In this message, Sarah talked about what encouragement is and is not and how we can and should encourage ourselves and one another.

City Lights Church is a contemporary Christian church located in the northwestern part of Richmond, VA. City Lights Church is a part of the Vineyard USA network and an ARC family member.

TRANSCRIPT

Hey there, and welcome to the City Lights Podcast. City Lights is a church located in the northwestern part of Richmond, Virginia. For more information about City Lights, you can visit us at wearecitylights.com. Now enjoy today’s message.

Hey everyone, my name is Sarah. I’m so happy to be here at City Lights, virtually, to be sharing with you guys today. I just want to turn in the Bible. I’m gonna start off with some Bible today to Proverbs 18, verse 21. The verse says, “The tongue has the power of life and of death.”

How many of you guys need encouragement today? I know that I do. Every single person that we see is facing a battle that we know absolutely nothing about. I want to open up by saying that you are valuable based on the value God has placed on you. So you cannot quantify, qualify, be more or less valuable to Jesus more than you are just right now. Be around people, and be people, that encourage others and are encouraged.

So I have a story I want to share with you guys. This week has been a pretty crazy week, I think probably for all of us. The two in this room I’m sure have had a crazy week. And I know, coworkers and friends, social dynamics that we’ve been going through and just where we’re at, where we’re at individually and as a world has been really interesting. So this week for me, personally, has been one of those weeks as well. And recently this week I started a new job. And it’s been really, really stressful for me and it’s been a time where I’ve been struggling and just been a little bit more negative than usual, which is odd for me because I know a lot of people joke with me and say, “do you do you ever have any bad days?” I’m like, “If only you knew, if only you knew.” So to combat this feeling, I was like I need to get out of the house; I’ve been staying with my mom – love you, Mom, shout out to my mom – and just needed to get out of the house, I need to go do something. So I was like you know what? I’m gonna go mini golfing, right? So in case you guys didn’t know, mini-golf is essential actually. It’s open and available for you during this time. So it’s like I need to go mini golfing, right? So I text one of my friends. They’re like “yes, I will go mini golfing with you.” Batting cage, mini-golf: perfect remedy to a crazy week right? Kind of.

So we’re mini-golfing and if you’re any good at golf or mini-golf or anything like that, you would know that a hole-in-five is not good. Like a hole-in-five is just not, it’s not the move. A hole-in-one is what we’re going for but the person who was mini-golfing with me – one of my good friends – is like hyping me up the whole time. I’m like putting the ball around the green and it takes me like five or six times to get it to go into the little, like you know, the one with the flag – in the hole. It’s taking me five or six times. And they’re just like, “yes, what a good stroke, you’re killing it.” And I’m like, “this person is a hype person.” You guys have hype persons in your life?

And it reminded me of the word “encouraging.” What it means to be encouraging. When things are not going so well, when you’re on hole 18 and you’ve taken 16 strokes, and someone’s still cheering you on, that’s how you know that you’re being encouraged, right?

So I just want to bring us back to that verse, we’re going to kind of unpack this today, that the tongue has the power of life and of death. That’s how powerful our words are to ourselves, to others, and what we believe God is saying to us, so I just want to open us up in some prayer and ask God to meet us here on this virtual message.

So Lord, we thank you. God, we thank you that you’re encouraging. God we thank you that no matter where we are, what we’re going through, even right now, like what’s on our mind, what’s in our hearts, God that you are an encourager. God, you’re the ultimate encourager, you encourage us to move forward, you encourage us to go on. You also are encouraging when we just need to sit in silence, and wait for you to talk to us. God, I pray that, while I’m talking for the next few minutes, Lord, that You would be the one speaking ultimately. Jesus, I pray that you would provide just a word of encouragement and a word of hope, where people will people need it. And God I pray even for myself that you would open up my heart, to feel you, to hear you, and you would open up the hearts of anyone listening. God, whether it’s today, Sunday, or it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, whenever. Whenever they’re listening to this Lord, I pray that you would meet them where they are, and you would open up our hearts, God. Prepare us for what you want to speak to us, today. In Jesus name, amen.

If you think something good, you know the best thing to do is to say it? How many times do we think something good and maybe it’s about a person or a coworker or a friend, and we keep it to ourselves, right? We don’t send the quick text, we don’t make the quick phone call. We just keep it to ourselves. When we think something good, we need to say it. So for me, personally, I know how to talk about two things relatively well, one more than the other. I know how to talk about myself and my story. So that’s the thing I know how to do really well. And then the second thing I know how to talk about pretty well is how Jesus has impacted my life. I’m not an expert on a ton of other things, but those two things I know for sure. So what I’m going to share with you guys is just those those two things and what I’ve gotten out of what I’ve been reading this week.

So we’re going to throw it back to 1 Samuel, and we’re going to meet King David in the Bible. 1 Samuel chapter 30. Let me set the stage for you a little bit. David has been in battle, so I’m calling him King David – I’m being informed that kings used to actually fight back then. Right, which makes sense because David was a warrior. So David’s coming back from battle with his men, they’re coming back to their hometown. Okay, so that’s the stage I want to set for you guys. They get back. We’re gonna pick up in verse 6. It says “David was now in great danger, because all men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” So let me just back up a second. So he gets back, him and his men get back to their city, to their town, and everything is gone. Everything’s gone, including their families. They’re in battle. They’re fighting. They get back and everything is gone. We pick him up in verse six, obviously, he’s feeling like he’s in danger, right? David was now in great danger, because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters. I would think so. And they began to talk of stoning him. So they want to kill him: “you led us into battle. Now we’re back and everything is gone.”

Everything is gone. This isn’t a small thing. They’re back in their hometowns, and their families are gone and their city is destroyed. And it says, “But David found strength in the Lord his God.” A different translation says it this way, “David was greatly distressed for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of the people was grieved, and every man and his sons and for his daughters, but David encouraged himself in the Lord.” “But David encouraged himself in the Lord.” That’s 1 Samuel, chapter 30 verse 6, David encouraged himself in the Lord.

I want to talk to you guys a little bit about what that means what that looks like. So the title of this message today is called Be Encouraged. Be Encouraged. So, when I think about the word encouraged, I typically think of happy, right? I think of something that’s light, something that’s happy. But when I was doing some research this week about what it means to be encouraged, what is encouraged, I found the dictionary definition for encouraged is to inspire with courage, spirit or hope. Another definition calls it more like to hearten or to urge. So what encouragement is, is to inspire with courage and with hope and with urgency. I never thought about like that. Now what encouragement is not. Encouragement is not blind to circumstances, encouragement is not happy, smiley, although it can be, I guess it can manifest that way. But encouragement is not weak. Encouragement understands the situation. Encouragement calls us to have hope with urgency. So how do we encourage? And how do we use our voice during a time like this one? And that’s a question we can all ask ourselves like, how do I how do I, how do I, Sarah, use my voice in this time? You know, what is it like for me? And that’s different for you. The answers are probably totally different. But what does it like for me to use my voice to encourage during this time?

People are fighting battles, again, that we know nothing about.

Have you been discouraged? Like I said, it looks different for everyone. But I can say that with 100% certainty, that in some way, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we are discouraged. So let’s go back to David, right? He’s in the middle of a raided city. That means there’s stuff everywhere on the grounds; their houses are destroyed. He’s lost the battle. He’s lost most of the citizens in the city and the men who care so much about their families, I think it would be safe to say that David was discouraged. To say the least, he was discouraged. But David has to come to a place where he positions himself to be encouraged by God. People feel like this all the time. People feel like this all the time. They feel like they’re trying to come home and they’re trying to come to a place of peace, and it’s raided and it’s discouraging. And there is nothing that seems like it can encourage, okay, there’s nothing that’s going to provide an urgency of hope. There’s nothing that’s going to provide a sense of peace, which is, again, all these things is what encouragement means. And people are going through this every day, just like David, and what does David do? Go back to that scripture in verse 6. It says, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord.” “But David encouraged himself in the Lord.”

What I’ve found about the type of things that people are facing, it’s a lot like an iceberg. And I think this principle gets shared a lot. But by the time we see what people are going through, the amount that’s built up underneath is massive. People have been dealing with hurt and with pain for a long time. And by the time that it manifests, it’s already such a massive iceberg. We’re just seeing the tip. And I say that, just to say that on the surface, what we see of people is not all there is to the story. And I want to ask you guys today, what can God do with a single instance of encouragement from others? What can God do with a single instance of encouragement from others, whether it be you on a mini-golf course hyping up your friend for their hole-in-six because they had a really tough week or maybe having a one on one conversation with someone who’s deeply hurting. I think it looks different for everyone. But how do we use our voice in this time to provide that encouragement? Hebrews chapter 3, verse 13 says this, “but encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” So when are we supposed to encourage each other? It says, “but encourage one another daily.” And it says twice, “as long as it is called ‘today,’ encourage one another.”

People around you need you to use your voice.

Jesus goes to the hurting, and he goes to the lost and he provides a sense of courage, an embodiment of hope, and he does it urgently, which is what encouragement means. We can follow Jesus in this way. Again, what encouragement is not: encouragement is not weak. It’s not brushing things under the rug. It’s not making light of a very serious situation. Encouragement knows the severity of the situation and knows the depth of your iceberg. And it still provides an urgent hope to you. So with our words, and with our voice, we can provide that sense of encouragement. Who are you an encourager to? Your friends? Maybe your family or your kids?

I’m a manager. So I have 12 employees that report to me, and a couple of them when I tell them, you know, I need them to have a positive attitude; I know we’re about to make a change, but I need you to be positive about this, sometimes they’ll just tell me, I have a couple of them that will say, “well, it’s just not in my personality, Sarah, it’s not my personality to be encouraging. It’s not my personality to be positive.” And I would go as far to say, “Yes, it is.” I believe that it is. I believe that as Christians and as believers in God Himself, we have a responsibility to use our voice to encourage people, whether you believe it’s in your skill set or not, whether you believe it’s in your personality or not. I have an interesting interaction with people who like classify themselves as the realists. You know, like you’re trying to dream, and you’re excited about something. And someone will say, maybe, you know, someone who works for you or a friend that you have that’s like this, they’ll say something like, “well, I hate to be the one bringing everyone back to reality here.” But like, no one needs that. And I think there’s a time and a place to plan and to grind it out and to face reality, whatever that means. But it does not negate encouragement and our duty to be encouraging to one another. So if you’re a realist, I would consider to be introspective about that.

What can we do to encourage people? what can we do to overcome maybe our own natural personalities, maybe our own natural negativity, to encourage one another? Because I again, and I’ll say it again and again, people in your life are fighting battles that we know nothing about. By the time we see it, it’s already been fought for so long. And it’s our responsibility to be encouraging whether you identify that as something easy, or if it’s something hard, it’s still our responsibility.

So, we kind of talked about, what can God do through others being encouraging, right? We can lift spirits, we can provide wisdom. We can listen, we can learn, we can make people feel like they’re not alone. Again, what is encouragement? A sense of urgent hope and a sense of urgent courage to somebody? That’s what we can do for each other. What can God do if we are listening to God’s encouragement? What can he do?

So going back to the Scripture in 1 Samuel, chapter 30 verse 6, David, on the scene, there’s this battle scene. And he’s terrified. Not only is he sad, depressed about what just happened, but he’s horrified that he’s about to die. And I think sometimes in the Bible we read through things like they’re not that big of a deal. It’s like, oh, like, David was scared because he thought the men were gonna kill him like, yes. Like he’s terrified, like, David is in this place where he thinks he’s literally about to die. And I think we can just dial back and feel that and not just read over that, like, oh, and he was about to get stoned. Not a big deal. It’s a huge deal. So David’s going through this mental, physical battle. And what does he do? It says that he encourages himself in the Lord. He has to find an urgent hope, right now, in God or he’s going to die. Have you ever felt like that? I know that I have felt like that.

I think people can misinterpret the sense of – I know we’re in a sermon series called stay positive – sometimes we misinterpret positivity. And I’ve said this a couple times already, but we misinterpret encouragement for something that’s light and weak. And in the face of something really dark or something really hard that maybe you’re going through, it doesn’t have a place. But I would go as far to say that that’s not true. That’s not true. I think we can be encouraged with hope, and with positivity, that goes deeper than the surface and it goes into our soul. And it causes peace in our souls.

I see, I don’t know, little axioms. Sometimes I wear t-shirts, you guys wear like cool t-shirts that say like phrases on them like, “this is awesome” or my favorite – this is what I’m trying to say – there are shirts every where that say “no bad days,” right? You guys see that? If you’re wearing one, I’m sorry. What I’m about to say might offend you. So we have all these like axioms, these feel-good-isms. I’ll call them that. These feel-good-isms that make us feel bad, right? So there’s these shirts and little banners that say “no bad days.” And I always read them, and especially in light of preparing for this, I’m like, “no bad days?” I’ve had a lot of bad days lately. And I think the world can probably relate to that. Like, there are bad days, there are bad days where it’s not smiley, it’s not light, and it does not feel encouraging. And it does not always have to be a good day. Because sometimes the confidence that we’re projecting outward is really a ton of insecurity inside. Sometimes the success that looks really attractive on the outside is really just our fear of failure on the inside. And as a human race, we love to qualify and I’m guilty of it. I love to qualify, how can I win? How can I get to the next step? How can I make this look better, but we are facing so much failure inwardly. Even though on the outside, it may look different, even though on the outside encouragement may feel smiley and happy and light, encouragement goes deep. And it provides an urgent sense of hope to your soul. And I don’t want you to miss that today, because we’re in a sermon series called Stay Positive, or we’re talking about encouragement. I think we can all be honest and say, there’s a lot of things going on within me that need to be encouraged.

Please don’t be afraid. Please don’t be afraid of the outcome. That you don’t go there. Don’t be afraid of what you might uncover within yourself that you just don’t even go there. How often do we do that? Whether it’s internal, we don’t want to think about things or we don’t want to reflect on things. We can’t stand to be alone because that means we’ve got to really think and contemplate about what’s going on in our life. How often do we stay silent about things that are happening in the world because we’re just afraid of the outcome. We’re so afraid we don’t even ask questions. We don’t try to learn. We don’t try to uncover. We just clam up. And we don’t want to ask because we’re afraid. And I think, more than ever, we need to pause. We can’t keep moving at 500,000 miles an hour. And I think everything has slowed down to where that’s becoming evident, right. I think you can’t really even go anywhere without a mask on so so the halt is here, but I believe that we need to respond to that. What would it be like, if we just slow down in our soul?

So I’m gonna go back to talking about David. So David, the same guy, who we just saw on scene, losing a fight, losing a city, terrified, right? He was still able to be used by God in his life. Because he wanted God’s encouragement. He wanted God to tell him who he was. He wanted God to secure him. 1 Samuel, but David encouraged himself in the Lord.” Fast forward a little bit. David has a lot of life. I mean, he’s a massive character in Old Testament, but he also wrote the majority of the Psalms, right? Throughout the Psalms, and I’m going to read you a couple of them, the Psalms are prayers of David essentially. So Psalm 42, verse 5 says, “[David,] why my soul are you downcast? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior in my God.” Psalm 42 verse 6, this is the following verse, “My soul is downcast within me, my soul is downcast within me. Therefore, I will remember you, from the land of Jordan to the heights of Hermon, [I will remember you].” 42 verse 11, same chapter, “why my soul are you downcast? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for yet I will praise Him, my savior and my God.” Chapter 43 verse 5, “why,” this is David talking to his own soul. This is, again, “why my soul Are you downcast? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will praise him my Savior, my god.”

Why is it so painful sometimes to ask ourselves introspectively soul, Sarah, why are you in pain? Why are you hurting? Why does this hurt so much for me? David, this is again, and again, this is just a fraction of some of his prayers, he’s saying soul, soul of David, soul of myself, why are you so in pain? Why are you so downcast? And I think that we are so afraid to ask that. We are so afraid to ask. So why are you so uncomfortable? Why are you so in pain? Why do I when I go to bed at night, you’re the only one there when you go to sleep at night, you’re the one who has to sit in your soul and go to sleep with the things that are in your mind and in your heart and in your life. And we’re afraid to ask ourselves, “so why does this hurt so bad? Why am I so unfulfilled? Why? Why does this not feel like I’m really accomplishing even though outwardly it looks okay? Why does it feel so disturbed within me? Like why am I in so much pain?” And we want to run from that question. So we don’t ask, we just don’t even ask. We never uncover the things that are really going on under the surface because we’re afraid even at the soul within us, we kind of do this thing. It’s like, well, if God can’t see me, then I don’t have to deal with this right?

I have a niece. She’s the best. Her name is Kingsley. You may have heard about her before. She has, she’s 2, so she develops new things all the time. But she’s on the peekaboo thing. So she’s like, you know, she’ll like hide behind a chair or something. She’s like “peekaboo,” you know, and genuinely she thinks you can’t see her. You just straight up can’t see her, right? So she does like, “oh, Peekaboo.” “Aunt Sarah! Peekaboo.” And I’m like, “oh, where’d you go?” It’s like, I see you. I’m bigger than you. You’re little, right? But we do this. Like we do the same type of thing with God. We’re like there’s so much I don’t want to deal with, there’s so much I don’t really want to discuss with God or talk to God about, or I’m afraid of what might happen if I do that. I don’t even know if I believe in God, but I’m not gonna ask him because I’m afraid of the outcome. I’m not gonna ask my soul that because I’m just, I’m terrified. So we do this thing where we’re like, well, maybe if God can’t see me, if maybe God can’t see me, then I won’t have to deal with it. And I believe God is saying in the sweetest and most comforting way that he sees you, the same way that I see little Kingsley going “Peekaboo.” He sees you and he sees the pain in your soul. You don’t have to hide it. You look silly to him hiding behind the the computer or the chair or the pole that you’re trying to hide behind. God sees you and he cares delicately for your soul. And I would go as far to say he’s pleading with you not to be afraid. Not to be afraid of the outcome of what might happen if you ask him to deal with some of the stuff that’s happening below the surface, that’s happening in your soul.

God sees you. God is not scared of you. God is not scared of your mistakes. God is not disgusted with you. God isn’t shocked or shook or rejecting you.

You do not have to qualify for your soul to be taken care of. You don’t have to qualify for your soul to be taken care of. You don’t have to qualify to be encouraged. You don’t have to be succeeding in your job and making six figures to qualify. You don’t have to be loving to your spouse for God to speak to you. You don’t have to be patient with your kids for God to speak to you. You don’t have to be a certain race or a certain status. You do not have to qualify for Jesus’s encouragement.

We so often want to qualify, our world operates this way. Qualify. Qualify. Qualify. Be good enough. Be good at at least something, be good at one thing, and only talk about the things that you’re worthy of. It’s hard for us to understand that we don’t have to qualify for God to deal with the stuff that’s going on in our soul. And I think even as I’m saying this, there are people who think, well, she’s not talking to me. She’s not talking about me. I am talking about you. I am talking about you. You have pain that you don’t want to talk about that we’re doing this with, like God can’t see it, or we don’t have to deal with it if God can’t see it. So you don’t talk about the pain. You don’t talk about the childhood abuse that you went through. You don’t talk about the unfaithfulness of your relationships. You don’t talk about your prejudice thoughts. You don’t talk about the emptiness in your heart when you go to bed at night – if you can sleep. We don’t talk about it. Because it disqualifies you. Anywhere else, you’re right. It would disqualify you, all the things I just listed would disqualify you from almost all good things. That’s why we don’t like to talk about it. And I get that. I do get that. I’ve been there, I get it. So we ignore them, and we never talk about them. And we look the other way. And if I’m only speaking to myself, that’s fine. Because I think God’s speaking to me right now, and he’s encouraging my soul. Let me just say, by the world standards, you are completely disqualified. And it feels really uncomfortable, and so sad and depressing to feel that way. But according to the truth of God, you don’t have to qualify. Thank God. Literally, thank God that you do not have to qualify for peace in your soul. And for encouragement, again, encouragement is an urgency and a hopefulness. You don’t have to qualify for it. Everything else in life, you have to qualify for it.

Going back to David, my man, David and I took a very small part of his story to share with you guys today. Coming back from battle, this guy’s a massive story. And I shared some of his prayers with you. “Why are you downcast? Oh, my soul” is what he says multiple times. But David, gosh, I relate to David so much. I think we all can if w’ere being honest. I would encourage you to go back and read his story. He has massive error in his life. Like huge. Some of the stuff I think we just kind of forget and pretend like, “Oh, it’s not that big of a deal.” David had massive error in his life. He murdered people. He was unfaithful.

But David always came back to asking God to encourage his own soul. That’s what set him apart. That’s what made him different. Other than that, he was completely disqualified. But remember the scripture I shared with you guys earlier, “but then David encouraged himself in the Lord.” He took inventory of reality, he took in the city that he was in, which was an unpleasant one, to say the least. He knew the pain of the situation. And then he asked God to encourage his soul. He asked God to encourage his soul.

So what can one word from you do for someone else? I talked about that earlier. It can lift heavy weight off of somebody. And I love that. And I think we should do that. And I think we have a responsibility and a duty to our world to do that. But what can God do if we, for a second, for a minute, regularly, got rid of our qualifications, and got rid of what we think we’re capable of and what we’re worthy of, and allowed God to encourage our soul? What would happen?

I’ve been reading a book by a faithful man of God an apologetic, defender of the faith, honestly, who passed away last month. His name’s Ravi Zacharias. And he spent a big part of his ministry defending the Word of God, defending the Bible, defending Jesus against major atheist claims. And the book is great, it’s called The End of Reason, I would encourage you to read it if you would like to see some more insights into how to intellectually defend your faith against some pretty hefty arguments. It’s powerful. And we can do that. I believe that there are arguments out there, and that caused a lot of people to put up some of those barriers that polarize us, and we can do that, we can go back and forth. And we can talk about that kind of stuff. And if you really have questions, we can answer them, we can find them out together. But if we’re being honest though, no matter what you think you believe, which may be foundational to you, and I want to acknowledge that, that people come from different backgrounds and different walks, that have different foundational beliefs, there are a couple things that I just know. That there’s a beating heart in your chest, that there’s a soul in your body, longing to be fulfilled by God.

No matter which way you cut it, you’re a human being. You’re carved out of eternity for this timeframe. You can feel that because it’s so uncomfortable. You have your feelings and you have your experiences and you have your thoughts and your desires and your longings and you need your soul to be reconciled to God. That’s what I know to be true, regardless of some foundational things that may pop up and get in the way even right now where you’re like, “Well, God, this isn’t for me, because of XYZ” and I just want to take a moment to recognize the fragileness of humanity.

I didn’t grow up in church, and I didn’t grow up knowing who Jesus was. And my dad was an awesome man. And he taught me a lot of really good things about life and how to be kind, and how to love people. But he did not believe in Jesus. When I gave my life to Jesus and decided that he was indeed the Savior of the world, which is a huge claim to make and it shouldn’t be taken lightly, my dad was a professed atheist. He didn’t believe in God, at best, he believed if there was a god, he wasn’t good. Right? And I was a teenager. So I had struggled communicating with him and talking with him. And when I first made that decision, to say, you know, I do want to accept Jesus to be in my life. I remember being in youth group with Pastor Jacob. You guys know Pastor Jacob. And he asked me if I wanted Jesus to lead my life. And I understand that for a lot of you, that sounds crazy, because it sounded crazy to me. I remember sitting, we were at a table and I think I was eating some like sour straws, like some sour punch straws. And I was eating my sour punch straws and he’s asking me, oo I want Jesus to be the leader of my life? And I laughed, I remember eating my sour punch straws, and I laughed. I’m like 13.

And then he’s sitting there waiting for my response. And I’m like, oh, you’re serious. You want to know if I want to trust Jesus with my life. And so I put my sour punch straws down, and I engaged in the conversation. And I think a lot of times there’s this mystery and like, you pray a prayer, and then Jesus is just in your heart and you’re just supposed to be a Christian. And that’s just not how it is. And I understand that. And I just want to call attention to the fact that it’s a journey and it’s a it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I understand whether my story is different or like yours. I understand that accepting Jesus into your heart is a bigger decision than sometimes it feels when we’re just praying prayers.

And I would ask you today to be bold enough, like David, to say even right now, I’m about to close in prayer, but to say, why are you downcast within me, my soul? I would encourage you today, to take a moment to ask your soul: Why are you hurting? Why are you in pain? And I’d ask you to invite Jesus into that moment. I don’t know it all. But my need for grace is clear. In the gap between me and peace, the peace of God, some of us don’t even identify it as that yet is Jesus.

God created you. God has a plan and he knows what he’s doing even right now, if you’re listening on a Facebook platform, he has a plan and he knows what he’s doing. Would you turn and just look and stop hiding behind your hands and stop hiding behind your chair like God can’t see you. And I’d invite you just to come out, even just privately, metaphorically, just come out from behind where you’re hiding. The distance you feel between your soul and the peace of God is what every person feels. You’re not alone. Our mess ups, they separate us from God; they separate us and makes it hard to bridge that gap to feel that peace.

So to provide that solution – to use a Christianese word (I can say that because I wasn’t always christianese) – we need atonement. What is atonement? It’s not unfamiliar to us that word. And I picked that word on purpose, because I think it perfectly describes what we need. We know what it’s like when we make a mistake, or when we need something there’s a price we have to pay for. Its life. That’s not like a spiritual statement. When we make a mistake, if you get in an argument with your wife, if you get in an argument your friend, you steal something from the store, there’s a price has to be paid in order to reconcile that. This is the same thing. It’s the same thing when we feel a deep emptiness in our soul, something has to be done to pay the price to bridge that gap. And that’s what Jesus’s life did for us. God sent Jesus who was completely without sin. That’s why he was able to pay the price. Because he was perfect. He was the only one that could pay the price that we owed, because we weren’t perfect. So he lived a perfect life and he died a death that we deserved. Again, not to be christianese right? I think sometimes we get numb to hearing this all the time. But it’s so powerful, the same way that we would create a debt and have to pay it. God paid our debt for us. In our own strength, and this is what separates this message series and what separates being a Christian from just being good, and from just being positive and just being nice is that in our own strength, we cannot answer the question, “Soul, why are you so downcast within me?” That’s the difference. And I think sometimes they might seem similar, kindness, niceness, Christians, it’s all the same. It’s not all the same. The biggest and only difference is that we cannot do it in our own strength. We cannot provide peace to our souls. We cannot provide peace to our souls without Jesus. We are not God. You are not God. Which I think for some of us is a relief. You’re not all controlling and all knowing. We serve a God that does that for us. So if that resonates with you, or if you feel like God wants to go there, even if you’re afraid, even if you’re afraid, David was afraid. David was so afraid. He was afraid he’s gonna die. But he encouraged himself in the Lord. And then with the rest of his life, he went on praying prayers, like, soul, David, self, why are you so in pain, he was not afraid. He was bold enough to overcome that fear. I should say that, he probably was afraid. And he allowed God to use him and to speak to him. So if that resonates with you, with where you’re at, I want you to to pray with me. So that may just be closing your eyes in the living room of people that you’re in. Or if you’re driving, please don’t close your eyes. But just in your heart, I would encourage you to just pray this prayer with me.

God, I am weak. And I’m in pain. I recognize that my soul is far from you and that without you, I’m not fulfilled. And I’m not complete. I don’t know it all, although I try to and I want to. But I accept that. And today I put my faith in your son Jesus, who has bridged the gap and cleared my debt. Today I accept the encouragement that you offer to my life. A surge of urgent hope in my darkness. Today I accept Jesus as the foundation of my life, and I give control to him. In Jesus name. Amen.

Thanks for checking out the City Lights Podcast. If you’d like to partner with us financially, you can go to wearecitylights.com/give or you can text any dollar amount to 84321. Thanks for joining us today.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai