that is in competition with you, God, for our allegiance and our affection and our attention. I pray you would call your people back to yourself. That we may see you work deeply in and through us. You want us to know you because you want others to know you and you work through your people to do that. So may our lives not be infected with the idols that so want to infect them. I pray you do this for your glory. So our heads are bowed in this moment, I wanna remind you that if you're here and you've never before received Jesus, then I'm gonna pray in just a moment and I'm gonna dismiss us, but when I do, if you've never come to a place where you've turned from your sin and you've put your faith and trust in Jesus to save your soul, to be born from above as the scripture says, to know that you can be forgiven for your sins and you can be transformed and made new, because of Jesus, death on the cross for your sin and because of it and because of his resurrection from the dead, conquering sin, hell and the grave on your behalf, then I want to invite you, when we dismiss in just a moment, to come down front, some prayer partners and some pastors, they're coming right now, in fact, that are right down here and they'll be here to pray with you and pray for you, men and women. And if that's your need, I want you to come. Maybe you just need somebody to pray with you about something that's going on in your life. Feel free to do that. We're gonna be hanging around in here. We would welcome you to come down front to be able to pray with anyone. So I want to encourage you to do that. Father, we thank you for the grace that abounds to us when we open your word and hear from your spirit. We thank you for the kindness of your spirit to speak to our hearts even sometimes when it requires spiritual surgery on us. We thank you because you are shaping us into the image of your son. You are rescuing us from the perils of ourself and our sin, and that is a grace to us, God. Would you revive your people? May we return to you with all of our hearts. May you do it for your glory and for the good of the mission that we find ourselves on of reaching men, women, boys, and girls with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We trust you to do that now in Jesus name, amen.
 


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