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About this series
Facing The Future with Confidence
In this information age, it seems the more we know, the less we are really sure of! Experts tell us our families are disintegrating, our global economy is tenuous, and random violence is on the rise. Is it possible to live confidently in such confusing times? What does God's Word have to say about our future and our fears? Learn how you can face tomorrow and each day that follows with confidence and strength.More from this series
We put a little teaching handout if you’ll go ahead and pull that out, we are in a series called Facing the Future with Confidence. And if you have a pen you can pull that out too because we’ll be doing a little work together.
As we get there, I’d like to try and help you think back of when the first time you felt that emotion of confusion – when you got paralyzed, when so many things were coming into your mind, and you just didn’t know what to do. I prayed this week and thought about the most vivid time I could remember: It was late elementary school, maybe it was junior high – I’m not sure. But I was really struggling in math.
And I worked, and worked, and worked, and – remember this? Remember in school? And the teacher – back then, they would come, and they would give your papers to you. And she graded them in the big red letters – they’re right there. And I had worked, and worked, and worked.
And I got my paper, and I thought I really nailed it this time. I had really worked hard. And it was placed on my desk and you don’t want anybody to see it, especially mine. D-minus. Have you ever thought for sure, I’ve really got it down? I thought I got either a high A or a low A. You’ve been there? And I know I was old enough that it’s not a good time for a boy to cry in school. That’s how I felt.
And then, I covered the grade, and I just looked. Everything was marked off – wrong. And another student, or my teacher, I can’t remember who it was, because I did all the work, and I reworked them, and I still thought I got them right. And then, someone came, from the outside, with a second set of eyes, and said, “Watch very carefully. On all these problems, you have to invert before you multiply.”
I was confused, because I needed one person to give me one piece of information that would bring perspective to my situation, because as I sat, I was convinced I was the dumbest kid in that class. And I was convinced I would never do math again. Little did I know, later in high school, it would be one of my favorite subjects.
Now, that’s sort of a light way to start off, isn’t it? I remember another time I was confused – because I loved my wife very much, and she loved me very much, and she was making me crazy, and I was making her crazy, and we were very confused. And what we needed was another set of eyes.
And it was a very humbling thing, during seminary, to go to a marriage counselor, and say, “You know what? I don’t know what background she came from, or what I came from, but I know she loves God; I love God. I love her; she loves me. But we do this all the time.” And we spent about ninety dollars a session, for twelve sessions, for a second set of eyes to help us get clear, and to remove the barriers.
And what I want to suggest is, you need another set of eyes. You need a wise counselor, you need a mentor, you need a teacher, you need a coach to take the confusion that you have in your life. And whether it’s spiritual, or emotional, or financial, or the world situation, or God’s will, or a big decision, we’re going to get to a counselor who will help you see, maybe like never before, perspective in your situation. Notice that the problem with being confused is it immobilizes, it paralyzes, and it demotivates.
If you have some of those feelings, it might be because you literally are confused. And to be confused means that intellectually or emotionally you feel mixed up, things are jumbled together, they are in a sense of disorder or chaos, and you can’t think in an orderly, coherent way in the midst of complex problems, relationships or decisions.
Now, what I’ve learned is, the cure for confusion is twofold. Whether you go to consultants, or great coaches, or a counselor, two things you have to do to eliminate confusion.
Number one, you have to reduce complexity. Right, men? When the Falcons quarterback goes down, the first thing the coach does is do what to the playbook? Make it thin! Because this quarterback doesn’t know all the plays.
A few simple plays, executed well, is the best chance towards success. When your life is getting confusing, you’ve got to get your playbook, and make it thin. You’ve got to get all the extraneous things, and use the old business adage, right? K-I-S-S: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” That’s what you’ve got to do.
The second thing, however, is another acronym that – I don’t know if I made up, but I’ll take credit for it: GBTTB. You won’t find that in the Business Review at Harvard. But you’ve got to reduce complexity, and then, you’ve got to increase clarity. You’ve got to get clear: Where am I? What’s the situation? What do I need to do, and why? And this acronym stands for, “Get Back to the Basics.”
My college coach was a great friend of John Wooden, who won the ten national championships. And John Wooden started every year the same way, with the greatest athletes. And he would take a white sock into the locker room, bring the UCLA team, take his shoe off, take a white sock, and show them how to put on a white sock – back to the basics.
Vince Lombardi would take a football and say – what? “Gentleman, this is a pigskin. This is a football.”
And what John Wooden would do, he said, “Look, men, if you put your sock on wrong” – down to the little things – “it might wrinkle. If it wrinkles, you might get a blister. If you get a blister, you might miss a game. If you miss a game, we might lose a game. If we lose one game, we may not win another national championship.” His point was: You go back to the basics.
One of my heroes is Peter Drucker – I’ve read most all of his stuff. The first two questions he asks of any business, regardless of what they’re in, or what their problems are: What business are you in, and who are your customers? His point? Get back to the basics.
Now, turn the page, if you will, because we’re going to get back to the basics, spiritually. We’re going to get one of the greatest counselors, the best teachers, a better consultant than anyone else. He lived a hundred and twenty years. His name is Moses. And he comes well qualified to give us all the information that we need. He lived for forty years in the lap of luxury in the greatest wisdom of Egypt. He lived forty years in silence and solitude.
Ecclesiastes says great wisdom comes from the house of mourning. That group that he led was not real cooperative. And so, I figure – just the math, in general – he did about one point two to one point eight million funerals in forty years.
Do you remember the last time you were at a funeral? Or you went to the ICU with one of your kids, or a close friend? Do you remember how the peripheral stuff didn’t make any difference, and you got really clear about life? Imagine doing about one point two million funerals.
And what you have in your hand – it’s in your Bible, in Psalm 90, and I put the text there. What you have in your hand is the only psalm written by Moses. And if we wanted to take the collective wisdom of all that Moses learned in that one hundred and twenty years, I believe he’s giving us the CliffsNotes, right here, about how to live, how to get back to the basics.
And as I’ve studied it, I saw very clearly, there are at least six basics when Moses looks at all of life in complexity. If Moses was here, and we could put him in this chair, and, well, he’s probably pretty old by now, and we’d let him sit down. And we could do Q&A and give him a microphone. I think Moses would tell us the truth of Psalm 90.
And we would say, “Well what about the down economy? And what about one of my kids who’s having a struggle? And, you know, my marriage – I’m really struggling in that one right now.
And I think Moses would say, “You know what? Life can be very complex. You can really get your ball lost in the weeds. So, let me put my arm around you, let’s step back together, and let me paint the big picture about what life is all about. Let’s get back to the basics. And when you see the basics, you’ll be able to come out of your confusion, and make wise decisions.”
Are you ready? Basic number one comes right out of the first verse of Psalm 90: “Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”
Basic number one: God is great. We need to remember that. God is great. He’s greater than the United States. He’s greater than military operations. He’s greater than economies. God is great. And you say, where do you get that? Look at the text! Lord – the word is Adonai. It’s a title for God. It’s His sovereign creatorship, Ruler of the universe. He is above and beyond. He’s transcendent. He’s great.
But notice, also, He’s eminent. “You are our dwelling place.” If you have that pen, jot down, above that, Deuteronomy 33:26 to 29. I can’t develop it, but the exact same words used for dwelling place here, are used when God tells the children of Israel, “I will protect you. I will carry you. I will be your refuge. My loving arms will be around you, and in the midst of all the storms, I will take care of you.”
Moses is saying, after one hundred and twenty years on the planet, after living in the lap of luxury, after seeing all the false gods, after being the instrument that crushed the pagan religions, “I want you to know, number one, God is Creator, and number two, He is a close, intimate, loving Father.”
And if that’s not enough, it’s not just for now, it’s through all generations. “And before the mountains,” the word literally, “before the mountains were birthed, before God brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting.” That means all eternity. He is – the word is El. He is God.
That doesn’t mean a lot to us, but there was a huge god in the Promised Land that people believed in: Ba‘al. And the Canaanite religion believed that there was a god named El somewhere. And his son had a coup, or rebellion, and he was stronger, and deposed El.
And what he is saying is, “There is only one God.” And he’s calling God by this name, and saying to the people, “There is one God superior to all other gods, because He is Creator, sovereign, Ruler, holy of the entire universe. The very first basic in life is remembering who God is. He’s big. He’s powerful. He’s real. He’s personal.
And what I’m going to give you are six diagnostic questions to help you work through your confusion.
Number one, Am I rightly related to God? Am I rightly related to God? If God is great, if He is the center or the infinite reference point of all of life in the universe, here’s the question stated another way: Does God hold the same place in your heart and your life that He holds in the universe? If so, everything else will come into order. If the infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, eternal Reference Point, who has revealed Himself personally, through Christ, is at the center and the vortex of your life, then everything else falls into order, and not into confusion. If a person, if money, if a job, if a child, if a future, if anxiety is at the core of your life, then your life will be confused. It’ll be jumbled.
I had a chance to hear a fellow – about a year ago now, maybe two – and he works in a ministry, and so he keeps it kind of down low, because he works with a lot of people at MIT, and in the military. And he had a chance to be invited by the skipper of one of our big nuclear subs. And he said, “We had dinner, right there in the control room, and all the controls were covered, except one little area. And the guy let me ask questions about it,” he was sharing the story. And he said, “Do you know that this sub can only stay down ninety days?” And so, the fellow who was sharing this said, “Oh, could you run out of water?” He said, “Oh no.” “Do you run out of food?” “Oh, we could stay down a lot longer.” “Why do you have to resurface after ninety days?”
He said, “Because on this sub, we have missiles that, if they were off even a fraction of a degree, we shoot them out from this sub, they go out, and, with pinpoint accuracy, they need to land – if we ever needed them – right where we want them to land. But after ninety days underneath the ocean’s surface, what we know is, the magnetic forces of the earth begin to affect our equipment. So, we have to surface, put up an antenna, and we lock onto the North Star. And then, we lock onto the satellite system. And then, we recalibrate all of our equipment, based on reality.”
Do you get it? Do you need to recalibrate? Is God the center point of your heart? Is He your North Star? Does your time, and energy, and money, and decisions all go back and revolve around: God is great, He is personal, He is powerful? Is He your Reference Point to all of life? If He’s not, if you’re even off a few degrees – confusion.
The second basic Moses is going to pick up is, not only is God great, but he’s going to say life is short. He says, “You turn men back to dust” – quoting Genesis 3. “Return to dust, O sons of” – Adam, literally, or adam – “men.” And then, he gives us three quick pictures of why life is short.
He says, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night,” which was four hours. “You sweep men away in the sleep of death.” And the word sweep there is a picture of a torrential flood that pours down rain, and goes right through a valley and just wipes everything out, instantaneously.
“They’re like the new grass of the morning – though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it’s dry and withered.” And there are places you can go – I’ve been in Israel – and it’s interesting that it will grow up green in the morning, and then, these hot winds will come up, and by the afternoon – in different seasons – whoo – brown. But what’s his point? His point, very simply, is the brevity of life. You are mortal. I am mortal. Life is short. God is great. Life is short.
If you wanted to put a key word next to number one, where: “I’m rightly related to God” – write the word perspective. When you understand God is great, you’ll get perspective instead of perplexity. And if you wanted to put a keyword under number two, because here’s the question: Am I prepared to die? – put the word priority.
See what Moses is saying? “I’ve done all these funerals, all these funerals, all these funerals. I’ve done the deal where I had the money, I had the position, I had the power. I was a king of Egypt! But when I look at it all, I understand it all begins with God – He’s great – and then, I’m going to live my life, evaluate my relationships, and make my priority decisions based on something that I’m going to remember: Life is short. It’s brief.”
We are all guilty of what? The great “P” of “procrastination”: I’m really going to get close to God, later. I’m going to get my priorities in order, later. I’m really going to get serious about those important things, later. And what Moses would say is, that produces confusion. You’d better do what you need to do, and you’d better do it now.
Can I ask you one of those provocative questions? Let’s just pretend. Next week, exactly at this time, you knew for sure that your heart will have its last beat. Okay?
Bom-bom-bom-bom…bom. You’re done. Is there anything you would do differently this week than you did last week? You knew for sure you’ve got seven days. Anybody make any phone calls you need to make? Anybody write a will out – you’ve been intending to do that? Anybody think, Maybe I ought to go ahead and make that call and apologize to so and so? If you had seven days to live, would you watch as much TV this coming week as you did last week? See, once you understand life is short, you think differently about how to live. Moses said it will bring unbelievable clarity to your life. And don’t get – I’m not trying to be morbid. Here’s what I’ve learned: Until you face death boldly, you will never live life powerfully. Most of us play a game that we’re not going to die. Shh. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. And if some of you are thinking, That made me very uncomfortable; I can’t believe that guy talked about my heart stopping in seven days, I was being generous! I can’t guarantee you seven days.
You may only have seven minutes! You might check the mail and get hit by a milk truck! I don’t know, I could, too. I don’t have seven days. I’ve got today. And when I begin to live like God is great, and life is short, not only does it give me perspective, but it totally rearranges my priorities.
Now, ask yourself, Well why is life so short? He tells us in the very next section: It’s because sin is serious. Verse 7, “We’re consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation,” Moses writes. “You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence. All our days pass away under Your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.” This is a guy who’s been around the block. “The length of our days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, and they quickly pass, and we fly away.” Well, where? What’s Moses talking about? They fly away to judgment. Moses looks back on life, and he says, “Since the Fall, since sin entered the world…”
It was never God’s plan. God wanted to live with Adam and Eve, forever, in a perfect environment – no death, no sin, no relational conflict, no fallout. But Genesis 3 happened. And since Genesis 3 happened, some terrible things have occurred. The world isn’t the way God wants it to be. But we’re called to live out a very different kind of life in this world.
Do you have that pen handy? Let me give a little, quick Bible study lesson. Would you circle the word consumed – out of verse 7 – circle the word terrified, circle the word moan, circle the word trouble, circle the word sorrow, and circle the words quickly pass. Does that sound like happy news to you? Does that sound like life is just one big party and everything’s going to go your way? That’s a fallen world.
And if you want to get more revealing, put a box around the word anger in verse 7. Put a box around the word indignation at the end of verse 7. Put a box around wrath. And what you’ll understand is that it’s not only a fallen world, but God is a just God. He is great, life is short, but sin violates His holy character. And what we have Moses saying is, “Sin is serious.” It’s so serious, one hundred percent of the time, God judges it. He judges it in this world, and He judges it in the next.
“God will not be mocked. As a man or a woman sows, so will you reap.” Right? You know, you diss people, you use your money in unrighteous ways, you act like a jerk, and what are you going to experience in this life? What you sow, you reap. Or, in the vernacular, what goes around comes around. It’s the way God set up life.
But it’s beyond just this life. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It’s appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment.” See, sin is serious. Question number three, when you’re confused, and wondering what’s going on, ask yourself: Am I taking sin seriously? God’s holiness demands that He judge it. He’s serious with sin.
Now, notice carefully. Follow with me here. Sin clouds our minds and hardens our hearts. Jot down in the corner Hebrews 3:13. The reason we’re gathered in worship, the reason you need to sit around the table at home and talk about what God’s doing in your life, the reason you have to be in community, the reason you have to be in a small group, the reason you have to have authentic relationships is Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage one another day after day lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
See, my problem is is I get sucked into this world’s culture. I don’t wake up one day, and say, “Hey, I think I’d like to be a Christian who’s materialistic.” I don’t know anybody who says, “You know what? Let’s see, it’s Tuesday. Sounds like a good day for an affair. I think I’ll throw away my marriage, throw away my kids, go against everything I’ve always believed.”
It never happens that way. The deceitfulness of sin – it’s an advertisement here. It’s a flashing thought here. It’s kidding around here. It’s a little flirting here. It’s a little, small decision with your money here.
And it’s like wading out into the water, and then, it gets faster, and faster – and you don’t think anything’s happening – and pretty soon, like when you go to the beach. Remember when you swim at the beach? What always happens? You look back at the shore, and you can’t find anybody, and you realize you were sure you were swimming right in front of where your family or friends were. And now, you look up, and they’re about ninety yards, or three hundred yards, back that way.
That’s what sin does in your life and mine. It’s deceitful. And so, Moses says, the only way to be clear, you’ve got to ask: Am I taking sin seriously?
I had a guy come to me, after a service had a big decision to make. And he prayed, and he said, “I’ve tried, and I’m searching, and I’m pulled. I just don’t – God won’t speak to me!”
And so, I started probing a little bit, and asking – because I always do – “So, how’s your time in the Scriptures? Because the only way to keep your mind clear, the only way to understand God’s will, is if the Spirit of God, through the Word of God, and through the community of believers, informs you.” He said, “I’m not reading the Bible much right now.” “Okay, so you’ve got a big decision, a life decision?” “Yeah.”
I said, “Well, tell me, is there any area in your life you’re struggling with?” “Well, yeah.” I said, “Well, what is it?” “This deal with my girlfriend.” “Well what’s the deal with your girlfriend?” “Well, we’re living together right now. And I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t make the break.” I said, “Okay. And you’re asking God, who is pure, and holy, to reveal His plan for you, His will for your life, right? Are you obeying what God has already shown you?” He said, “Well, yeah, I think – what do you mean?”
So, I opened my Bible. I said, “Well, let’s do a little research. God’s will is not a mystery.” I opened up to 1 Thessalonians 4, said, “‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from all sexual immorality.’ You know that’s for sure His will, right?” “Yeah.” “Are you obeying this one?” “No.” I said, “So, why do you think God would give you more information about the future, if you’re not obeying what you know?”
Now, that’s a drastic example, but I wonder about us. I wonder about us more “sanitized believers,” who know the Bible a little bit better. What if God is just not interested in whether you sleep together, or whether you’re still cussing? What if the kind of sins like the motives of your heart, and impressing people, and image casting, and projecting that you’re more holy, and acting in certain ways publicly, but acting in different ways privately?
What if there are some unresolved anger issues with some people? What if you have lack of forgiveness in your heart, and bitterness, and resentment toward your ex-mate, or your in-laws, or one of your kids, or your parents? What if you have a propensity in your mouth to speak evil of people, at work, or at church, and the Bible calls it “gossip”? And God says it’s one of the seven deadly sins.
Could it be – I’m just checking it out here. Is it possible that the reason that some of us are confused about God’s will is that we don’t take sin seriously?
See, Moses gets us really clear, pretty quickly, doesn’t he? He says: start with basic one: God is great. You get perspective. Basic two: Life is short. That’s about priorities. Basic three: It’s about purity versus pollution. You’re living in a polluted world. You, as a believer, must have a commitment to keep your mind, and your heart, your motives, and your behavior pure before God.
Well, then Moses goes on, and he’s going to say: well in light of this difficult life that we live in, in a fallen world, wisdom is essential. “Who knows the power of Your anger? For Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due You.”
Now, think about who wrote this!
Now, can you imagine being Moses, and watching people who stiff-arm God, and are rebellious, and then having one of those experiences, like, “Well, God told me to, Korah, bring the team together. And you light your censers, and Aaron and I will light ours, and if God happens to open the earth and swallow you, and close it down, we’ll know who’s really…” Tchoo! Tchoo!
When Moses is writing, here, “Who knows the power of Your anger? For Your wrath is as a great as the fear that is due You,” he is summarizing what he’s learned in the last, I think, one hundred and twenty years – that sin is serious, life is short, God is great, and though He be merciful and loving – which we’ll learn about – until we grasp, until we grasp that it is a serious, serious thing to live a righteous life, in a fallen world, then we’re not ready to pray the kind of prayers we need to pray.
Notice what he prays, in light of that. And I don’t know about you, but what Moses is really saying is, “You know what? This is hard! How do you live a pure life in an impure world? How do you keep your motives straight? I’m lured and pulled.” And so, his prayer is, “Teach us” – what? – “to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
What he’s saying is, “I don’t get it. It’s hard. The entire world is flowing this way, and to live a righteous life, you live this way. And it’s difficult, and I’m pulled, and I struggle, and I feel guilty, and I get confused. What do I do?” Wisdom is essential. That’s the basic. Wisdom is essential. Ask for it. Ask God to teach you to number your days.
And by the way, wisdom isn’t like getting smarter. Wisdom is a skill. The Hebrew word for skill, “the ability to live life His way, according to His plan, even in a fallen world.” He’s saying, “Lord, the whole world’s doing relationships this way. Teach me to number and arrange my days, so I do relationships this way. The whole world thinks about money, and power, and prestige this way. Teach me wisdom, so I can learn to do it this way.” That’s what he’s asking for. The keyword here is the idea of purpose.
Let me do a quick math object lesson for you. If you are twenty-five years old, you have approximately sixteen thousand, two hundred days to live. If you’re thirty-five years old, you have approximately twelve thousand, seven hundred seventy-five days to live – if you make it to seventy.
If you’re fifty-five years old here – if you get to three score and ten – you have five thousand, five hundred fifty-seven days to live. If you’re sixty-five years old, you’ve got nineteen hundred and twenty-five days left – unless God gives extreme mercy and grace – two thousand days.
You know what Moses was saying? You understand God is great. You understand life is short. You understand sin is serious. You understand you really need wisdom to do it His way. You don’t keep living life – mentally, morally, and spiritually – like you’ve got your hands behind your head, floating in the Bahamas on your life raft, trying to get a good tan. Because that’s not why you’re here. There will be great time for refreshing enjoyment. But what he’s saying is, if you’re confused, you’ve got to get clear, and real, about what life’s all about.
I’d like to suggest that, until you accurately and clearly grasp the reality, and the bad news, of living in a fallen world, you’ll never appreciate the grace, and the mercy, and what we actually have as believers.
Basic one, for sure: God is great. Am I rightly related to Him? Number two: Life is short. Am I prepared to die? Sin is serious. Am I taking it seriously? Question four is: am I spending or investing my life?
How about you? See, you spend something, there’s not a return. If you’re made for eternity, living inside of time, in a fallen world, and God is great, and life is short, and sin is serious, and judgment is coming, and you need wisdom, are you investing your life in that which counts, or are you unconsciously just sort of floating downstream?
Then, Moses shifts gears, and it’s great, because we ought to feel a bit under it at this point. We ought to feel overwhelmed. We ought to feel, I don’t think I can make it. We ought to feel a deep sense of, Man, if this is the standard, I’m in big trouble.
But, basic number five is that mercy is available: “Relent, O Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love” – why? – “that we may sing for joy and be glad all of our days.” This isn’t bad news. “Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years as we’ve seen trouble.” Mercy is available.
He has three specific requests. There are three verbs. One, “Relent,” have mercy. God, I need Your help! When’s the last time you prayed that? See, I think, unconsciously, we all think we’re doing pretty good. When is the last time you said, Oh God, when I look into my heart, when I look into my motives, when I look at what comes out of my mouth, when I look at where my money goes, and how I’m not aligning my thoughts…relent!
But it’s beyond just mercy: “Have compassion.” It’s the Hebrew word for, “out of the bowels.” God, I want You to feel about me, and hurt with me, and enter into my life the way a mom does with a small child who’s sick. And God says, “I’ll do that.”
And then, it moves from just getting relief and help: “Satisfy us.” “In the midst of a fallen world, satisfy me. Fill me to the brim with – what? – Your unfailing love. It never changes. Don’t satisfy me with stuff; it’s gone. Don’t satisfy me with circumstances that are aligned, for this brief moment of season, and then, the economy breaks it, or a war may take it away. Don’t satisfy me just with people, as wonderful as they are; they’re here today, and gone tomorrow. Satisfy me with that which does not change: Your unfailing love. And this is what it produces: “That we may sing for joy and be glad all of our days.”
The early Church had a marketing plan. The early Church’s marketing plan was to love one another, and when they loved one another, the market out there of a fallen world said, “Whoa!” And they all carried a business card. When you got up close to an early Church, New Testament believer, the marketing plan was their love for one another, and their business card had “joy” on it.
And they were living under unbelievably difficult times and persecution. And, in the midst of all that, you know what their life characteristic was? Joy. Not happiness, not things going their way, not a government that aligned with what they were trying to accomplish.
And where did that come from? Jot down in the corner, will you, Psalm 16:11: “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever.” The question I ask myself when I’m confused – and this gets to the issue of prayer – is: Am I experiencing the joy of the Lord?
Do you notice, this mercy is available? It’s a prayer. You’re a prayer away from having your confusion gone, and your realignment.
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” Joy. It doesn’t mean everything goes… “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
Can I ask you – with no intent whatsoever of making anyone feel guilty: During your time with the Lord, is there any singing going on? During your time with the Lord, is there that sense of, Man the world is falling to pieces, and, honestly I’m scared to death, and I have concerns here, and I don’t know what to do about here, but You’re the infinite Reference Point. You are great. And I’m the object of Your love, and, despite all of the things that I’ve done – internally and externally – to mess up, You love me. You sent Your Son for me. And have you found yourself kind of breaking out into a little chorus, or a hymn, in the morning, as you start your day?
And you know what happens? What did Nehemiah say? “The joy of the Lord is my, it’s my strength!” Circumstances aren’t your strength. Other people aren’t your strength. Anything, and everyone, will let you down, except God.
Finally – I love the final part – success is possible. When you read the first two-thirds of this, you say to yourself, Moses, I’m glad you learned this, but I don’t think I can cut it. And he tells us basic number six: Success is possible.
Notice, his prayer continues: “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants.” Literally, he’s praying, Reveal Your deeds to Your servants, Your splendor to their children. Moses is saying, I want something great to happen here, in the midst of this conflict, and I want it to happen for my kids. “May the favor” – and the word, literally, is beauty – “of the Lord rest upon us.” And then, he repeats it twice: “Establish the work of our hands, yes, establish the work of our hands.”
If I wanted to translate that phrase, that little prayer, into today’s English, I would say Moses is praying, “Lord, number one, we want to see You work among us. We don’t want to do religion, we don’t want to do church, we don’t want to go through the motions.
We want to see Your splendor! We want to see what the early Church did! We want to see what we hear about happening around the world! We want to see You work here, like never before. And we want our kids to get it. We want them to look at us and say, ‘Mom, Dad, I’ve never seen you live like this.’” And you say, “Well something happened in my heart, honey.”
The second thing he prays is, “We want to leave a legacy to our children.” And the third thing he prays is, “We want to impact our world every day, in every way.” Moses knew it wasn’t a spiritual issue. He asked the question, and here’s the key: Am I impacting my world for good?
And, here, the keyword is productivity. You’re making a difference. And you know what? It’s as spiritual to change a baby as an act of worship, as it is to pray a prayer. It’s as spiritual to go into the marketplace and do a business deal right and with integrity as it is to be a pastor. It’s as spiritual to be at home with kids as it is to be making a difference in the marketplace. All of life – whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, right?
There is no sacred and secular. There is no clergy and laity. I’m a regular guy; you’re a regular guy. You’re a regular girl. We all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The cross has accomplished it. He’s raised from the dead. We’re new in Him, and we’re a team together, living every day before the face of God. And he says, “Now, establish the work of our hands.” Every work, every thought, every prayer, done unto Him, has the permanence of eternity when it’s done as an act of worship.
Now, do you see how it happens? You realize He is great – the infinite Reference Point. You realize life is short, so the priorities need to get refocused. You realize sin is serious, and you better not just mess around with that anymore. And you realize, I need wisdom because I can’t do this. And, in the midst of it, you say, “Mercy is available.” And then, you say, “Success is possible.”
God wants to do – in you, and through you – exceedingly, abundantly beyond what you could ask, or think.
If you could just get a sneak peek into heaven – it’s so glorious, it would scare you. But it begins with you, and me, going back to the basics: getting clear, reducing complexity, increasing clarity.