The Soul Garden

Pastor Wes Aarum - February 2, 2020

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 6:16 and Hebrews 12:1. What stands out to you in these verses and why?
  3. Read 2 Corinthians 7:1 and 1 Peter 2:11. What do these verses tell us about the importance of pulling up spiritual “weeds” in our lives?
  4. What keeps us from doing the necessary “weeding” in our lives?
  5. What spiritual “weeds” have you found difficult to pull up in your own life? What helped you do it?
  6. What is one thing that God wants you to take away and apply to your life this week because He loves you?


Sermon Transcript

Well, good morning, my name is Wes, and I have the privilege of sharing God's truth with you today. I want to encourage you to just get out this handout that you received when you walked in here in the auditorium, over in the East Worship Center, because this is... Man, if you like taking notes, you've come on a good day. We got a lot of blanks to fill in there, we're going to be going through them. On the other side, of course, is our community group study notes. It's what you use as you spend time in your community group this week, so, man, make sure you have this handy, and get a pen, get ready to go.

Also want to encourage you to open your Bible to Romans... I'm sorry, Luke chapter 8. Luke chapter 8. This is a verse, we're going to look at one verse, we're going to walk through that. It's not going to be on the screen, so I want you to have it in front of you, either in the hard copy you brought or on your electronic device, that'd be great too. Luke chapter 8. And just want to echo what Jon already shared with us, two great events this week, man. Tomorrow night, Be Still, man, that's going to be a sweet, sweet time, and then Friday night, the marriage event. Doors open at 6:30 for some appetizers, program at 7:00, done by 8:15. You're going to have a great time together, and you're going to learn some stuff, walk out with one thing you're going to apply in your marriage. I get the privilege of hosting it, we're going to have some fun. So, man, again, both those events, thechapel.com/events, check that out, all right? Cool.

Well, hey, man, I believe that God has arranged the details of your life to put you right here, right now, so that you could hear from Him, not from me. I got nothing that can change your life, but the God who made you, who owns everything, arranged your life to be here today, because I believe that He has something very personal to say to you. In fact, I've been praying like crazy that you'd hear from Him today as we gather.

So I want you to ask Him to talk to you. I want you to ask Him to speak to you. He knows exactly what you need. He knows your situation, He knows what your future holds, He knows what's coming down the road for you, and He wants to speak into your life with that knowledge, with that understanding. So the only question is, do we really want to hear from Him? And I hope you do. I hope you do, because I really, absolutely believe, as we already saw evidence in the first service, that if we get serious with God, He will get serious with us, and He will speak to us, and we'll walk out of here different because we've heard from Him.

So let's pray together. I'm going to invite you to bow your heads, close your eyes, just for a moment. If you've never done anything like this before, I beg that you would do it. Just simply, quietly, silently, just say, "God, you got my attention. Speak to me. I'm listening. I'll respond."

Heavenly Father, so grateful to be able to be together in this place at this time. Lord, thank you that we get to gather here to worship you and hear from your truth. Lord, I pray, God, I pray, I beg you that you would speak to us. Lord, our hearts, help our hearts to be open, our minds to be attentive. Lord, you know what the evil one has for us, and you want to speak life into us. God, I pray that you would do that, that we would have ears that would not only hear, but lives that would respond. Holy Spirit, be our teacher. God, you get all the glory, because you alone are worthy. Only you can change a heart. I thank you for, Christ, we pray this in your name. Amen.

All right, who wants to hear some good news? Anybody? Come on, who wants to hear some good news? Yes, that's what I'm talking about. I got the greatest news in the world for you. Check this verse out, right here, man, let's get going. "For in Him," God, "all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rules or authorities; all things have been created by Him and for Him." God created all things: rulers, powers, authorities, everything. He sits over everything. He rules over everything. There's nothing out of His control, there's nothing beyond His reach. He understands your situation, He is not caught off guard by it. He knows what's going on. He rules over all of it. Your circumstances will tell you part of the story; they will not tell you the whole story. God's Word gives us His perspective and tells us what's really real, and God says, "I am over it all. I have created all things."

And guess who's included in that "all things"? Yeah, you. One person, awesome, thank you, yes. The rest of you too, the rest of you too, you're included in that, right? Your parents didn't create life; they can't create life. Only God can create life. He created you, and He created you for a purpose. It says, "For we were created, all things were created by Him and for Him." You were created for Him. You want to know why you're here? That's it. If you want to know what your purpose on life is, that is it, right there: created for Him, to know Him, to follow Him, to be in love with Him, to encounter Him, and to live your life on His truth, on His plan, on His terms, for His glory. That is why we were created.

Listen, you use your life for any other reason, and you're going to mess it up. Imagine if I had a block of wood right here, and I had a big spike, and I took my wristwatch off, I started trying to hammer that nail in, that spike in through it. It would ruin my wristwatch, and you'd be like, "Wes, what are you doing, buddy? Don't you watch HGTV? What are you talking about? You don't want to use that as a hammer, bro. Get with the program." Yes, of course, I would ruin it. Why? I couldn't stand here and go, "Wow, that's a lousy watch." Was it the purpose of the watch to be a hammer? If I try to use it in a way that is not designed for its purpose, it's going to ruin it.

Listen, you don't use your life in a way that it's designed, you're going to ruin it, you're going to wreck it. That's what God tells us. He says, "Listen, you were created for me." That's why we were created. And can I tell you? That's the greatest miracle ever. Listen, the greatest miracle is new life. We take that for granted. We take this born-again business for granted. We think, "Okay, I invited Christ into my life, and okay, great." Listen, it's the greatest miracle that'll ever happen, because your soul was dead, your heart was dead, stone-cold dead, and when you place your faith in Christ and you say, "Jesus, I'm a sinner, I believe you died for my sins, come in and save me," boom, He moves in by His Spirit. He brings your soul to life, right? You have new life, you move from death to life.

All of a sudden, you have a relationship with God. Your soul is going to spend eternity with Him forever. Your eyes become enlightened to the Word, the Bible becomes real to you. You realize you have a love relationship with the King of the universe, man, He's living in you, He's living through you. It's the greatest miracle ever. It's far greater... Imagine if, after this, we go out there, and all of a sudden we're out in the parking lot, all of us, we're hanging out, and all of a sudden a tornado's coming. And all of a sudden I step out, I go, "Everybody, hang on, hang on. Watch this." And I do something like this... I don't even know what this is, but I do something like this, and all of a sudden I... Tornado chased away, and everybody going, "That's a miracle." That's nothing. That's nothing compared to new life that you get when you invite Christ in. That's the greatest miracle that will ever happen, because it deals with eternity, and it is forever.

And when Jesus moves in, your life is changed, man. You have a new desire, you have new affections. Not perfectly, sure, because we're working that out, we're living that out, but man, there's something in you that's different, and it shows up in your life and in your attitudes and your desires, and how you use your time and your money. You understand that, because it's a love relationship. When you fall in love, stuff happens in your life, man. Things happen in your life. It impacts you.

When I fell in love with my now-wife, Connie, when we were dating, man, I did some crazy things. She was in college in another state, it was 10 hours away, and so I would work my work schedule out, and I would call her roommate, and I'd set all this up secretly, man, and I'd plan this route perfectly, and it was 10 hours straight shot. So I'd get up at 4:00 in the morning, I'd jump in my little four-cylinder car, and two stops, one for gas, one for tacos, and I'd get all the way down... Right? Right to the building where she had her last class, and I'd time it perfectly, so I'd roll into the parking lot, I'd jump out, I'd hide behind a bush, so that when she walked out of the door, I'd jump out from behind the bush and go, "Surprise!"

If you're not in a love relationship, there's a word for that: stalker. Okay? That's not good. That's not a good thing, man. But when you're in love, you do stuff, and it impacts you. Listen, if you've invited Christ in, and you've got the new life happening inside of you, and it's not impacting your life, you need to get honest with yourself and ask yourself some honest questions. Do you really have Jesus in your life? Are you truly born again? As the Bible says, old things pass away, all things become new. There's a new trajectory in your life, and it's Jesus, and you want to live for Him, because that's the purpose for which we were created.

That's the good news. Here's the bad news: You got an enemy that hates you. The Bible calls him Satan, the deceiver, the devil, the accuser. He hates you. He wants to destroy your life. That's his plan. He hates God, and he hates everything about what God's done. He hates especially what God loves, which is you, so he wants to ruin you. He wants to get you to choose sin. Sin is rebellion against God, no matter what form it comes in. We try to categorize sins. Listen, there are consequences to different sins, I understand that, but the Bible makes it real clear that sin is sin, and it's all rebellion against God, against His commands. And he'll swing temptation in front of us as the bait, to try to get us to make choices to plant spiritual junk in our lives. Using the motif and the theme of this series, Soul Garden, he wants us to plant spiritual weeds in our life. And if we do that, the outcome is completely predictable: brokenness, regret, guilt, ruin, destruction. That's his plan.

Satan's gardening plan for your life as a believer is to be overrun with weeds. If he can't keep you going to hell, which is what happens if you don't have Christ in your life... God is very clear about that. If he can't keep you on that path, than as a believer, he's going to try to ruin you, man. He does that by helping us and enticing us to plant spiritual junk in our lives. Bad news.

Back to the good news: God knows all this. He understands Satan's gardening strategy, and so He's given us some promises and a plan, promises to encourage us and to motivate us, and a plan to free us. Lots of places that happens in Scripture; we're going to look at one today, start in 2 Corinthians 6: "For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"

Here's the promise, and this is spectacular. God says, "Listen, this is what I want. I want you to understand, this is what I want for you. I want to move in and live with them and walk with them." That means he wants to be with you every moment of every day in every situation. And He will be your God, and you will be His people, which means He'll stand at the very top of all creation of the universe, and He will declare to everyone, all demons, all angels, everyone everywhere, and He will say, "This one is mine." Come on, right? That is what... One person, thanks, Mom.

Okay, listen. Listen. Listen. Get ready, man, we're going someplace today.

Listen, this is what God wants. It's an amazing, amazing promise, and it's a promise He makes to us. And that is what's designed to motivate us, encourage us, and get us fired up to do something. To do what? His plan, because if you keep reading, it rolls right into 2 Corinthians 7:1. It says this: "Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

Let's walk through that word by word, okay, because it's powerful. There's a plan. Here's the plan. You want to experience the promises, here's the plan. "Therefore, since we have these promises," it's the framework, it's the thing going, "Come on, this is what's coming," so let's get after this, "these promises, dear friends, let us..." That means it's a choice that we make. We have a role to play. "Let us purify," get rid of, clean out, "ourselves from everything." That means there's no out of bounds, man. God gets to look at it all. "Everything that contaminates," dilutes, pollutes, "body and spirit," the inner life and the outer life. The inner life of spiritual priorities and attitudes; the outer life of actions and behaviors. "Body and spirit, perfecting," bringing to full expression, "holiness." Holiness is to be set apart for God from sin. That's awesome. Holiness is like, "Man, I don't want that junk in my life slowing me down, that's polluting, that's poisoning me. Man, I want to walk with God. I'm going to follow Him." That's what holiness is. "Holiness out of reverence for God." There's the motivation. Out of a deep desire to honor God.

That's the plan, which brings us to the big idea of the day. It's pretty simple, pretty straightforward, and it's this: If you want to grow up stuff in your life, you got to pull up stuff in your life. That's it. If you want to grow up stuff, you've got to pull up stuff. You got to go to work in the garden of your soul, of your life. You got to pick across the spiritual landscape of your life and pull up some stuff so that you prepare the ground for all that God wants to do in and through you.

So, if you're ready to do some spiritual weeding, here we go. A, why weed? It's important to understand what's driving this. Well, first off, God commands it, right? God commands it. God gives us His commands for our good, because He loves us. He says, "I'm going to tell you how to live. I'm going to tell you what you need to do." So He commands it, and when God speaks, man, we're His children, we're going, "Yup, you're smarter than me, you know more than me. I'm in." God commands it. Where does He command it? Well, we just looked at that verse. Look at it again. "Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves." It's not a suggestion, it's not an idea, it's not something that we take under advisement man. We do it. "From everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

One, why do we weed? Because God commands it. But there's another reason that we need to be aware of. It's this: because weeds rob you of spiritual life. They rob you of spiritual life. Now, I'm not really into gardening, okay? I'm just going to confess that right up front. I'm not a landscaper. Anybody into gardening, into landscaping? You're good at that, you like that? Some of you. Some of you go... Cool. Not me. I got a small lawn. If I can mow it in a straight line, touchdown, okay? I feel great about myself. All right?

But I did some study about weeds, and this is what I found out. Weeds compete with crops for water, nutrients, and light. Being hearty and vigorous in growth habit, they grow faster than crops and consume large amounts of water and nutrients, thus causing heavy losses to your crop. In short, weeds rob your good plants. They rob the good plants. It's exactly what happens in the spiritual realm, man, with spiritual weeds in our life. They rob the good stuff that God wants to do in our lives. Why? Because they compete for our energy, our focus, our time, our affections. They rob us of what God wants to do, and in doing so, they keep us stunted in our growth. You will never become all that God wants you to be.

Listen, weeds, they steal. They steal your calling. They sap the strength from you that God wants you to have so that you can live as unto Him. And so, we need to understand, this is serious business. Weeds kill growth. God says, "I don't want that in your life," and you shouldn't want it in your life either, all right?

So, what do we weed? That's our next point. What do we weed? Well, that is where Luke chapter 8 comes in. This is a story that Jesus gave, the parable of the sowing and the seed, and verse 14 is what we're going to walk through. It says this: "The seed that fell among thorns," also can be translated "weeds," "stands for those who hear," hear God's word, "but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature."

So, what are we supposed to weed? Well, this is a good place to start, three areas right here. First of all, it says "life's worries." Life's worries. So, I got some things that would represent what we're talking about here today. First, I got a stress ball, okay? Stress ball. Now, some of you, some of us, you see, I include myself in this, sometimes it... You know, worrying, man, if it was a pro sport, we would be all-stars, okay? Because there are people around us that are like, "Yeah, I worry a little," and then we come along and, "Oh, look at me, man, I'm a savage. I worry like a savage." All right? That's not a good thing. It's not a good thing.

I read some quotes about worrying. "Worrying is like walking around with an umbrella, waiting for it to rain." "Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair: gives you something to do, but doesn't get you anywhere." "Worrying never robs tomorrow of its sorrows; it only saps today of its joy." And this is probably my favorite one: "Worrying is using your imagination to create something that you don't want." Right?

The word "worry" here in the Greek, the original language of the New Testament, actually means to be drawn in different direction and to be distracted. So, let me ask you: What is drawing you in a wrong direction? What is drawing you in a wrong direction? The music you listen to, the entertainment choices you make, the habits you have, the relationships you hang on to? What is drawing you in a wrong direction, away from Jesus? What is distracting you? Stuff on your social media platforms? What is distracting you from trusting and living for Jesus? Those things are weeds. They got to go. You got to get honest about that stuff and go, "Man, this is going to rob me of spiritual life that God wants me to experience." Man, life is short. Why are we going to waste our time on that stuff? It needs to go.

First was life's worries. Second, you see in the passage, is riches. Riches. Got a credit card, represent that. The account in Matthew actually says "the deceitfulness of riches." Why? Because riches deceive us. We think we have enough money, right, we got enough spending power, got a high enough limit, I'm going to be happy, I'm going to be fulfilled, it's going to make me secure, it's going to give me what I want. You know, ultimately, those things can't be delivered by money. Deceives us, and only... These things only... Ultimate satisfaction, security comes from God, not from money.

You know, you read through the Old Testament, you're going to find out time and time again, you know when Israel, God's people, got in trouble? When they were wealthy and prosperous. They forgot God, because they thought, "Hey, I can do it. I got enough." Right? How come we are quick to trust the promises this makes more than we trust the promises this makes? How come we put more confidence here than we put confidence in this? It's a weed. Riches are the deal, wealth's the deal. It's a weed. Jesus said it'll choke the life out of you.

But there's a third thing in this passage. It's this: pleasures. That's talking about cravings and lusts. Not specifically or only about sexual lust, although that is included, but it's talking about a driving desire to find satisfaction in pleasurable experiences, and that can come from food, from clothing, from stuff, from shopping, from career, relationships. Yeah, I got something to represent that. It's a phone. Right? Because all that stuff can be found on the phone. You're like, "Hey, man, I'm having a bad day. I'm having a bad day. I could spend time in the Bible. Oh, no, I can go shopping. Amazon. Oh, I got Prime, look at that, two-day." Click. Right? "I'm lonely. I'm feeling lonely, just need to spend a little time with God... Nope, I need some comfort food. Look at that, oh, a muffin. Grubhub." Click. Right? "I need a quick relationship, no strings. No strings. Tinder." Swipe. Right?

Listen, once you declare that you need... Because a craving and a lust is "I need," once you declare you need, that thing owns you, because you have to have it. You have to have it, and it will be a merciless master to you and to me, and it will choke the life out of you. That's why Jesus said, because I want you to know the truth, choke the life out of you. So, weeds, man, you got to go.

Two more things we need to understand about weeds. In the physical world, when weeds... Best time to get them? When they're small. When they haven't grown roots, you can get them easily, quickly. And secondly, when you go after weeds, you got to dig down, get the whole root, because if you don't, it'll just grow back, and you'll think you've done something, when in reality, you haven't done anything. The same with spiritual weeds, spiritual weeds in our lives. These little things, these little compromises, man, we got to get rid of them quick, before they become habits, before they can take root. Zero tolerance with this stuff.

And when we do go after a spiritual weed in our life, we got to dig down and get the root, the whole thing. And you know what you're going to find in most cases? You know what's at the root? Wrong belief about God. Can't trust Him, He's not good, He's not powerful enough, He doesn't really care about you. These are lies that the enemy gives us. He wants you to believe it. In fact, answer this question when you look at something in your life: "What do I believe this thing will give me that I believe God won't? What good thing do I think this is going to provide for me that I believe God won't?" That'll help you identify some roots, the weeds in your life and in my life.

So, how do you do it? How do you weed? Well, God's got a plan. First thing you got to do is you got to get the right tools. Right tools. Spiritual weeds, it's the Spirit of God and the Word of God. They work together in concert, Spirit of God, Word of God. You got to get the right tools, and next, you got to get the right system. Right system is all about using the right tools in the right way for the right things. And so, with this system, there's a three-step process that God gives us in His Word, and here we go. This is where it gets real. One, you got to identify the weed. You got to identify it. That's where the Holy Spirit and the Word of God come together to help us do that.

Check out these Scriptures. One: "Search me, O God." This is a prayer I pray, man, and this is a prayer you can pray. It's right from the Word of God. "Search me, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Say, "Holy Spirit, pick through my life. Show me, show me what's wrong, show me where I'm messing up, show me where I don't see, where I'm blind." Because you and I both know, we are great at deceiving ourselves, right? I mean, I'm super great at deceiving myself. I mean, I can sit and watch a commercial about, you know, "You need the latest Bowflex," or whatever magic stuff that... You know, the Abdominizer, whatever, and I'm looking at that, and I go, "Man, that's awesome. I need that." But first some chips, okay, right? I deceive myself, like that's going to help me. It's crazy, we can deceive... We need the Holy Spirit to show us. We need His help.

And then, it works with the Word of God. It says this, 2 Timothy: "All Scripture..." All Scripture. "All Scripture's God-breathed," it's from Him, it's from His heart, "and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," how to live out the right way. The Word of God, as we read it, the Holy Spirit will apply the Word of God to our life and say, "Hey, need to course-correct here. Hey, this needs to go. Hey, this is dangerous, you need to step away from this. Quit playing with this. Get over here." The Lord tells us that. Why? Because He loves us. He cares about us. And so, the Holy Spirit working with the Word of God is going to help us identify weeds in our life that we need to go to work on.

And then, second step is this: You pull it up. You pull it up. It's not rocket science, man. When God puts His finger on something, you don't argue with Him. You don't try to justify it, you don't try to negotiate with it. Again, smarter than you, wiser than you, knows more than me, He says, "This has got to go, Wes. This has got to go." And the question I ask myself when I find myself fighting God, why? What is it that I think I need from this thing that I'm willing to fight God for this? How crazy is that? When God says, "This is it," God, I trust you. I know what you did for me in Christ. I know my purpose. All right, okay. Help me. Help me.

Look at some Scriptures, one Scripture that speaks to this. "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity." I didn't play games with it, man, I didn't act like it's no big deal, didn't try to push it over to the side, "No, it's not that much of a problem." Nope, nope, I didn't do that. I didn't cover up my iniquity. "I said, 'I will confess.'" "Confess" means you agree with God. What He says about it, you agree with him about it. "'I confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you forgave the guilt of my sin."

You got to identify it, you got to pull it up, and then the third thing you got to do is you got to throw it away. You got to throw it away. Two Scriptures that speak to this. First, Proverbs 28: "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper." Whoever conceals their sins, when God says, "Hey, this is it," and you're like, "No," does not prosper. As a believer, you want to know why maybe you're not really excited about God's Word, why you're not really passionate about Jesus? You're not prospering because you're concealing something. Listen, I've been there. I've been their. "Conceal their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces..." It's not just, "God, it's bad, it's got to go." Renounces: "I'm getting rid of it." "Then finds mercy."

Look at the Scripture in Acts: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that..." What's the purpose, right? "So that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." That is what God wants for you. That's what He wants for you. Go back to that other Scripture for a second. "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper," but look at it, "but the one who confesses and renounces." You know what that tells us? It tells us what we don't do. When God identifies a sin, we don't pull it up and hang on to it and walk around with it. You know what else we don't do with it? We don't beat ourselves up with it. How many times you've done that? [inaudible] sin, and Satan goes, "Look at how lousy you are, look at how horrible you are," and you just beat yourself up with it. That's crazy. It's crazy.

Could you imagine, you're walking by my house, and there I am in front of my house, in my garden, and I dug up a weed, and here I am, slapping myself in the face with the weed? Right? Can you imagine? And you're like, "What's he doing? He's slapping himself in the face with a weed. Oh, what kind of weed?" Right, right? Listen, you knew that was coming. At some point in this message, you know that joke was coming. Stop acting like you didn't know that. Right?

How crazy is that? I'm slapping myself in the face with a weed? That's nuts. Listen, that's exactly how crazy it is when we do that in the spiritual world. That's not what God says. "Hey, I want you to pull it up, I want you to confess it, then I want you to beat yourself silly with it." That's not what He says. Renounce it. Why? Throw that Scripture up again, if you would, please. "Renounces them finds mercy." When you pull it up, you say, "I don't want it," you're going to find mercy.

Can we sit there just for a second? That's a word that we buzz by in the Christian world, and we do that to our own loss. Mercy is a rich, beautiful, life-changing word, and it's what God wants you to experience. He wants you to experience His mercy. The Bible tells us that's the goal of our salvation, right? It says, "Not by works of righteousness which we do, but according to His mercy, He saved us." His mercy, He saved us, [inaudible 00:28:59]. It's His mercy. Lamentations 3 tells us that His mercies are new every morning. Why? Because we desperately need them. We need God's mercy because we're sinners, because we mess up. We need His mercy.

If you're sitting there thinking, "Well, you know, I don't really need it that much," really? Let's talk about the first and greatest commandment. Let's just look at that one: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." How'd you do with that today? How'd you do with it? Every beat of your heart, "Oh, I'm consumed with God"? Every thought, "Lord, I just want to serve you"? Is everything just running in that direction? Yeah, me neither. That's why we need God's mercy every morning, and they're new, and they're fresh, and He wants to flood our lives.

Jesus came to show us the heart of the Father. When the woman was caught in adultery, what'd He do? Did He beat her up, did He condemn her? No. He says, "I don't condemn you either. Now, go and sin no more." When He told the story of the prodigal son, the father represented the heart of God. And when the prodigal was coming home, renouncing his sin, he's coming home broken, disastrous, dishonored his family, dishonored his community, what did his father do? He ran to him, and he tackled him before he could get even close to the house, and he smothered him with his love and his forgiveness and his kisses, and he covered his shame with honor, he gave him mercy.

That's what God wants you to experience. The Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant, was a box overlaid with gold, it was where God dwelt, and God was teaching His people some things, and so they built a temple, and it was contained in the Holy of Holies. And the high priest, once a year, one time a year, with the blood of a perfect lamb, would go, and on the top of the Ark of the Covenant, there was two angels with their wings like this, facing each other, and the priest would sprinkle the blood over that area. It's where God actually dwelt, the Shekinah glory, and it was a picture that God was teaching them that one day, there would be a perfect sacrifice that would cover all sin. It would be the blood of Jesus.

But you know what that's called, on top of the Ark of the Covenant? You know what that's called? It's not called the judgment seat, it's not called the condemnation seat, it's called the mercy seat. Because as a believer, that is the place that God meets with you and with me. It's not the seat of condemnation; He meets us at the seat of mercy. He wants to flood your life with mercy. It's amazing. That's what He wants for you, and when you hang on to your weeds, you rip yourself off from that. When I hang on to my weeds, I rip myself off from what God wants to do and how He wants to flood my life with His mercy. It's a tragedy. But God tells us in His Word time and time again, "I want to give you mercy. Confess, renounce, so that you can experience my mercy." Now, we're quick to want it, slow to give it, but the more we experience it, the more we'll become merciful people.

So, there's one more thing in this whole process. When do we weed? When do we weed? Two Scriptures. There's many; there's two that speak to it. "Break up your unplowed ground," Hosea said, "for it is time to seek the Lord." And then this one: "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere," no one's excluded, "to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead," Jesus.

Now's the time, so don't wait. Don't play around with this. You understand what's at stake here, so go to work now on the spiritual landscape of your life. Allow the Holy Spirit by His Word, in grace and in mercy, to pick through your life and say, "This right here, this right here, dig it up. Confess it, renounce it, and receive the forgiveness and the cleansing and the mercy that God wants you to have."

So, what do you want the garden of your soul to look like? Better question [inaudible 00:33:22], what does God want it to look like? Healthy, flourishing, life-giving? Diseased, barren, wasted? Listen, we all know this. Every single one of us has been entrusted with a human life. You can use it for any number of purposes, but one day, one day, God's going to ask for it back. He's going to ask for it back. He's going to ask you to give an account of what you've done with what He's given you, and you're going to stand one-on-one with the King of the universe, and you're going to give an account of what you did with what He gave you, how you used it, how you treated it. Say, "God, here's what I did. Here's what I did with my eyes, this is what I allowed to come in here. Here's what I did with the ears you gave me, what I listened to. Here's what I allowed to take root up here. Here's what I allowed to capture this here."

It's real. It's coming. You know what's so awesome about that, is that we get to decide, we get to decide now what that will look like, by the choices we make now. We get to decide now what that moment will look like.

So, where do you need to go to work in your life? Where do you need to allow the God who loves you, who wants you to experience mercy, who will go to work in the spiritual landscape of your life? Listen, weeds don't go away on their own; they only multiply. Why? Because sin is never satisfied. Satan knows that. But God says, "This is what you do. This is what you do."

If you're here and you've never invited Christ into your life, today can be the day for your miracle. For the God of the universe, as you come to Him on His terms, not your terms, His terms, which are pretty simple: Demand nothing, surrender everything. Why? Because we need everything He has. We bring nothing to the table but our sin. If you're here and you don't know Christ, His plan for you is to know Him. It's why you were created. Today could be the day when you invite Christ in, you trust your life to Him, He forgives you of your sin, He gives you new life. And a relationship with God lasts forever. God's Word is crystal clear. The choice is up to us.

Let's pray together. Heads bowed and eyes closed, just for a moment. Thank you guys so much for your attention, but here it is. What did God talk to you about, and what are you going to do? What did He speak to you directly about? Because He loves you. What are you going to do with that? If you're here, and you're sitting there, man, and it's just like somebody's pointing their finger right in the middle of your chest saying, "Man, this is you," because you don't know Jesus. I mean, if you died tonight, do you know for sure, absolutely for sure, that you'd go to heaven? Because you can. You don't have to guess.

John 3:16 is real: "For God so loved the world," so loved you, "that He gave His only Son," to pay for your sin, because someone has to pay the debt for your sin, "that whoever," wide-open invitation, "whoever believes in Him." [inaudible] that word is to surrender, to commit to Jesus. "Whoever believes in Him will not perish." That's a promise, it's a guarantee, will not perish in the place of justice and judgment called hell, "but will have eternal life," a relationship with God, a home in heaven. "Will have," it's a promise.

If you're here and you've never invited Christ into your life, I am not asking if you've gone to church, you've been a good person, you've been confirmed. That's not what it's about. I'm asking, do you know you're going to heaven because you have Jesus in your life, because He's made your heart new? You say, "Wes, that's what I want." Awesome. Then tell Him, right where you sit, just tell Him.

If you're not sure what to say, let me give you some words. Somebody loved me enough one day to give me words. Just pray something like this silently. It's not magic. I mean, that's how we pour out our hearts to God, just pray something like this. Say, "Dear Jesus, I'm a sinner. I get it. I need a Savior. I believe you died for me, to pay for my sin. I believe you have life to give me, and I want that. I want you. So I turn from my sin, repent. I've seen what I can do with my life. I'm ready to see what you can do with my life. So, Jesus, come in. Forgive me of my sin. Give me life. I trust you. I'm all yours."

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Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Feb 16, 2020


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Feb 23, 2020

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