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About this series
Turning God-Shaped Dreams into Reality
The God of the universe is looking for regular people to accomplish things beyond our wildest dreams. In this series, from Nehemiah 1 - 6, learn how God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things and the process by which He molds men and women for His purposes.More from this series
“For the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth that He might strongly support those whose hearts are fully His.” Think on that with me, okay? Get that into your head and your mind.
The eyes of the Lord – the Spirit of God, in this room, on this night – are going up and down, all through the aisles, and He’s looking for a man, or a student, or a woman whose heart is fully His, and He promises if He could find one man, or one woman, or one student, He would strongly support it.
What do venture capitalists do? They find people who have a dream, a vision, organization skills, and a plan, and then when they find the right people, with the right plan, at the right time, they fund it. And then, they keep track and they bring about expertise. That’s what God wants to do. He wants to fund your ministry vision, the Ephesians 2:10 calling on your life. And I want to tell you, we’re going to talk about how to know if your heart is fully His, and, if it is not, how to move, week by week, where He will do, in you and through you, things you never dreamed.
Because, actually, this book is full of stories of people who, if you would have met them before they became apostles, or if you would have met them before they stood at the edge of the Red Sea, or if you would have met them just before the invaders were coming, and they laid out this prayer before God and said, “There are a million or so of them, and three hundred thousand of us, and we’re going to be toast. And God, if you don’t do it…”
Every single one were just ordinary people. And God cares about your relatives, and He cares about the people you work with, and He cares about the people that are right next door to you.
And the fact of the matter is, is that He will strongly support you. He’ll give you whatever you need. If you need courage, you need faith, you need money, you need staff, you need an idea – whatever you need. If God can find a man, a woman, or a student whose heart is fully His, He will do extraordinary things through ordinary people, for His exclusive glory.
So, if you’ll pull out your teaching notes, let’s start the journey together. And that’s a great verse, and I actually memorized it years before I ever studied it. It was one of those verses that was, “Wow!” But let me give you a little background on it, because it means even more when you study the background.
It actually comes out of a story in 2 Chronicles 16. But the real story starts about verses 14 and 15. And it’s about a king named Asa. And Asa was a good king at a bad time. And in this time in Asa’s world, people are worshipping idols, they’re sacrificing their kids to Moloch and others. It was horrendous what was happening.
And most of the kings were involved in it. If you read 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Chronicles, it goes like this: bad king, bad king, bad king, bad king, bad king, okay king, bad king, bad king, good king, bad king, bad king. There are not very many good kings. In fact, Asa’s father didn’t do a great job, and the one before him was worse.
And Asa gets this heart for God – and it opens in chapter 14 – and he honored God because he removed the idols. And then, he started a little building program. And then, God gives him about ten years of rest, in the little area of Judah, he obeys God. And it begins to get cleaned up, and God sees his heart, and then, God brings a test.
There’s the army, the Cushites, it’s the northern part of Africa. And they have well over a million soldiers. And he’s got a decent army, but it’s like, This is impossible. And so, he goes out to battle and he literally says, “God, no one can stand against You.”
And you read the prayer. I encourage you to do it. And he basically says, “God, if You don’t show up, if You don’t do it, there is no way.” The odds are insurmountable. And they have this amazing victory that is supernatural by God.
And it’s so amazing that, when he gets done with the victory, a prophet comes. And the prophet says, “Asa, the Lord’s pleased with you” – and this is a great line; I read this afresh this morning – “and if you will be with Him, He will be with you. Asa, if your life lines up, and if you’ll be with Him, and do life His way, and align with Him, He will be with you. But if you turn away from Him, Asa, He’ll turn away from you.”
And Asa got it. And he pulled together all the people. And he said, “You know something? Historically, we are so far off.” And there’s this national repentance, and there’s this movement of God.
And then, another prophet comes. And so, he gets fifteen years of relative peace in a small area, and then, he gets another twenty years of massive success: building programs, removal of idols. There’s even a little line in there where it talks about he even removes the queen mother, his grandmother.
See, when you start getting really serious with God, He does stuff in you, and through you. There’ll be a few really touchy relationships where you’ve got to step up, and be honest, and clear, and walk with Him. And I think that text was saying, Asa, from bottom to top, was honoring God.
And then, we pick it up in chapter 16. And it’s the thirty-sixth year of his reign. So, he’s had thirty-five years of success. And there’s a great door of opportunity.
In verses 1 through 6 of chapter 16, here’s the door of opportunity: It looks like a bad situation. You can follow along, but what happens is, is that Judah and Israel are at odds, and the king of Israel is really making war on Judah right now.
And he’s got thirty-six years. And after time, you get a little bit older, if you’re not careful, you get comfortable. And you start relying on you, instead of relying on God.
And so, he sees this problem, and so he hires some mercenaries – the king of Aram. He empties his treasury, and the king goes ahead, does what he said he would do: He attacks Israel. Israel withdraws. Hey, great, things are okay.
Now, let me read, because I want you to pick up the text in verse 7 of chapter 16 of 2 Chronicles. And he’s thinking, I’m a good man. I’ve been a good king. I’ve got thirty-five years under my belt. We had a problem; I had the resources, took care of the problem.
“At that time, Hanani, the seer, or the prophet, came to Asa, the king of Judah and said to him, ‘Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.’”
See, God’s plan, when He brought that difficulty – He wanted to use the biggest, new difficulty for a greater and greater opportunity of victory. But he said, “You kind of blew it.”
And then, he reminds them: “Were not the great number of Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet, when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand.”
And then, we get our verse. See, this is an axiomatic characteristic of God. This isn’t just an Old Testament passage. He rebukes him, and he says, “For the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth.” This is a principle. This is how God works.
“Don’t you understand, Asa, if you would have relied on Him now, like you used to, the hand of God, and the support of God, and the victory of God. But instead, what you did is, you grew comfortable, and you relied on you, and on your resources, and you missed.”
And, unfortunately, if you continue to read, Asa’s response is a little less than we’d hope. And he gets a little contrary, and throws a few people in prison, and it’s really a bit of a sad ending.
A great door of opportunity, a sad commentary. And here’s what I tell you: When you read through this book, or when you read through Church history, a lot of people start well in the Christian life. Very, very few finish well.
If you are fifty years and older, and you’ve walked with the Lord for fifteen to twenty years, let me put an asterisk in your soul. Chances are, you will not finish well, unless you get intentional, unless you get focused.
What happens is, you get risk averse. When you were desperate, when you didn’t know anything, you’d read the Bible. It says it. I’ll try it. I’ll do it. God showed up.
And then, pretty soon, He blesses your life. And then, pretty soon, you find a little comfort level, and you’re operating on the verses of yesteryear. And then, pretty soon, it’s, “God, how can You make my life work?” And, “How can life not get too dangerous?” And you stop relying on God.
And if you’re not careful, you end up just a nice, moral, religious person who misses what God called you to do in this life. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be there. And I want to have a holy ambition. I want to make a difference with my life, until the day I die.
Well, the question is: will we answer God’s call to make a significant impact at this pivotal moment in history? All you need is three minutes of watching FOX or CNN, or one of the major stations to realize we’ve got nukes in a couple countries, with terrorists with the ability to get their hands on them very quickly.
We have an economy in Europe, that, because of outrageous debt, now they can’t sustain the system they’ve developed. We now have a global economy, where we had things teetering a couple years ago, but we don’t live independently any more. And it is not only a flat world, but the whole thing can go under. The whole thing can go under.
And yet, we now have people who actually believe, with all their hearts, that the way to paradise is to strap on a bomb, and intermittently go to various countries, and blow up people in the name of a false belief system, thinking that honors God.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if you think that just getting your kids in the right school, or, if you’re single, finding the right person, or getting that good job, or someday living in a gated community, or remodeling the house is going to be the big answer of life, you are deluded. We are living in a window of opportunity of time that God is calling His Church to step up and be difference makers.
And so, we’ve got a great door of opportunity. Read Church history. The Early Church – it wasn’t born out of things going great. There was crisis. There was crisis in the government. There was crisis in all these religions. There was crisis in philosophy. That produces a fertile environment where people, like never before, are open to not just hearing about Christ, but trusting Him, and walking with Him, and making a difference.
What will it mean for each of us? First of all, it means we’re going to have to model it. You can’t impart what you don’t possess. You’ve got to model it. You can talk all day – you have to live it out. You can do God talk in the mall, but you’ve got to do God walk at home, and God walk at the job, and God walk in your family. See, you have to model it.
I was talking to a man on the plane – he’s an answer to a three or four-year prayer. This was bizarre. I got on the plane to come from Dallas and a couple said, “Excuse me, we’re a husband and wife – would you mind if we sit here? Could you sit here, and we’ll sit here?” And I said, “I’m traveling by myself, that’s fine.” So, they sit here, and I sit here, and a guy sits next to me.
And I’ve been praying about, how do you multiply groups, and, “God, how does it really work?” And I understand bits and pieces – I’ve been reading. I’ve been thinking. I’ve been looking at churches. I’ve looked at things around the world. I know there’s a way, and I’ve got pieces, but I don’t understand it all. And I sit next to a guy who, in the last eighteen years, was responsible for writing the strategy for, and pioneering, planting, a hundred thousand churches around the world.
And I said, “David, are you tired?” He said, “Not particularly.” I said, “That’s very good, because I’m getting my legal pad out, and you’re going to be answering questions for the next three hours.” He said, “Fire away.” I said, “Brother, I am.”
And I’ll tell you, when I got done, I said, “Okay, where can I get this?” He put pieces together that I’ve never seen.
I’m just telling you, God is working in our midst. And it will require every person in this room, and every person in this church, to discover the holy ambition that He has for you.
But it starts where we model it. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect. That means we’re making progress, and we say what we say, and we do what we do, and when we mess up, we say things like, “I messed up.”
Second, it requires focus. The key to impact is concentration. And the key to concentration is elimination.
If those last two quotes I’ve made sound a lot like Howard Hendricks, it’s because it’s Howard Hendricks, my mentor.
I was listening to a series, and it’s called The Ceiling of Complexity. As you work hard, and you get focused, and you do a few simple things, then that grows, and then that grows, and that grows.
Then, you have to have meetings to talk about the simple things that grew into big things. Then, you have to write reports about the simple things that grew into the big things. And then, you have to hire people, or we get involved in other things.
And then, pretty soon, your life – anybody have stacks at home? Clutter, clutter, clutter, stacks, stacks, stacks, email, email, email, phone, phone, phone? And, actually, many of you are very successful. And then, what happens is, you hit a ceiling. And you unwisely, like me, believe that the way you break through the ceiling is working harder and longer. Mmmm. That’s not what the research demonstrates.
The fact of the matter is, your paradigm has to completely change, and you have to simplify your life. And you have to realize, you’ve got to focus. And there are a number of things that you’ve been doing, doing, doing, that made you successful, that you have to step back and say, “Some of those I can’t do anymore, and some people will be a little upset because I’m drawing a boundary. And I’m going to get back to the simple, focused things that I’m best at, that I love to do, that caused the growth in my life, my family, and my relationships.”
Most people today are flashlights: diffused light going multiple directions, with high frustration, and lack of productivity. People who are laser beams have discovered the few things they can do. They say “no” to a lot of things, and to a lot of people, and they do a few things extraordinarily well. And a laser beam can cut through a steel door. And a flashlight can see about thirty feet across the room. So, which are you?
And we’ve believed, we have started to believe that the invisible gun that we hold to our head – that someone else’s hand is on it, and it’s not. It’s yours, and it’s mine: “I have to be here. I’ve got to go here. I’ve got to go here. I’ve got to go here. My kids are involved in four youth sports, and I’ve got these three meetings, those two meetings.” Time out. Who signed up for that? Who said your kids have to be involved in that much?
“Well, I have to do this, and this. We’re both working.” Well, who says you both have to work? “Well, we’d have to rent, instead of buy.” Well, who says you have to buy?
At the end of the day, you make choices. I make choices. And they determine everything. And some of the subtle choices you’ve made have ripple effects that have you living a life that you don’t like, that’s not fulfilling what you were made to do, and you keep hitting these walls.
It will require that we model it, and then, it requires focus. And the key to focus is concentration. The key to concentration is elimination.
And so, it will mean, for each of us, that God gives us a holy ambition. God is searching, as intently today as He was in Asa’s day, to strongly support those whose hearts are fully His. He’s looking for those who would dare to dream, and to believe that they can, in fact, change the world – and I would really say it like this: change your world.
No one knows your world, and the needs, like you do. It’s the people you love. There are certain things. We don’t have to change the world if we will each change our little sections, and the things that cause our hearts to beat faster, and the needs, and the hurts that cause something inside of us – where the Spirit of God is pulled out, and He says, “If you had more time, you could really care, and make a difference.”
And we keep telling the Spirit, “Well, I will, later, when things slow down.” And, “I will, later, when I have more time.” And, “I will, later, when I have more resources.” And I’ve got news for you: That “later” is never coming. It comes when you say, “That, I must do.” And, “God, I will listen to Your voice, and rearrange my time, and my schedule, and my living, and my thinking, and my viewing around what it will cost to do that.” And those who do that experience a holy ambition.
Well, our model, is going to be a man who had a holy ambition. What I like about him, he’s not a prophet. He’s not a priest. He’s a business guy. He’s a guy with a nine-to-five job.
His job, in that day, was to be the cupbearer. And he would taste the wine, taste the food, so that, if it’s poison, you die before the king does. It wasn’t a great job, but the food was good. But he also became a confidant. He became friends with the king. You were the inside man.
It was always chosen, someone outside the royal line, so, in this case, he wants a Jewish cupbearer, because he’s the Persian king. Because a lot of Persians want the job, and the way you get to be the king is, you kill the present king. And, when you look at history, sometimes it’s even your own sons or whoever does it.
And so, we’re going to meet a man named Nehemiah and God has judged his children, because they’ve worshipped idols. And because of their worship of idols, they’ve been dispersed.
And after they had been dispersed, he promised he would regather them, and there has been a partial return. And Zerubbabel was one of God’s men – a prophet – and he went back and said, “Hey, people! God promised. Let’s get with the program.” And it wasn’t very successful. And then, Ezra headed back. And he was a teacher, and a scribe. And he teaches God’s word, and still wasn’t getting any traction.
And so, we pick up the story in Nehemiah 1. And it says, “The words of Nehemiah, the son of Hakaliah: in the month of Kislev” – which is our November, December – “in the twentieth year” – and the reference is the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, who’s the king of Persia. “While I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish people, the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.”
And by the way, it’s interesting that the people who get a holy ambition that’s from God ask questions. Nehemiah gets a report, and he asks about the people, and he asks about the place.
And now we get the report: “They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile are back in the province and they’re in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’”
So, the wall would be protection. It would be a functioning city. The gates are where the elders would meet. It’s how you could close things off. You would have security. It would be a functioning city that was growing, and making progress.
We know that the Temple hasn’t been rebuilt, that the walls are crumbled, and the gates are burned. Basically, you look at Jerusalem, and this is the city that God promised would be the hope of the world. And if you could go back in a time machine, and look at that city, at this moment, you would just say, “God’s agenda is dead. It ain’t going to happen. All those promises He made, and a coming Messiah, and the – man, it is, it’s done. The place is in shambles.”
And there are people today who, when you look at the world situation, you look at the economy, you look at the violence and the murder, when you look at terrorism, when you look at people who have the ability to actually blow up whole cities. People are saying, “Where’s God in all this?”
The answer is: He lives inside His children, and they have an agenda today, just like there was an agenda then. And the issue that will really make the big difference is, how will you respond to the news that you see today?
Nehemiah could have said, “Well, that’s really tough. I’ve got a full time job. Someone has to eat the king’s steak, and drink the best wine in the world, and it’s just my job. Don’t blame me if I have a Rolex sundial, and an Armani toga. And that Lexus chariot I have is pretty hot. In fact, I’ve got six horses now, instead of four, and they really zip when I go through town, you know? I’m called by God; I’m doing what God wants me to do. It’s working for me, right?”
And, “I didn’t create that mess! I’m just a regular guy – I’m not even a prophet! I didn’t go to Bible school, didn’t go to seminary. Look, I’m a business guy. Okay, okay, yeah – okay, I’m a wealthy business guy. Okay, yes, I have affluence. Yes, I have influence.
Yes, I’m positioned in a strategic place in world history. But, God couldn’t use someone like me.”
Look at his response: “When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. And for some days I mourned, and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
Will you put a circle around the word sat? Would you put a circle around the word wept? Would you put a circle around the word mourned? And would you put a circle around the phrase fasted and prayed?
When you see God’s agenda going down the tubes, when you see what’s happening in America, when you see only one out of ten, or one out of twelve people, who are self-identified as “followers of Jesus,” living like Jesus, you think of Gandhi’s words, who said, “I think very highly of your Jesus, but I can’t recommend Him to my people, because His followers are so unlike Him.”
His response? He stopped. He stopped. He sat down. When you sit down, you stop. He didn’t say, it’s not like watching TV, and there’s a World Vision commercial or Compassion, and you see the little kid with the belly, and you go, “Oh boy. Flip back to sports, or news, or something. That makes me uncomfortable.”
It’s not like going to the mall, and looking into the eyes of, or talking to, someone who’s got a pregnancy, and she doesn’t know what to do with it, or someone who’s got an addiction, and is just absolutely strung out, and asks for help, and it’s like you just want to kind of push the remote button – Well, someone else will take care of them. It makes us uncomfortable.
He stopped. And then, he let it get under his skin. He deeply emoted. He wept. He cried. And here’s the deal: His life is working great! He lives in a gated community! And God’s agenda is just slipping downhill. And his heart response to God’s agenda is, he stops, he deeply emotes.
And then, to “mourn” has to do with grief. You ever lost a child? You ever lost a best friend? You ever lost a job? What grief is, is, It shouldn’t be this way. And, by the way, this isn’t a gut-level, knee-jerk response.
You’re going to find, as we later read through the first part of this chapter, is that, it’s interesting: The author tells us it’s November/December. And in the beginning of chapter 2, he’ll give us another structural marker. And we’re going to learn there are three months of this guy dealing with this issue of, “My life works. I’m comfortable. God’s agenda’s going down the tubes. God, what do I do? God, what do I do?”
First, you stop. And then, by God’s grace, you let it sink in, and you get uncomfortable. And I think you actually weep. And then, you mourn. And then, you act. Because you realize you’ve got to hear God’s voice. And you can’t do something stupid. And you don’t really know what God wants you to do. And you’re only one person. Right?
And so, you fast. And all that means is, you stop eating for a period of time, to take that time to give spiritual attention, to hear the voice of God about what He wants you to do with your life, right now. And you pray.
I was talking to this fellow on the plane, and we were talking about these church planting movements. And, I had all these questions, and, “What about this?” and, “What about that?” And I said, “What have you learned?” And he said, “Well, we did some research. We took our top one hundred church planters,” and it’s a multiplying, reproducing model, and so, their lowest guy planted fifty churches in that year, and their highest guy planted five hundred. Long story, but amazing, and accurate, and true.
“And, so, we brought in an outside consultant, and we had him interview and examine all of our top hundred church planters. Because we thought – obviously, these are our best guys.”
I guess if you had a sales force, and a hundred of them were producing eighty percent of the results, you’d do a study and find out: what are they saying over the phone, or how do they greet people, or how do they close? And learn from them.
He said, “So, we looked at,” he said, “we could only find one thing they have in common.” Different personalities, different countries – India, South Asia, all over. They only have one thing in common. You ready for this? On average, they pray two to three hours a day. They each fast one day a week. And they fast one weekend a month.
Maybe you didn’t get that. I’ll go over that again for you: The only common denominator of these supernatural movements of God is, they pray two to three hours a day. They fast one day a week. They fast one weekend a month. Now, please don’t hear, “There’s a formula,” and that if you start doing just this, or that, that God will automatically…
But you know what hit me? I get up, and meet with God. I pray. I don’t pray like that. You know what I realized? It’s because they care a lot more than I do. I want God to do something really great, and I’m willing to make a mild-to-significant sacrifice for Him to do something great.
But I don’t care enough to pray for people two hours a day. But I bet most of us, me included, I bet most of us figure out how to slip in an hour and a half to two hours of TV. Because we need it, right? Got to wind down. Big day, a lot of pressure. Got to catch the news. Not saying it’s wrong. I’m just saying your behavior, and my behavior, tells me, and tells you, what matters.
And I just got this thought, as I’ve been flying and thinking: What would happen if I prayed the way they prayed, and fasted the way they fasted, so that I could hear, like never before, what God wants me to do?
And then, what if something wild happened, as a lot of you decided, Yeah, let’s get in on it? I wonder what God would do? What I call this is “a dislocated heart.” See, he’s living in the lap of luxury. He’s affluent and influential. But his heart is dislocated. It’s in Jerusalem.
A dislocated heart is a God-given concern for others that propels us out of our comfort zone. It’s a passionate concern for God’s agenda that supercedes our own desires for personal peace and prosperity.
You want a little exercise that will move you, little by little? I would write that definition on a card, and then, under it, I would write out 2 Chronicles 16:9. And read it over in the morning, and read it over at night. And see if God doesn’t do something inside your heart. A God-given, by the way, you don’t work this up. This isn’t artificial. This isn’t, “I want to be holy; I want to be spiritual.” It is a God-given concern for others that propels you.
I don’t think Nehemiah was going, “Oh, I want to go. I want to go. I want to go.” I think he’s like us: “I don’t want to go anywhere. I like this job. I like my sundial Rolex. I like…” And God did something that propelled him out of his comfort zone. Passionate concern.
What’s it look like? Let me give you a couple pictures. I don’t want you to think I make up this stuff like, “Dislocated heart? I’ve heard of a dislocated shoulder. In fact, my rotator cuff…” No. No, no, no, no. Okay?
Jesus had a dislocated heart, and He says that this attitude that was in Him should be in us. “Who being in very nature God didn’t consider equality with God” – Philippians 2 – “something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant and being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient” – that’s the key word – “to death, even death on the cross.”
The rest of the passage says how God did, in Jesus’ modeling, the same thing that’s happening with these church plants. Therefore, He was highly exalted. He was lifted up. He was supported. He was exalted. Jesus was living in comfort, receiving the adoration of angels. Jesus saw the need of mankind. He left His comfort zone to be a missionary, and He says we’re to have that attitude of crossing a culture.
It means you cross some barriers to connect with people who don’t know that God loves them.
See, we’ve got this whole thing backwards, like we’ve got to be perfect, and, “I don’t know what to say.” Don’t say anything! Just go – tell you what, you just start loving people like crazy, and being generous with your time, and your money, and your energy, and invite people over. Ask them questions. Listen to them. Love them.
And then, you come back and tell me what happens in a couple months. You’ll be the most popular person in your company. You’ll be the most popular person in your neighborhood.
And I will tell you what, pretty soon, you’re going to get jammed up, because they’re going to say, “Why in the world are you doing this? No one treats me like this!”
And you’re going to have to come up with something like, “Well, actually, it’s not me. It’s this Jesus who lives in me. And He gave me a dislocated heart that compels me out of my comfort zone to build a bridge with people who aren’t always like me, to tell them that He loves you, and He’s already forgiven you, and He wants you to receive it. And He can work this thing out in your marriage. And He can work this thing out with your kid. And He can work this thing out with this addiction. He loves you. He’s God. He’s for you.”
The second example is the apostle Paul.
He says, “I speak the truth. I’m not lying. My conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart, for I wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my race.”
Do you get what he’s saying here? Do you understand what he just said? “I wish I could lose my salvation, and be separated from God forever, if all of my Jewish brothers could understand Jesus is the Messiah, forgiveness is available, and they could all spend eternity.”
Now, it’s not a possibility. But, see, you know what a dislocated heart is? You know what answers the question? Do you care? Do I care? Okay?
Now, it’s a little more than that. It’s: do you really care? Do you care enough to get out of your comfort zone? Do you care enough to rearrange your life? Do you care enough to deal with whatever you need to deal with inside, so that you say, “Well, I can’t really help anybody else because, basically, I’ve got some of this double life stuff going on.” Okay, God understands that. Well, go to Him. Ask Him to forgive you. Get some help. Get rid of the double life, and start living the life.
Do you care enough to make a radical sacrifice of your time, and your energy?
I would just ask: Who’s the last person you led to Christ? Personally. You prayed with someone, they received – who’s the last person? Who’s the last person you invited over to your house, who doesn’t know Christ, from your neighborhood or work? Who’s the last person? Just give me a name, in your head. Who’s the last person you took to lunch, at work, just for the purpose of encouraging them? Who do you pray for at work? Who do you pray for in your neighborhood?
I’m not trying to induce guilt. I’m just saying, if we don’t really care, we don’t have a dislocated heart. If we don’t have a dislocated heart, God will not strongly support us. And He wants to. He longs to support you. The last dislocated heart, as you see there, is you. Do you have a dislocated heart? Just an honest evaluation. And rather than, Well, maybe I do, you know what? Just be honest with God. Do you really care – not by your thoughts, but does your behavior indicate it?
Second, just genuine repentance. And repentance just means a change of mind that leads to a change of action. It’s just like being on the freeway, and realizing, Oh, I am going the wrong direction. You get on the exit ramp, and you start going back this direction. And repentance is, “God, will You forgive me? I don’t really care about people. I’m pretty consumed with me, and my world, and my stuff, and my comfort.” And you know what? He’ll just lift that off, because guess what, He loves you.
Third, is a careful consideration. This message is not designed for knee-jerk reactions,
with people coming up afterwards, “I’m selling my business tomorrow, and I’m going to the mission field.” Time out. If God leads you there, great. But you know what? This is a think-through, pray-through, get-wise-counsel.
And then, finally – this may sound really crazy. But I had a really significant time with the Lord, just because of the travel,
and I had a little window, and I did this for me: I just asked God for one. And I’m going to ask God every day for a while. I’m not sure how long.
I’m just going to ask God, “God, would You give me a dislocated heart? When I get in lines on planes, when I’m in lines here, when I see my neighbor when I pull in, will You give me a dislocated heart? Would You supernaturally – I don’t want to muster it up. I don’t want to fake it. I don’t want to be a phony. But I want to care. Show me what it looks like, in my world, in my network, at my job, in my home, to love others the way You love me.”