daily Broadcast

Abide in Me

From the series The Four Great Invitations

Have you ever felt like Christianity is too complicated or demanding? Or that you have to earn God's approval? In this message, Chip shares his struggles with that mindset as he continues his series, The Four Great Invitations. Discover what it means to abide in Christ and why getting an accurate picture of God can lead to a more peaceful, joy-filled life.

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Message Transcript

So, as I start, I want you to listen very, very carefully. The Christian life is not a matter of doing more or behaving better. It’s a matter of going deeper. Let me say that again. The Christian life is not a matter of doing more or behaving better, but of going deeper.

If you were here in our last time together, I kind of ended it with the Christian life is not hard, it’s impossible. And so, here’s His invitation. Invitation number one: “Come to Me,” and the promise is peace. Invitation number two was, “Follow Me,” and the promise was purpose, direction, meaning, fulfillment.

And now you’ll notice in your notes at the very top, the blank is, “Abide in Me.” The promise is freedom, the promise is joy, the promise is power. It's – to abide literally means to stay connected to Jesus.

It’s so hard because there are three distractions. You might jot these down. Number one, the first one, why it’s hard to abide, is just write the word “distractions.” You are bombarded, I am bombarded, in fact, we carry distraction in our back pocket most of the time, don’t we? Buzz, buzz, blink, blink, blink, blink, right?

The second thing is distorted desires. In a fallen world, in other words, if you were riding in the Tour de France, as they are going up the steep, steep hills, they’re not saying, “I wonder why this is hard. It’s very, very steep.” I want you to know, as you live your faith and following Jesus, it’s uphill.

And then the third one is discouragement. The enemy’s number one goal is to get you to say, “I can’t do this. I am worth nothing. I am a failure. No one knows the thoughts I have inside. I can’t, I don’t think I can handle this anymore.” Or, “You know, I don’t want to quit, so I’ll just fake it, kind of.”

You’ll notice in your notes it says, “The context.” Put a circle around the word “context.” Anytime you get a passage, you want to know what came before it, what came after it, and why is it here? And the context is the chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 before what is right here.

In chapter 13, listen carefully, because we always think about the Lord’s Supper and Him washing their feet. But the very first line is, “I deeply desire to spend this time with you.” Jesus wanted to be with them. He washes their feet. Chapter 14, He desperately wants to be with them, so He says, “I’m going to leave, but I’m going to prepare a place for you because where I am, I want you to be with Me. And I promise you will be.”

Chapter 15, now they have taken a walk and as they have taken a walk and there are a number of things and there are vineyards, He pauses and what we are going to look at quickly is He is going to use a metaphor, a picture to say, “I am leaving physically, but I want you to stay connected to Me.”

And He’s going to say, “My Father is the vinedresser; I am the true vine, the hope of Israel, and if you stay connected to Me, in fact, everything that you have shared with Me when I was here physically, it’s going to be better.”

Chapter 16 says: how does it get better? Is, “The Holy Spirit is actually going to dwell in you and manifest not only My presence but the Father’s presence.” And then chapter 17, Jesus is praying for them and Jesus is praying for us even right now.

So, let’s imagine walking. We have sung a hymn, He has washed our feet, we don’t quite understand, we are a bit confused about this death that is coming. And He says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me,” here’s the invitation, “and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him,” result, “bears much fruit.” Why? “For apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away,” and then put a box around the next phrase, “as a branch,” I’ll explain why in a minute, “and dries up; and they gather them and they cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

The promise, “If you abide Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

When you are connected to Him and He is connected to you, your desires will align with God’s desires and you’ll start asking Him things and you will see Him answer vividly and powerfully.

He goes on to say, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you;” now notice the shift, it’s, “abide in Me,” now it’s, “abide in my love.” Well, how do you do that? “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

So, He [defines] this abiding not as just some ooey-gooey emotional feeling, but there’s this connection and there’s a connection that as we obey His Word, by the power of His Spirit, we abide in His love.

And then there’s a purpose clause. Why? What’s all this, what is the purpose of this abiding? “These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

I don’t know about many of you, but I don’t, at times, meet a lot of Christians that are really joyful. I meet a lot of Christians that talk about all their problems, all their struggles, how terrible the world is. This group of followers is going to go into the most hostile environment, eleven of them will sacrifice their lives. And the greeting card of the early Church in the midst of suffering and injustice and all kind of difficulty was this unquenchable, supernatural, non-understandable joy that they had. And it wasn’t because circumstances were good.

They had this connection - His presence, His personality, His comfort, His encouragement, even in the midst of what was happening there. But what has happened in our world is a subtle shift happened. And the shift that happened, especially in America and then it spread all over the place is that, actually, the real joy in life is if your life works out. You find the right person and you’re healthy and you’re upwardly mobile and things go your way and you have these expectations that it’ll be wonderful. And Jesus is sort of like your self-help genie that, “Jesus, help me get what I want.”

And a lot of people are deeply discouraged with God because He hasn’t come through. “I prayed about this, and I wanted that and I’m still single.” “I prayed about this, and I wanted that, but the company didn’t go public.” “I prayed about this, and I wanted that, but my kid didn’t make the traveling team, in fact, the coach was a jerk.” “I prayed…” right?

And kind of our hands are on our hips. And it’s like, “Hey, God, what’s wrong?” And we have missed what it means to abide.

And the Scripture teaches “In Your presence is fullness of joy, and at Your right hand are pleasures forever.” And don’t get me wrong, the gifts of God that He wants to give, He wants us to enjoy a good meal. He wants us to enjoy sex with our marital partner.

He wants us to be accepted and loved and find security. He wants us to have a job that we were made for and we are passionate about and brings great fulfillment. But all those things are gifts. And He says, “Where it starts is abiding in Me and Me in you.” The true vine, the great access to the Father, is Jesus.

And then this one line I do want you to get. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away.” Your translation is a little bit different, but about eighty-five percent of the time that this word is translated in the New Testament, it means to lift up. It’s not a negative. It’s like a vine and there’s a branch on the ground. And so, He lifts it up and positions it so it can bear fruit. And the ones that are already bearing fruit, He does something that feels very painful, He prunes it and He cuts off some of the extraneous things so that it’ll bear fruit.

And then remember you put a box around, “If any branch in Me that doesn’t bear fruit”? He’s talking to followers.

He says, “They are burned and cast into the fire.” This is not a picture of a believer going to hell. Jot on the side of your notes, “1 Corinthians chapter 3.” And you can go study it a bit later. And what he says is that we all, once we have come to know Christ and His Spirit lives in us and our sins are forgiven and He lives in us, there is a judgment, not for our salvation, but there’s a judgment coming where we give an account for: What did we do with the life that God gave us? The time, the energy, the money, the spiritual gifts?

And he says at that judgment, the things that were done for Him with the right motive, there are rewards: gold, silver, and precious stones. But those things where He gave us things and we didn’t do anything with them, or we did things in order to impress people with the wrong motive, he says they are wood, hay, and stubble. And there’s this judgment that those things burn and he’s very quick to say, “But you will be saved as through fire. There’s a refining process.

So, Jesus is saying to them, “There’s a lot on the line. The only one that can live this life is Me. And the only one that can live it is when the Holy Spirit, dwelling in you, produces this life.”

And then you’ll notice, I just did a little study for you. I’m hoping that you’ll kind of dig in on your own and take it deeper.

But it says, “What did Jesus teach Peter and the disciples about abiding?” “If you abide in Me and My – what does it say? “My words abide in you, ask.” There’s this vertical relationship like breathing and we inhale God’s Word. And as we inhale God’s Word through teaching, through time alone with Him, by kind of reading the Scriptures slowly and quietly. Not to get my three chapters done and put a checkmark, but to say, “What do You want to say to me?”

Here’s the one thing I want you to get. The Christian life is about Jesus wanting to be with you. He wants to be with you. It’s a relationship, it’s not a duty. It’s not just reading the Bible or praying so long or talking. And then did you notice? After there’s this vertical relationship of Him manifesting His presence, He says, “Abide in My love just as I abide in My Father’s love.” And He talks about loving one another. So, there’s this connection.

What I want you to know is that everything we are going to talk about is impossible to do alone. You can’t do it and I can’t do it. Every command in the New Testament is in the second person plural. “You all love one another, you all honor one another, you all encourage one another.”

No one can live this life apart from God’s Word. The inhaling of the Scriptures and the exhaling of talking to God in honesty and intimacy and authenticity. God is never impressed with our words. He is always looking at our heart and He longs to be close to us.

In fact, He longs to be close to us in the times when we want to run away from Him. Your failure, your mistake, your difficulty, you blowing it for the thirty-third time and you don’t really want to pray – the moment you come honestly, “Oh, God, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” and you mean it, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He saves those that are crushed in spirit.” That’s what David could say after he committed murder and adultery.

And so, on the right side, I just put, you know, Peter and the disciples, what did they do early on? They heard all of this and they were confused, they were anxious, then they failed, right? They abandoned Him. Then they got hopeful, you know? And then His death, then they were – don’t think anything is going to happen. They were defeated.

Then they went to His Word after the resurrection. And they looked at some of those Old Testament promises and the things Jesus told them. And then they prayed. And as they waited, they received power. Then the Holy Spirit indwelt them.

And if you want to jot down Acts 2:42 to 47, you’ll find that there is a life-giving, powerful community where, on a regular, rhythmic way they gave their attention to the apostle’s teaching and to the prayers and to meeting from house to house and sharing a meal and loving one another and meeting the needs of the poor. And it said, “The Lord added to their number daily.” That’s the picture of abiding and how it is manifested.

If you turn to the back page, I put a little picture that I introduced last time. I didn’t grow up reading the Bible. I didn’t grow up in a church that taught the Bible. As I shared earlier, then I came to Christ just before I went away to college. There was a bricklayer that began to help me grow. I tried really hard in my effort and my energy to live the Christian life. Once I found out I couldn’t do it, I quit. At least I tried to quit. But Jesus wouldn’t quit.

And so, in the midst of that, I began to learn, okay, how do you abide? And those things that came out of John 15, notice there’s the Word and Prayer in this vertical relationship. You notice there’s Witnessing and Fellowship in the horizontal relationship. And it’s all about having Christ as the center. And then just as you learn and as I learn, obeying what you know. I put a few observations about this wheel. It serves as a guide in our personal growth as a basis for abiding. Notice a wheel is dynamic. It’s always moving. When it’s moving, you don’t see the spokes. It’s not about how much you pray or this or that. What happens is you begin to see Christ. The emphasis is on relationship.

The Christian life is not about sort of some self-help, like, “How am I growing and how am I doing? And am I praying enough? Am I reading enough? Am I doing this?” Here’s the Christian life: My focus is on Jesus. All those things are merely means. When you’re really struggling and when I’m really struggling, don’t start focusing more and more in. Start setting your eyes and your focus on Him. And I want to talk about how to do that practically, because I have heard people say that, you know, “Fix your eyes on Jesus,” and I thought, Great! What does that really mean? How do you really do that?

By the way, if you want the full wheel illustration with verses and how it all works out, just Google, “The Wheel Illustration,” It was developed by another high-school-educated person named Dawson Trotman, who started a ministry called The Navigators, a discipleship ministry. And that bricklayer was a part of The Navigators.

You know what it means to abide, right? It means to stay connected to Jesus. How do you abide? It has something to do with the Word and prayer and being connected to other believers and responding in love and obedience to what we know, right?

It's really, really hard to abide, because we all get distracted, right? We all have distorted desires. Satan is always offering and the world is always offering really, really good things in the wrong way or the wrong time. And so, we fall in love with the gift. “If so many people knew my name,” or, “If we went public,” or, “If I had a house or I had a second house,” or, you know, “If I…” Well, you know, “If my body looked better and…”

You know, we have all these things that if/when, if/when, if/when, if/when. And then if you ever do get them it’s like, “Ugh, they didn’t deliver.”

And God says those are all gifts. Those are all things I want to give when you understand, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation.” I want you to enjoy these things as gifts and give Me the credit and cause it to spur on our relationship.

Well, back to this wheel. I accidentally learned how to abide. Are you ready for this? It was a pure accident, and my motivation was carnal. That’s how kind God is.

So, I’m deciding I can’t quit the Christian life and my roommate was a wrestler and we were very competitive. He was a heavyweight wrestler, and I was the skinny point guard. And so, he was going to go to this training program put on by this group that does the wheel. And he had these sixty verses he had to memorize. And there were two verses, you know, two verses on God’s Word, two on Prayer, two on Obedience, and then there was another – sixty total.

And so, I thought, I’m going to do one a day. I’m going to have them mastered. I’m just going to walk in and go, “Hey, Bob! How you coming with the…”

But to go through all of them, you know, I’m a very over-the-top, zealous, nutty person. I remember doing this. I’d get next to my bed and, Oh God, oh God, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Please, please, please, please, please. And I’m going to feel really bad about myself for about two days and then I’ll catch You later. It was sort of like whipping myself.

And I remember in this journey praying like that about a behavior that I was struggling with. And I didn’t know how that would work, but I remember getting up and thinking, I’ve been telling God how sorry I am and not changing over and over and over again. Because I didn’t know how to abide.

See, at the heart of abiding is honesty.
If you turn to the back page, I put a little picture that I introduced last time. Notice there’s the Word and Prayer in this vertical relationship. You notice there’s Witnessing and Fellowship in the horizontal relationship. And it’s all about having Christ as the center.

The Christian life is not about sort of some self-help, like, “How am I growing and how am I doing? And am I praying enough? Am I reading enough? Am I doing this?” Here’s the Christian life: My focus is on Jesus. All those things are merely means. When you’re really struggling and when I’m really struggling, don’t start focusing more and more in. Start setting your eyes and your focus on Him.

Well, back to this wheel. I was pretty much, after I had quit the Christian life and realized I couldn’t because Jesus wouldn’t leave me alone, I thought, Well, somehow, some way, I’ve got to figure it out. And I was in a Bible study and they had this wheel illustration. And what I realized, in my life, it was like, Okay, I wonder what’s wrong. Okay, number one, Christ isn’t the center.

If I replaced the circle, basketball was the center, and my girlfriend was the center. And then the Word was like, Well, you know? I’m reading my Bible maybe a couple, three times on good mornings. And I go to church maybe once or twice a month, sort of. Prayer is sort of like mostly running to class. And Fellowship, I do go to that Thursday thing. That’s really good and there are a lot of cute girls, so that was part of the motivation.

And as far as Witnessing, telling others, eh, yeah, actually a little bit, not too much. And then as far as Obedience, I’m coming a long way except in a couple areas. My thought life and lust. And I was stuck.

And there are two verses that go with each of those, and I accidentally learned how to abide. Are you ready for this? It was a pure accident, and my motivation was carnal. That’s how kind God is.

So, I’m deciding I can’t quit the Christian life and my roommate was a wrestler and we were very competitive. He was a heavyweight wrestler, and I was the skinny point guard. And so, he was going to go to this training program put on by this group that does the wheel. And he had these sixty verses he had to memorize. And there were two verses, you know, two verses on God’s Word, two on Prayer, two on Obedience, and then there was another – sixty total.

And I had one motivation. I’m going to do one a day. I’m going to have them mastered. I’m just going to walk in and go, “Hey, Bob! “How you coming with that?”

And then I was going to go, “Oh, yeah, Christ the center, Galatians 2:20, ‘For I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet, not I, but Christ lives within me. And this life that I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and died for me.’ You got that one down yet, Bob? Or, Bob, how about the Word? ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness that the man of God might be fully equipped for every good work.’ You got that one, Bob? Or, hey Bob, how about prayer? How you coming on prayer? John 15:7, ‘If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.’ Hey, Bob!” I went through all of them.

And I didn’t realize that I was renewing my mind multiple times every day. And all these verses were getting put into my mind and my subconscious. And then no one told me to start doing this or start doing that. My desires changed. Instead of willpower, willpower it was like – I remember just walking and a thought came to me, and it was a verse. And then I remember I went over here, and a verse came to my mind. And it was like, “Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

See, I spent most of my early Christian life living to gain God’s approval. And the Scripture teaches I already have it. And the paradigm completely changes when you live instead of for God’s approval, you live from God’s approval. I am His son! I have an inheritance. I am loved. While I was yet a sinner, Christ died in my place. He loves me for me.

And then I started, you know, then it was like, Hey, you know what? There are other verses in here other than these sixty! You know? And then I discovered the psalms and I thought, Man, these people are as messed up as me. They really struggle. Then I started praying these psalms back to God. And then I didn’t know how to live life and some guy said, “There’s a lot of wisdom; you ought to read some of those proverbs.” And so, you know, there’s thirty or thirty-one so every day I would read just a proverb.

But it went from duty, got to, ought to, feel guilty if I don’t to a discipline to a delight to the point – and it took a while. And I don’t want to make it sound like there’s just some magic, but I remember realizing the greatest part of my day was getting up and not performing: did you read your Bible? Did you pray? It was: Jesus wants to meet with me. It’s not that He loved me, He’s not a force. This isn’t some religion of principles. This isn’t like, “Read the Bible, get in a small group, go to church, take Communion.” This is a real person with emotions. I remember when I would miss my time in the morning, I’d realize, I think the Lord is a little sad today. See, I grew up thinking that if you ever messed up, He was always mad.

I remember one day thinking, I really love my wife, it happens to be her birthday and today I was thinking of the forty-three years we have had and just, despite all the ups and downs, just how good, how rich, how amazing she is. And, you know, there have been times where my schedule, we had something planned like a great dinner out and a romantic evening and something happened, and I missed it. Well, she wasn’t mad, it was like, Oh man, we missed out.

And when I finally realized, you know, when Jesus was talking to those disciples, “I eagerly wanted to spend this time with you.” In His humanity, He needed them as much as they needed Him. In His humanity, “Could you guys pray with Me? I’m going to go to the cross. I want you to be with Me. You’re my bros.”

And then, you know, that last night, He knew they were afraid, He goes, “I’m going to go prepare a place,” by the way, that place is real. There is a heaven and there is a new heaven and a new earth and a reality that is coming. And it’s as real as that. It’s that concrete. It’s not floating around and sipping iced tea and it’s not like an eternal worship service. And He wanted them to know, “I want, I want you to be with Me.” Abiding is about a relationship.

And as I began to memorize those verses, then my desire changed. And did I still mess up? Of course. But, you know, it’s really different messing up when you hurt a friend’s feelings than when you violate some principle, and you just try and cover for it.

I wanted to kind of wrap up my time by kind of my lessons. I have a head, a heart, and a hand. I think a lot about what do you need to know? What do you need to feel or grasp? And then what do you need to do in order to abide? And so, in terms of, if you really want to abide, you need a theology of your salvation and your identity in Christ. In other words, you’ll never really abide unless you learn: Who am I? And whose am I?

And so, you need to understand the Father ordained my salvation, the Son accomplished my salvation, and the Holy Spirit applies my salvation. And some of that is kind of heady stuff. For those of you that have been around for a long time, let me encourage you to read a book called Deeper by Dane Ortlund. He’s got another one called – what? – Gentle and Lowly where he takes theology and gets it to where, what does it look like?

And if what I’m talking about is a bit of a challenge, I wrote a book called Yes! You Can Really Change. If something like this would be helpful, grab it. But there are some things you do need to know. I mean, if you take calculus, right? There are some things you need to know. If you’re going to learn to do software, there are some things you need to know. If you want to be a follower of Jesus, there are some things you need to know. That’s your head.

The second is there are some things – heart – and in the heart, I think you need to feel and sense and reorient yourself in your Christian life around: This is a real person and a relationship. God is not the force. The goal is not to improve my behavior. Jesus is not my self-help genie. This is about a real person who has revealed what the Father is like, who is the second Person of the Trinity, that the Holy Spirit’s job is to manifest His presence and His personality and if you have trusted Christ, He lives in you.

And He wants to speak to you personally from His Word, He wants you to be loved and connected with others. And His presence inside you, He wants you to shape the lives of others and be shaped by them. And then He wants you to be His hands and His instruments to care and to love, especially the least of these.

And that’s something that needs to be a reorientation. If you consider the Christian life a bit like, “This is my job,” or, “How am I performing?” you will find yourself pretty frustrated. Trying hard. Joy is the byproduct of relationship.

And the final thing in terms of the to-do, what connects the head to the heart is your thinking. And so, you have to renew your mind. It was an accident that I started memorizing these cards. Well, after I did this, it was like, Wow! If sixty verses does this, anytime I found a verse that really spoke to me, then I would memorize it.

And then for some of you, you have been in the faith for a while, you need to pick out, what are some core chapters that, you know, when you’re sitting at a light you can go over in your mind, maybe Romans chapter 12 or maybe the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5, 6, and 7. By the way, you can do this! Or maybe it’s Ephesians 4 or maybe it’s a great psalm like Psalm 27 or Psalm 46 or Psalm 37. And pretty soon, you just, you start thinking and renewing your mind. Here’s what will happen, your desires will change.

The reason I meet with God in the morning is that if I don’t start my day with a focus and a connection in relationship, what I know is I’m going to get distracted later, right? I have distorted desires. I have been a Christian fifty years and I still have issues with all the things that you do that I need to battle. And left to myself, I’m going to get discouraged, because the enemy wants me to think I never measure up.

When I get really depressed, it goes like this, “You’re a terrible person. You’re a bad dad. You’re a terrible pastor. You’ll never amount to anything. Your life is a waste. You’re a bad husband.” And I think we all have dark times like that.

I’m just saying, “Hey, Lord, you know me! I’ve got all these struggles, here’s my background, I’ve got these family-of-origin issues, I married this wonderful girl, and her dad is an alcoholic. We have big marriage issues. We’ve got all this junk. Could I – You said if I would delight in You, You would give me the desires of my heart. You said if I abide in Your Word and Your Words abide in me, I’m trying to do that, but I struggle. So I’m telling You these are my desires.”

What would happen if you just took five 3x5 cards or on your phone, in your notes, and you wrote down: these are three or four desires of your relationship with God. Three or four desires with one important relationship. “My desire is to fill my mind with good things and guard my mind from evil things.” Because I really struggled with what I put in my mind.

And then in terms of those enemies that I talked about, I have unique ones and I think you do. And so, I wrote some that I wanted to be a part of my future that weren’t. “I want to become a worshipper. I want to enjoy God more, sing of His greatness, and ascribe worth and praise to Him.”

When I prayed, and I still struggle, I want to get something done. I’m an achiever, former workaholic, some would say it’s not as former as you think. And, you know, I’m performance oriented. Jesus wants to enjoy me. That still blows my mind. And when I sit quietly, when I – unlike most of my family, I can’t sing. I have none of those gifts. I put on some worship music and I sing to God, not very well. And that connection from truth to emotion to His presence. I mean, to me it’s a really special moment to emote. Like, I mean, when you’re with a really close friend, don’t you kind of laugh sometimes or cry sometimes? Worship does that in my life.

“I desire to hunger and thirst for God’s Word, to memorize and meditate on it at a renewed level of consistency,” and then here’s my line, “in order to know Him better.”

When you grow up in an alcoholic family, you become a pleaser. Because when you’re not, someone gets exploded and they get mad, and it gets scary. So what happens is you take that into your life and you end up wanting to please everyone, that creates tremendous tension. And so, this is one. This is my issue: insecurity. I read this over for years every day, “I’d like to become more authentic in every aspect of my life.” Just, God, whatever it means for the real me to show up and not to pose. And, by the way, I still pose.

“I’d like to be more generous this year with all the time and all the money that You have given me,” why? Because left to myself, I want to be in control. I want to control my time; I want to control my money. And as I have done that God has given me desires that I can’t understand where I have found myself to be more generous.

The final one is from Proverbs 4:23, but it’s, “I long to cultivate a heart of integrity and purity before God, allowing the Holy Spirit freedom daily to correct, convict, and restore me in matters of accuracy, privilege, power, perceived prestige, and moral purity, knowing my heart is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?”

Are you getting the picture? It’s just staying connected to Jesus, knowing that you have issues, I have issues. Knowing that you’re going to be distracted, knowing you’re going to get discouraged, and knowing that the enemy is all the time working and taking good things and give you distorted desires. But as you abide in Christ, the Lord will change your life, because the focus is Jesus. The whole goal is Jesus. And when you’re connected to Him, you will have joy when things are going great. And when you’re connected to Him, you will have joy when things aren’t.