I remember my oldest son was being mentored by a guy. And he was talking about this amazing time with this guy and how it’s helping him. He was newly married at the time and making such a difference.
And then he shares this story, this guy that was mentoring him and helping him, who, every morning, this guy got up and made coffee and brought it to his wife in bed.
And my son is telling me this and I’m thinking, at the time, I’ve been married twenty-eight years, How many times have I done that? Um, uhhhh. You know?
You know the delight it is to see someone’s eyes open up and just realize you pleased them? That’s what it means to walk in a manner worthy. It’s not about this rule or that rule.
Of course we keep the rules out of love and obedience. But it’s pleasing Him. And that is our motivation.
But notice, then, it’s how we relate to people, “Bearing fruit in every good work.” Our series on doing good, that’s it. That’s our exact word. It says that the way you walk in a manner that is worthy, you’re good to people, you’re kind to people, you’re generous to people, you put them first, you love them. And you do it in real actions.
He says, “That’s how you walk worthy.” And then, in your relationship to God, “increasing in the experiential knowledge of God.” He says, “When you walk worthy, it’s not like, Okay, thank you for forgiving me. I’m doing my own thing.” You become the kind of person that says, “I’m not just trying to figure out, Should I read a chapter a day to keep the devil away? I want to know You, I want to talk to You.”
When a verse speaks to you, you write it on a little card and you memorize it. And you begin to pray in the car and you look for opportunities. And pretty soon, you are interacting with God and you are growing in the real, intimate, experiential knowledge and He gives you these little thoughts and these little promptings.
And, at times, He convicts you. But that’s how you walk in the manner worthy of the Lord. And as you do that, you realize that it’s based on, not your strength, but supernatural power.
“Strengthen with all power, according to His glorious might.” Underline, if you will, strengthened and the word power. Same root word. He is really trying to make a point.
We get our word: dynamite. The Greek word is dynamis. You can hear it. He says, “There is a supernatural power of the Holy Spirit that has taken up residence in you and walking worthy, pleasing Him, these good works, they don’t flow out of you trying to be a good person. They flow out of you abiding in Christ, and seeing others through the lens of Jesus and saying, God, I want You to live Your life through me, and His Spirit empowers and strengthens. And then, by His glorious might, His exceeding majesty.”
And then he says, “This produces something, because the real test of walking worthy isn’t when things are going well.” The real test of walking worthy and pleasing God is when it’s really, really hard.
And so he uses two words. One is endurance. And the other is patience. And the adjective behind it is: With great endurance and great patience. Great endurance? Hupomeno: being under, pressure. It means putting up with impossible situations, circumstances, difficulties, health issues, the economy is going upside down, unfairly being fired.
Just situations, the brother-in-law, the sister-in-law, the parent who abused – difficult situations. God gives you grace by His power, as you are walking with Him and one day at a time, you endure, you persevere.
And two things happen. One, people can’t understand how you do it. And the other is you, in the midst of that pressure cooker, become more and more like Christ. You become more gentle, more sensitive, more understanding.
And it’s not just impossible situations but impossible people. The word patience is different from the word endurance. We learned this earlier. Makrothymeōs. Remember in I Corinthians 13 where you absorb the blow and give a hug? This is that word where you absorb the blow. Your reactions, impossible people, difficult people, people that you want to punch them, they make you so mad.
And you ask God for the grace and the strength to love them in a way Jesus loves them through you.
And so what you have here is, these are graphic pictures and Jesus would say to you and me, “This is why I left heaven. I left heaven to give you a hope that would never disappoint. And I left heaven to show you something. I wanted to show you exactly what the Father’s perfect individual plan is for you.”
Because when you live this life that is pleasing to Him, it’s amazing what happens in you. It’s amazing what happens around you.
It was about, it must be about five years ago, and we did what was called our First Prime Movers Group. And it’s kind of a Bible study for some executives and some people that have done well in life that are asking, What do I do with the rest of my life?
And it was the very first one, it was an experiment, I literally did it in the basement of my house in Atlanta. And there was a young guy there named Michael. And everyone else was older and grown some companies or run some companies or built some companies or sold some companies. And they had time, affluence, and influence and they really wanted to be used for God and so we spent twenty-four hours talking about what that would look like and then a number of them went on for six months and met and talked about, How could that happen?
And this guy, at the time, was late thirties. He did some sort of thing with a medical device and it went public and he ended up being part of the team and got a bunch of money from it. And he was this driven, overextended, can you identify in Silicon Valley? Up early, up late, two small kids.
And as we went through the time, his marriage was completely out of whack, his kids were being neglected, he wasn’t getting much sleep, he was this type A, driven, over the top.
And so we had this time where we are sharing, because each guy had to share what was going to happen. And it wasn’t like someone is leading, the group actually helps one another.
Well, most guys that are really high capacity have never been in a group with other very, very high capacity people. And so, number one, no one is intimidated. Everyone has lots of zeros or letters or whatever makes you super-duper.
And so it became this really safe place. And he starts talking and making all the excuses and these older guys, I still remember, literally, these grown men, some of them are crying in my basement. And they are looking at him and saying, “Michael, ten million, twenty million, it won’t mean squat if you lose your marriage! It cost me mine! I was an idiot. I was sounding just like you right now.”
And they were just, I just stepped back, I thought, I’m not going to mess with this one. I let those guys talk. And Michael went on a journey. For the next six months, with a group, he started getting his marriage, little by little, and a couple steps forward and a few backward, make some progress.
And then what often happens when you’re the guy that takes something public and you’re the guy that has the invention, whatever it was, and it goes public and they hire a board and then someone else gets to run it and then they let you know they don’t need you anymore. Well, that happened to Michael.
And so he was given a year or two of severance and I think a pretty good sum of money to leave. And he said, “I spent that whole year getting reacquainted with my wife. And what is God’s holy ambition, what is His perfect plan for me? And what does He want me to do?”
And he and I were talking on the phone Thursday and just something came up that got us on the phone. And I said, “Well, how are you doing?” He said, “Chip, I just have to tell you,” he’s probably mid-forties now, “this is the sweetest season of my life.”
And I said, “Why?” He said, “I have peace like I have never experienced, my wife and I are at a place that we have never been, it’s rich, it’s good.” And I said, “How did that coffee thing go?” Because he shifted his gears and he had this idea that, you know all the free trade coffee and how that goes and these farmers that are getting ripped off?
So he created this thing and went around the world and so he created this brand and he said, “Well, we sunk most of our money into that that I got from the last deal. And we got down to almost nothing. But we did it together as a couple, we felt like it was really God’s will.” And he said, “Last week, and I can’t tell you who it is, but last week, one of the major chains, fast food chains,” he said, “this summer we will supply coffee for all of their chains all across America. And on every cup, it will have our logo and it’ll have a little website where people can go and help out these guys.”
And he said, “You know, whether that happened or not was immaterial.” He said, “I would never want to go back to the way I was living.” You know what Michael learned? God revealed His perfect plan for Michael and it wasn’t about money and it wasn’t about impressing and it wasn’t about getting ahead. It was about being a man who walks worthy of God.
And when you do that, as described here, and you endure as we all will, great difficulty and circumstances and people, then you experience, you get to experience what we sing every Christmas, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing. And heaven and nature sing. And heaven and nature sing. Joy to the world, let the earth receive her…”
You know what this passage says? That little baby grew up – fully man, fully God – every knee will bow and every tongue will confess He is the King of kings, He is the Lord of lords.
And when He is the Lord, now, of your life, when you live in a way that the knowledge of His will and what that means and He is the King of your life, heaven sings and earth sings and circumstances align.
It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it means there is peace. It means there is joy. It means all that anxiety and all that stuff and all those hopes and all those people and all that frenzy that we live with, dissipates. That’s why He came.
Reason number three is Jesus left heaven to rescue us from the power of darkness. I put the passage right in your notes. “He joyously gives thanks to God the Father,” Paul is still praying. He says, “I want you to know God’s will,” – why? “I want you to know God’s will because of this hope that can never disappoint. And now I am joyously giving thanks to the Father,” and then he talks about what the Father has done through the Son, “who qualified us to share in the inheritance of saints in the kingdom of light, who rescued us from the dominion of darkness, who bought us and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I just want to make the point, He rescues us from this domain or power of darkness. And I just want to remind you that you live in a very, very dark world. There is a lot of good because of the grace of God and the light of God.
My last day in Singapore, to China I was flying. And when I landed, there was a guy that I really admire, he is a good friend, he is an older Christian. And we were walking in the airport there in Shanghai, getting on the bus, he and his wife. And then we were starting for the hotel. And Joe turned to me and said, “Did you hear what happened in North Korea?”
He said, “Eighty people were executed, publically.” I said, “What?” He said, “No, no. It’s worse than that. They actually brought large crowds, families, kids – they made them all witness this. And then they read charges, they put hoods over their head, eighty people lined up, hoods over their head, and the charges were: Worshipping in unregulated places. Charge: Possession of a personal Bible.”
And then, with all the children and this new leader wanting everyone to know: This is how we deal. We don’t just threaten. [Makes machine gun noises] Eighty people killed.
Then there is Sudan. Remember Bosnia? Remember Idi Amin? Remember Stalin? Remember Mussolini? More people died in the last century than all the centuries combined, killed by their own leaders.
You live in a day where there is corruption and greed and evil and darkness. And it’s corporate and it’s embedded in business and in government and in churches. It’s embedded in families. It’s embedded in individuals. And it’s dark! And what is scary, in the words, it’s so timely, of Nelson Mandela. Someone asked him, “How could you come out of prison and do what you did and forgive and bring about reconciliation?” He said, “Everything I did I learned in twenty years, by myself,” you should read his book.
He said, “It was in twenty years, all by myself, in that cell, that what I understood was all the evil in the world also resided in my heart. It was in my heart. And all the evil and all the tragedy and all the anger and all the bitterness and all the things I would do back to other people that they have done to us is in my heart and if we were in power, we probably would have done the same thing. And I realized what needed to happen was I needed to change. And no one can bring about change until they change.”
And I want you to know that he came to rescue, not just the world, but you, from the evil in your heart. What you are capable of and what I am capable of, given the right circumstances, in the right way, at the right time.
Underline the word, qualified; put a circle around, rescued; put a circle around, dominion; put a box around, brought us; and another box around, redemption. Did I go to fast? Yes. Okay. Underline qualified; underline, inheritance; circle around, rescued; circle around, dominion; a box around, brought us; and then a box around, redemption.
So how did he rescue us? This is so exciting. He qualified you! This word means He made you fit. In other words, the evil in your heart, the sin, the debt that you had before God, what Christ did on the cross and the resurrection, He qualified you, He made you competent, He made you fit by what He did on the cross.
It’s a picture of: Your account has been approved. You know when you go for a loan? You want to buy a house or something? And you submit all your stuff and they look at you and they go, “Oh, yeah, you’re approved.” Well, when you try and submit a loan to heaven, no one is approved on their merit, but Jesus says, “Because of what I have done, you are approved.”
And what did He qualify you for? He named you as an heir. You are in His will. You’re an heir in the saints of light. The moment you turned from the kingdom of darkness, He rescued you out of darkness, if you put your faith in Him, places you in the kingdom of light, and now He says, “You are an heir.” Everything that is true of Jesus becomes true of you. His reigning, His power, His blessing, His forgiveness, His place, His heaven, His purpose. He says, “You are an heir, you are in My will.” He died. The will is open. It’s called a testament.
We call it, “The New Will,” or, “The New Testament.” And all the promises there are, “Whosoever would believe and trust in Him.”
Third, He defeated sin, death, and Satan through the cross and resurrection. That is how He did it. That’s how He rescued you. There is an enemy. Evil is real, sin is real, death is real, energized by the enemy Satan.
And he says, that little phrase, you put a box, “He brought us,” literally, the word is, transferred. He brought us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. That little word, “brought us,” you could write the word transferred in your notes.
In the ancient world, this Greek word was used of someone who would conquer a people and he would transfer them from this city, this colony, over to this other city.
And the Spirit of God takes that and says, “That’s what happens to every single person, because of what Christ did in your place, if you, by faith, have believed the declaration of the gospel, that reality is true. And the result is you are redeemed.
He defeated sin, death, and Satan. And number four, He purchased you out of the slave market of sin and released you from your sins. That word, redeemed comes right out of the ancient world.
If you were downtown in the ancient city, on any given day, there would be a small platform and there would be slaves in chains. Sometimes families, sometimes individuals, and you could walk in and say, “I’ll give you fifty dollars for that one, or twenty dollars for that one.” And you would buy them out of slavery to be your slave.
And the word used for buying a slave out of there, is the word, redemption. And then so you don’t miss it, he goes, “The forgiveness of your sins.” Literally, the release. The sending away of your sins that God holds you accountable for, because He is holy, and he says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far God has removed your sins from you if you are in Christ.
And that is the declaration of the gospel. That’s why He came. He came to give you a hope that would never disappoint, He came to reveal God’s perfect plan for your life, and He came to rescue you.
Literally, it’s a picture of, if you’ve ever seen the documentaries about the little girls that are rescued out of prostitution, like in Thailand? I have a friend who runs a ministry that does that. And he says, “We will go in there and we will find out what all the laws are, and most of them aren’t ever kept and we will work with the legal people there. And then we will set up a sting operation. And then we will go in and we will rescue ten, eleven, twelve year old little girls that are locked in rooms, some of them hang themselves.”
And he says, “We rescue them. We deliver them out of that. But once we do that, what we realize, that’s just the beginning. Then we have homes for them. And they need to know they are valuable because they have been hurt, they have been abused, and they need to be loved.
And we teach them they have value and we teach them a skill. And we give them a new life. That’s what God has done for you. It’s what He has done for me.
So the question. Why did He come? The answer. He came because He loves you and wants you to have a personal, intimate relationship with Him forever. That’s why He came. It’s why we celebrate the baby.
“Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.” I never saw that before. You are triumphant! You are delivered from darkness and the domain and the power of death and sin and Satan. So come and behold Him, your King.
Well, as we wrap up the Christmas story, you can tell it through a lot of different eyes. But there seems like there are a couple of big responses. When some shepherds hear about this baby, they leave everything. They are the low people on the totem pole. They are the social, as low as it gets, vocationally.
And they leave the sheep and they come and see and they worship and they are the first to go share.
Or if you’re a wise man, they are sort of the upper crust. They had a lot of resources. They realigned their life and their time to go on a journey, whatever it takes, so they can see and find and worship this new King, and they do it.
And then there is the innkeeper. And it’s just another day. It’s just a young couple. It’s a census. “I wish I had room, but I don’t! She looks really pregnant, but a lot of people get pregnant. God bless you two. There is no room in the inn.”
And so the Creator of the world is born in a manger. And every year, when I read this story, I realize, I am either a shepherd, a wise man, or an innkeeper. And the question I have for you: Is there room in the inn of your heart, not just for that baby, but for the risen Christ who has a hope that won’t disappoint, who has a plan that He wants you to follow, and wants to rescue, if you’ve never been rescued out of darkness?
Or my experience is, there are a lot of us that, even after we come to know Jesus, we get trapped in darkness.