Self-Surrender/Self-Sufficiency | Kylen Perry

Kylen Perry // Jan 23, 2024

Do you trust God to be the Lord of your life — or is that a title you want to keep for yourself? Last night, Kylen Perry walked us through Matthew 6 to remind us that God doesn’t want us to strive to achieve self-sufficiency, but rest in the confidence that comes with self-surrender.

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Porch, what's up? How are we doing? Let's go, let's go, let's go! Hey, it's so good to be here. By way of reminder, my name is Kylen. It is my joy to get to be here. My wife's name is Brooke. We have been anticipating this moment for a really long time. We love Dallas. I'm not just saying that because I have to get you on my side quickly. I'm saying that because I married a piece of Dallas. Brooke is from here. She grew up in Plano. Now we're here. We made it at long last. We always thought, "God, you might bring us back to Dallas," and here we are. I guess he has a way with getting us where he wants us to be.

I've thought a lot about what I would say in this moment. What I want to do is give to you three convictions that guard and guide my ministry, three things I think the Lord has put on me that I'm responsible to answer to whenever I stand before him at the end of my days. These convictions will come to bear on us here. That's why I'm sharing them with you. So, if you have any issue with them…we love you…these are nonnegotiables. This is going to be a part of what we do here. Here they are.

1. We will always follow Jesus. This ministry is not mine. God has entrusted it to me for a season, as he has entrusted it to other faithful men in times past, but the Lord is the one who leads The Porch, so we will always follow Jesus.

2. We will only teach the truth. We will absolutely take the world into consideration and bring the culture into our doors, but we believe the truth does, in fact, set people free.

3. We will never take the credit. I love to say that the glory is God's and the privilege is mine.

It's great to be here with you. I do want to give a special shout-out to some friends we have tuning in with us from all over the nation. Everybody say "Hey" to our Porch.Live locations. It's so great to have you tuning in with us. We have Porch.Live locations in Midland, Fort Worth, Tulsa, Scottsdale, Fresno, Boise, Indy, Greater Lafayette, Dayton, Des Moines, and Atlanta.

God is doing something amazing here, and he's doing something amazing all over the nation by way of this ministry. I have a lot of love for Porch.Live locations because I used to be a part of one. When I was in Houston, Houston Metro was birthed out of The Porch.Live Houston. So, we love you guys. We're grateful that you're tuning in with us, and we're expectant for what the Lord has ahead.

Let me start off by setting things up with this. When my wife and I were dating in college, I crafted a date that I'm convinced is the most creative date I've ever come up with in our time since. We've been married for six years (perfect…I counted that out correctly) and together for nine. I made sure that as I evaluated our past history, this is the most creative date I can think of. I've not been able to top it.

If you're a guy in the room, you understand that when you're dating someone, especially early in the relationship, you have to handle with great care the dates you craft for that special someone. You have to craft a date that's not too romantic that it makes them think, "Whoa! He's coming on way too strong," and you have to think about crafting a date that's not too simple that they think you're not trying at all.

You have to come up with a date that is this perfect mixture of thoughtful yet easy that leaves her thinking, "Oh my gosh! He's amazing. It was so easy and fun and chill getting to hang out with him," while simultaneously leaving her thinking, "He is the most thoughtful man in the world. I've never met anybody like him." That's a small window to hit, ladies. Guys, can I get some appreciation that that's a hard thing to do?

Yet what we know is that I did it. I figured it out. You're probably wondering to yourself, "Well, then what was the date?" This is what the date was. The date was rock climbing. Hold on. I know that's not what you were expecting, but this was not your normal, ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill kind of rock climbing. We were not just recreationally out there grabbing some wall and making our way up. No. I had designed a very particular kind of rock climbing.

You see, what I had decided to do was to take us to this wall where scattered across its entirety were not only handholds to find but handwritten notes to discover. These handwritten notes were created by yours truly and placed upon the wall, and as you made your way and found them, they entitled you to certain benefits. You could get Starbucks for a week or maybe "Hey, you pick up dinner" or "Concert tickets on me" or any of the above, all sorts of different things, a myriad of blessings upon this great rock wall.

I knew it was going to be excellent. I had the hookup, because one of my really good friends was actually the manager of the rock wall at Texas A&M University. So I coordinated with him. I was like, "Hey, man. I want this to be super special. Is there any way we can get the wall to ourselves, reserved privately after hours so the entire thing is ours? I don't want to see any other dudes in a harness. It's awkward enough for me. We want it by ourselves."

So we showed up. What was amazing was, because he was the manager of the rock wall, he had already preset all of these notes upon the wall. So we get there, harness up, belay on, and start to make our way up the wall. What's amazing (apart from the date itself) is that by throwing in this wrinkle, our rock-climbing experience completely changed.

By introducing these notes, we weren't simply just trying to get up the wall. Now we were considering, "How am I going to get up the wall?" It changed the game. We knew as we stood at the base of it, like, "Okay. The goal is still to get up to the top of this thing, but the way we're going to do that is going to vary depending upon what you want and what I want. My route is going to be guided by these notes, these goals I want to achieve."

So, Brooke would look at the wall and say, "That mani-pedi looks great," so she would start to make her way up that specific route, because that was the goal guiding her direction. For me, I wanted her to plan a date, so I would make my way toward that note instead. You see, these notes, these goals, guided the decisions we made. Though we were heading in the same direction up the wall, they changed the course and the way we ascended.

Why do I tell you that? Because I think life, especially here at the beginning of a brand-new year, is a lot like that wall. We're all standing at the base of it, a brand-new year, and we're trying to discern, "What goals are going to determine the way I navigate over the course of this year in specific?" How am I going to make my way, not up this wall, but through this year in specific?

What's interesting is while there are some mixed opinions on whether New Year's resolutions and goal setting are still things or not, what we know is that personal development is just as popular as it has always been. According to the 2024 Instagram Trend Talk, young adults from across the globe are defining this year, 2024, as what many in our generation call their growth era, or a period of concerted self-improvement.

That begs the question…What are we trying to improve, exactly? If this is our growth era, what are we trying to grow? Well, if you go and look at data from the Forbes 2024 health survey or the GWI trends survey, young adults are specifically invested in improving their physical and mental health, their financial independence, and their experiential enrichment. They just really want to enjoy life, find things that make them happy.

These goals are, interestingly, not new to us. These are goals that, yes, are true this year, but they were also true last year. If you go and search "#2023goals" on TikTok, which has more than 360 million views, what's reported is the exact same list of goals, just in varying order of priority depending upon whether you're Generation Z or a Millennial.

What's my point in saying that? If you look at the research, many of us across social, spiritual, and cultural backgrounds are all aiming at the same thing. We're looking at three goals pretty broadly. The three goals we share are we want to be self-sufficient (we want to be capable on our own), we want self-acceptance (we want to be enough on our own), and we want self-fulfillment (we want to be happy on our own).

We think this is "in" for 2024, but over the course of the next three weeks, as we journey through this new series together, what we're going to find is, according to Jesus, these goals are actually out. If you have a Bible, you can turn with me to the book of Matthew. We're going to be in chapter 6 together.

Here's what you need to know as we start this brand-new series. We're starting this series because we think it's appropriate at the beginning of a new year to ask the question…Are my goals in line with God's will for my life? That's why we're calling it Ins/Outs. Are my ins supposed to be in or is God saying something else? Should they be out instead?

As we come to Matthew 6, Jesus is going to address the topic of self-reliance, one of these three priorities that is guiding all of us along this new year that we have surveyed and said that is a priority, a goal for us. What we see in Matthew, chapter 6, is that Jesus is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. This is his most famous sermon recorded in all of Scripture.

As he's engaging a crowd, what we know to be true is this crowd looks a lot like the people in this room. They're people from all over the place…different backgrounds, different families, different histories, different reasons for even being in the room. Jesus is engaging a group of people who look like you and me.

This is what he says to them on the topic of self-sufficiency in Matthew 6:25: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" At first glance… Can we just level with each other? "Jesus, this feels super impractical." Can we just call it like it is? No matter where you fall on the spiritual spectrum…believer or nonbeliever, it doesn't matter…this feels crazy. He's talking about basic necessities.

Yet what we need to understand is less about what Jesus is saying at first and more about what he isn't saying at first. So, let's talk about what Jesus is not saying right now. Jesus is not saying it's wrong to have a stable job, to engage in business and commerce for the purposes of making money. He's not saying it's wrong to make preparations for future physical needs.

The reason we know that is if we read the Bible, it's loaded with so much wisdom around how to manage your money and invest it wisely and steward it for the purposes of God. Jesus is not against money. So, if that's not what he's saying, then what does he mean right here? He's saying there's more to life than self-sufficiency. There's more to life than simply landing that job, earning that promotion, maxing your 401(k), and paying your rent on time.

He's saying there's more to life than being able to do all of these things that would deem you self-sufficient in the eyes of the world. What's interesting is he even takes it up a notch, like we said a minute ago. He's talking about basic necessities, food and clothing. "Jesus, If I'm not thinking about this, then who else is going to do it? No one else is thinking about what I eat. No one else is thinking about what I wear. Jesus, this is my responsibility."

So why would he do that? Why would he behave so impractically? Because Jesus is a master storyteller, and he wants to speak in extremes to turn up the drama and pull you to the edge of your seat so you'll listen in. You see, Jesus wants to address our preoccupation with self-sufficiency, and he's going to do it specifically in two ways.

The first way he's going to address our preoccupation with self-sufficiency is by talking about our need for control. Does anybody struggle with that? This is what he says in verse 26: "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"

Jesus wants us to know, as he talks about our preoccupation with self-sufficiency, that God is in control so you don't have to be. He uses three successive verbs, verbs that build on top of each other: sow, reap, and gather. He's speaking to an agrarian society. If he were talking to us, a digitized society, he would use verbs like crop, edit, and caption, but he's not doing that. He's not talking to us; he's talking to them.

In an agricultural world, they're thinking all of this makes sense, because these are people who are accustomed to working the land and spreading the seed and harvesting a crop. They're accustomed to working really hard to provide for themselves, yet in their context they understand that no matter how hard they work, what they reap will always somewhat be out of their control because there's one massive variable that is beyond their limit: rain. Crops need rain. They do not grow without it. Only one person in all of the cosmos controls the rain: God.

Now, I would guess you're probably not lying awake at night thinking to yourself, "God, are you going to send the rain?" but you probably are lying awake at night thinking to yourself, "God, will you fix my family? God, are you going to provide for my loneliness? God, are you going to restore that broken friendship? God, are you going to meet me in the area that I feel hopeless and helpless to control?" To that, Jesus is saying, "God is powerful enough to help."

That begs the question…If God is powerful enough to help, does he even care to do it? To that Jesus says, "Look at the birds." Jesus points to a creature that is incapable of self-sufficiency. I'll spare you my study of avian energy balance and thermoregulation, but what you need to know about birds is they have one of the highest metabolic rates in the animal kingdom, which simply means they need to eat a lot and often. So, how do you think they're taking care of themselves?

Do you think they're putting in an H-E-B curbside pickup order and swinging through and picking it up on the way home? Do you think they're planting something in the garden and tilling the soil, making sure it's growing every single day? Do you think they're stockpiling their rations so when a bad day comes they have some food to live on? No. They're birds. Birds don't do that. They're absolutely and utterly dependent upon God. They know God will take care of them. God feeds them. He will meet their needs. He controls what they cannot. Are you not of more value than they? Psalm 8 says:

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor."

Friends, has it ever occurred to you that God is mindful of you, that you're actually on his mind, that he's actually thinking about you, that his thoughts are filled with you, flooded with you? Has that ever occurred to you? It occurred to David. David is writing this psalm, standing in the midst of a field, looking up at the night sky with a far weaker grasp of how big the universe is, yet he still feels infinitely small and knows, "God, you see me. You see me, God. And not only do you see me, Lord; you've crowned me with glory and honor. God, you not only see me but you like what you see." Do you think God likes what he sees when he sees you? Jesus would say he does.

Jesus gives God this unique title that the gospel of Matthew reserves for only three usages over the course of its entire narrative. It's the title heavenly Father. What's significant about heavenly Father is it talks about God in a way that's pretty juxtapositional. It says God is both powerful (heavenly) yet personal (Father). He's God up there, and he's God right here. God does see you, and he likes what he sees.

Now, am I saying God, because he likes what he sees, is going to give you everything you want? That would make him a bad father. He will not give you everything you want, but he will give you everything you need. He always will. This is God's heart for you. God wants to give you what you need. Porch, listen to me. If you never come back, then you need to know this from me tonight: what you need most of is more of him. You need more of God. That's the thing you need most of all.

So, let me ask you… Why are you worried? Jesus says all that stress won't do you any good. Jesus says it cannot even add a single hour to the span of your life. For some perspective, NPR reports that the average human life is 76.4 years long. In hours, that equals 669,722 hours. No matter how much you worry or sweat or stress over it, you're not going to add even one. Only God can make the difference.

You can't add a single hour to your life, yet God can add an infinite number of hours and years to your life. You can't do anything to buy yourself tomorrow, but God can buy you a million tomorrows and forevermore. God is the one who makes the difference, not you. That's such good news to us, Porch. He's the one who can do it, for those of us who are in need of control as well as those of us who have a deep need for acceptance, which is where he goes next. In verse 28 he says:

"And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

See, God is not only in control, but also God gives greater approval than anyone else. When I was in college, I remember learning the craft of perfecting the ultimate résumé. I learned how to create the perfect résumé as I applied for different jobs. I got so good at it they gave me a job helping other people do it. Let me just say I'm not in that line of work anymore, so if you need a résumé, you're going to have to check somewhere else. I'll save you the email.

But I knew it. I knew what to do. I had a grasp on all of the strategies and tools you could implement to create the perfect résumé. I knew font styles and formatting and proven metrics and action verbs you could employ to make your résumé look every bit of what an employer would want. You see, I had become a master of self-promotion.

The one thing I struggled to ever wrap my mind around as I thought about making résumés was "Why does it have to fit on one page?" Can I get an "Amen"? Trying to put all of your credentials on one page just did not feel feasible. Here's why it was so crazy for me. It's not because one page of a résumé surely couldn't contain all of my awesomeness; it was because one page of a résumé surely was not enough to impress anyone.

In the same way, many of us don't think who we genuinely are is enough to impress anyone. So what do we do? We clothe ourselves. We want to impress physically, socially, intellectually, and professionally, so we wrap ourselves in high-power corporate jobs, a fancy photo on social media, a name brand, books and philosophy, a new experience, a good reputation, and a lot of impressive works.

This is what we do, because we're actually convinced that if the world saw what was inwardly true they would outwardly reject us. So we put on a mask, and we pray to God this mask would be enough to convince all of these people we're acceptable, lest they ever look underneath it and reject us forever. This is the story for so many young adults. We use the opinions of other people to tell us whether or not our approval is legitimate.

To this Jesus says, "Consider the lilies." Take a look at the lilies. Just to paint the picture, here Jesus is. A crowd is sitting across the hillside beside the Sea of Galilee, and smattered amongst them are wildflowers in bloom, red and purple anemones with 10-inch crowning stalks and blue irises, the very colors of King David and King Solomon's own robes.

As Jesus points to them, he references flowers, because flowers don't choose to be the color they are or aspire to grow taller than they should. They just trust God to grow them as he means for them to be. What are the results of that kind of trust, of that sort of dependence? Beauty. Flowers are beautiful. It's why the floral industry sees its highest sales volume, delivery volume, at Valentine's Day. It's because people register with the fact that flowers as God has made them are beautiful, and they communicate approval when given to others.

Friends, some of you have come here tonight, and if we can just level, you're desperately trying to be something you aren't. The world has said you have something in short supply. You're not smart enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, or funny enough. You're not enough, period, whatever it may be for you, so you're adding to yourself to make up the difference.

Here's the irony. When we try to make up for some deficiency we feel, we do things that actually do not increase our sense of self-worth but diminish our sense of self-worth. We want to add to our self-love, so we give ourselves away sexually. We want to be accepted, so we compromise ourselves morally. We want to feel alive, so we hurt ourselves physically. We want so badly to increase our sense of self-worth, so we do things that work to the contrary.

Friends, I'm not so naïve as to stand here in front of you and not know there are some of you here tonight who have walked in, and you feel unseen, unloved, unengaged, and unvalued. I want you to know God has not made you to feel that way; man has made you to feel that way. The world has made you feel that way. The Scriptures are clear. God is not against us. God is for us. God is one who wonderfully clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Will he not much more wonderfully clothe you?

Isaiah 61:10 says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Look at what degree God has already approved of us.

God hasn't just looked at you and been like, "Looking sharp, man." He hasn't just looked at you and been like, "Hey, that was a great joke." He's not just approving of circumstantial descriptors in your life. What God is doing is he's looking at you and saying, "Hey, I want to approve of you so much that I will save you."

God doesn't send Jesus to save us from our sin when we're beautiful; he does it when we're broken. That's the point of Jesus showing up. He's a demonstration of the approval of God when we did nothing to deserve it. You didn't clean yourself up. You didn't polish your résumé. You did nothing, yet God moved into the neighborhood, saw you, and said, "I want you anyway. I approve of you. I will make you something you could never be on your own. I will clothe you with garments of salvation and righteousness."

This is the approval of God that's available to you. So why is it that you're looking elsewhere for approval? Our self-sufficiency will not produce the kind of approval that God can. When we believe it, it frees us to something better, which is what Jesus says last in verses 31-33.

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Friends, here at the beginning of the new year, the start of 2024, Jesus wants you to know your goal shouldn't be self-sufficiency but self-surrender. Your goal should not be self-sufficiency. That's out. Your goal should be self-surrender, because that's what he has come to bring in. He wants you to know that self-surrender is the way to life and life to the full.

I remember, as just a sophomore in college, I was desperate to prove myself to other people. I wanted so badly to measure up and to garner the approval of those who were around me, yet as a sophomore, I laid awake at night in my bed riddled with so much insecurity at the fact that it was not working. I tried everything. I compromised my decision-making. I chose to put on a façade and act as someone I was not.

I did so many things trying to garner the approval and acceptance of people around me, trying to control my circumstances and arrive at my intended end, and I laid awake at night…I still remember it to this day…riddled with the fact that "It's all a failure. I've tried, and I've fallen short." So, in that moment I could not go to bed. I laid there and laid there and laid there. I just could not bring myself to go to sleep.

So I got up out of bed. I was like, "Fine, God. You want to talk? You're going to keep me up all night? Let's go visit." So I did something for the very first time that I'd never done before. I got on my hands and knees and started to pray. As I started praying to him, I just told him, "God, I want my life to count. I want my life to be meaningful, to make a difference." Does anybody feel that way in here? That's not a bad prayer, but for some reason, my plans were not working out.

"God, what do you want me to do? What is it you want me to pursue in life, because my pursuit is clearly not working out? Just tell me. Just let me know. I'm listening. I'll wait for you." There I was on my hands and knees for the very first time, begging to heaven to give me some word, some voice, some clarity on what it was I was supposed to do. Do you know what I heard? Nothing. I heard nothing, which felt absolutely consistent with everything God had been doing in my life up until that point.

I was like, "God, I feel like I've been fending for myself out here. If you're not going to do anything, then won't you at least let me make my way the way I want to go?" In desperation, I got up off my knees, turned over to my phone, picked it up off my bed, and I just looked at the date and the time. It said "April 16," and it was 1:11 in the morning.

I decided in that moment, grasping for straws, desperate to hear the voice of God, that I would count 16 books into the New Testament. April 16…16 books into the New Testament. "I can't count 16 books into the Old Testament. Maybe God is going to speak to me in the New Testament." So I counted 16 books into the New Testament, and I found myself at 2 Timothy.

It was 1:11 in the morning, so I read 2 Timothy 1:11. To my prayer that God would tell me what to do with my life, he said, "And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher." It's crazy to think that method actually worked. I wouldn't recommend it to you, yet God in his kindness met me there.

God wanted me to know, "I do have plans for you, but they do not accord with your self-sufficiency; they accord with your self-surrender. When you actually give yourself over to me, I will appoint your steps, and I will take you farther than you could ever go on your own." I surrendered, and it changed everything for me that night.

This is how surrender is defined. It's the action of yielding one's person or giving up the possession of something into the power of another person. For the Christian, surrender is not a one-time act. Surrender is a daily decision to seek after God's kingdom and not seek after your own. It's a daily decision to throw in the towel, to lay down your arms, to raise the white flag, to put your hands up in acknowledgment of the fact that "I've been overcome. I've been conquered. My way doesn't work anymore. God's way is the only way which I will walk."

This is what it means to surrender. What we know is it changes a person. As a person surrenders their life, it unlocks everything. It leads you into deeper joy, fuller life. It may not mean pleasant circumstances, but it will mean proximity to the God in control of those circumstances. Later in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, verses 24-26, Jesus says this:

"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?'"

Porch, listen to me. If you want to find your life, you will find it by losing it, by laying it down, by seeking his kingdom, not your own; his righteousness, not your own; by saying, "Jesus, your way is better." If you walk in that direction, what you'll find is the life you've always hoped and dreamt and laid awake at night wanting for.

This is what Jesus has in store, and this is the way of the kingdom. Doing this looks like walking in a way that you have enough security that you can put coworkers before you. It's walking in a way where you have enough patience that you can love that person who always seems to annoy you. It's walking in a way that actually celebrates the successes of other people despite the fact that you feel stuck and unseen in your job.

This is what it means to walk in the kingdom, to seek the way of Jesus. It's to lay aside your survival instincts and take up your serving instincts. The reason we know this is the case, that the kingdom is one where we surrender our own interests for the sake of Christ's, is Jesus himself surrendered his interests for the sake of ours.

When Brooke and I were on that date that day, it occurred to me toward the end of our time climbing that rock wall that what mattered to me was not so much the path I chose to climb, how I intended to navigate the wall, what goals I would reach. That didn't matter as much. I realized by the end of the day that it mattered less how I climbed and mattered more who I climbed alongside. I realized my goal wasn't to achieve all of these trinkets and toys; my goal was to simply enjoy the one who was there beside me. Clearly it worked, because she's here with me tonight.

I tell you that because I just want you to know that for some of us here tonight, our goals need to shift too. Our perspective needs to change. We need to awaken to the reality that what matters most is not how we navigate this year but who we navigate this year with. Friends, the goal of your life is not to seek self-sufficiency. It's not to seek your kingdom; it's to seek his kingdom. The reason we seek after his kingdom is because the King sought after us first.

What's fascinating is Jesus trusted that God was in control, and it gave him the confidence to live his life in a way where he could be perfect where you and I had only ever and always been imperfect. What we see in Jesus is one who knew God gives greater approval than anyone else, so rather than seeing people as objects to serve him, he saw them as subjects to serve and love instead.

What we see in Jesus is his goal was not self-sufficiency; his goal was self-surrender, so much to the point that he surrendered his own life voluntarily upon the cross. He hung himself upon a Roman execution rack. In doing so, he absorbed the punishment of all of our sins into himself. Jesus knows the way of the kingdom, and he's inviting us to walk with him that direction this year.

The reason that invitation is real tonight is though Jesus did surrender himself, he took up his life and rose forth from the grave, and in rising from the grave he did declare, "I am the King who has brought the kingdom, which all who would place their faith in me can be a part of." Porch, do you know the King? For the King, King Jesus, you were his first priority. Here's what I want you to know as you step into 2024: seek first the kingdom, for in doing so you will find the King himself. Let me pray for us.

Father, there are so many agendas in the room, so many plans, so many pursuits, yet, God, your Word declares as true…not a suggestion, not an idea, but as true…that there is only one pursuit worthy of seeking, and it's you. Jesus, I pray that tonight in these next moments plans would be laid aside, priorities would begin to shift, goals would be exchanged for your will in the lives of these young people, and that as all of it is done what would be found on the other side is deep, abiding joy.

God, there's no one like you. There's none like you, Lord. It doesn't matter who we are, where we are, or how we are, God. We will never find one who can stand next to you, can compare against you. You're matchless, God, both in times past, here in our present, and forever in the future. You, God, are the one and only worthy of all our worship, worthy of all our pursuit.

I pray, Lord, that tonight we would register with that, that we would come to grips with the truth that you are as good as you say you are and that any other pursuit we may be seeking after, Lord… All of those things are counterfeit gods, wanting for our worship. God, tonight the one true living God, the resurrected Jesus is here, and he has made known, "I and I alone am worthy of your worship." Would we sing to you, God?

Would we make space here in these next moments for you to move amongst us, within us, Lord? Would we respond? God, would this not just be a moment where we walk in and get a dose of information, a dose of inspiration. God, would this be a moment where we get a dose of fascination and captivation, where we come close to you and it changes everything for us, God, not just tonight, not just tomorrow, not just this year, but forever.

God, we give you the space here now, not because you need our permission but simply as a testament to say we're wanting for you, God, willing to go where you wish. Would this be a moment of humble surrender where we lay aside ourselves and follow you instead? It's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.