All right, we're going to jump right into the lesson. Before I jump in, let's pray.

Father, thank you for this day, thank you for all the fun things that we have coming up. Lord, I pray that you can be with us, be with our hearts as we worship you, as we read your word today. Lord, that you can be with us, that you can help us just to be humble to your word. That you can help the spirit, like Cadal talked about, that it can just be in this place right now. Lord, I pray that you speak through me right now as well. We love you. In your son's name, I pray, amen.

You know, with all these fun events coming up, I actually built a lesson a little bit around that, just to set our hearts up for some of this stuff.

And so, like, you guys been around little kids that ask questions? I live with two little kids, got a six and a seven-year-old, and my youngest son, his name is Judah, he asks a lot of questions, and he's really obsessed with numbers. So a lot of his questions have to do with numbers. But, he'll want to have a conversation with me, but the way he starts his conversations – and we're working on training this – but he'll start with, "Daddy, how old are you?" He knows how old I am. I'm 41, son. He knows how old I am, but he asked me this at least three to four times a week. He's got an excellent memory.

And I've learned recently that the goal of him asking that question is not because he forgot how old I was. He's trying to start a conversation with me. He's trying to connect with me. And so, there's been some good training: "Son, you can't start a conversation with everybody by asking how old they are. Eventually, that becomes rude. You just can't do that to everybody. Right now it's cute, you know, walking around asking everybody how old you are, and so if he does that to you, that's why."

But, uh, he's actually trying to start a conversation with me, and so we've given him some conversation starters. It's still taking a while; he's having to break a habit.

Um, yes, sorry, children dismiss. Middle school, middle school, you guys can... y'all are being dismissed. Thank you, Jessie.

But Judah will ask these questions of me, and I wanted to ask some questions this morning of you guys, okay? The first question – and these are some questions to start to ask – "What do I need to do?" Anybody ever asked that question? Like, "What is... what do I need to do? What's required of me? What do I need to do to make you happy?"

Have you ever asked that question? You might not have asked it directly, but inside, you might have asked that type of question. "What do I need to make you happy? What do I need to do to get a good grade? What do I need to do to get a promotion? What do I need to do to be a good student? What do I need to do to make God happy? Or to be a good parent? Or to be a good spouse?"

Like, have you ever asked that type of question, whether publicly or inside, you know?

In the Bible, in Luke 18, a guy showed up to Jesus, and he asked this question—is it up there? He says, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Now that's a good question. I'm glad he asked that type of question, you know. But we all know the two main Commandments, right? Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And then Jesus added to that when he was asked what's the most important Commandments. He was asked that question; he said, "Love your neighbor as yourself."

And you know, for us, a question that we might ask in the Christian world would be, "What does love require of me?" That might be a good question that I would ask. Now, now before you start to think, "Well, this seems a little simple," that when God answered this question, when he answered, "What does love require of me?" His answer to that question cost him his son.

When Jesus answered this question, "What does love require of me?" it cost him his life. As a matter of fact, later on in Luke chapter 18, after this interaction, Jesus pulls his disciples aside and he says, he tells them, "We're going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again." Jesus tells them what love is going to require of him—it's going to require his life, you see.

That idea of "What do I need to do?" In order to... It's actually problematic. Initially, it's a good question. Initially, the question of asking, "What do I need to believe to make things right between me and God?" That's a good question because it can start me on the right path. I think we all start out that way, like, "God, what do I got to do here?" Like, feeling lost, "How do I find you? What do I need to do? What are the steps to take?" And we appreciate the steps, don't we?

But eventually, it becomes all about rules and rituals. That's where it goes. Eventually, it becomes a performance. Eventually, the answer to that question becomes all about doing instead of being.

I appreciated, you know, Gary Sciascia's getting some airtime today because he came up in KaDarrell—but I, you know, I was hanging out with Gary, and he was telling me, telling me that we are human beings, not human doings. And I've heard that repeated from other people and given credit to Gary as well.

But this question of "What must I do?" can lead to loophole thinking. Like, what's the bare minimum that I need to do to get what I want? Now your job answers this question; they pay you just enough to keep you there, right? The business world has figured that one out. But that doesn't work in relationships. Like, my marriage would be terrible if that's—if I just answered it like, "Okay, what's the bare minimum to keep you living in the same house as me?"

Like, that's just not going to work for a long-term, thriving marriage, and it doesn't work with God. What's the bare minimum, God, that I got to do to be on your good side? You see, the problem with that question—it's a good question initially because it can get us started, but eventually, that question is not a good question.

Maybe a better question that we can ask is, "Who do I need to become?" We spent the last few weeks talking about the Holy Spirit and diving into the Holy Spirit, and we kind of answered this question a few times because a great place to start is with the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness, forgiveness, faithfulness, self-control. Like, who do I become? I become more loving, I become more joyful, I become more peaceful, I become more self-controlled. Instead of "What do I need to do?" it's like, "Who do I need to become?"

You know, in Philippians chapter 2, you can open your Bibles there, Paul, the writer—we're going to dive in—if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.

You know, we read this scripture, and we get quickly to verses three and four, but let's camp out a little bit on verse one. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, think about that. Think about comfort from his love, think about common sharing in his Spirit. None of these things are because of me; they're all offered—they're given freely. We can't achieve unity with Christ; we can't earn his love. They cannot be maintained by a bunch of actions that we do because we fail all the time. He just gives it to us freely.

So before you even can ask the question of who do I become, who can I become, you realize you need to stop and realize just who you are and whose you are in the first place. That's what that first verse is—where Paul is, he's trying to help them get there with this first verse, just realize who you are. It speaks to the heart and the motivation behind what we do.

See, I love—I try to grow in my kindness, I try to be patient, not because everyone around me deserves it, but because of Christ's love, because his love is what compels me, it's what moves me. You understand, like, the motivation, the 'why' behind it? We have to be able to answer that, and we have to be able to go back to that because otherwise, it's all about doing instead of about being.

You know, being united with Him, the Spirit being present—he did all the work for that. It's why we slow down and worship Him, it's why we slow down and reflect on what God has done in our lives. We do this because of Him. And we don't do this because we think we can earn more of Him; He's already given us everything.

But then he gets to verse 2 and 3. He says, "Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, and being in one spirit." He tells us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility, value others above yourselves. And we're going to camp out here on this concept of humility. Humility is super, super powerful. Zig Ziglar, he said humility will open more doors than arrogance ever will, and that is so true.

What humility does—and I did a little word study. I know some of you here like the Greek word study. I'm not going to attempt to tell you the Greek word; you can go look this one up. Because I was reading, I was like, "I can't pronounce this word; it's a really long word." But then when you dive into it, it's actually made up of two different words. The first part of the word is pushing down, or not rising up, but pushing down. That's the first part of the Greek word for humility.

The next part of the word is accurate. It's more accurately translated as your gut, or stomach, or your heart. And so, everybody do this really quick—push down, push down on your stomach. You know, some of you, it goes flat; some of you, it stops. I'm not going to call anybody out, but no, I'm just kidding. This is one of those encouraging lessons.

But it's this—it's this pushing down on our gut. It's not about stuffing your emotions. You got to be careful not to translate it that way. It's not all about emotion stuffing. One third of the Bible is written in Psalms and poetry, and it deals with our emotions. It helps us deal with our emotions accurately.

But pushing down on the gut really refers to not being led by the emotions. How many of us have let our emotions be the leader of the train? And how does that go for us, normally? Doesn't go well when we let the emotions run the show. I heard a preacher say, "You know, emotions are amazing servants; they are terrible masters."

And so, this humility, really, quite literally, the picture there is like a pushing down on the gut. It's like when you have a food craving, and you're trying to lose weight. I asked my son this morning, I said, "Levi, I need help losing a few pounds." He's like, "Well, Daddy, you're not chunky." I said, "Yes, I am chunky, son. I looked at a video of me preaching a couple of weeks ago, and I saw too much happening here." And I said, "So can you help me work out, but also if you see me grab something sweet, I need you to tell me, remind me that I want to lose weight." That's what I asked him to do.

But you have those cravings, and humility is like—it pushes it down. It pushes down those cravings in our emotions. And the whole idea of humility is I don't let this emotion, this thinking, this thought, just rise to the top quickly.

I'm humble. It's why the Bible says things like, "Think before you speak," or, "Listen before you speak," excuse me, like, it's a... because we like to speak first, but humility pushes that desire down. Does that make sense? Now, I wonder—I think about Jesus and how many times Jesus had to press on his own gut, push down when he was dealing with us, us humans here on Earth. How many times did he have to bite his tongue, so to speak, and like, "Okay, I'm not going to say what I naturally might want to say."

You know, I think about myself and, you know, when you're dealing with humility, you've got to make it personal. I think about myself if I was living during that time with Jesus, what would—I, how would I have made him feel? I probably would have made him feel so frustrated at times, because I would be—I pride myself in hard work, I pride myself in accomplishments, and you know, I—I can have this thing, like, you know, and I—I don't think I'm alone in this, but this like, productive arrogance, where I'm not talking about who I am, I'm talking about what I've been doing and how busy I've been. And I don't think I'm alone in that. I think many of us talk about ourselves that way.

And I think Jesus would have just constantly had to press down on his emotion, like, "Come on, man. Like, don't you know, like, I don't care about all that stuff. I just care about who you are." It's not about all the stuff that you can accomplish. You see, but pride wells up, and it makes me want to talk about it. It makes me, when I'm having a conversation with somebody, it makes me, like, can't wait for you to finish what you're saying, so I can relate my story back to you. Am I the only one that does this?

Okay, I didn't know if we're quiet because you're just letting me get some confession time, or you're relating to this. I don't know, but, you know, sometimes we need to—we need to have the humility to press down on that gut and say, "Okay, I don't have to be the first to speak. I don't have to take credit. I don't have to highlight myself." Humility pushes down, and it gives God the honor, it gives others the honor. We're going to talk about that in a minute.

You know, sometimes, here's another area that I've had to press down. I think I have certain things figured out, right? And I know that you think the same thing, too. There's just certain things that you're like, "I've got that one on lock. I've figured this out. I know the answers." So don't—we're not talking about 2 plus 2; we're talking about like, relationships, we're talking about sometimes complicated things where, like, we're like, "No, I got this. I can figure this out."

Do you have the humility that says, "You know what? I could be wrong." That's what humility looks like. It's pressing down this need to be right about everything. That's what humility looks like. Does that make sense? You see me doing this, right? You've got to do this with me sometimes, y'all. Like, press it down—the need to be right.

You know, I want to see some conversations after church when you're having some conversations about challenging things. I need to see people doing this every now and then, all right? I'm pushing it down. I need to—I'm pushing it down. I feel like I need to be right right now—no, I need to listen right now. I don't need to be right. But that's a prideful way of thinking, but humility pushes that down.

You know, this happens to me a lot at home, happens to me in my marriage. I thought I knew how to do dishes and load the dishwasher correctly—yeah, how the plates need to be organized in the most efficient ways and stuff like that. No, I've had to push that down a little bit. I'm like, "Oh wow, there's a better way of doing this."

You know, I think about this all the time with my marriage, like, we have so much fun, we raise two amazing boys, and in my mind, I think I know what I'm doing. Why? Because I'm a boy. And there have been times where I'm telling my wife, and she's had to push her emotions down. She's had to push her thinking right down when I've said stuff like, "Honey, there are going to be times that our kids are going to do something, and you're going to be like, 'Why did you do that?' And they're going to say, 'I don't know.' And that's the answer. That's it. And it doesn't—they have no reason for what they did. 'Why did you just put your muddy feet on the car window?' 'I don't know.' That's it. That's the answer. Like, you need to not desire any more than that. Push that down a little bit and just accept the fact that as boys, this is kind of what we do."

You know, but as a dad to two boys, I can be like, "I know what I'm doing. I know how to raise boys. I used to tell people, 'I'm making men the old-fashioned way—from the ground up.' That's what we're doing here." But if you haven't noticed yet, I am white, and my wife is black. She's not here, but you know, so our boys are biracial. I know about raising—I think I have an idea how to raise boys. I have no idea what it's like to raise biracial boys. I have no idea what it's like to be black. So I can either be prideful and think I have it all figured out, or push it down a little bit and say, "You know what? I need some help with this."

You know, I have—sorry, this makes me emotional—but I have relationships, like Leah's dad, who's also black. Um, and why is he laughing? Is that funny? But no, he—like, I know that I can go to him and ask him for anything, especially like, help me understand some things about raising my boys in this world that we live in. But that's what humility does. I don't always get it right. I don't always understand. And I don't always have to understand.

I have to push that need down too—the need to understand everything in order to agree with everything. Sometimes I just need to accept things that I might not ever understand, but humility pushes that need down. Do we get the point of what humility actually looks like? Are there things for yourself that you can evaluate for yourself? Humility, it listens to others, it values others.

You know, when Paul wrote this to the Philippian church, he wasn't just writing to a couple of individuals. I'm not just talking to you as an individual. I'm talking to you as a church community. This should be something that's evident in our entire community as a church. Now, it takes every person, as we do our part, as we build up the community, but our community as a church should look like this—where we are pushing down the need to highlight certain people, or certain things, or certain traditions, and being willing to ask sometimes hard questions.

I'm super proud of our church because we're willing to dive into some tough topics. Sometimes it's not always comfortable, it's not always easy, but it'd be a lot easier just to kind of move forward and sweep things under the rug. But, you know what, as a church, it's good to say, "You know what, we're going to push down the need to be comfortable sometimes in order to have good, forward-moving conversations." It's not always easy, but I do think it's necessary, and I think it is a humble thing.

You know, this doesn't apply—this concept of humility applies to all of us. We all need it. We all need to grow in our humility. We all need to constantly focus on that, and then when we all grow from it, we all benefit from it.

You know, if you've got your Bibles, the next section—go—you know, we need to, like I said, grow in our humility. And in Luke chapter 14, Jesus really illustrates the concept. In verse seven, He was invited to a dinner, and—and I love what happened here—in verse seven, He noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table.

You ever been to a dinner at somebody's house for dinner, and you're like, "So where does everybody sit?" You guys do that? I do this all the time. Every time I go to somebody's house, I'm like, "Okay, so where do you—like, where do you want me? What's the traditional seating method in your house?" And you know, if you come to our house, like, we don't really have one; it's just kind of like, just grab a seat somewhere, you know?

And, uh, so—but after reading this, I'm like, "Man, maybe I should create some seats of honor in my house or something." I don't know. But He noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, and He told them this parable...

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, don't take the place of honor. For a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this person your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' It's that quote that I just read about Zig Ziglar, you know—arrogance takes the best place, humility takes the lowest place, and then you get moved up. And that's what he says, 'For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.'

You know, Malise Van Meter, she works with our campus ministry. She's actually done so many amazing things. She's in her master's program right now, but she's going to share a little bit about her...


Malise Van Meter: Good morning, church. So, like Aaron said, my name is Mali. I have the privilege of working with the campus ministry, and I also get to share a little bit of my story with you guys today, uh, and talk about what it's meant for me throughout my life to make Jesus Lord.

So sorry, the stage is like creaky. Okay, uh, so when I was 15 years old, I spoke the words 'Jesus is Lord' for the first time and stepped into what I believe to be a committed relationship with God. When I look back on my years as a Christian, I see my spiritual journey as one that really exemplifies God's patience and his investment. Because in these past nine years with God, I've doubted Him, rejected Him, ignored Him, abandoned Him, blamed Him—and I could go on.

Every time I read the story of the cross, more and more clearly, I see my face among those mocking Jesus. As I grow in my awareness of how sinful I really am, and yet, like the father of the prodigal son, I have come to see that God's spirit is inviting, His hand is gentle, and His love is immeasurable.

I didn't always know these qualities of God, though. Like I said, I got baptized when I was 15, and for me, life at that point was basically school, sports, friends, family, and then church events on the weekends. At this point, 'Jesus is Lord' really just meant taking communion, trying to read my Bible regularly, and loving my family even when it was hard. Comprehending the cross as a 15-year-old was difficult, to say the least, and there was so much about myself and the world that I still didn't know or really understand.

I thought of God as this loving father, but I also believed that He had great expectations for me to meet in order to ever receive that love. And so, when I was going through challenges, God was the last thing I turned to because I was terrified of His disappointment, and so I ran from Him. Following my baptism, I experienced my first intense episode of depression.

I felt so lost inside my own mind, numb to the outside world and chasing sin just to feel something. All those pillars I mentioned earlier, that constituted my young life, began to crumble. I struggled to care about school, competing in sports triggered my anxiety, friends disappeared from my life, and my family was going through a difficult time that left me emotionally numb and frustrated.

I was stubborn, prideful, and fear-driven, searching for comfort in all the wrong places. And yet, all the while, God was still there. When I dealt with self-harm for the first time, when I would lay on the floor and cry because I didn't want to be alive anymore, and when I felt like a complete failure, He was there, watching over me, just as Psalm 121:8 says, "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."

Unfortunately, it was a long time before I began to understand this passage in my own life. I continued to hide from God because I was ashamed. A couple of years after my baptism, I had diminished that statement, "Jesus is Lord," to mean occasionally reaching out to Him in prayer or through reading, but I felt like my spiritual flame kept getting snuffed out. I thought disciples were supposed to be triumphant, confident, overcoming trial and hardship, yet I felt anything but that. These are complicated characteristics for any teenager to possess, honestly.

But while I cried tears of anger and continued to rebel against God, He was slowly growing me and maturing my faith. So then, my freshman year of college, my life got to a point where I was ready to lean more into God. As I observed the lives of those around me—my closest friends and my roommates—I was inspired by their depth of insight on life and on discipleship. I was moved by how they had real relationships with God, where they were able to regularly seek Him out, share their dreams with Him, and hand Him their burdens.

I realized I, too, could talk to God about anything and everything, not just when I stood on the mountain tops of life, but when I lived in the valleys as well. If you're ever looking for an example of how to live that out, I would highly recommend reading the book of Psalms.

As I was learning these lessons from people leaning into God, I also began to see some of my closest friends walk away from their relationship with Him. I felt the question raised inside of me: Is the decision I made when I said, "Jesus is Lord," at 15 years old, still true? And if so, what does that mean for me now?

The summer after my freshman year of college, I decided to go on my first adventure with God, meaning I would go and do something completely new for the purpose of growing closer to Him. So I ended up going to a camp for five weeks where I didn't know anyone, to learn about and develop spiritual leadership skills. And while there, the Spirit revealed to me how dependent my faith was upon others.

And if I was going to continue on as a disciple, "Jesus is Lord" had to start meaning that it was time to focus on building my own relationship with God.

The laziness of waiting for a Sunday service or a midweek lesson to tell me how to be a disciple was no longer enough to keep me faithful. God invited me to desire more than just surviving as a disciple; He wanted me to thrive. I returned from camp excited to study Him out for myself, and God really embraced my eagerness to know Him. I found great joy in reading and studying His Word with others and started to realize the gifts that I had for connecting with people.

So, "Jesus is Lord" now meant learning to love and appreciate the talents God gave me and then using them to serve His kingdom. It meant warding off Satan’s attempts to ensnare me in insecurity, overwhelm me with depression, and slow me down with self-doubt by remaining in my Bible and pursuing community.

This lesson only continued as I graduated college and began working with the youth and family ministry full-time. I hadn’t really thought of myself in a ministry career before this, but I knew God had put it on my heart. So to me, "Jesus is Lord" meant answering that call. It was a difficult year for me personally; I struggled to find my confidence in God. But He is faithful, and as it says in 2 Thessalonians 3:3, He established me and guarded me against the evil one.

I was able to find great joy in working with the teens regardless of my own shortcomings. So, one year later, here we are in one of the most challenging, revitalizing, painful, faith-building times of my life. This year, I've experienced unbelievable loss in ways leaving me with so many unanswered questions.

I'm learning how to say goodbye to a family member I may never talk to again, how to mourn the sudden death of a friend, and how to navigate the deep heartbreak that occurs when a relationship ends. These trials have brought me to my knees, speechless before God. I’ve felt angry, afraid, confused, lost, nauseated by life circumstances. Never have I cried to God so much, wondering if He can even see my pain.

So today, "Jesus is Lord" means that, like the psalmist wrote in Psalm 130, my whole being waits for the Lord, and in His word, I put my hope. It means that God is good, regardless of what my life situation may appear to be or what the world's standards may say. It means His intentions are unquestionably pure, even if He doesn’t immediately fulfill my desires for the future—if ever.

By no means have I perfected this process, nor should I ever expect to, but I am honored to stand before you, acknowledging how far God has carried me in my faith. And that, brothers and sisters, is where I see God's patience and His investment in my personal story.

I encourage you all to examine what "Jesus is Lord" means to you today and if it's the same meaning as when you first got baptized. Thank you so much for letting me share.

Great, I think I turned it off. Check, thank you.

Aaron Hawkins: That's just... I appreciate her sharing her story. It really just illustrates this point of humility, like she got to these points where she shares multiple times where she had to push some feelings down to let God rise up. And I love that she talked about having to make a decision: am I going to just survive, or am I really going to thrive? And it requires so much humility.

So thank you so much, Mali, for illustrating that point for us. Jesus says it right, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” I used to think about this, you know, there’s a Bible verse that talks about humbling yourself under God's mighty hand. It’s like, if we exalt ourselves, there’s this hand up here that’s waiting, and be careful how much you decide you want to exalt yourself, because God's like, “No.”

I would rather push myself down than have Him push me down. I’ll just say it that way. And He’s a lot more thorough than I would be with myself, but it’s less painful.

We’re going to keep on reading. Okay, we’ll close out with Luke.

In Luke 14, Jesus said to his host when you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

I love this scripture. This is what I want homecoming to look like next week. Yeah, I want you guys there, but most of you give, you tithe, and thank you for that. You pay back. I want to invite some people to church next week who can't give. I want to call the church to think about that. Let's give out some chicken to some people who need it, does that make sense?

What I'm saying, that's what He's telling this guy. We can live this scripture out next week as a church. Will we? Let's go invite some people who can't pay us back.

He goes on. Then one of those at the table with him heard this. He said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

So, Jesus decides He’s going to tell another story. This is amazing. Jesus replied, “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’”

So the first invite, that was kind of like the RSVP. He said, “Hey, save the date. We’ve got this thing coming up. We like you, we have invited a lot of people.” I think about again our homecoming service, or our chili cook-off, or the men's event. We’re getting the word out there, we’re inviting people, telling people about it.

Then the day comes, and you're like, “Hey, you're waiting for that Sunday announcement after church. Food lines are open, right?” It would be weird to be like, “Alright, I'm leaving,” or to do what others did in this scripture.

But they all alike, again, he says invited many guests, but then they start making excuses. The Bible only gives us three excuses, but remember it's many guests. I'm guessing what Jesus is trying to communicate is these are just the types of excuses that were made.

Has anyone ever made excuses but when it came to following God? “I'm not going to do that one because X, Y, and Z.” First said, “I have just bought a field and I must go and see it.” I don't know about you, that's like one of the lamest excuses in the world. I would never just blindly buy a house and then, when somebody invites me to a dinner party and tells me the food's ready, say “Sorry, I got to go look at the house that I bought, 'cause I haven't seen it yet.” That just sounds weird.

Another said, “I've just bought five yoke of oxen and I'm on my way to try them out.” My Tesla arrived, I got to drive that sucker. Sorry, I can't come to dinner. I don’t know if that's what he’s talking about with oxen here, or he was talking about like farm work and stuff like that. Again, another excuse, you know, like “I bought something and now I got to go try it out,” so this gets the priority.

The other one, still another said, “I just got married, so I can't come.” And on the surface, that sounds like a pretty legit excuse. It seems like, but don't you think when he accepted the invitation in the first place, he knew when his wedding day was going to be? He could have just said no, “I can't come, I've got something else going on.” Sometimes we get into people-pleasing mode and just aren't straightforward with people.

So, they all start making excuses and declining the invite. The servant comes back and reports this to his master. The owner of the house, he says, he became angry. He’d been planning this dinner, and nobody that was invited has decided they're going to show up. They actually started making excuses.

He became angry, so he ordered his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”

“Sir,” the servant said, “what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.”

Jesus again, He's telling the story at the dinner party, after saying to the host, “Don't just invite your friends, invite this group.”

So He’s telling this story and then He goes on. He says, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in so that my house will be full.” You know who lives on the roads and country lanes in this Bible story? That’s the people. It’s not the poor, the crippled, the lame. It’s the people who don't think they deserve it. It’s the outcasts of town, the people that don't feel like they would be welcome anyways.

I remember my first time being invited to church. I was that person. I thought, “Man, if I walk in this place, it’s going to burn. I'm not sure y'all can handle the sin that I have in my life.” Some of you might have felt that before, and you probably know people like that.

And I love what He says, “Compel them to come so that my house will be full.” There are some people who need more than a church invite card. Some people need to be told, “Look, you’ve got to come. Trust me, you will fit in. We’re all screwed up. Trust me, there's nothing bad enough that you've done that’s going to make you unworthy of the chicken. You are all welcome.”

And He says, “My house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”

I want you to look at the heart of God here because God, He's the subject of the story. He is the banquet thrower. Look at the heart of God. God wants to throw a party. I think He's happy that we're doing homecoming next week. I think He's happy that we’re going to do a chili cook-off and a shoulder-to-shoulder men’s barbecue competition.

It’s not about the food, though. It's not about the barbecue, it’s not about the competition or the awards or the best name. I think it's about what God can do with those things, the people that can come into those situations.

If you think Chicken Sunday next week is all about you eating some chicken, you're missing the point. We hear it, we got it. You need to push that down a little bit and think, “Oh, this is about others. This is about others.”

I want to run out of chicken next week.

God wants to throw a party, and here's the thing about God—His party throwing doesn't look like my party throwing; it doesn't look like yours. His party throwing, this story, made the religious people uncomfortable, a little bit with Him. That's okay; sometimes it's good to be uncomfortable.

Jesus is saying to this group of God-fearing individuals that they have the wrong people at their table. Can you imagine being at that dinner party? How rude that would be for Jesus to come into your party and say you've got the wrong people here. But that's what He said to this host. He said you've got the wrong people here—these people can pay you back. You are missing a whole group of people; you've got the wrong ones. He's telling this guy that there are some people who are at the table eating down here, but they won't be at the table eating up there.

My Father, He's going to fill His house up, and He says there are some people that are going to be at the table eating up there that you would have never invited to the table down here. You get what I'm saying? This is the heart of our God.

You know, I started off talking about humility, and with humility, I want to ask a few more questions before we take communion. First question, and I got these—I listened to a podcast, I love listening to the BMA podcast, this was some of their questions, so these are straight from the BMA podcast, season three, I can't remember which episode: Am I insistent that God throw the kind of party I would throw?

We might have a vision for how God's party is going to look, but it takes humility to push that down and say, you know what? No. God has a different vision than I do, and that's okay. That's actually better. It's a good question for us to ask ourselves.

Another one: Am I blinded that God's definition of a party might not be my definition?

I got to be honest with you, sometimes I read these types of stories, and I'm like, I'm not sure what that's going to look like. I don't like the idea of running out of chicken next week—that's what my gut tells me. Would that be cool if we ran out because so many people were there?

And then this one right here, last question: Am I so distracted by the worries of this world, or by my own agenda and idolatry of myself, that I miss the invitation to God's party in the first place? Am I one of those three individuals, or one of those three stories, where I'm making excuses? I'm distracted, I'm lost, and I'm too caught up in what I want, and I miss the invitation anyway?

Some questions for us to think about, and we're going to close out, and we're going to take communion.

You know, when I started off talking about this, what does love require? When Jesus answered this question, it cost Him His life. And back in Philippians chapter 2, He says, "And in your relationships with one another, have the very same mindset as Jesus Christ. Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped or to use to His own advantage. Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross."

Therefore, because of that hum—that demonstration of humility, God exalted Him to the highest place. He gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

You know, when we take communion, we remember that sacrifice, but we also exalt and honor our Lord Savior Jesus.

Let's pray right now for the communion. Father, we thank you so much. We thank you for Christ's heart and His demonstration of humility. Lord, how often He must have pressed down on His gut to be motivated to love us because You loved us, to be able to demonstrate for us what real love actually means. Father, You are perfect, You are worthy of all of our worship. Lord, as we take the communion, as we remember the bread, we think about the bread and the juice, and we remember the sacrifice that was made for us, not because of anything that we've done but just because of the love that You have for us. Help us to remember that, help it to keep us humble as we go throughout life. We love You so much, God. We're so grateful for all that You do. In Your Son's time, I pray. Amen.

Amen. That's going to conclude our communion.