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July 3, 2022 1:00 am
How many of us live like we are defeated, feeling too guilty to be used by God? Jesus directed stern words to the church at Thyatira about personal holiness in a culture of immorality. In this message from Revelation 2, we look at four snapshots of this church’s process to become overcomers. Coming clean is worth it.
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He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. These are the words of Jesus in Revelation chapter 2 words directed to the church at fire Tyra in what is now modern Turkey.
The lessons we can take from this church involve our personal holiness and how well we distance ourselves from those who flaunt their immorality today will find stern words from the Lord himself about this church and by implication your church and mine stay with us from Chicago. This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer today will hear the fifth of eight messages on what Jesus thinks of his church.
Later in our broadcast Erwin looks terrible speak on when Jesus observes our holiness, our service begins with the Moody choir and orchestra reminded of the words of the prophet, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is filled with his glory. We want to extend that glory to the city of Chicago and around the world and one of the ways in which we believe that God is enabling us to do that is through our expansion and expansion of the new Christian life center helps us to reach more people in our community.
The Bible says that Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the multitudes, I've often been convicted because there are times when I have seen the multitudes, and I have not been Moody Church wants to extend yes the glory of God here and ultimately around the world were so glad that you are worshiping with us today and we hope that you always keep Moody Church in your prayers, remembering that time God has given us a great work to do here and we have challenged people to read through the Bible this year and by the way, if you're behind and you still think you can get caught up maybe at the end of the year will acknowledge you if you've been able to read through the Bible, you still have enough time to do that and to pray an extra hour a week and we encourage you because at the end of the day. What we really need is God and his blessing now today as I lead us in the pastoral prayer and you'll notice in the bulletin that when I have finished praying immediately. We will all continue praying by singing the Lord's prayer together so you be prepared for that. Our father with our theme of holiness.
Today we are reminded of Isaiah there in the temple, who not only saw your glory and your holiness, but also saw himself and repented and today.
Father, we want to repent. But we don't have the grace of repentance unless you granted to us so we asked that you shall help us to open our hearts to you and to your blessed Holy Spirit for all those who are here, whether they are part of the homecoming are part of the visitors from this community, or other parts around the world. We pray that they may unexpectedly be drawn into the sovereignty and the grace of your presence that together we might be a pure church holy as you desire us to be. We want to pray for the advance of the gospel around the world where ever it is preached today in this city and other churches or through our missionaries and the many other missionaries that are out there father today expand expand and strengthen your people.
I'm especially mindful of those who are going through times of persecution we ask in Jesus name. The valve give them the strength that they need to be faithful unto death, that they might receive the crown of life for those who are worshiping with us today who are discouraged going through times of illness, financial hardship.
The rupture of relationships, the death of a loved one father meet each need. We pray expand your grace to each heart in our presence, and we ask the Lord Jesus the together we might be a potent force for the glory of God. The expansion of the gospel and the honor of Jesus whom we love and now we continue to pray and in and today I am speaking on the topic of the holiness of God is seen through the lens of Scripture, particularly the church at fire Tyra and I'll give you the reference in a moment, perhaps all of us have heard that story about the frog in the cattle you put a frog into some hot water it'll pop out the median put it in room temperature water and heated slowly and the frog will boil to death without a struggle. And I'd like to suggest today that in our culture we are being boiled to death, sometimes without a struggle. All that we need to do is to witness the great emphasis on self absorption materialism. All of the syncretism of our day end of our culture in all dispense with all of the details but I think it's important for us to know that this is something that the church has always confronted and no churches confronted it more directly than those that are found in the book of Revelation. You have your Bibles. I'd like you to turn to Revelation chapter 2 Revelation chapter 2 the church I had Tyra if you been a part of this series, you know that we have been emphasizing that Jesus is the one who does the evaluation in these churches. At the evaluation is not done by a consultant who is called and asked to comment to give his opinion of the church. It is not done by even the elders or the leadership important, though, that is, at times, this is the word Jesus who walks among the candlesticks. Jesus, I walk among them and the candlesticks are the seven churches.
I also believe that every church that has ever existed. Probably is mirrored in one of these churches, though of course churches have all of the elements. I think that there is one that is particularly relevant to a particular church.
That's why we've encourage the congregation to reading these churches asking what church is Moody Church.
That's a good question now the church at fire Tyra Q began at Ephesus you would go counterclockwise in Turkey in what is today Turkey. And you come to fire Tyra, one of the smallest churches but word why is I believe it has the longest letter from Jesus. So, whether a church is small or large. It has the attention of Jesus who observes just as he is doing this morning among our congregation right here now what I'd like us to do is to look at four different pictures of the church as we move through and then in the end were going to give you hope and comfort and the joy of repentance. That's the agenda. Thanks for joining us and come with me on this journey. The first glimpse of this church is one of faithfulness.
I'm going to pick it up in verse 19. I know your works and your love and faith and service and patient endurance in the church. If I had Tyra there was a garden with all of these Christian virtues that was growing and flourishing really and we commend them for having these virtues of love and faith and endurance. In fact it's even better than that.
You'll notice it says and that your ladder works succeed in the first wonderful. This was a church that was on the move. It was spending time on things that really mattered and it was getting better at things that really matter. That's the way we are here at The Moody Church as a leadership we desire to be better at things that really matter.
We don't have it all together yet, but we'd like to be able to keep working at it and we'd like to improve and we'd like to be all that we can be for the glory of Jesus and the advance of the gospel a picture of faithfulness, the kind of church you'd really like to join and by the way, if you are living in the Chicago area and this is your home church in this church. Now I'm talking about this one right here is a great church for you to join but that's the picture of faithfulness. Let's move on now and let's look at a picture of compromise.
Now Jesus is speaking. Verse 20 but I have this against you, I pondered that this week and said I wonder if there's anything that Jesus has against Moody Church.
We'd like to know what it is, so that we can take care of that. I would not want anything in this church that Jesus would say to The Moody Church.
You do this, this, this, but I have this against you, while that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess in his teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols and then he says I gave her time to repent all comment on that in just a moment, but you're tolerating Jezebel, who in the world is Jezebel. Well remember in the Old Testament. Jezebel was a woman who was the wife of Ahab and when he married her.
He was marrying the daughter of a pagan high priest, so when he married her. She brought all of her God with him and I just happen to have read this story recently and what a story it is how she controlled her husband.
It is because of Jezebel that bail worship was introduced to Israel.
She built the high places it says that's the places where people used to go to worship. Furthermore she killed the Lord's prophets and she herself had 850 personal prophets who always told her what she wanted to hear. Either way today when tour groups go to Israel.
You can't go to Samaria because of political reasons, but when I studied there in 1968, we were in Samaria and we saw yet the ruins of the palace.
Some of the parts of the walls are still standing where Ahab and Jezebel lived. That's who Jezebel was. She was a wicked woman you read the story. Also how they captured Naboth's vineyard by having him killed because she wanted the land next door and she told her husband how to get it.
She said let's kill Naboth and she organized a plan to do it and what the text is saying is, is that you might tolerating Jezebel. Now I don't think that there was a woman in fire Tyra whose name was Jezebel. But there may well have been a woman who is teaching the same things as Jezebel, namely to practice immorality and to eat things offered on to idols down in order for us to put that in a historical context and to understand what we are reading. Let me tell you about fire Tyra the city of fire.
Tyra was known for various gills. They had bakers, bronze workers, clothiers, weavers, member the story in the New Testament book of acts of Lydia as seller of purple whose heart the Lord opened to the gospel.
Lydia Lydia was from fire Tyra and so you have these various guilds which functioned in a way like unions function today you belong, and each of these guilds had their own independent God. So if you were part for example of a bakery may be your God is bail. If you are a weaver you belong to that club. It may be Ashtoreth or some other God and everybody was supposed to be loyal to the gods whose guild they work for. Can't you imagine the pressure that the church was under something like some of you today you're working in organizations where if you become a part of it. You have to go to certain places you need certain indoctrination regarding gender issues and so forth that you may feel uncomfortable with wealth. Take that and multiply it because when these guilds got together for their feasts. They ate and drank to their particular God.
Now it's interesting that Paul, in another part of the Scripture says it's okay to eat meat offered on to idols what he meant was sometimes meat was offered on to idols and then later on it was sold in the marketplace and Paul says look just go ahead Anita don't ask any questions and the meat is neat you sanctified by the word of God in prayer but this was different.
This man where you went and now let's eat and drink to our God, then the Christians couldn't participate, could day. I remember talking to a professional hockey player who told me the tremendous price he had to pay to be a Christian because the coach would take all of the players to a men's club and he was expected to go to and you know he argued with the coach about what you know.
Are you to be a team player. Aren't you. What kind of approved are you I mean you're not going to join us in doing this, but he knew he couldn't go, so eventually of course he didn't.
That's the kind of pressure that the Christians in fire Tyra work under now back to Jezebel.
Evidently there was a woman who calls herself. Did you notice the text. Always keep your finger on the text calls herself a prophetess, and she was saying that I am receiving revelations from God and these revelations come from God and therefore they should be received as such. I don't need to tell you, do I that the world today is filled with false prophets and prophetesses all kinds of things being said when I wrote my book on non-discernment and I I watch some of the false prophets on television the book.
Who are you to judge I think is the title but I was watching some of the false prophets on television and then I remember somebody saying oh I'm just receiving a revelation now God is just communicating, and then God is telling me and then you know stuff would come out of their mouth, some of which may be biblical, some of which may be un-biblical. Much of it playing silly, but this was passed off as revelations from God. The prophetess fit into that. By the way, I often thought Satan couldn't, wouldn't he be a wonderful false prophet. Could you see them on TV telling Jesus.
This Jesus, I just received a revelation from God based on Psalm 91 verses 11 and 12 court says that even if you fold God will not allow your foot to be dashed against a stone.
You could jump from the pinnacle of the temple and God would catch you. Hallelujah.
Notice how tricky it is this business of false prophets. They quote Scripture but this lady said, apparently you know what it's all right for you to participate in these orgies and feasts and and she had a philosophical explanation for it. Very probably based on what is known as Gnosticism because Plato came along your member had a great impact on the Christian church.
Most of it negative. Some of it. People thought initially positive but Plato taught that the body is to be separated from the soul.
And because of this separation, Plato said, this means or at least his followers said this means I can commit sexual immorality in my body but my soul is not affected. It's just my body that is sinning, not my soul, so that was one philosophical justification.
The other was a little different.
Understandably, pagans even realize that sexuality has more to it than simply a physical response. It is not just biological. It is also metaphysical and spiritual.
Therefore what they argued was that the highest point of worship. Ultimately God, the highest point when you really connected with God was through sexuality New Age movement sometimes refers to this as perhaps enlightenment or the experience of esotericism. It's all tied in to the business of sexuality. So there was a woman who was apparently teaching that it's okay because immorality is compatible with Christianity now did the church endorse or know they didn't endorse or there's no evidence of that. But notice this little word there in verse 20 that you tolerate. You tolerate that woman Jezebel.
Nobody was standing up and saying that sin that's wrong. They turned the other way and let it happen. So here you have been a story a picture of compromise. The beautiful flowers that were growing in God's garden now had some weeds that needed to be plucked out and the question was who was going to do it. So we looked at very briefly, by the way this business of sexuality and its connection to religion and religious experience. Notice that Jesus has a word for it. I just marvel at the accuracy and the vivid description of God's word. Verse 24 but to the rest of you a fire.
Tyra, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call deep things of Satan.
That's where that comes from that you can be a moral and still be compatible with Christianity. It is the deep things of Satan. Contrast that with what Paul says about the deep things of God, the love of God is deep, the wisdom of God is deep, things that belong to Satan are also deep. You can go into bookstores today. Thick books on esotericism of having religious experiences. These are the deep things of Satan, well we look now at the picture of faithfulness a picture of compromise briefly a picture of judgment, and this gets very heavy. Now, and if you're sitting here feeling very very guilty because of your past hang on because when this message ends you are going to receive so much hope and so much deliverance that you are going to rejoice in the fact that you stayed to the end. So stay with me.
You'll notice the picture of judgment now here it is in the text very vividly. I gave her time to repent, but she refused to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her into a sick bed, and those who commit adultery with her. I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of their works and I will strike her children dead in all the churches will know that I am he who searches the mind and heart and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.
How what happened to this tolerant image of Jesus that exists in society. The Jesus who loves everybody and says that, in effect, God is nice your nice just be nice. What happened to that image of Jesus how he is he is tolerant if we repent. He is tolerant, as we shall see, and very gracious and filled with mercy. I'm ahead of the story. Let's look now at 10. The picture of judgment. There was a warning. Evidently that was ignored. I gave her time to repent, but she didn't and she didn't we already know why she didn't. I mean every human being knows why she didn't. The euphoria of the sexuality was so great that the thought of living without that narcotic was unthinkable. So no matter how many rewards there would have been to repentance. She couldn't bring herself to do it like someone I know who fell into immorality and adultery, who said, quote I'll have my pleasure today and deal with the devil tomorrow. I'll put it off will put it out of my mind. God says I gave her time to repent. I don't know if there was some kind of a warning. Obviously there was but she didn't.
Now comes a very tough passage but you know when you come to Moody Church. We don't ignore the tough passages just so that you know if you're visiting because we actually believe this stuff actually believe this stuff I like. Notice what it says I will throw her into a sick bed those a commit adultery with her if she wants to be in an unholy bed will make it a sick bed and I will even unless they repent strike her children dead. This could have been a local judgment that God brought it could also be the natural consequences of immorality as we shall see in a moment in the life of one person whatever it is it's very clear that Jesus said you're tolerating Jezebel, but I'm not going to.
I'm not going to tolerate Jezebel and then he says I'm going to bring this judgment on because he says that the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart.
Why is that important when you know why that's important is because sexual sin is usually very secret. That's where the shame comes from and we hi our inmost thoughts and we hide what we do and Jesus wants to say you can hide it from others but you can't hide it from me. I'm the one that searches the mind and the heart and even in those categories of the mind that it been walled off where there's a firewall so that your one person in this life over here, but you're another person on Sunday and so forth. Even that firewall is penetrable by the one who searches the mind and the heart and I will bring judgment to those who commit immorality, strong stuff right now let us look also at a picture of triumph a picture of triumph and what I want everyone to do who is listening.
And by the way, that includes the people who are listening to our morning worship service this morning and seeing it in 80 different countries because as you know, we stream live on the Internet and we've heard from 80 different countries and we welcome all of them as they join us for our morning worship service, but I want you to ask this question of yourself. Can you be a conqueror and the answer is yes you can. I want everyone in this congregation everyone who's listening. And over the radio. I want all of us to commit to being conquerors and before the messages over or explain how. But notice it says the one who conquers and who keeps my works till the end. To him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my father.
This is mind boggling. This is Psalm two where Jesus is going to rule over all the nations and because we shall sit on the same throne as Jesus sits upon the Scripture teaches. Because of that he says you two are going to have authority over the nation. Do you realize what kind of the future, we have coming to realize the greatness of God's generosity.
He says to him who conquers now every single Christian wants to be a conqueror. Don't think you're here today and you say I want to be a conqueror.
You're not a Christian. Every Christian wants to be a conqueror. Problem is that we do not want anything serious that we have to conquer.
That's the problem. Lord, let me be in overcome her, but I don't want anything to overcome. Hey fact is, God gives us all kinds of things to overcome so that we qualify to be in overcome her to be a conqueror. So Jesus said you conqueror and you're going to sit with me on my throne what we have to conquerors will see in a moment. Sexual sin. Now the Bible goes on to say Jesus the words of Jesus, and I will give to him the morning star. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what this says is I'm going to give them the morning start the morning stars Jesus we learned in the letter last week letter to Pergamum. Jesus said if you are faithful. I'm going to give you a stone with a new name on it almost certainly the name of Jesus that no one else will know to realize the intimacy with Jesus is going to be so direct and so personal that there will be things between you and Jesus in heaven and in the kingdom that not even your wife knows about not even your children know about nobody else will know and when Jesus says here I give him the morning star is saying whoever is a conqueror. I will give to him give to him more of myself. What what a commitment. What a wonderful motivation to be a conqueror now let me speak to you very candidly because if I were in a counseling session. I would discover that I'm speaking to people who because of their sexual past believe that they can no longer be conquerors that they can no longer be calmer and I want to dispel that myth, both now and for ever. I was thinking about this message.
This week, obviously, and the I have a letter here. I would like to read. It's a little bit plain and direct but we live in a culture where you need to understand that this is the experience of people and after I read the letter.
I'm going to refer to an article I also read this week and were going to leave here absolutely committed to being conquerors and I'm going to take from Satan. The weapon that he uses to make you think you can't be a conqueror.
But this is the letter received from someone who is no longer part of the church. Actually, some time ago and the reason I read this letter is did you notice Jesus that I'm going to throw this woman into the bed of sickness, I'm going to do this to her children unless she repents. Repentance is the means to being a conqueror. I want everyone listening today to end up being a conqueror. So here we go.
But here's the letter I am a Christian and was very close to God when I came here to Chicago in February I began dating this Christian guy. He attends another strict conservative church as she was of course coming to Moody at that time so he attends a another strict conservative church where his father is a deacon in recent years he has fallen away from God and gotten very obsessed with sensuality and sex, including magazines, live shows, movies, etc. his mind is filled with sexuality. I was a virgin strong in God.
We spent many hours together discussing religion what we believe them. So we had a great relationship but I didn't know how overpowered he was by his sensuality. I knew of his past as many one nighters going to various porn shows with his buddies, etc. but I also knew the power of God's grace and forgiveness. We grew to love each other in early in April discussed marriage.
Then I gave into his sexual overtures.
Since then, our relationship is been very trying. We still love each other but we are caught up with our physical drives.
It's like two alcoholics trying to keep each other from drinking when their favorite liquor is sitting in front of them. We have been seriously trying to control these physical relationships and are now catch this into a very hateful guilty frustrating relationship if left alone, we indulge.
I want him to read some books where we can receive help, but is no time to read the books because he spends hours and hours watching TV and other things I want out this woman says I love this man but I love God more.
I know how great it is to be close to God and to commune with him.
God is sent to many afflictions to both of us. In my case it is sickness. That's interesting financial hardships, job pressures and now catch this. Both of us hate and abuse each other. Where does abuse come in the home and in the family, sexually and otherwise.
It usually comes from the back wash of sexual sin. That is never been taken care of and I need she says I want to get back to God and his world.
I need someone to share in his with I need Christian fellowship but I'm afraid of being added to the list of boat poor souls who sin.
She says that some people enjoy gossiping about. I don't like being ganged up on by well-meaning Christians.
I should explain that I was raised in a Christian home, a strict community and a pious church. I taught Sunday school Bible school led to youth groups and summer camps. I was sure I would be a virgin until I married. I felt sorry for those people who were sexual slave. I couldn't understand why two people in love couldn't wait until they were married. Now I'm one of those people that I want to get back to God because this life is not fun. Now my question is can this woman be in overcome her this past week I God in his providence allowed me to come across an article by John Piper in which he laments the fact that there's so many young people who begin with a radical love for Jesus. Radical obedience they're going to change the world are going to go to the mission field and they fall into sexual sin and as a result they feel disillusioned, guilty, unusable soil like the testimony that we heard today filled with guilt and Satan takes that weapon of guilt and said you know you're a loser. Look at what you've done. God can never use you give me just a few moments my friend to deliver you from that idea. Everyone who was listening to me today can be in overcome her. You'll notice it says I'm going to do this unless they repent in order to understand that I want to make a quick reference to a passage of Scripture in Colossians where it says simply that God made us alive together with Christ, having forgiven us.
Our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside mailing it to the cross my friend, when Jesus died on the cross all the guilt you bear and that the self hatred that is in your heart was paid for by Jesus.
Jesus paid it all. Let me ask you how many sins did Jesus pay for when he died on the cross.
How many of your sins. All of them. Thank you for answering by the way, usually we as preachers, we thought a question like that were not expecting a response so thank you. Let's say then together, all of them, all of them because all of your sins were future when Jesus died, you hadn't even showed up on this planet so that you could send yet and it says that he forgave us all our sins by taking the, the guilt and the wrath it was against us, and he said I'm going to take it from you and I'm going to nail it to the cross and Jesus is going to pay your debt so that we take from Satan.
The one weapon that he always uses that he says God can't use you. God can't use you. You have to be a second-class citizen settle for something less than wholehearted obedience and blazing commitment to God settle for something less because after all, look at what you've done and we say Satan be gone for it is written, he forgave all of our sins. And if we confess our sin, he is faithful and he is just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from go on righteousness you women you blessed sisters who had an abortion Satan comes to you and says, look at what you've done and you expect to be used by God. You say to him. Yes, I expect to be used by God because of the wonder of his grace. You man struggling with pornography, can God use you yes if you repent if you come under the authority of Jesus and say yes I am willing to to repent of my sin and the guilt and the sense of failure and loss and emptiness was carried by my Savior bore my sins and carried my sorrows before the throne. My surety stands. My name written on his hands, and here I stand that's what we mean when we speak of the substitution of Jesus for sinners. Your civil for whom did he pay the penalty and the answer is to all those who believe in Jesus and recognize their need and trust him.
After we trust him after we receive his forgiveness and stand on the basis of his promises. We know that it's not safe to send as we learned last time that we stand there saying as it says in the Old Testament, rejoice not against me or mine enemy, though I fall I shall rise again number of years ago a man in prison wrote to me and by the way, we have a lots of people listening to our broadcasts in prison both on the Internet and on the radio but he wrote to me and said I raped for women.
He said I ruined their lives now. I've come to Christ.
But he says can God really really see the thing that makes it so difficult is that for women's lives may have been ruined or partially room.
How do you think I write back something within us is will not you because you deserve to burn, and then were reminded that I deserve to burn and you deserve to burn and we all do. I wrote back and I said I want you to visualize two trails on one trail.
It is so messy and ugly that the driver has gone into the ditch and swerved into the ditch in an ugly way all the way along the line the other way is very well traveled. Now I want you to visualize 18 inches of snow falling on both trails. You can't tell the difference between this one and this one because they are both covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Yes, come on to me, says the Scripture though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Now if I were counseling you like. If we are having a cup of tea together. You know you might civil Pastor Lutzer if I really do come clean on this and repent. Who do I have to talk to. What do I have to make right. Those are all questions I can't answer from the pulpit here, but I do know this God will show you even that because you today can be a conqueror regardless of your past and what is the promise to those who conquer who keeps my works until the end. And may God grant us the grace to do so to him I will give authority over the nations and he will rule over the nations and rule with me. Wow, is it worth it is being a conqueror worth it. Her father in a world that is so broken. Helpless to encourage people to realize that regardless of their past.
Regardless of what has been done to them and by them that your grace meets them at the very point need help them. Father, help all of us.
All of us of done things of which we are ashamed we bring those into your presence for forgiveness for cleansing and for the whiteness of your holiness and grace we desire to be a holy church. Oh, helpless father we pray that there are those who listen to this message who perhaps this afternoon or tomorrow will spend an hour or two in prayer just finally laying it all down and dealing with it in your presence and now we ask that even as we saying that this may be an expression of our hearts will and on today's Moody Church. Our Pastor Lutzer spoke on when Jesus observes our holiness taken from Revelation chapter 2 the fifth of eight messages on what Jesus thinks of his church next week will learn about a message to the church at Sardis as we hear Dr. Luther preach on when Jesus observes our reality. What Jesus thinks of his church can be yours on CD for a gift of any amount Moody Church. Our call 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Moody Churches ministry or thank you to you is a CDL book with eight powerful messages. You can hear and then pass on to others. Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to moody offeror.com that's moody offeror.com. Join us next time for another Moody Church. Our with pastor Erwin lutes are in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago