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About this series
Finding God When You Need Him Most
In Finding God When You Need Him Most, Chip Ingram reveals how you can meet God in the midst of your most difficult moments. Through Chip's teaching from some of the most comforting and encouraging Psalms, you will move from "knowing about God" to profoundly experiencing His presence and power in your life. Whether you're struggling with a rocky relationship, an unexpected crisis, depression, or injustice, this series will remind you that the Lord is faithful to hear your heart's cry and will be there for you, time and again.More from this series
Do you realize the huge percentage of Christians that don’t really like themselves, that spend most of our energy wishing we were like someone else. So, we figure out ways to do it and it’s almost classic. You almost wish you could come from Mars and come down and kind of look at the world.
This group of people thinks you have to drive this kind of car, wear these kind of clothes, wear your hair this way, and shop there. That’s in. There’s this other group and they think, “Oh no. That’s preppy, uncool, and materialistic.” So, they buy real baggy stuff, shop here, shop here, shop here, call themselves “rebels” and all look alike. How do rebels all look alike? This group says you have to live over here and do that; this group says, “No, you have to live over here and do that.” And the mirror that we look in is the world system, the “cosmos,” the Bible calls it.
You know who is the ruler of the world system? The great liar. And you know what his goal is? His goal is to help you look in the mirror every day and not like what you see and try and be someone else because until you like you because you’re made by God, in His image, and you bring something unique to the table, you’ll spend all your life frittering, frittering, frittering it away trying to be something that you aren’t and spending endless hours, endless money, endless time to be acceptable to them.
I still haven’t found “them.” Have you? Who are they? What they think, you know? They don’t exist. And so, we mindlessly buy what we don’t need; dye, color, inject, reframe, workout trying to be a somebody when we’re already a somebody. The person that it counts the most looks at you and, I’m telling you, from His Word, you are precious in His sight. You are awesome. Now, I don’t mean to make light and I pushed that to the extreme because I wanted you to see it.
I understand that you can grow up in a home and people tell you you’re a nobody forever, it’s hard to shake that. You can be abused, you can go through rough relationships, you can be through difficult times, and you can live in a world system where everyone is telling you, “If you don’t look like that, if you don’t have these kind of smarts, if you can’t do this and if you can’t do that, you are a nobody.”
And I understand there is a massive world system knocking on your door saying, “You are a nothing, you a nothing, you are a nothing.” And Chip at one hour a week saying, “Hey, God’s Word says you really are someone.” Uh, it’s not working.
I have watched my wife decide to take this passage as truth and memorize, and think, and ponder, and read, and begin to believe that she is precious in God’s sight. I married a very shy person who did not like themselves very much at all. And I thought, “How could…” You know, the eyes of the beholder, but I thought she was winsome, funny, beautiful, attractive. But that wasn’t her mental picture.
And I’ve watched her, like a flower, bloom with the hard work of renewing her mind with Scripture and understanding that she is precious in God’s sight. And ladies, it can happen to you and, men, it can happen to us. And you matter.
This isn’t the kind of thing that you change after hearing a forty-minute sermon. This is the kind of thing where you get some tools, and you begin to think rightly, and you begin a journey.
And this time next year, you won’t see yourself the same. And the year after that it’ll be even more different.
Now, I have a confession to make because she reviewed all those cards, having the ridiculously good self-image that I’ve always had…
No, I learned, I got more sophisticated and I learned to mask all my insecurities and I figured out which hoops people wanted you to jump through and so I just did them. And being a workaholic, setting goals, I did decent at jumping through the right hoops. It’s a façade. It’s just a façade.
So, twenty years ago, when she starts reviewing these verses about who she really is, you know, just to be a helpful husband, I’d sit on the couch in the morning and at night, and I’d review them with her. And I realized my defense mechanisms were a little more sophisticated, so my insecurities and poor self-image didn’t show up, but I had as many, if not more, problems than her.
And so, for twenty years, I’ve been working on it. And I want you to know that the Word of God will transform your life and that Romans 12:2 is true and it’s real but it’s not easy. “Do not be conformed,” or, “molded to this world, but be transformed,” metamorphosized, “by the renewing of your mind, that your life,” or, “your lifestyle could demonstrate, prove, or test that the will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect.”
And so I’ve really, I’ve pounded on this one a little bit because ultimately, you are not going to be precious in God’s sight, in your heart and your mind, you won’t be awesome in His sight unless you believe what the Bible says is true instead of what the world says is true. And until you do, you’re a slave. And that breaks the heart of God.
Fourth, you need to understand, God has a plan just for you. Is that exciting? Not only are you wanted, not only are you understood, not only are you awesome in His sight, but He’s got a plan for you!
Now, it’s a plan not for somebody else, it’s not a generic plan. It’s a specific plan just for you. When He created all the universe, in His infinite wisdom, He has a plan.
Now, you don’t have to follow the plan. You can stiff-arm God. You can say, “Look, I know You know all things. I know You’re orchestrating this for Your divine purposes. I know that You love me, You died for me, You care for me, You have all power, and You can produce good things and if You’re a good God, all Your plans must be good.”
But you can say, “But I’d rather do my own plan, my own way, trust my limited knowledge, do my own thing, but at least I get to stay in control.” It’s called pride. God has a plan that you don’t have to cooperate with but it’s a lot better if you do.
Notice what it says, verse 16, second half, “All the days ordained for me, were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Is that wild? All the days. God knows the day you’re going to be born, He knows the day you’ll die. Is it fatalism? Not at all. Do your choices matter inside that? Completely.
He gave, you are a free choosing agent, but He knows what your choices will be. All the days ordained for you, before one of them came to be, He knows the beginning from the end. And yet, in His sovereignty, every choice you make, every decision you make matters and has significance.
“How precious to me are Your thoughts,” he goes on to say, “O God! How vast is the sum of them!” He not only has a plan for you, but thousands of times, each day, your name and picture and photo I.D. pops up on the divine mind of the eternal God and because He is infinite, He loses no energy to have a thousand thoughts, moment by moment, about every person in this room, and all over the globe, simultaneously.
See, He’s not a bigger one of us. He’s a totally other. And so, the Psalmist says, rightfully so, this is a rendering, it’s mine, “Whoa!” I mean, that’s almost what you get here. “I mean, whoa! You mean, You created all that there is and there are all these people?” “How precious to me are Your thoughts.”
“You mean You’re thinking about me?” “Yeah.” “You’re orchestrating my life, you’re highly involved, and you care? I’m wanted?” “Yeah.” Isn’t that amazing?
“Were I to count them, in fact, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” And now he says the plan doesn’t just involve the now. It’s not just this life. Notice the next phrase, “When I awake, I am still with You.” God’s plan for you begins in this life, then you die, and when you awake, resurrection. He says, “I’m still with You.”
God has an eternal plan for your life that begins, for some, maybe today. You are, you can fill this in, indispensable to God. Now, theologically, that’s not correct, okay? If God never made you, if you never existed, if human beings never existed, if He never created anything, in the godhead, He is self-sufficient. He needs, by needs, like, actual needs, nothing or no one. But He created you, made you and me the object of His affection.
And so, in His divine plan, you are indispensable. In other words, His plan factors in every, single person in this room, and His plan for the universe, and for your life and they’re intermeshed.
Let me give you a quick picture because at this point, your body language is telling me, “You know, Chip, I was tracking with you on that He knows me. And that felt pretty good. And on the part about being wanted, it was really hard, but okay. I’ll, by faith, believe He really wants me and He’s pursuing me. And on the part that He made me. That was refreshing but you threw my categories off and I’m still back there. To think that I’m really awesome in God’s sight. I can’t stand my own sight right now so I must have a little work to do.
“But now you’re telling me that I’m really indispensable? I mean, I don’t feel indispensable in my little network let alone to the God of the universe.”
Let me give you a quick picture that will help. I am not a handyman. It’s well recorded. So, I did this project, I was fixing something in our home. And I turned this half hour project into a two-hour project, which is my gift.
And I put all the stuff together, and you put it together, and you sort of get it to work and so I did it, did it, did it and now I’m ready. And I got the whole thing back together, I got the part, I’ve got it completely done. And all I need is one, small screw.
Now, not this long. This long. Not a different kind of threads, only this kind of thread. One, small screw. I’m going to tell you one of the most frustrating days of my whole life. I lost the screw. I mean, I’m not a handyman. I’m doing this in some noble gesture to tell my wife that I love her and I don’t understand why it means that anyway. But I’m one screw away and I’m going nuts! And I can’t find it! And I’ve spent two hours.
And then I realized, that’s how a lot of us are. We think, “I must not matter.” How much did that one, small screw impact the entire appliance? It doesn’t work without it.
And you know what? God’s infinite plan, His loving plan for this planet, for His Church, for doing things in your family, for doing things where you work, to accomplish what He wants to accomplish in those of you that have kids, for those of you that are single… you know what? Every, single part matters. You matter.
You must find your spiritual gift. You must find where and how to get connected in His body. You must put into play the you He created to be a vessel to love and to care for other people.
If you don’t, will God get it done? Of course He will. You’re not going to Shanghai the plans of the eternal God. But will He do it in the way He originally intended? No. Because you’re indispensable in that you are a part of His plan.
There are a couple problems there and let me highlight them. The first one is some of you haven’t signed on. In other words, you haven’t invited Christ to be the Savior of your life to say, “I would like Your plan to be accomplished in me.”
God is never pushy, He’s a gentleman, He’s sensitive, He has high regard. He has so much regard for your will and your choices that you can say no to God, no to God, no to God, no to God and He even created a plan where you can say no to Him for eternity. You don’t have to be with Him, you don’t have to follow His plan, but that comes out of His respect for you.
But to have Him be a part of the plan where He orchestrates this knowing, being wanted, your design in a way that brings you incredible joy, and fruitfulness in the life of others, and brings glory to Him, you start by asking Jesus to forgive you for your sin, to be your Savior, to come into your life.
And He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone,” regardless of background, wherever you’ve been, “if anyone hears My voice and will open the door of their heart and their life,” He says, “I will come into them and fellowship with them, and he with Me.”
Have you ever done that? See, all these things are true but we have a responsibility. It’s to respond, by faith, and ask Christ to be our Savior and then tell Him, “Now, I want you to be the CEO of my life, I want you to be the Chairman of the Board, I want you to be my Master, I want you to be my King, I want you to call the shots because I’m a smart Christian. And what I’ve thought is I could either do it may way, but if You are all knowing, all powerful, good, loving, compassionate, and You already have a plan, I’d like to follow that plan because Your plan would be a whole lot better than my plan because of who You are versus who I am.”
Here’s the catch. “And so, even when it doesn’t feel like it’s a good plan, by faith, I follow what Your Word says, prompted by the Holy Spirit, in the unity of the fellowship of believers, and I’m going to do it Your way. And I understand there are seasons of sowing and seasons of reaping. And I understand that it may not feel good all the time. And I understand that my allegiance is to You and that I will look back and I will see.”
Everyone will have their 1988 to 1990 times when you feel like a nobody going nowhere but you can’t bail out of the process.
In fact, David, in the final point will make a very drastic, drastic response. He’s going to say that God has this for everyone and each person needs to respond. But what he’s also going to say is that there is a cosmic conflict at war in the world and at war in your heart to keep you from experiencing a God who knows you and understands you.
To keep you from experiencing how much He wants you and is pursuing you. To keep you from experiencing how precious and awesome. There’s a cosmic conflict going on to keep you from that, to keep children from hearing about it, to keep relationships not what God wants them to be.
And so, people say, “If it feels good, do it!” And they break all the boundaries, all the commands of God. And you know when people do that it always ends in death and destruction because people don’t want to do it God’s way. He’s got a great plan but it’s not always popular. It’s not always politically correct. But it’s divine and it’s good.
And so, when David begins to see these great truths that the Spirit of God has revealed, now, in verses 19 to 24, he’s going to respond with a prayer. But he’s going to respond with a prayer that when you first read it, you’re going to say, “Whoa! Man, this guy is really going off.”
He’s going to respond with a prayer that feels very angry. It’s not piety, it’s going to be a prayer of zeal. What he’s going to step back and say is, “All these forces are working. I’m getting on God’s side. I want to do it God’s way.” He’s affirming his loyal, covenant love to Yahweh and he’s doing it from a Jewish mindset in the time.
Follow along. He’s going to tell us God’s world is warped with wickedness and so there’s a battle. “If only You would slay the wicked, O God.” He said, “All these things I’ve just talked about,” they’d work except there’s people working against them. “Away from me, you bloodthirsty men.” He was thinking the people that are evil. The people that just bring death and destruction. The people that pour chemicals into rivers and they don’t care how many kids get cancer. They just care how much money they get.
The people that orchestrate tribes warring against tribes and take all the money that the United Nations or relief groups give to those countries. They go in there and butcher them.
He’s talking about those kind of people and he’s mad about it. He says, “They speak of You with evil intents and Your adversaries, they misuse Your name. Do not I hate those who hate You,” that’s loyalty, “I’m on Your team,” “O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against You?” That’s loyalty. “I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”
Now, we read that through our New Testament eyes and our sugarcoated Christianity and we say, “Oh, how terrible. How terrible.” I got news for you. You ought to hate some things that are evil. And, I know, hate the evil but not the evildoer.
But, you know, all over the globe there are bloodthirsty people, people that are abusing kids, people that are killing tens of thousands as we speak, people that have robbed the food out of mouths for money and children will die of starvation.
I’ll tell you what, God is against them and you know what? We need to be against them as well. It doesn’t make good, nice, lovey-dovey, “Christianity” teaching but it’s biblical.
But lest you get pious, lest you think this is a holier-than-thou, this is a loyalty to God’s purposes in saying, “I’m willing to pay the price.” Look at verse 23 and 24. David starts not with somebody else, he starts with himself.
David says, “Hey, this is not I’m better than. This is, ‘God, we’re in a battle and I want to be on Your team.’”
But here’s where the battle starts, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Literally, my misgiving thoughts, my failures. “And see if there be any offensive way,” literally, it’s a way of pain, “in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”
Do you hear what he’s praying? He’s saying, “God, I haven’t arrived. God, I know now that You know me and understand me. God, I’m grasping that You really want me, that You’re pursuing me. I’m precious and awesome and You have a plan just for me. So, God, I want You to search my heart. I know that I can’t experience this unless I’m following the everlasting way.” Did you notice the contrast? Instead of the other way, the way of pain.
Let me ask you, which way are you following? You are a somebody. If you’re a Christian, you’re going somewhere. But you have a choice to make. Experiencing God when you feel like a nobody means you turn to Him with all your heart. You ask the penetrating questions.
And you say, “God, I surrender my agenda to You and I, today, choose to believe that I’m wanted, I choose to believe that I’m understood, I choose to believe that I’m precious in Your sight, and I choose to believe that You have a plan for my life. I’m indispensable. Now, God, I choose today, by faith, to follow You with all my heart. You show me what that looks like.”
And you will never, ever be a nobody going nowhere. You will experience being a somebody. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. Will it be rewarding? Yes. Will it bring glory to God? Yes. Will it be probably involving some hard, painful, early decisions? Yes.
What’s the alternative? Where are you going with your life?