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About this series
Good to Great in God's Eyes
Ten Practices Great Christians have in Common
Are you tired of the status quo Christian life? Do you long for a spiritual breakthrough? Are you looking to go to the next level or get a fresh infusion of faith and spiritual passion? Great Christians live out their faith with purpose. In Mark 10:43, Jesus says, whoever wants to become great among you must - what? You'll explore the idea that there are certain practices available to every believer, at every maturity level, to move us from good to great, in God's Eyes. ACSI approvedMore from this series
From good to great, not in man’s eyes but in God’s eyes. I just got a note in the last year, and it’s one I keep in my desk. It was from my college basketball coach. And when I played in college, he was not a believer. And, you know, sometimes you do things and you think it’s not making any difference. About a year ago, he walked through a bookstore. And what I didn’t know, was in the last 25 years, he’d become a Christian. He walked through a bookstore and he saw a book with my name on it. And he thought, that can’t be the Chip Ingram, the little skinny guy that I coached. He picked up the book and part of it told some stories about the college and he got my address.
I got a little note from him. And he talked about, Chip, just remember, you know, I read this book and I went on the website and I see your life’s moving very fast. He said, just remember – and he coached with John Wooten for quite awhile and is a great coach. He said, Just remember – I could almost hear him in my mind. He said, Remember, everything starts with balance. Defense starts with balance; the shot, with balance. As I see your life moving quickly, I want you to know I’m really proud of you. I want you to know that I’ve come to Christ. And I just want to tell you, Chip, keep your balance.”
I share that because in the last session or two, we’ve talked about some things that really push the edge of the envelope, spiritually. Make a great sacrifice. Take great risk. Now I’m going to share something that is going to require very significant balance. Can you believe that going from good to great is going to require that you enjoy great moments? C. S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Think of that. Joy is the serious business of heaven. And I want to ask you just a little question as we get started. And the little question is, are you enjoying your life?
Are you deeply enjoying and drinking in rich experiences with people and places and circumstances that God, providentially, is putting all around your life? Or are you thinking, I’m going to enjoy my life after I retire or I’m going to enjoy my life after I get this big list of things done. I’m going to enjoy my life after I raise these kids the way I know I’m supposed to. I’m going to enjoy my life once I kind of get this career on track. I’m going to enjoy my life after I do most of the Great Commission all by myself. Listen to what scripture says.
The wisest man in the world, Solomon, wrote, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun. There’s a time to sow, and to reap.” There is a time to make a great risk. There’s a time to make a great sacrifice. There’s a time to pray great prayers. There’s a time to dream great dreams. But notice, “There’s a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” See the balance. He goes on in Ecclesiastes to say, Verse 11 of Chapter 3, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. Yet they can’t fathom what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
And then notice this verse. You may have not known this was in the Bible. “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and to do good while they live, that everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil.” Then notice that, “This is the gift of God.” Do we need to make a great sacrifice? Absolutely. Do we need to be focused and disciplined? Absolutely. But in the midst of a fallen world, in the midst of pain and suffering and disappointment and the absolute certainty that Jesus is coming back; we also need to enjoy great moments.
We need to just drink deeply from the grace of God and see all the things God is putting in our life as gifts to encourage us. Did you notice, it’s a gift from God? He goes on to say in Chapter 5, “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and to be happy in his work, this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Does that describe you? Do you find that you are occupied with gladness of heart? Do you find that you seldom reflect on the days of your life, as in looking back with regret or looking forward with anxiety, just because you’re filled with gladness of life? With the sense that I’m alive today and God loves me today. And look at what I have and look at these opportunities.
Or do you tend to be so focused, so busy, so driven, so active that you’re going to enjoy life someday, some way, some how when you get time? Do you really enjoy life? I didn’t say, are you productive. I didn’t say, are you spiritual. I didn’t say, are you making an impact. Are those things important? Absolutely. I asked you, are you deeply enjoying life? If I ask your mate, if I ask your best friend, if I ask one of your children, for those that have children – if I ask them privately and they really know you, would they tell me, oh yeah. He or she, they really enjoy life. Focus, discipline, get a lot done but they’re so fun to be around. They really know how to kick back and drink it in and have a great time. In fact, they’ll just stop periodically and just get off of the rat race of life and really just thank God for these rich gifts and these great relationships, before they get back on the track and do what He wants them to do. What if joy is, in fact, the serious business of heaven?
Now what I like right now is a very perplexing look on your face. Because what you’re looking at me and telling me is, I think this is illegal. You know? I think Chip took a happy pill. I think Chip did the last session and he felt so bad for us about this call of great sacrifice and great risk. I think he just got feeling bad and thought he ought to balance it out. If you will notice, what I read was from scripture. This isn’t Chip’s thoughts. This is from the wisest man in the world. Let me give you five quick reasons why it’s so important to enjoy great moments. And this sounds kind of crazy but some of you really need permission to really start enjoying life.
Some of your best friends, mates and kids would tell you, if they could, boy do they really need to learn how to enjoy life. And I don’t want to dwell on these but I’ll give you five reasons and I’ll give you a passage that you can look up and develop because I really want to spend the majority of our time helping you understand why you don’t enjoy life more. And then I want to get on the solution side. Give you some very practical ways. I think you’ll say to yourself, you know what? I think I’m going to apply this one to my life beginning today. It sounds actually fun and legal and spiritual. I can’t believe God says that. So let me give you the five important reasons why you must- not should, not ought, not a luxury- why you must enjoy great moments.
Number one, it reminds us of God’s goodness. Psalm 84:11, “The Lord God is a sun and a shield. The Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” You see, when you enjoy a good thing, it reminds you that good things come from Him. If he promises, no good thing will He withhold – what if He has lots of good things and He wants to give them to you? But He can’t get you to stop long enough to enjoy what He’s given you. Pretty soon you focus on all the challenges of life and you forget God’s goodness.
The second reason, it sustains us in adversity. Nehemiah 8:10. You might read through the book of Nehemiah. You know, get a cup of coffee or diet Coke or your favorite drink, sweet tea. Put up your feet and just read through Nehemiah sometime this week. And what you’ll find is there’s this huge project and they rebuild a wall and this miraculous thing. And the first portion of the book is how they rebuild the physical structure and the second half of the book is they rebuild the people. And when they start rebuilding the people, the people are totally messed up.
And when they hear how messed up they are, they start moaning and wailing. And they hear the word of God taught and they go, oh man, we so fall short. And Nehemiah says stop. Stop. He says this is the month that we’re in. What we’re supposed to be doing this time is to have this festival. And then he says, we’re going to celebrate. Yes, we repent but we’re going to celebrate, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. See, Lewis is right. Joy is the serious business of heaven. Joy is at the core of our strength. It sustains us in adversity.
The third reason enjoying great moments is important, it honors God as the source of all of our joy. James 1:17. Every good and perfect gift comes from where? “The Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, where there’s no shifting of shadow.” Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. I think there’s some of this – you know, this is a little hypothetical. So don’t go, you know, preaching this one and telling people this is where to find it in the Bible. This is a Chip-ism. I think, though, I think many of us can get to heaven and find like a really big door and have our name on it. And we would open the door and inside would be the shelves. And they’re stacked with gifts. Beautiful gifts with pretty paper. And they’ve got all these bows on them.
And we’d say, what’s all this? And the Lord will say, well this is all the good stuff I had for you. And you go, oh, wow, great. This is heaven. He’ll go, no, no. You don’t understand. Heaven’s way, way better than this. This is all the good stuff I had for you while you were on earth. But I couldn’t get you to look up. You were thinking you had to prove yourself to people. And you were so busy wanting to make an impact. And you were so consumed with, you know, the career move. And you were so filled with you that you never took the time to receive the good gifts. I wanted to refresh you. I wanted to bless you. I wanted to encourage you. I wanted to love you. You know those people that live next to you? They’re some of my, actually, they’re some of my choice of servants. But, you know, your garage door went up and it went down. You didn’t even know they lived next door. I had multiple, multiple gifts that I wanted to give to you but you were too busy. You see, enjoying great moments reminds us that God is the source of all of our joy.
Fourth, it connects our hearts with those we love. Isn’t it interesting? When you enjoy a great moment, most great moments are with other people. And the two examples I gave you, I think are so great. In Luke 2:19, Mary had a great moment. Remember, she got to hear these prophetic things about this little baby. You know, Anna who was in the temple and been praying and been fasting. And she made this pronouncement, and Simeon. And they said, you know, this little baby is going to be the rising and the falling of many. And Simeon said, I have waited all my life and God promised that I would not die until I saw the savior of the world. And remember what it says? And Mary treasured these things in her heart.
See, it was a great – it was a moment. When you have a great moment, there are certain little windows of time. Whether it’s the birth of a baby or a sunset, the day that you get married, seeing one of your kids graduate, or the day you came to Christ, God gives great moments He wants us to treasure. But if we get so fast and so busy, we don’t get ‘em. I think that great moment sustained Mary for a lot of years. I think that when her son was hanging on the cross, I think she was still pondering and treasuring. He will be the rising and the falling of many.
And even Jesus, on the very last night, in Luke 22, remember what he said to his disciples? I mean, yes, he’s fully God but he was fully human. He knew what was ahead. And he said to them, “I eagerly awaited to share this feast with you.” He wanted to have a meal. They went out and they sang together. They cried together. They prayed together. He had a moment with the people that he felt closest to. And I believe much of his human endurance, depending on the Father, was that great moment with those men that he loved that sustained Him. Who, “for the joy set before him, endured the cross.” And so my point is, great moments aren’t nice good things. Enjoyment and joy is the serious business of heaven because it reminds us of God’s goodness. It sustains us in adversity. It honors God as the source of our joy. And then it connects our hearts to those that we love.
And finally, are you ready? God uses great moments, fifth, to renew us. In fact, He planned in great moments. The Sabbath – I don’t know how you grew up but I didn’t grow up in a very good background, spiritually. What I heard about the Sabbath was all the stuff you couldn’t do. And then I read the Bible and Jesus said the Sabbath wasn’t about what you couldn’t do. It’s like all these pagans have seven days they’ve got to work to make a living. You only have to do it in six and I want you to have one day of vacation. I want you to stop. I want you to rest. I want you to worship. I want you to kick back. I want you to take a deep breath. I want you to enjoy one another.
The Sabbath was the idea of rejoicing. It’s looking back over all that God has done and going, ah, wasn’t last week great? Isn’t God good? Isn’t He wonderful? Let’s stop. Let’s back off. Let’s deeply enjoy what we actually have. And so God wants great moments to renew our bodies with rest. He wants us to renew our hearts with laughter. You know people that are serious all the time. You know, some of the people that want to be committed. They say, “I love God. I’m committed. I love God. I love God. I’m gonna do this, I never do that. I always do this. I’ve got seven rules.” You know what? They’re just the kind of Christians that, if I was non-Christian, I wouldn’t want to be a Christian if that’s what it means to be a Christian. Right?
We kind of forget. I think Jesus was the easiest person on the planet to be around. I think when he and Peter and James and John walked, I think they told jokes. In fact, I know they did. Some of the passages, I mean, they’re funny. You know, Herod, that fox. You know? We think Herod. Oh, fox. I wonder what he meant by that. He just meant, you know, a little hyperbole, a little joke. A little jab in the ribs. You know that sly guy. You know, the camel going through the eye of the needle. I think Jesus didn’t attract people by his outward appearance but I think there was laughter. I think there was belly laughter. I think he was serious and I think it was pure and I think it was fun to be around him. I mean, how in the world would we ever enjoy fun if we’re made in the image of God, if God, Himself, doesn’t enjoy fun? And see we’ve got spirituality over here and fun over here, like they don’t mix.
In fact, Proverbs says, what? “A glad heart renews the soul.” The best medical research tells us that laughter does what? It builds the immune system. God wants us to enjoy great moments to renew our bodies, our hearts and our souls. I mean, the Psalms, a whole section of the Psalms is what? Praise. Praise. Praise. Give thanks. Give thanks. I mean what about all those Psalms? Play the trumpet, the tambourine. Get the strings out. Let’s dance. Let’s have fun. I mean, if you get around – have you ever been to a Jewish wedding? (Singing) Hey! You know they do all that stuff. I think they’re having fun. And then they eat food and they laugh. And God commands them to do it.
You know, along the road of life, of walking with God, stopping and enjoying the pleasure, the good pleasure that God provides, it’s just kind of, ah, ooh, that was good. In the midst of a fallen world and difficulty and pain it’s like, boy, I needed that. That was an awesome meal. That was a wonderful moment. That was a great sunset. That was an awesome party. I haven’t laughed that hard around the table for an hour and a half in ages. That was a great purchase. This is a wonderful house. That was a nice walk.