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Finding What You're Looking For

Acts 8

by Stuart Mains

November 13, 2022

Obrigado por conferir este sermão. Se você se comove com o que ouve e está na área de Boston, considere visitar pessoalmente!

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Amen, church. Well, you guys sound great. It is great to be together. My name is Stuart and along with my wife Ashley, helped lead this congregation. I just want to share how much I love you and just how grateful I am to be a part of this church. Yesterday, as was shared, we were out in the seaport sharing about our district hall service next week and it was just an inspiring, inspiring time. It was a nerve wracking time. If you've ever gone out sharing your faith without, they call it cold contact, without any relationship with the people you're talking to, there was a lot of abrupt, no, I don't want to talk to you. But there were also some really great conversations that were taking place. But there's something different when you're all doing it together, when you're going out to be able to talk to, it felt like a massive people, I mean, just a massive amount of people, but just doing it together was just so encouraging. And then yesterday night we had a young family's devotional, which was incredibly encouraging as well. And just doing life together, raising our families together. I love this church and I think a lot of times we can get in the rat race of life that we forget that it's important to acknowledge.

I love what God is doing in my life right now in this season. Despite the challenges, despite the difficulties, having four kids and getting them out of the house is not easy. All the different things that happened this last week, they had two days out of school this past week, which as a parent is a disaster. I mean, it just changes your whole life. But even with all that going on, it's still an incredible life that we live. It's an amazing life that we have the opportunity to live as Christians. And if you come in and you yourself are not a Christian yet, I just want to share, you've walked in, you've stumbled upon a group of people that loves what they are all about, loves what they're doing, loves their life loves this community. And there was one amen when I said that, but we're going to get it going here. But this is an incredible church. Turn to the person in the left and right and say, I love this church. Amen. Well, I love this church as well, you know.

Finding What You're Looking For

Today we're going to talk about finding what you're looking for. Finding what you're looking for. I think it was a YouTube song. I still haven't found what I'm looking for. There it is. Why am I not leading songs in the worship team? There you go. But there is this feeling of I'm looking and searching for something in my life. I don't know how you are when it comes to losing things, but I lose everything it feels like. I lose my keys. Yesterday at the Young Family's Devotional, I left my sweatshirt there. We happened to go to a restaurant right afterwards on a date, and it was the most freezing indoor restaurant you've ever- it's like an ice box in there. But I didn't have my jacket. I am consistently called or texted with pictures after service of things that I left strewn across the entire room here. I can't count on my one hand how many times I've left my laptop here. Thank you APL for always looking after me and bringing it back to me. But I am constantly losing things all the time. My dad was a serial loser of things. I mean, he would leave things all over the place. There was not one jacket that he owned, whether it was a blazer or a leather jacket that he would not leave at a conference or a church service or on the plane. He's lost things all over the place. He would often go to conferences and people would walk up to him that hadn't seen him in years and say, I think this is your jacket. Or people would be wearing his jacket and he'd see it and it'd be a unique jacket. And he'd go, Where did you find that? And they said, I founded the conference three years ago. He goes, that's my jacket. I mean, it is just consistent that he would lose things.

I mean, my dad almost six years ago passed away, and at the funeral, I had even somebody come up to me and say, here's your dad's leather jacket that I was never able to give back to him. And so in my closet to this day, I still have just evidence of him losing stuff everywhere he went.

But when we think about losing things, it's fun and games when it's, well, it's not really that fun when it's your keys, but when it's these different things that are really not of much importance, but when you're looking for something of more significance, it is a much scary, anxiety-stricken thing to not find the things that you're looking for.

This is a famous clip that was shown. 60 Minutes did an interview with Tom Brady like 17 years ago. He's actually had much more success than even this short 32nd clip is. But here's Tom Brady talking about the success that he's had and what it's left him feeling. Let's run the clip.

Well, 17 years ago, what Tom Brady said, I'll just tell you, is he said there's got to be more to life than this. I've had three Super Bowl rings. Obviously we know, he's had many more since then. I have a supermodel wife. Obviously that's changed. But it's interesting. What he says in this clip is he says there's got to be more to life than this. Obviously now, looking 17 years later, he's kept going down that same path of trying to find what he's looking for. And in trying to find what he's looking for, he's come in and out of retirement. Right? Now, we just heard that he is divorced his wife. I mean, there's a lot that's gone wrong in his life as he's continued down this path of trying to find what he's looking for. And it's not to make fun of him. It's painful to look at people as they're searching for things that are not fulfilling them and trying to grasp at straws. He, 17 years ago, knew that football and the accomplishments of football were not fulfilling him. And yet he didn't know where to turn. He didn't know where to look.

What they were showing earlier is a man, a famous guy that's become very famous in the last week. As of Monday this week, Sam Bankman-Fried was a billionaire. He was worth $16 billion. As of Friday, he is in so much debt, he's being he's going to be arrested. He is totally evaporated his 16 billion. And now he owes somewhere in the ballpark of seven to $8 billion in debt.

You know, people look for success in all of these things, whether it's accomplishment. Maybe for you, it's been the school that you applied to or the job that you're working at. The accomplishment of prestige, the accomplishment of wealth. That so clearly we're watching time and time again can evaporate like that. Especially in the world of cryptocurrency and things that go really fast up and really fast down. It just feels like, man, there's no- where do we find what we're looking for. Apparently there's one person over there that really lost a lot of money in crypto. So we'll pray for that area in section of the room there.

Seekers Get Sought

But we come in the story and Robert also shared about this. We're going to be looking at the same story in Acts eight, the Ethiopian eunuch. You know, the story of the Ethiopian eunuch is set up in a time where Jesus has already come. He's resurrected. He's ascended up into heaven. He's no longer living on earth, but instead the Holy Spirit is ministering to the Church and the Church is rapidly growing. The Church has seen so much success. Thousands of people are becoming Christians. It is a very vibrant time. Except because it was such a vibrant time, the religious leaders of the area in Jerusalem started to persecute the Church. They were scared that they were going to have their authority usurped, and so they started to imprison and in fact, earlier on in the chapter we see that Steve and the first martyr is killed. And so they start killing Christians because of them killing Christians the disciples in Jerusalem, they scatter and Philip was one of them that scattered. And this was ultimately part of God's plan that the message of Jesus would spread to the entire world. And he does that often in hard times or persecution or difficulty, that he pushes his message out to the world. And so we come into a story here where it is a very tumultuous time in the Church. A lot of fear is going on, but there's also people becoming disciples and it's an exciting time. It's kind of a weird time where you get it's kind of raining and sunny at the same time. It's discouraging and encouraging all at the same time in the Church.

In Acts eight, verse 26, as we read it says

"Now, the angel Lord said that Philip goes south to the road, the desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he started out and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, which means Queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship and on his way home was sitting in the chariot reading the book of Isaiah the Prophet. The Spirit told Philip, go to that chariot and stay near it."

So we see in this story, right, that Philip was told by the Spirit to go walk on a desert road. The road we know is about 40 miles long. I don't know what your response would be to that, but mine would be probably asking a few questions. But Philip decides he's going to go and he's going to listen and respond to the Spirit that calls him to go walk in the desert road. And this Ethiopian had been traveling. Now, I looked up, it's profoundly changed the way I've looked at this story. But he traveled to get to Jerusalem from Ethiopia somewhere in the ballpark of 70 to 75 days by chariot that it took him to travel all the way to Jerusalem to be able to worship God as a Jew. And then it would have taken him 75 days to come back, depending on where you are in Ethiopia. So 1,500 and 1,800 miles traveling in a chariot, which was not the most comfortable comparative to what we are used to when it comes to road trips and things.

And so he's willing to go and in fact, he's willing to go on extreme, extreme lengths, through extreme lengths to be able to get to a relationship with God. The first thing we're going to look at, the first point I have is seekers get sought. Seekers get sought. If you want to find God, he will seek after you. If you seek after Him, he will seek back after you. If you do not want to have anything to do with Him, he tries, he goes after you. But he also is not going to be mocked. There is a part of us that has to respond to what God is calling us to do. The Ethiopian eunuch clearly was seeking and going after a relationship with God.

  • As you think of your relationship with God, where are you at in your seeking journey?

  • Are you considered a seeker?

Now, obviously you're in the room. So the answer for almost all of us would be yes. I'm trying. Somehow, some way, I'm doing something. I'm here at least. I showed up. But we see this man. He traveled a long distance, and I don't know how long you guys traveled to get here, but you take the red line to the green line you're still not close to what we're talking about in the 1,500, 1,800 mile range to seek him.

But, you know, as this man puts forth the effort, we see that God starts coordinating things all around him to have a relationship with Him. As he starts to go after a relationship with God and travel Jerusalem, the spirit spoke to Philip to tell him to go walk on this desert road. As you start to seek, do you realize there's an entire backchannel spiritual realm that God is doing things to respond to your seeking? God has all kinds of things at his disposal to get you to see him, to respond to Him.

I love this passage. This has to be one of my favorite passages in Acts 17, verse 26. As Paul is talking about God and he's mocking the other gods that the false gods, the idols of Greece there, and he's talking about our true God. And he says,

"From one man God made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth. And he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for him and find Him, though he is not far from any one of us."

What does this passage say? It says that you are not here by chance. In fact, beyond that, where you're sitting right now is not by chance. Where you live is not by chance. You ever seen the movie Matrix where Morpheus, they're in the computer system and Keanu Reeves Neo is trying to kind of get his mind wrapped around it and Morpheus, he looks at him and he says, do you think that's air you're breathing? And Keanu is like, what do you mean? And he's saying, you're in a computer program. There's not an air that you're actually breathing. You're being tricked in your mind. It's kind of one of those moments for us to be able to read a passage like this and go, if you seek, then you got to realize God has been arranging all the parts of your life in a way, for what reason? So that you will perhaps reach out and find Him.

You know, I was studying the Bible last Tuesday with a woman that has been recently coming out to our church. She found us online, and she's here because she's dealing with very, very serious illness and she's here at MGH and found us online, came to church and we got together on Tuesday. And as she was telling me her story that she's from Guatemala, that she has a relationship with God, that she came to Pittsburgh to have surgery, then she came here for more medical attention and reached out and found us. I read this passage to her and both of us just stood there stunned, thinking about all that God had to do to get us to stand in front of each other. God is doing so much in your life.

  • Do you believe that?

  • Do you believe that you are sitting here because God has a purpose for your life?

That you're sitting here because it's not just by happenstance that you walked in or found us online, but instead that it is because God ordained that person to talk to you? We've got to start thinking in different ways than we normally naturally think. It's a very humanistic, secular way of thinking of we are just we're just animals, and that's just what's going on. That is not true. There is a spiritual realm that God has designed for us to live and to draw us closer to Him. And the response that we must have knowing about this is, I'm choosing to seek you.

  • But are you seeking?

  • Are you actively going after a relationship with God?

My children. I have four kids. And the truth of the matter is the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The one that calls out the most is the one that gets the most attention. The one that's seeking me is the one that I often attend to the quickest. In the same way in our relationship with God, are you a squeaky wheel? Are you putting out a call to God? He has designed your life to perhaps reach out to Him, to perhaps. It puts God in an interesting precarious situation. This powerful God has put himself in a vulnerable space that maybe you'll say, no.

I love taking my oldest daughter Elle out, and we have special time every week. It is like the best time of her week is going out with mom special time and Dad's special time. And she makes sure we never forget it's her time for special time. But when we go out for years, it was very much me pursuing her. And so, I mean, you got a five year old or a six year old, she's now nine. But trying to get in deep conversations with a five year old or a six year old is tough. Right? It's very much me pursuing her. So how was school? Good. Great. Okay. How's your donut? Delicious. OK, great. That's where the conversation ends, right there. I mean, I was like, googling questions to ask children. I was like, what do you say to your kid that's five years old? I really want to connect with you, but I have no idea what to say to you. Right? And five years old. Six years old, I was definitely the instigator of conversation. Seven years old, I was definitely the instigator of conversation. But we never gave up. Now nine years old, I can't get her to stop talking to me. She has got all kinds of things she wants to share, and I love it. I just look forward this time in my week, every single week. I am so ecstatic that she wants to pour out her heart to me.

We were walking on Newbury Street and getting some ice cream, and she goes she goes, dad, I want to ask you 20 questions. You ready? She goes, what was your first job? I was like, Subway. She's like, eat fresh. There you are. And we went through, have you ever had a girlfriend that was not mom, what was that? I said in high school, I had a girlfriend. Leticia Ramirez. She's like, Leticia OK, tell me more about Leticia. And we're talking about that, and we're talking about school and if I was good in school and not good in school, and I didn't do great later on in my high school career in school. So we're talking about why I didn't do great. She wants to know all about it, but it took some time in order for me to get connected to her heart and get her to want to draw me out.

God has been pursuing you since you were born. God has been pursuing you actively pursuing you, saying, all right, let's get special time again. No, I don't really want it God. Okay, next week, let's have special time again. Do I have to? And that's how it started with that. Do I have to? I really like watching YouTube kids. Do I need to go with you? You have to go with me. It was a forced special time for a little while there.

But as we start to understand what God is doing and the pursuing that he's been doing for years, we must seek back. We must respond back. This man was pursuing God, and it made God's heart leap for joy that there was someone that was willing to travel such far distances to worship him. His response to that was, let's get it going, let's get Philip out there, let's coordinate, let's make sure he sees the right chariot, let's make sure this all thing comes together because I want to make sure this seeker feels sought. If you seek, God will seek back. We must be seekers that God can seek back towards.

What Excludes You Now Includes You

You know, but as, as we, the story goes on, you know, as was read by Robert, we see that he comes up to the chariot, Philip runs up to the chariot and sees the Ethiopian eunuch, where he's reading some scriptures. Now, a little bit of context that I didn't really even understand to more recently about this passage is that the Ethiopian eunuch did come to worship in Jerusalem. But the very nature of what the eunuch is, is he was a treasurer. And what they did is they emasculated him, they castrated him in order for him to not be tempted or seduced as the treasurer of all the money. And so that was a common practice. But because of that, look at this passage in Deuteronomy 23, which is the law that they prescribed to. It says, no one who hasn't been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord. So it was in their law that he couldn't actually join the assembly and worship God. So now you've got him traveling 1500 to 1800 miles, unable to go into the temple with the general assembly to worship. Imagine what you would feel. I'm doing all this work to come worship God and you're not going to let me in because of this obscure passage in Deuteronomy 23:1? What?

And yet that's what happened to this man. He was held out. And so, yeah, he could worship in his heart, he could worship in the outer parts of the temple, but he couldn't join the general assembly of worship. He was excluded. And as this man, as the story goes on, we see that Philip stumbles upon him reading the passage in Isaiah 53. But if you look throughout Isaiah, Isaiah is broken up in two parts. The first part of Isaiah is written to say, basically, the Israelites were supposed to be God's people living out exactly what he called them to do, and they were messing up like crazy. And so for 40 chapters, Isaiah is there's an indictment against the Israelite people saying, you are not choosing to live in accordance with how I'm calling you to live. And then the latter part of Isaiah is all these prophecies about what will happen when the Messiah comes.

Look with me in Isaiah 56, as we know that this man had the scroll of Isaiah, he was reading Isaiah 53. But a short few chapters later, look at what it said about when the Messiah comes, what will happen?

In verse two, it said,

"Blessed is the one who does this, the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it and keeps their hands from doing any evil. Let no foreigner," we know he was the Ethiopian unit, right? So he was definitely a foreigner. "Who is bound to the Lord say, the Lord will surely exclude me from his people, and let no eunuch complain. I am only a dry tree, for this is what the Lord says to the eunuchs who keep my Sabbath, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant, to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name. Better than the sons and daughters, I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever."

I mean, you imagine as the Ethiopian eunuch has just come away from trying to worship and not being able I don't know how long he tried to worship there, but he was unable to do it. And he had a 75 day trip that way, 75 day trip that way. So he probably stayed there a while trying to worship. It was readily known to him that he wasn't able to go in the temple. He hadn't forgotten that. But as he's on his ride back, he's reading Isaiah, and Philip comes up to him. He's reading Isaiah 53. You can read that on your own as it's talking about the prophecy of who Jesus is and what Jesus will be like. And as it continues talking about this new covenant, this relationship with Jesus, there's a verse specifically for the Ethiopian eunuch. Specifically for him. I mean, imagine just the relief that he would feel that I actually have a road to worship God, that I'm not so messed up that I can't have a relationship with God. We see what excluded you now includes you. What excluded you now includes you. What excluded him now includes him. What was the very thing and the definition of why you couldn't make it to heaven is the very thing that Jesus denoted. Now, that's why I want a relationship with you. You're a sinner. I want you. You're messed up. I want you. You have deformities. I want you. And we see that in Jesus life that as he came into the world, who did he spend the most time with? It was the sick. It was the messed up. It was those that needed healing. It was a demon possessed. It wasn't the people that had it all together. And so if you are coming into church, some of us come into church and give it a try for like one time and go if I don't like burn up in 2 seconds just standing in the actual sanctuary because of the sins that have committed, then maybe I'll come back next week. And we can feel a little bit like I'm just being judged. You know what you did last week, last night, you know what your lifestyle has been like. And we can come into settings like this and going, this excludes me from ever being able to have a relationship with God. We know the world excludes us from lots of different things. We know that if you don't have the grades and the SAT scores and the connections, you're not getting to Harvard. Right? You get excluded from that. There were some murmurs of the people that didn't get into Harvard and feel something about it. Right? We know that there are exclusions that take place in our workplace all the time.

You're not good enough. You haven't accomplished enough. Your resume's not long enough. You don't have enough experience. I'm a member at Planet Fitness. And Planet Fitness, their claim to fame is we exclude all the bodybuilders, and we want all the normal people to come in and feel comfortable being able. So when I walked in for my gym membership, I thought I'd get excluded. And they readily gave me a gym membership, no problem, no questions asked. They said, you fit the bill perfectly. You're who we're advertising to.

But there's exclusions everywhere. And yet Jesus, when he came down on this earth and when he was crucified for our sins, he said, what has always excluded you in every other arena, with your family, with your friends, with the people in your class, with the people in your workplace. What's excluded you in all these areas, those are the things that I'm going to include you now in because of. I want to have a relationship with you, not because you're perfect, but because you're choosing to seek after me and because you're recognizing the problems that you have in your life.

The Ethiopian eunuch, he clearly was really moved. And as the story goes on, philip tells him the entire story of Jesus, and you imagine what that would be like for this man who has been an outcast his whole life, and now he's able to have a relationship with God in this way. He's so excited that it says in verse 26 sorry, verse 36, it says:

"As they travel along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, look, here is water. What can stand the way of me being baptized? And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch went down in the water, and Philip baptized him."

Some verses in verse 37 say that Philip asked, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? And then he said yes. And they went on and they baptized him.

As you think about what this moment must have been for him, we just witnessed a baptism right here, and being able to witness someone turn their life over to God and just say, you're the Lord of my life. I surrender everything. I'm going to stop fighting, and I'm going to seek a relationship with you for the rest of my days. I'm all in. End, stop right there. No matter what happens, I'm in. That is something that is miraculous. It's powerful. And as we look at this story, we see that as he sees the relationship with Jesus, sees what it's going to look like to be with Jesus, understand who Jesus is, he has nothing to say, but I must come into relationship with Him.

You know, it's easy to leave and church hop the different churches that we can go to. When you have a relationship with Jesus, though, it transforms you for the rest of your life. And too many of us come into a setting like this and think, this is about the church, think this is about the people or the worship set, although I think the worship set was awesome. But it's not about any of those things. It's about a relationship with Jesus Christ. And what happens to many people as they come in and a church hop and they hop around and they look for all these different things to check off boxes, but they're missing the very thing that they've been searching for from the beginning is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

As you look at what he does, as you look at his response, has that been your response? There's a lot of people in the church has been growing in attendance, and it's been inspiring to see people coming from all parts of downtown Boston. But have you been transformed? Have you chosen to really change? Because it's easy to come here. It's easy to feel good. It's easy to feel like you did something Christian for your week and then go about your life and never be transformed. People that do that, they go on many times in their life, they become atheists because they say, there's no power in what we're doing. This is just a performance or something. But if you've been transformed by Jesus Christ in a relationship with Him, you never, never, ever want to leave, because you go, this is where God is actively moving. If you don't feel that, it's because you haven't been in connection with Jesus Christ. You've just been attending church. It's time to recognize this is all about a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is about your connection to Jesus Christ.

Shoot Your Shot

The last and final point here is you got to shoot your shot. He shot his shot. You got to shoot your shot. Now, some people on this side of the room, I think, understand what that means. Other people may not know what shoot your shot means. So I went to my Handy Dandy Urban Dictionary for a definition right here. And to shoot your shot is to let go of your pride and pursue someone you're interested in. I think the little example was, hey, man, have you talked to that girl? No, not yet. She hasn't reached out back to me. Oh, man. Maybe you should slide it to her DM and shoot your shot. He said, all right, sounds good. That was the definition example right there. You've got to let go of your pride and pursue someone you're interested in.

The Ethiopian eunich had a lot going for him. He was wealthy, he had prestige, he was successful and powerful, and yet he became more like a kid in a candy shop when he saw what a relationship with Jesus would be like. He goes, why shouldn't I be baptized right now? There's a doctrine that's gone around in the Christian world that baptism is an outward side of an inward grace. It's never in the scripture. It's actually never even really mentioned anywhere in the Bible that that's what baptism is. But it is a doctrine that's gone around in Christianity that your baptism it's more like putting a ring on your finger. You don't need it for the wedding, but it's a good little add on to it. That's nowhere in Scripture but that's being pumped into YouTube and Instagram as far as this is how you get saved. It's just you accept Christ, and then you can get baptized if you want for an outward sign of an inward grace. If the Ethiopian eunuch was going to get baptized as this an outward sign, wouldn't he have waited to get back to Ethiopia first? He was rich, he was successful. He was a high ranking official. He would have thrown a party for that baptism. If he was just doing it because he thought, oh, this would be a good proclamation. It actually would have been incredible, Evangelism, to go have the baptism in Ethiopia. So he could have just proclaimed, Jesus is Lord, if that's what it was, and then he would have gotten baptized back in Ethiopia. But no, no, no. What the scripture calls us to do is get baptized for the forgiveness of our sins. We read it last week, and we'll read it again today.

In Acts 2:38, Peter, when he's talking to those who are unsaved, he says,

"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins."

The reason that the Ethiopian eunuch got baptized at that moment, at once, the reason he was shooting his shot, was because if he died and he wasn't baptized on his road back, he would not have been forgiven of his sins. He would have lost his soul. He would have done all this work of seeking a relationship with God and never gone to heaven.

As you think about your own conversion story, Kevin did a great job talking last week about have you thought about are you saved? Part of the salvation plan that we see all throughout scripture is you must have faith that Jesus is the Messiah, that Jesus is the Son of God. You must repent and turn your life around, but you also must get baptized in water for the forgiveness of your sins. If you've not done that, biblically, you are not saved. If you haven't done that, you are not in right, standing with God.

The Ethiopian eunuch didn't just get baptized in Ethiopia to make an outward proclamation of an inward grace. He said, what's stopping me from doing it right now in the middle of the desert, as I see an oasis here? Let me get baptized because I don't want to give one more second. I don't want to give one more chance to Satan to take me out. I don't ever want to think I could have done it, and yet I didn't have a relationship with him. And then I die on my road trip back. As you're standing here, there's many in this room that are not saved, maybe deceived and thinking that you are, or maybe you know it. God is calling you to shoot your shot. He's calling you to humble yourself. Stop relying on what false doctrine has taught you and look at what God's word actually says. Try to find that phrase outward sign of an inward grace. It's nowhere to be found. We see the Ethiopian eunuch's response was, I'm ready to get baptized. I'm ready to do this right now.

  • The question is, are you?

  • Are you ready to get baptized?

  • Are you ready to get converted?

  • Are you ready to sign your life over to Jesus?

We saw an example here, and we are going to see many more examples of the coming weeks of people that are willing to do this. But we must respond. As he's seeking for you, we must respond with I'm all in for him.

Let's say a word of prayer as we close out. Dear God, we are grateful for this time to be together. God, we pray for the hearts in this room right now that have never become disciples. God, we recognize that faith is essential and repentance is essential, but baptism is also essential. God, allow us to be humble. Allow us to be like little children. Have a tenderness of heart that's receptive to what you're speaking to us today. God, thank you that you don't exclude us. And in fact, the things that you that we thought excluded us in the past now include us into your family, that you want us to be brothers and sisters with you. You want us to be part of your household. God, thank you for the blessing of your son coming down from heaven, coming to the earth to live a sinless life and be crucified for our sins. God without him, none of this would be possible. We pray for many, many baptisms over the coming weeks. We love you. In Jesus name, amen.

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