Taking Down a Nation

by Skip Heitzig

Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to First Kings Chapter 12 in your Old Testament. First Kings, find that book, First Kings Chapter 12. A few years ago, I was doing a series on the 10 Commandments. And it was the second week where I was speaking on the Second Commandment. And you know that commandment, it says, you will not have any graven images. You will not fashion for yourself any graven images. And it was interesting, because that was my birthday week. And a friend of mine sent me a present. And I opened it up and it was essentially a graven image of myself. It’s a bobble head Skip, look.

On a motorcycle even. So I just found it strange that the very week I’m speaking about idolatry and graven images I get this in the mail. You don’t have to worry, no one worships it. Trust me. When it comes to the Bible, you know that God takes idolatry very seriously. In fact, God predicted, if you turn from me, I am the Lord, your God. You will have no other gods besides me. If you turn from me to other gods, to idols, it will bring the nation down. He predicted that would happen.

A few years ago, for the last 15 years up until this year, one of the most popular shows on television was called American Idol. And it’s produced some heavy hitters like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. But I read an article about American Idol that was called, “It Doesn’t Always Pay to Win.” And the article, essentially, was saying, it’s not always the first place, but it’s often second, third, and fourth runners up that go on to have successful careers. In fact, some serious stars like Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott never even made it past the audition on American Idol, but went on to see some great fame. Well, it certainly doesn’t pay to win the idol contest in Israel, because Israel’s God always had a problem with it.

From beginning to the end of the scripture, we find that in the Old Testament, the word idol, idols, idolatry appears 111 times. But the one who won the contest, the idol contest, was a King by the name of Jeroboam. And Jeroboam is the one we’re going to read about today. Of Jeroboam, it is said 20 times that he made Israel sin. He brought the nation down. He caused the nation to sin. In fact, a couple of chapters after this, in First Kings 14, God says, you have done more evil than all those who were before you. How would you like that on your tombstone? You have done more evil than all those who were before you. That is said of Jeroboam. So let’s begin in Chapter 12, for our purpose today, Verse 25.

We read then, “Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim. And he dwelt there. Also, he went out from there and built Penuai. And Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the Kingdom may return to the House of David. If these people go to offer sacrifice in the House of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their Lord Rehoboam the King of Judah. And they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam King of Judah.’ Therefore, the King asked advice. He made two calves of gold, and said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go to Jerusalem. Here are your Gods, O, Israel. What’s brought you up from the land of Egypt?’ And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. He made shrines on the high places. He made priests from every class of people who were not of the Sons of Levi. Jeroboam ordained to feast on the 15th day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah. And he offered sacrifices on the altar, so he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel, he installed the priests of the high places, which he had made. So he made offerings on the altar, which he had made at Bethel on the 15th day of the eighth month and the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar, and burned incense.”

Now who is this guy, Jeroboam? Jeroboam is the son of a man by the name of Nebat. That’s why when you read of him, it’s almost always Jeroboam, the Son of Nebat. He was from a little town in the central part of the land in the tribe of Manasseh. He worked for King Solomon. And King Solomon saw him as a young, capable, industrious man with a lot of energy. So Solomon gave him a raise, and placed him in charge of his labor force, or at least part of his labor force. Later on, Jeroboam gets involved in politics. And at first, it’s that he wants social reform and economic reform. But the reform turns to a rebellion, as we have just read. Now it’s going to be helpful for me to tell you how Israel has worked up till this point.

There have been three kings so far there. Has been King Saul, followed by King David, followed by his son, King Solomon. Those first three kings, for 120 years, the established a united monarchy. There was no division. There was no civil war. It was the united monarchy for 120 years until Solomon died. When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam, now I know this gets confusing because you got Jeroboam. You got Rehoboam. And you think, are they related? Are they the Boam brothers? You’ve got Jerry Boam and you’ve got Ray Boam. But no, they’re different families all together.

Rehoboam is the son of Solomon. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, a whole different family. So when Solomon dies, Rehoboam, his son, is in charge of the Kingdom. He’s young. He’s inexperienced. And the people come to him, and they say, look, as the new King, we request that you would ease up on the tax burden a little bit. Your dad has been very oppressive to us. We’ll serve you if you do that.

Well, at that point, he decides to consult his ambassador. So he goes to an older group of men, people who knew the ropes. They were wiser. And the older group of men said, we agree with the people. We think you should ease up on the tax burden, not be so oppressive. The people will be loyal to you. After that, he goes to his contemporaries, young men, young bucks, lot of energy, not so much wisdom. And they give him the opposite counsel. They say, no, in fact, put your foot down. Show them who’s boss. And don’t ease up the burden.

So it’s Inauguration Day. The first State of the Union Message that the new King, King Rehoboam, gives, part of it is mentioned in First Kings 12, Verse 14. This is what he says, “My father made your yoke heavy. I’ll make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips. I will scourge you with scorpions.” Well, the minute he said that, there’s a turning point, a turning point in Israel’s history, a civil war, a split in the Kingdom ensues. And 10 of the 12 tribes go north under Jeroboam, and two of the tribes, Judah and Benjamin, under Rehoboam. It is a civil war. And they really don’t recover from it.

The Northern Kingdom, under Jeroboam, as you have just read, gets involved in idolatry for the next, get this, 200 years, until they are taken captive in 722 BC by the Assyrians. That’s Jeroboam. The question is, why? What causes Jeroboam, this Israelite, this one of the tribes of God’s people, what causes him to get involved in idolatry, this great, heinous sin? It’s because he made four mistakes. And I want you to see them.

First mistake he made is he feared losing power. Look at Verse 26, “Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the Kingdom may return to the House of David. If these people go to offer sacrifices in the House of the Lord to Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their Lord Rehoboam, the King of Judah. And they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam, the King of Judah.'”

This guy has a lust for power, and it’s always seen as a weakness, never a strength, a lust for power. Walter Youngquist noted that of all the human attributes responsible for more misery, death, hopelessness, war, and starvation than anything else in the world, one is the lust for personal power. And Jeroboam is an insecure leader. He goes into panic mode. Oh, no, when they’re down in Jerusalem worshipping at the temple, their hearts are going to be drawn back to Rehoboam in the Southern Kingdom and I’m going to lose my Kingdom.

Whenever you’re afraid of losing power, you have forgotten that it was God who gave it to you to begin with. And he has forgotten that. Power comes from the Lord. Your sphere of power, your sphere of impact and influence, is all given to you by God. Romans 13, Verse 1, “There is no authority except from God.” Psalm 62:11, “Power belongs to God.”

Remember that dream that Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, had when Daniel came into interpretive form, that wild image that he saw? Daniel said, when he interpreted that dream, he said, “God changes the times and the seasons. He removes and raises up kings. He gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those who have understanding.”

And because that’s true, you know what that means? It means you never really had any power to begin with, none. The power you have is delegated power. The authority you have is assigned authority. And it’s been delegated and assigned by God. But power intoxicates men and women. When somebody is drunk with alcohol, he can recover. When somebody is drunk on power, they seldom recover. It grips a person until death, fear of losing power.

Now associated with that fear of losing power is the fear of losing control, the power to control situations. According to Psychology Today, the fear of losing control is one of the most prevalent fears that people have. This is the fear, that if you don’t manage to control the outcome of future events, something terrible will happen. And this article said, the key to overcoming this is to let go of the demand for certainty. Easier said than done, the demand for certainty.

Our culture even has a designation of controlling people. What do we call them? Control freaks. Says, she’s a control freak. He’s a control freak. Have you seen that commercial, National Car Rental commercial, where the guy’s walking through the airport with this cup of coffee, very staid and very controlled. And he’s walking through, and he says to the camera, I’ve been called a control freak. But I like to think of myself more of as a controlled enthusiast.

Jeroboam was a control enthusiast. He liked to control situations. Here’s the problem. There are so many things that are out of your control. You might like to control them, but you cannot. They’re out of your control. There are some things you can’t control. There are some things you can control. For example, you cannot control the length of your life. But you can control the depth of your life. You cannot control the weather, but you can control the moral and spiritual atmosphere that you allow yourself to have around you. You cannot control another person’s fault. You can control your reaction in response to those faults.

So here’s the deal. Here’s the best deal. You control the outlook and let God control the outcome. How’s that for a deal? Isn’t that a good one? You control your outlook. Lord, if this comes or doesn’t come, if this happens or doesn’t happen, I’m just going to control my outlook. You control the outcome. But this King, he feared losing power. That was his first mistake. Here’s the second mistake. He failed trusting God. Go back to Verse 25, “Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim. And he lived there. Also, he went out from there and he built Penuai.”

Now most people read this verse, skip over it. It looks insignificant. I suggest it’s very insightful, not insignificant. Jeroboam’s first move as the new King of the North is to fortify the cities that control the caravan routes north and south. Why? According to CF Kyle, Old Testament scholar, he said, it’s to defend his sovereignty over the North against hostile attacks. You say, what’s wrong with that? That’s what kings do. That’s normal, kingly procedure, have strong defenses. I would agree with you, except what this really means for this King, for Jeroboam, is that he has failed to trust God.

Why do I say that? Because God made this King a very specific promise, which we haven’t read yet. Before the event of him becoming the King of the North, the 10 northern tribes, God personally gives a message to him with a promise in it. And I want you to see it. Go back one chapter, Chapter 11. Look at Verse 35. This is God speaking to Jeroboam by some means. God says to him, “But I will take the Kingdom out of his son’s hands, that’s Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and give it to you, 10 tribes.” So God says, I’m going to give it to you as my gift to you. “And to his son, I will give one tribe.” That’s Judah, later on, becomes two tribes.

“That my servant, David, may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for myself to put my name there. And so I will take you. And you shall reign over all your heart desires. You shall be King over Israel. Then it shall be, now watch this, if you heed all that I command you, if you listen and you do what I say, if you walk in my ways, do what is right in my sight. Keep my statutes and my commandments, as my servant David did. Then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house as I built for David. And I will give Israel to you.”

How’s that for a promise? How’s that for a blank check? Hey, I’m God. And I’m giving you a kingdom free. Here’s the check. Go cash it. You know, it’s funny. If you were to come up to me and ask me to write you a check for a million dollars, I’d do it. Your problem would be when you go to the bank.

I’d be happy to write you a check. If you want one afterwards, I’ll write you a check. But you go to the bank, they’re going to laugh at that, and go, pft, there’s nothing to back it up. Insufficient funds, that’s what it’ll read on the computer. Now I know people who could write you a check for a million dollars, and they have the money and more in the bank. God gives to Jeroboam a promise of an enduring kingdom. What was his failure? He didn’t take it to the bank. He didn’t cash the check. He didn’t trust the promise that God gave him. You can always tell how mature or immature a Christian is by how they treat the promises of God.

Ask a person, what do you do with God’s promise in the Bible? And if their best answer is, I underline it in yellow, you know you’ve got a problem. If their answer is, I take them to the bank, then you know you’ve got something. A fearful, nervous believer filled with anxiety speaks volumes. They don’t believe the promises of God. A person who is calm, and confident, that person also speaks volumes. I’m taking God’s promise to the bank. Psalm 20, David writes, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the Lord, our God.”

Jeremiah 17, Verse 5, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes the flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” Jeroboam’s heart departed from the Lord. And it is shown by his failure to trust God’s promise, which begs the question, if he failed to trust God’s promise, what did he trust in? That takes us to his third mistake. He feared losing power. He failed trusting God. His third mistake, he followed his own heart. Look at Verse 26, “Then Jeroboam said, what? In his? You’ve got your Bible open, right? He said, “in his heart. Jeroboam said in his heart.”

Stop right there. Here’s a guy mulling it over in his own heart, in his own mind, thinking about what he wants to do. It’s all inward. So he said in his heart. Then go down to Verse 28, “Therefore the King asked advice.” Before he made the two calves, he’s asking people. So he takes it out of his head, out of the little heart. He’s kind of thinking what to do. Now he takes it and he asks advice, not of the best people, because he makes two golden calves. So he takes it out to them. Go down to Verse 33, “So he made offerings on the altar, which he had made at Bethel. On the 15th day of the eighth month, in the month which he had, watch this, devised in his own heart.”

Listen, Jeroboam was doing whatever felt good to him instead of what God said was good for him. You see the difference? How many times have you heard people say, well, you got to follow your heart. You just got to do whatever is in your heart to do. Can I just say, that’s bad advice. It’s always bad advice. Why is it bad advice? Jeremiah 17:9 declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it.” Doing what is in people’s heart has caused all of the problems in this world. Everybody feels something different, does something different. There’s clashes, and wars, and, I want this, and the other person wants that. It just means a person does what he wants to do.

The human heart needs to be steered by the divine will. My heart needs His head, His headship, His direction. One of our favorite verses of scripture, you probably memorize it within the first month that you are a believer, Proverbs Chapter 3, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him. And He will direct your paths.”

Well, this is especially true in the area of worship. Because effectively, Jeroboam changed the whole system of worship for the nation of Israel. And one of the most insidious ideas in the world is that we can worship God as we see fit. Because the only worship God accepts is the worship that God directs. God has told us who he is. And God has told us how he is to be responded to. And God has told us how he is to be worshipped. That’s why he said, “I am the Lord, your God. No other Gods before me. No images, et cetera.” He spelled it all out. The worship that God accepts is the worship that God directs.

So he made three mistakes so far. He feared losing power. He failed trusting God. He followed his own heart. And he did a fourth, which always must follow third. If you’re already doing the third, you’re going to do the fourth, and that is, he forsook God’s word. That is, God laid out how to be responded to, and he forsook it. He goes from divine revelation to human imagination. He makes it all up. Notice, he changes the object of worship. Verse 28, “Therefore the King asked advice. Made two calves of gold, and said to the people, ‘it’s too much for you to go to Jerusalem.’ Here are your Gods, O, Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Does that sound familiar? Have you heard that before?

You know what that sounds like to me? Exodus 32, guy by the name of Aaron. When Moses was up on Mount Sinai getting the 10 Commandments and he comes down, there’s this golden calf. And Aaron said, “This is the God, O, Israel that delivered you out of the land of Egypt.” Same thing, does the same thing. He moves from worshipping the invisible God, changes the object of worship to two golden calves, one in the middle of the country, and one in the north of the country.

Now here is always the problem with making an image of any kind in worship of God. There is no image that could ever be made that truly reflects the personality and glory of God. Can’t do it. Can’t be done. As soon as you cast some image to remind you of some capability, or some attribute of God, it only shows you that one, not the others. So why a calf? Why this? Well, in Egypt they had worshiped Apis the bull, the calf God, which was a symbol of strength. So when they did that in Exodus, and they did it again, the idea of a calf is that when you look at it, it would remind you of splendor and strength. You say, well, what’s wrong with that? If when I look at an image and I’m reminded of God’s strength, what’s wrong with that?

Here’s what’s wrong with it. It tells you nothing of God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s forbearance, God’s acceptance. All the other moral attributes are hidden by an image. So an image of any, there’s no artist alive that can capture God. So God just says, don’t do it. Isaiah 40, “To whom will you liken God?” It’s a good question. What are you going to like him to? “Or what likeness will you compare to him?” Answer, none. So he changes the object of worship. Notice also he changes the place of worship.

Verse 29, “He sets one up in Bethel and one in Dan.” So the middle of the country way up north. Instead of going to Jerusalem, the temple, there’s two new worship places. Why does he do it? It’s convenient, that’s all. It’s just easier. It’s just easier. You don’t have to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. You can stay home right here, which is interesting, you know. Instead of asking, is it right? He asked, is it easy? I’ll do what’s easy instead of what’s right.

Well, Bethel is one place I do understand, because Bethel had already a rich spiritual history to it. Bethel was the place you will remember when Jacob was running from his house, and he laid down at night, and he slept, and he saw this dream, this vision, of a ladder going up to heaven, the angels of God coming down, and going back up. And he was so overtaken by it, the next day, he names the place Bethel, which means that the House of God. It’s a great experience.

So Jeroboam thinks, instead of going to the house of God down in Jerusalem, we have the house of God here. This is the original Beth-el House of God. We have our own heritage. So it changes the object and the place of worship. Notice also he changes the means of worship. Verse 31, “He made shrines on the high places, and he made priests from every class of people who are not of the sons of Levi.” Well, that’s for saying God’s word, right? Because God’s word said, there’s only one tribe where the priest come from, and that’s the tribe of Levi.

But he goes, why? Why can’t anybody be a priest? Why do you have to belong to the tribe of Levi? Why can’t anyone who feels led to be a priest be a priest? Now the day he said, anybody can be a priest, you got to know that he made a lot of people happy, who were going, yeah, why should the Levites have all the fun? Why did they get to hang out in the tabernacle in the temple?

Whenever you lower the standard for those who lead worship, for those who do ministry, for those who serve the Lord in any capacity, when you lower the standard, you will have all the unqualified ones pouring in. He changes the means of worship. And finally, he changes the time of worship. Did you notice, Verse 32, “He ordained a feast, watch this, on the 15th day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah. And he offered sacrifices on the altar, so he did a Bethel sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel, he installed a priest of the high places which he had made. So he made offerings on the altar, which he had made at Bethel on the 15th day of the eighth month in the month which he devised in his own heart.”

Why did he do this? Well, he’s competing with the feast down south. The Feast of Tabernacles took place exactly one month prior, the seventh month. So he goes, well, I’ll do the eighth month. Why? I feel led. It’s in my heart. It’s in my heart to do it. Now on the surface, we go, what’s wrong? One month is the same as another month. Which is true, unless God said, I want that month. So if God says, I want you to get together in October, and you go, no, I’ll do it in November, you’ve just disobeyed God, right? So if God says, meet every week on the first day of the week to worship me, and you go, no, Christmas and Easter is good enough, you’ve just disobeyed God. He changed the times of worship.

The only worship God accepts is the worship God directs. Do you recall that Jesus Christ said, God, the Father, is actually looking for a certain kind of worshipper? Remember? He says, the Father is seeking those who worship him in spirit and in truth. So he wants spirited worshippers who put truth and the intensity of their own spirit into it, that’s what it means, but also in truth.

And the way we know truth is by the revealed word of God. Jeroboam forsook the word of God and followed his own heart. And one always requires the other. There’s a phrase in the Bible. If you read the Bible at all very much, you’ve seen this phrase about 80 times all together. It’s the phrase, “It is written.” It’s one of Jesus’ favorite phrases.

When somebody comes to him, or the devil attacks him with a temptation, he’ll say, “It is written. It is written, 80 times, it is written.” Now I can only think that when God repeats something 80 times, it’s pretty important to him. And why is that one so important to him? He must believe that what is written, what he has superintended and preserved in this Book, that we ought to take our cues from that for everything in life.

And always loved Billy Graham, as you know. I came to faith by watching Billy Graham. One of Billy Graham‘s most famous phrases in all of his sermons is, the Bible says. He said that a lot. All of his great messages and the Bible says, boom. And the Bible says, and he’ll quote it. And that’s because there was a time in his life where he struggled with what the Bible says. And he was a young man wondering, should I believe it all? Is it all God’s truth and God’s word? And when he finally came through that wrestling match, and said, I’m going to declare your word as being truth, that’s when he saw thousands of lives changed.

Jeroboam made these four mistakes. And it led the nation to idolatry. Let me ask you a question. Do you think idolatry is just an Old Testament problem? Certainly not. As I mentioned, First John Chapter 5, last verse of that book, John, in the New Testament, says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” So the First Commandment, “I am the Lord, your God. You will have no other Gods besides me or before me.” And John, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Shows that it’s a problem in every generation.

Well, what is it exactly? What does idolatry mean? That you have Skip bobble head, is that idolatry? No, I don’t think so. Idolatry means you place something in the place of God. That’s what it means. That’s the easiest way to think of it. Idolatry is letting anyone or anything occupy the supreme rightful place that only God should occupy as the one in charge of your life. By the way, that can be inward, doesn’t have to be outward. You can want something. You may not have, but you want it.

You want a person, you want an object. Listen to Paul in Colossians Chapter 3, Verse 5. He said, “Put to death your members which are on the Earth like fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, listen to this, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Covetousness, which is idolatry.” If you want a person or a thing more than you want God, it could be a girlfriend. It could be a boyfriend. It could be the approval of people. It could be a hobby. It could be a number of things. That can be idolatry. Always starts inwardly, but it always grows outwardly.

So I wanted to close with two things. I want to ask you a personal question. I want you to ask yourself this question. Then I’m going to ask you to make a personal choice, personal question, personal choice. Here’s the personal question. What do you think about in quiet moments? Mull that around. What do you think about in quiet moments? What is your mind naturally, when left alone, gravitate to when you’re all alone? Because your mind is a lot like a compass. You can take a compass, and jostle it around, and move it around, but when you set it down on a desk, and you leave it to settle, that needle always points true north, one direction.

And your mind can be occupied by a number of things during the day, like mine is, but when left to settle, what direction does it point to? Because the Bible says, in Proverbs 23, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” That’s who you are. What do you think about in quiet moments? That’s the personal question.

Now for a personal choice. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. He’ll love one, and hate the other, hold to one, and repudiate the other.” No man can serve two masters. Which one will it be, God, or something else? Joshua said to the people, “Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me in my house, we will serve the Lord.” Some of you are thirsty. And I don’t just mean physical thirst, like, hurry up, finish the sermon so I can get a drink of water. That may be true as well. But I’m talking about that inward, nagging, unfulfilled vacuum that nothing or no one, up to this point, has ever been able to satisfy and quench. Some of you are thirsty.

There is nothing or no one who will satisfy you like the love of God, the sweet love of the living God. Are there any rivals in your heart? That’s an idol. Is there a rival in your heart? That’s why you’re restless. Augustine said, “We are restless, Lord, until we find our rest in Thee.” If there’s a rival in your heart, that’s what’s causing the restlessness. We opened up speaking about American Idol. I suppose if there were ever on American idol, the quintessential American idol would be none other than Elvis Presley. I even had one person for a service say, Amen, to that. I was like, OK, we have an Elvis fan. Yeah, I’m Elvis. I’m the king.

But do you know that Elvis was interviewed by a reporter six weeks before he died? And the reporter said, Elvis, when you began your career, you said there was three things that you wanted in life. Number one, you wanted to be rich. Then you said you wanted to be famous. Then you said you wanted to be happy, rich, famous, and happy. Elvis, are you happy? I know you’re rich and famous, are you happy?

Without any hesitation he said, no, I’m intensely lonely. The great Elvis Presley, the American idol, intensely lonely, not happy. In fact, those who knew him and were close to him would often say, that’s the attribute that stuck out the most. He seemed so lonely. Are there rivals in your heart? Anyone competing for the love of God? Then choose this day whom you will serve. Because no one can serve two masters.

Our Father, as we bring this short little series to a close, we have considered those who crashed and who have burned. They’re living examples to us, people who have really lived on this Earth, of mistakes made, choices made. And we learn from those mistakes. We learn, by looking at those who have fallen, we learn how to fly. We have seen different reasons for the crash and burn, but here we’ve discovered a man who not only did so, but caused a nation to do so, brought down a nation because of it. And we think of those who have brought down corporations, or families, or marriages by making mistakes. And we think, when it really comes down to it, it’s because there is a rival that occupies the throne of the heart that must be pushed off. And you must be allowed to be who you are. The incomparable living God, living in us, calling the shots, where we don’t follow the dictates of our own heart, but we follow the dictates of Your word perfectly preserved, totally inerrant, absolutely authoritative for human life. Every word of God is pure. And we want to live by what the Bible says, by what You have said. I just pray for those who have gathered who are thirsty deep inside their soul, and they want that to end. That’s the best news. It can end. And it can end in this life. It can end by a choice that we make to let You be You in our lives, the Lord, the Master, The King. We think of the promise you gave Jeroboam. Jeroboam, if you only heed me, if you only listen to me, I’ll do this for you. And we think of the promise made to us, “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.” I pray that some would.

As our eyes are closed, and we’re thinking about us, we’re thinking about what we have heard. We’re evaluating who we are, where we’re going. My prayer is that you will consider the repeated offers made in scripture to you and I from the Divine to the human condition, the promise to change, the promise to have new light, new life, new hope, forgiveness of sin. And I pray that you would choose, this day, Christ as savior and Lord.

Some of you, for the very first time, you have come to church. You’ve been religious. You have a spiritual side to you. But you’ve never said personally yes to Jesus Christ as Master, and Savior, and Lord of your life. Others of you maybe remember something that happened in your past, at an event, a concert, a crusade, a church service, where you felt something, and you maybe even did something. But today, right now, as it stands, you’re not following Christ. So you need to come back to Him.

So whether it’s for the first time, or you need to come back home to him, if you’re willing to receive him, and commit your life to Him, I’d love the opportunity to pray for you. But I need to know who I’m praying for. So as our heads are bowed, I’d like you to just raise your hand up in the air if you’re willing to give your life to Christ, and end the fight with God, and the thirst that’s in your soul. Raise it up, so I can see. God bless you and you. Right up here toward the front in the middle to my left. Just raise that hand up. Right there, in the middle. A couple of you right here on the right. Anyone else? Raise your hand up, please. Right there, awesome. Awesome.

Anyone else? Right there, yes, thank you. Thank you. God bless you in the back. I see your hand. And over here to my left. If you’re in the family room, I can see through the glass. Just raise your hand up. Say yes to Him. Awesome. Even in the balcony, just raise that hand up. Sat yes to Him.

Father, we thank you for all these hands that have gone up. Thank you for these lives that You have touched by the revelation of your word and the power of the Holy Spirit. Only You can do that. Only You can do that. These hands going up it is a work of God, because it’s a decision that is being made to say yes to the Lord of this universe and the King of hearts. I pray for each one. I pray, Lord, that you would just give them that settled, peaceful feeling that this is right, and this begins a whole new journey in their future. I pray you would change their lives. I pray you would fill them with hope. Our prayer for them, Lord, is they would grow in grace, grow in knowledge of you, that their view of God would be ever-expanding. They would become calm and confident believers, those who trust in Your promises. Strengthen their lives. Strengthen their families in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Would you please stand? We’re going to sing our final song. And as we do, I’m going to ask those of you who raised your hands to find the nearest aisle and come walk up to the front and stand up here where I’m going to lead you in a prayer. Jesus called people publicly. And you’re going to find a great show of support when you say, yes, and you come, and you stand up here. I want to lead you in that prayer to receive Christ. And I’m going to ask you to do it publicly like Jesus called people. And you’re going to find, again, a lot of support, a round of applause, as you say yes to Him. We’re going to cheer you on.

I’m so glad that you’re coming forward. And I would just hope that it wouldn’t end with just a raised hand, and then you’re out the door, but that you would come. You’d kind of step out of the shadows and into the light and, say, this is the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Some of you might be kind of waiting around thinking, well, how do I know this real? I’ve seen this stuff before. I’ll tell you one thing, you’ll never know if it’s real by just doing nothing. Take Jesus at his word. See if he’s not the Lord, and the King, of the world, and the King of the universe. And see if he can’t change your heart, your life. Try him. Test and see. Give your life to Christ.

I’ve seen so many people kind of wondering about it. And then they’ve had their lives dramatically changed by God. Be one of those people. So as we sing this through one more time, God is calling you. Respond to it. This is a holy moment. You respond to it. You say yes. You come out from where you’re standing, and you join those who are up here.

Those of you who have walked forward, I am so glad to see each and every one of you guys. This is better, right? No we’re just way up here. So I’m going to lead you in a prayer. And I’m going to ask you to say this prayer out loud after me from your heart. And you say this to the Lord, OK. Let’s pray. Say:

Lord, I give you my life. I know that I’m a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I trust him with my life. I believe Jesus died on a cross, that he shed his blood for my sin, and that he rose again from the dead. I believe he is alive today. I turn from my sin. I repent of it. I turn to Jesus as my Lord and my Master. It’s in his name I pray. Amen.

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