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Enjoy Great Moments, Part 1

From the series Good to Great in God's Eyes

If you’ve ever felt guilty about enjoying life, or relaxing, Chip says you need to lighten up! In fact, one of the keys to developing a dynamic, full, spiritual life is to enjoy the blessings that God has brought your way!

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Message Transcript

From good to great, not in man’s eyes but in God’s eyes. And I just got a note in the last year, and it’s one I keep in my desk. And it was from my college basketball coach. And when I played in college, he was not a believer. And, sometimes you do things, and you think it’s not making any difference, any difference, any difference.

What I didn’t know was, in the last twenty-five years, he had become a Christian. And he walked through a bookstore, and he saw a book with my name on it. And he thought, Now, that can’t be the Chip Ingram – the little skinny guy that I coached. And he picked up the book, and part of it told some stories about the college. And he got my address, and I got a little note from him.

And he talked about, “Chip, just remember, as I read this book, and I went on the website, I see your life’s moving very fast.”

He said, “Just remember – I could almost hear him in my mind – “Chip, 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.”

And 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 a 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 are you satisfied, 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?

Well, 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, 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 from 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.”

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. Get a cup of coffee, or a 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 it’s a 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 looks in the passage; 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. You see, enjoying great moments reminds us that God is the source of all of our joy.

Fourth, it connects our hearts to those we love. Isn’t it interesting? When you enjoy a great moment, most great moments – some are by yourself, but many of them 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. Anna, who was in the Temple, had been praying and fasting. And she made this pronouncement – and Simeon. And they said, “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 you 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, and whether it’s the birth of a baby, or a sunset, or whether it’s that day that you get married, or whether it’s seeing one of your kids graduate, or whether it’s the day you came to Christ – God gives great moments that He wants us to treasure. But if we get so fast, and so busy, we don’t get them. I think that great moment sustained Mary for a lot of years. I think, 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? 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. And all I heard about the Sabbath, from people who were really religions, 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. People that are serious all the time, are serious all the time. Some of the people that, “I want to be committed. I love God. I’m committed. I love God. I love God. I’m going to do this. I never do this. 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 don’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, they’re funny. “Let me – hey, Pete, could you – Herod, that fox.” We think, Oh, Herod, fox – I wonder what he meant by that. He just meant, hey, a little hyperbole, a little joke. A little jab in the ribs. “That sly guy.” The camel going through the eye of a needle – oh, that couldn’t happen.

I think Jesus didn’t attract people by His outward appearance, but I think there was laughter. I think there was belly laughter. And I think He was serious, and I think it was pure, and I think it was fun to be around Him. 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.

The Psalms, a whole section of the Psalms is – what? “Praise. Praise. Praise. Give thanks. Give thanks.” What about all those Psalms? “Play the trumpet, the tambourine. Get the strings out. Let’s dance. Let’s have fun.” If you get around – have you ever been to a Jewish wedding? [Sings] They do all that stuff. I think they’re having fun. And then, they eat food, and they laugh. And God commanded them to do it. Five reasons why to enjoy great moments.

Well, let’s get down to a little analysis here, then. Why don’t we enjoy great moments? What keeps normal, regular people, like you, like me, who are committed, who want to make a great sacrifice, who pray great prayers, who dream great dreams, who want to have quality families, who want to help fulfill the Great Commission, you want to be God’s man, you want to be God’s woman – what is it about how we think, or how we’ve been trained, or how we perceive life that keeps us from enjoying great moments? And I’m going to suggest, there may be a lot. But there are at least three very specific ways that, I think, distort our ability to enjoy great moments.

The first one is a distorted view of God. I think part of this is that we see God through one of those mirrors at the fun house. You know how they have the mirrors, and when you look at it, you can look this big, or you can look really skinny? I think we look at God, and we have a distorted picture.

You notice, I put in your notes, Luke 15. And Luke 15 is “The Prodigal Son.” It’s the story of the renegade boy, who rejects his father, leaves home, asks for his inheritance, loses it all on wild living. Correct? He finally comes to his senses while he’s feeding the pigs. He repents, rehearses a speech – “I’ve sinned against You, God. I’ve sinned against my father.” He comes home with his hat in his hand and realizes, I’ve blown it. But at least the slaves have a place to live, and they’ve got food on the table. That’s better than me.

And as he comes, the father runs, breaks multiple cultural norms, puts a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, a robe, kills the fatted calf. Basically says, in all those things, “No, no, no, no. You can’t come back as a slave. I forgive you. I love you. I’ve been looking for you. You are my son.”

And that’s the part of the story, and all of us have had our prodigal moments. Right? And that’s an awesome story because it gives us the right view of God, and it reminds us that, regardless of where we’ve been, there is a Father always looking for us, to say, “Turn around. Come to your senses. Come home.”

The problem is, we usually stop that story there. There’s another brother, isn’t there? He’s the older brother. And the older brother hears music and dancing, and fatted calves, and a big party and a celebration. And he gets outside and says to one of the servants, “What in the world is going on?” “Well, your little brother is home. So, your dad is really fired up. And, he killed the fatted calf. There’s a party. He invited all the neighbors, all the friends. You can hear the music. They’re having a ball. You ought to come in.”

And the older brother goes, “Boy, I’ll tell you what. Life is not fair. This stinks. Where are you coming from, Dad? You go and wild living and prostitutes.” And by the way, the text – we don’t have anything in the text that says that the little brother said, “These are all the terrible things I did.”

See, that older brother is kind of like a lot of Christians, thinking, I’ve got all these rules to keep. All those non-Christians are having all the fun. And then, the Father comes out and says, “Come on in.” “No, I’m mad.”

And do you remember how the story goes? Do you remember how the father says, “No, you don’t understand. He was dead, and now he’s alive”? See, the older son didn’t realize, there are consequences from that kind of life. There’s absolute forgiveness, but there are consequences, and there’s pain. And, older son, you really don’t want any of that.

And then, the older son makes this plea: He said, “Dad, you know something? Here’s what I don’t get. I’ve been a good boy. I get up. I’ve done the fields. I did what you told me, day in, day out. And you know what? You never had a party for me.”

And remember the father, remember what he says? He says, “Son, all that I have is yours, 24/7, every day, any moment. All that was here is for you.” And I think if we could sort of elaborate the story, I think the father might say something like, “Son? Can you tell me the time when you asked if some of your friends could come over – it wouldn’t have to be even a fatted calf, but maybe a cow, maybe a goat. We could have a little barbeque, and I said, ‘Oh, no, we don’t do that here’?”

See, the father is saying to him, it was available, 24/7. But the older son was so performance oriented, he was so focused on not messing up, he was so busy doing what was right, he was so saying, “I’ve got to prove that I’m okay. I’m going to earn my father’s favor,” he never realized, “You’ve already got your father’s favor. I love you. All that I have is available to you. And you have never stopped, never asked, to enjoy all that I have. You could have had a feast once a month if you wanted it. But see, you didn’t grasp it was about a relationship. You thought it was about your duty. You thought it was about keeping the rules. You were the legalist. You assumed that I didn’t already love you. You’ve spent all your energy and all your time trying to prove yourself to me.”

So, I try and figure out what lies I believe, and I write the lie on one side of the card. And then, I write the word “Stop.”

Are some of you the kind of people that close friends say, “Hey, how come we can never do anything for you? You’re great at giving but you’re not very good at receiving.” And you know what? When you believe that lie, I’ll tell you what, there’s more to do than you can ever do, because you always – you don’t give yourself permission to have fun. You don’t give yourself permission to enjoy what God has put all around you.

And when you don’t, then you don’t experience joy. And if you don’t experience a lot of joy, then you don’t have the strength of the Lord. And if you don’t have the strength of the Lord, you end up in a performance trap. And, so, outwardly, it’s work, work, work, godly, godly, godly. And inwardly its whine, whine, whine. And, God, how come I’m not having so much fun? And you know what? It sets you up for temptation.