Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Stop Faking It! Resources on sale now.
About this series
Stop Faking It!
Live Without Hypocrisy
Nobody likes a hypocrite, and nobody wants to be one. But for some reason, living an honest, authentic life is tougher than it sounds. God calls us to walk as "children of light," but many of us find ourselves living shadowy lives of part-time spirituality, and then wonder why our hearts feel cold and our prayers go unanswered. If you'd like to know how to live a winsome, whole and holy life, join Chip Ingram for this series from Ephesians 5.More from this series
If you’re really a brand new person your life will be characterized – you won’t be perfect – but you’ll walk in the light. You will be habitually characterized as a person who is increasingly more holy and increasingly more loving. But the dilemma is that no matter how holy you get this side of eternity, you’re always going to struggle with sin. You’re always going to blow it. Your motives are never going to be one hundred percent pure.
But God has a process. He has a process whereby you’re transformed from the inside out and that process is seeing Him. In fact, it will be epitomized at the moment we see Christ. 1 John 3 told us that we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like, what we will be like eventually one day, but this is what we know: when we see Him, we will be like Him. And the process of sanctification or becoming more like Christ or becoming more holy and loving is really about, moment by moment, seeing and beholding God for who He is and in that process, the Spirit of God takes that truth and that reality and it transforms us.
On a scale of one to ten, do a little inventory here. A “one” is I feel totally far away from God. When I pray, I don’t think He’s even listening. I’m so far away. And a “ten” is, I can’t imagine a deeper, more intimate, connected relationship with God. On a scale of one to ten, privately voting in your own heart, tell no one else. What are you? How is it between you and God right now? Four? Seven point five? Eight point two? Nine? How is it between you? Next question: when do you talk to Him? How do you talk to Him?
If you said, “Okay, Chip, how long have you been a Christian?” What single thing, what single thing has had more impact, more influence, in transforming your life, to go from who you were, this new babe in Christ, to what God is doing in your life and will continue to do?
What single thing has helped you to live a life, over time, where what you say and what you believe and how you live and how you think and where your real heart and motives are in alignment, living without hypocrisy?”
And I’m going to tell you, bar none, learning to worship God personally on a regular basis has been the most powerful thing to transforming my life. And when I get close to people that walk with God, when I see people’s lives that are really different, when I start poking and probing, I have never found, ever, either in writing or in history or personal experience, I have never found a human being who walks closely with God that is not a person of personal worship. Because they see God daily.
So let’s take a look at personal worship. What is it? Why is it so important? The priority. And then maybe most of all, how do you do it? First, let me give you a definition. Personal worship is the regular and habitual setting aside of all other activities and relationships to give God your undivided attention, focus, and affection. I try and make these definitions very long and very complicated so you say to yourself, “Uh, could you go over that again?” Yes I will.
Now listen carefully to the clauses. Personal worship is the regular and habitual setting aside of all other relationships and activities to give God your undivided attention, focus, and affection.
Put another way, it’s to personally and privately behold Him and to hear from Him and to worship in His presence. Just as we come together as a large group before God, it’s when you privately come before God and worship Him and hear from Him, when you talk to Him, when you share your heart, when you open His Word and He speaks to you, when you talk to Him on behalf of other people. It’s your personal, private worship of the living God.
We sang that song that we breathe His holy presence, living in me. It’s taking time to cultivate that relationship.
And you might say to yourself, Maybe this is the last part of the series and maybe you’re just a little over the top on how important this is. Could it be that important? The most significant thing that has transformed your life?
Let me ask you to look at a couple of passages in terms of the priority of worship, personal worship, the daily, habitual, regular, systematic setting aside of every other relationship and every other activity to meet with God.
Romans 12:1 and 2 says this, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies” – how? “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him. This, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed,” changed, metamorphosized, from the inside out, is the word. How?
“By the renewing of your mind,” as you behold Him, as you see clearly who He is, and then you see the world for what it is, and then you see yourself for who you are. And when your mind is renewed, something occurs. “Then you will be able to test,” or taste or see or prove, is the idea, “what the will of God is,” in your practical experience, “that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Now here’s something very important. Romans chapter 12 follows Romans chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. Pretty cool, huh? Do you know what Romans 1 through 11 talks about? Paul is giving a theological treatise about the Gospel. It’s the clearest book in the New Testament of: This is what God has done for you. Eleven chapters of His mercy, of all that He’s done and the work of Christ and faith and the Spirit’s work and transformation and His game plan for Israel and His sovereignty.
Chapter 12 looks back on all that God has done for you and chapter 12 opens up and asks and answers the question, So, what does God want you to do for Him? And what God wants you to do for Him is to be a private worshipper where, on a regular, systematic basis, you come before Him and you offer you. He wants you. He doesn’t want just your time. He doesn’t want just your money. He doesn’t just want control of your dreams and your agenda. He wants you. He wants me as a living and holy sacrifice.
And, by the way, the tense of this verb, you might mark it in your Bible. It’s at a particular point in time. This isn’t some vague notion of offering God – somehow, some way, someday – your body as a living sacrifice. It’s like going to the altar and making a specific decision and saying, “God, I am Yours – lock, stock, and barrel.” And notice carefully, this is not a salvation passage.
Salvation in Romans occurs in chapters 4 and 5. This is people who know God, who are in a part of His family, who grasp all that God has done and they say, “What God wants most from me is, at a point in time, I dedicate all that I am and all that I have and I’m going to live my life as an act of worship.”
And then look at verse 2. Verse 2 reminds us that it’s not just a one-time deal. “And do not be conformed any longer.” Literally, don’t allow yourself to be conformed any longer to this present world, but allow yourself and your mind to be transformed. How? By the renewing of your mind.
So worship is not only at a point in time where you drive a stake in the ground, but then you renew that day, after day, after day. As you spend time and meet with Him, He renews your mind and little, by little, by little, your life takes more and more of the characteristics of the intimacy of Christ. Have you ever noticed that whoever you hang out with, you become like?
You can tell who your kids are hanging out with, right? They go to school for three or four or five days and they come home saying stuff like, “Yo, dude.” And you’re thinking, “Oh, he’s with the surfer group.”
Have you found that when you hang out with people that, over time, if they talk with their hands, kind of like this, that you find yourself starting to talk with your hands like this?
Whoever you get close to, you begin to take on their characteristics. When you get close to Jesus, when you spend time with Him, when you worship Him, when you do it not only once in the morning or in the afternoon or the evening when the best time is, but as you carry on conversation, when you learn to live in His presence – little, by little, by little – you become like Him.
It was interesting; I’m getting to spend time with a new friend. Actually, I’ve known him for a couple of years, but he’s English and I’m finding myself, in my mind, saying things with an English accent. It hasn’t come out my mouth because I thought it would be disrespectful, but I was actually writing in my journal the other day, and this is classic, I literally wrote this down and then I put a line through it and said, “Ingram, what are you doing?” I really like this guy and he’s having a very positive impact on my life. And I wrote this in my journal, “The meeting went famously.” The meeting went famously. I’m thinking to myself, “Ingram, what are you doing?”
You know what I’m doing? I’m rubbing shoulders next to a man who walks with God and I’m not only picking up his heart for God, but I’m picking up some of his speech and his mannerisms.
And do you know that when you spend time regularly and behold Him, you will begin to think like Jesus. You’ll begin to respond to people’s pain like Jesus. You will begin to emote like Jesus. Your motives will be more and more like Jesus’. You will begin to be repelled by evil like Jesus. And that’s why personal worship is so powerful. In fact, this is the great command in the book of the New Testament that teaches all that God has done.
Let me give you one other factor. John chapter 15 is the teaching of our Lord on the last night that He is on the earth. He has His closest followers with Him. The Lord’s Supper has been initiated. He knows He’s going to die the next day and these fellows, He knows what’s coming. They’re going to be persecuted and they’re going to be afraid. And whenever they had a question, they could say, “Jesus, could I get a couple of minutes with You?” And He said, “Just a second, I’m talking with John, but, yeah, just a second, Pete. Pete, I said ‘Just a second.’ Okay?” And you could talk with Him and what He knew was that He was going to be gone.
And then He told them that their future was secure, in John 14, and then later in John 16, He describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But they don’t know how it’s going to work. It all sounds like mumbo-jumbo. “What do You mean? ‘It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Father will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will reveal the truth.’” And these twelve guys are like us – eleven then. One had left the room.
And they’re going, “I don’t get it.” And so on the way down from the Mount of Olives, I would assume, He came by a vineyard, and they all knew about it. That was out of their world and out of their life. And He says, “I’m going to give them a word picture. I’m going to give them a word picture that will help them understand how they can have intimacy with Me, how they can be private worshippers, not just at different periods of the day, but all the time.”
And so, in John 15 we read, Jesus says to these disciples, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” The vine is the big source; the branches go out from the vine. “If a man remains or abides in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” And they’re looking at that and realize, “Of course, that’s how it works.”
And then He says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain or abide in Me,” and the word abide or remain here means to hear from God, to receive His words with the purpose of putting it into practice. “If anyone doesn’t abide or remain in Me, he is like a branch that’s thrown away and withers and such branches are picked up and they’re thrown into the fire and they’re burned.”
And then He gives them this promise on the last night before He’s going to die. “If you remain in Me or abide in Me and My words remain and abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is My Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.”
When the Spirit is reigning in our hearts, when He’s controlling us, we will bear fruit and the fruit will be the character and the quality of Christ: love and joy and peace and goodness and gentleness and self-control. And He’s telling them there’s going to be an abiding relationship.
And He says, “The Father is going to be glorified or honored.” Glory just means bragging rights, reputation enhanced. “You guys are going to live in such a way, with Me that when people look at your lives and how you love and how you are holy, they’re going to step back and say, ‘Wow, they must have been with Jesus,’ and God gets the credit.”
And then He goes on to tell them, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Now remain or abide in My love.” Do you notice He’s telling them this personal worship, it’s relational? It’s not mechanical. It’s not read two chapters. It’s not concentrate on God for three minutes. It’s not chant for four hours.
He says, “As the Father has loved Me, as We have been in an abiding relationship, Father to Son, now I want you to love.” Unless they think it’s just some ooey-gooey feeling of having a “Jesus moment,” He goes on to say, verse 10, “If you obey My commands, you will remain, or abide, in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.”
Loving Jesus isn’t about having an ooey-gooey feeling in worship or even spending time in the morning and saying, “Oh, God,” and having these good feelings. If what Jesus says about my mind and my motives and my behavior and my relationships doesn’t get translated into my behavior, I can feel like I love Him a lot, but the Bible says I’m not loving Him.
The test of my love for Jesus is, Do I keep His Word? Do I obey Him? And He would say, in the chapter before, “He that has My commands and keeps them, he it is that loves Me and he that loves Me will be loved by My Father.” And then this classic picture, “And My Father and I will come and We will disclose, or reveal, Ourselves to him.”
And so, Jesus is teaching about private worship and there’s going to be this abiding relationship and then He tells them why, this great reason. He says, “I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full.”
This is about the overflow of a relationship. So, here’s what I want you to hear. According to the last teaching of Jesus on the earth and according to the most core theological teaching of the New Testament, your abiding, personal worship of Jesus is the most important appointment you have every day. It’s the most important relationship to cultivate every day.
Just as there is the most important corporate meeting we are now in. What we’re doing now is more important than any business meeting coming up this week. It’s even more important than any family meeting because what we do now, we will behold God and as we see Him and worship Him, we will be transformed and a different person will show up at the family meeting and the business meeting and the relationship outside here.
And now, what He’s saying is, there is a private meeting. There is a private appointment that He wants for you and for you and for you and for you and for me where you can behold Him, daily, and as you do, transformation will occur. The purpose of personal worship, put very simply, and you might even jot this down, is to know God and to enjoy Him. It’s to know Him. It’s to enjoy Him. It’s not to earn His favor. There is not a big refrigerator in heaven and if you meet with God four mornings in a row, Gold star for Ingram! No.
When you miss a morning, when you miss an evening, you just miss out. It’s like everyone’s going to Disneyland and you just missed the bus. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but you miss out. It’s like having a date with the person of your dreams and your car breaks down. You don’t get to go on the date. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you loved any less, but you miss out.
The purpose of personal devotion is to know and enjoy God. It’s to cultivate an intimate friendship and trust that results in obedience and affection to such a degree that His life is manifested in and through you to the glory of God. That’s the purpose.
Now, in practice, you need to figure out how to pull this off.
And so, what I’d like you to do, I’m going to ask you to pull out a pen. In practice, you need to have a specific time, a specific place, and a specific plan. It’s just like with relationships. How many times do we see someone at the grocery store or in the mall and they’re a pretty close friend. “Hey, we ought to get together! Hey, we ought to get together.” “Yeah, let’s get together.” And then three months later you see them at the grocery store. “Hey, we ought to get together.” When do you get together? You get together when someone says, “Let’s do it next Thursday at three.” When that happens you get together. When it doesn’t happen, you don’t.
You must decide – in fact, you must pre-decide when, daily, are you going to meet with the most important appointment of your life? Where, daily, are you going to make the most important appointment of your life? And then, when you meet with Him, do you have a plan? Because what happens is, if you set aside that time and you don’t know exactly what to do, it’s not very fulfilling, you don’t make a lot of progress, and chances are, you won’t do it very long.
I’m going to give a whirl at something that I hope works. It may not. But I would like to walk over here and I would like to have a quiet time. Some people call it the devotional life. And I’d like to, literally, no joke, just have one. I even have a little coffee here. You ought to make this kind of fun. And I want to sit down and just show you how I have done it for years. This isn’t the only way to do it.
And what I want to do – open your Bibles, if you will. We’re studying Ephesians. Right? Open to Ephesians chapter 5, and where we’ve been is in this whole concept of being filled with the Spirit and speaking to one another in psalms and hymns, giving thanks for all things. And why don’t we just start with a verse that we haven’t covered and I’ll start with maybe verse 21 and go for about ten verses, just to give you an example.
Now, you’ll notice that it’s comfortable. I’ve got a place. In fact, I do mine mostly at the same place. And I would encourage you, you might even actually put a chair there. And the reason I would encourage you to put a chair there is because the goal is not to learn the Bible. The goal is not to master the Bible. The goal, as wonderful as these little boxes are for my fellow obsessive-compulsive friends, and it’s so fun to check them off, that’s not the goal either. The goal is to build a relationship. And so sometimes it’s good to put an empty chair and say, “That’s where Jesus sits.”
And what I’m asking You, Jesus, is would You speak to me through Your Word? And I want to tell You, Jesus, today, what’s on my heart and what’s on my schedule and where I’m afraid and I have some big decisions and rumor has it, You’re the sovereign King of the universe, and You probably know what’s going to happen today. And since You died for me and You love me, You’ve promised You want to lead and guide me. And so I want to meet with You and I want to know how to build this relationship.
And so, with that then, I’ll just give you a little preview, the 2PROAPT, each letter stands for something. The first P in 2PROAPT is “pray.” Ask God to speak to you. So I’m going to do this as authentically as I can – it’s hard to do in a crowd – but, Father, I want to thank You for the privilege to hear from You and I know that my mind often isn’t really awake and I ask that You would, first, clear it up and then I ask that the Spirit of God would open Your Word. Help me to hear from You today. In Christ’s name, amen.
The second thing is then to “preview.” Often, we try and get way too much out of something early and just preview – read through it really quickly. So, I’ll take the first six, seven verses and we’ll start in verse 21. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, His body of which He is the Savior. Now, as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of the water with the Word, and to present her to Him as a radiant Church without sin or wrinkle or stain or any blemish; but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself; after all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the Church.”
And so, I just read through it really quickly, just to figure out, I wonder what the basic gist is? Then the R is for “read,” and you read the passage a second time slowly and contemplatively. And so, I would start off with, Okay, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Okay, the key verb idea here is “submit.” It has to do with relationships. “Wives,” okay, first relationship, “submit to your husbands.” How? “As unto the Lord.” Why? “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now, as the Church submits to Christ, so also the wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
“Husbands,” okay, shifting it around. The idea is submitting, here, talking to wives first, another group here, new paragraph. “Husbands, love your wives.” Well, how? “Just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” Well, why did He do that? “To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of the water through the Word.” I wonder what that means. I’m dead serious. That’s what I do. I hit passages. I go, Man, “washing of the water through the Word?” Man, what’s that got to do with anything?
“And to present her as a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish; but holy and blameless. In the same way,” there’s something about what Christ did for the Church that has to do with husbands, “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” I think I’ll let that one sink in. “He who loves his wife, loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the Church.” Then I go back through and I just think on that for a while.
What would God want to say to me? I’m not trying to be a Bible scholar. I’m not trying to diagram anything. I just want to meet with God and there’s something about, in the body of Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ and example one is how wives are to do it and example two are how husbands.
Well, I am going to make some observations then, and go back and underline key words and circle words and phrases that are repeated and highlight the most meaningful verse to me. And so, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I’m going to circle submit just because it seems like, somewhere, from reading it a couple of times, it pops up a lot.
And then I’m going to underline wives because that’s the first group here. “Submit to your husbands.” I’m going to circle submit. I found it again. “As unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, of which He is the Savior.”
Okay, so wives submit; Christ submitted. “Now, as the Church submits,” circle that again, “so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Wow. Submit, submit, submit, submit. I think this is for Theresa. This is really going to be good.
Have you found yourself ever doing that? It’s a danger – occupational hazard. You start reading the Bible and you start thinking, “Now I’ve got a friend or a wife or a child that really needs to hear this.” So I’m going to refrain.
Now, I’m just being honest. As I was reading this, if I was really being open with the Lord, there’s part of me that would be saying, “I could think of a couple applications for her on this one.” Well, let’s move on. Husbands – there’s something about how we’re to work in the body about loving and submitting and wives have this supportive, submissive something as Christ in the Church. I’m going to let her handle that one.
Okay, what about me? “Husbands love your wives.” Okay, that’s my action word. Underline husbands, circle love your wives. “Just as Christ loved the Church.” I’m going to circle loved again. “Gave Himself up for her,” I guess that’s what love looks like.
Well, why? “To make her holy, cleansing her by the” – I still don’t know what washing with water through the Word means. Oh well, you know what? I’m going to put a little mark there. I’m going to look that up. I have to do a little research on that.
“Present her without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives,” man, this is getting repetitive, “as their own bodies. He who loves,” circle it again, “his wife, loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body but feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the Church.”
And I step back and then I ask myself – Apply: A – choose one specific way to put it into practice. And as I would just sit, by now, I’ve read a pretty short amount and I want to think it through and as much as I would like to jump up there and write a letter to Theresa about some areas where submission would really be great, I realize that whatever it meant for the way Jesus loved His Church, God wants me to love Theresa.
And so I’m just going to ask God, In a way that makes sense to her, what would loving her look like today? And I don’t really know off the top of my head so I’d probably pour myself a little coffee and lean back and say, “Lord, I’m just going to sit here quietly and I know that You want me to love my wife the way You love the Church. Would You speak to me?”
And that still, small voice might say something like, “Well, why don’t you tell her?” There’s a good idea. And what’s the most meaningful way to tell her? “Well, you say it all the time. Why don’t you drop her a note?” A letter to my own wife? Are You serious? Okay.
And then as I’m writing that down and starting to feel pretty good about myself, I hear, “Why don’t you get the fence fixed that you’ve been talking about? Remember when you took that walk and you said, ‘What are you concerned about?’ And she said, ‘You seem to be very preoccupied with the church and stuff around our house is not getting attention, just like the old days.’” Oh, You’ve got to be kidding me. Oh, I hate to mess with that fence. I don’t even want to make a phone call about that fence. I don’t care about the fence. It doesn’t bother me.
“I didn’t feel like going to the cross but I did it for the Church. A fence is not a big deal.” Okay? I’m going to jot down in my journal. I’m going to drop my wife a note and then I’m going to make sure our back fence gets fixed. I’m going to do that out of obedience to God, speaking to me today, because I guess it’d be pretty hypocritical to get in front of people and talk about not being a hypocrite and loving God and loving your wife, and know for sure what it means to love your wife, and not do it. And so that’s what I’m going to do. I can’t do this on my own. I can write it in my journal and then I can fake it and blow it off later.
So the final P here is “pray.” Ask God for power and wisdom to follow through with your application. Lord, I have a zillion things going and the last thing I want to do is get that fence fixed and I’ve got meetings to go to and I just want to tell You, right now, I want to stop, first and foremost, and in submitting to You, out of reverence for Christ, I’m going to love my wife. When I get done praying, I’m going to jot her a note and I’m going to tell her how much I love her, and why, and before I go to any meeting, I’m going to make a phone call about getting the fence fixed.
And, God, I can’t do this on my own. And, by the way, since I’m here, the nine o’clock with those guys I’m going to meet with, will You give me wisdom and power and direction? And, Lord, I have some study time coming up and this passage doesn’t make sense, I don’t know how to break it out. I don’t know how to communicate it. Would You give me what You want for Your people this week? And, by the way, would You forgive me? I realize that I have really been insensitive to Theresa. I’m sorry. I want to build into her life. I want to love her the way You love the Church and I ask for Your grace and I ask for Your forgiveness, in Christ’s name.
And then the last thing is I’m going to tell somebody. And I’m going to tell someone how God spoke to me and I’m going to tell them, it will probably be a close friend, and I’m going to try and do it so I don’t act like, Well, I was holy this morning. But I’m going to tell them so they can grow. And what I want to communicate to you is that was a lot of time and I really debated. Here’s what I’m finding. If you don’t do this, if it’s not the most important appointment, if it’s not the most important relationship, you are destined to a life of hypocrisy – destined. You’re signing your name on the bottom of the list. You are saying that Jesus is the most important person in your life.
You’re saying, “I love God.” You’re saying He is the Lord of your life. When one of your kids is in the hospital, in the ICU, you’re crying out to God, “I am Your child. Hear me.” What He’s saying is what He wants is your heart and the most precious commodity you have is your time. And He wants to meet with you. He doesn’t want you to go through a little ritual. He doesn’t want you to play a little game. He wants to meet with you and He wants to love you.
And I will tell you, if you will make a thirty-day commitment to meet with Him and if your alarm doesn’t go off and it doesn’t work, fine, you missed going to Disneyland. He’s not down on you. Get up and do it the next day. But if you would take twenty minutes – and I’ll be honest – you can do it anytime during the day. But if you’ll take twenty minutes and you’ll do it first, it’ll shape your whole day. You can spend twenty minutes with God and do what I just showed you there and it’ll change twenty-three hours and forty minutes.
And you know what? A guy came up afterwards. It was so good. I’m so glad he did. He said, “You know something? My life, I was everywhere and I knew God and I’ve been a Christian for about five or six years and I felt all this pressure and my life really wasn’t reflecting Christ and I realized I didn’t meet with Him. And so I decided, for thirty days,” he said, “the first twenty-eight days, I didn’t really hear God’s voice.” He said, “I just kept doing it, kept doing it, kept doing it for about twenty-eight days, twenty-nine days. I began to hear God’s voice. I would pray specific things and I sat quietly and God gave me direction.” And he said, “It was just awesome.”
And he said, “I’m just a regular guy. I’m from Fresno. Wow. You know?” And then he said, “And then I did it for about three or four or five months and then I got really busy and then I went for about two weeks and I didn’t meet with God and then I started meeting with Him again and I couldn’t hear His voice. But since I’d heard His voice, I knew I was going to stay in there.”
Can I tell you: God wants you to hear His voice. God wants you to behold Him. He wants to love you. He wants to give you direction. He wants to give you the will and the courage to reconcile deep areas of your marriage. He wants to give you contentment in your singleness. He wants to give you power over addictions and sin issues that you spend half your energy trying to cover up. You are destined to be a hypocrite all the days of your life unless you make personal worship the most important appointment and the most important relationship every day. Every day.
And I realized that was a basic way to go about it.
I did something with the elders, because many of you, you’re thinking, I came to church and I watched Chip have a quiet time or try and do one. I’ve been doing that for fifteen years. But how do you keep it fresh? And so, in the last elders meeting, I just went around the room and I said, “Guys, I’m going to teach on this later and I won’t mention anybody’s names. Would you tell me: how do you keep it fresh? How do you keep exciting and vibrant, your relationship with Christ?” And I just went around the room.
One guy said, “I memorize a few key psalms and I start and I recite them and I start with worship.” Another guy said, “I spend more time in worship rather than just simply praying and reading.” Another one said, “I’ve just learned to be still – just get quiet and shut up before God.” Another one said, “I often go out into either the forest or near the ocean and see creation and that jumpstarts my time with God. And I realized the One who made that is who I’m talking to.”
Another one said, “It’s accountability. I have three guys that I meet with on a regular basis. We keep track on how we’re really doing in this area.” Another guy just said, “Variety. Sometimes I journal, sometimes I read Old Testament, sometimes New Testament. Sometimes I read a lot, sometimes just a little. Sometimes I sing.”
Another one said, “Oswald Chambers, he just does it for me. I read that and that gets me started.” Another guy said, “Just changing locations. I always do it over here, but keeping variety.” One said, “Just remembering I don’t have to do it, I want to do it. I don’t have to do it, I just want to do it.” And then, finally, it was a group of guys where you open up and share what you’re learning.
So, if those are some ways that might help you keep it fresh, I really encourage you. I really encourage you.
On the back page, I’m going to get there in just a second, but I want you to be thinking about this, all right? Here’s what I want you to think about. I want you to think about making a specific thirty-day commitment to give God the best twenty minutes of your day for thirty days. You do that for thirty days, people will see a difference in you.
In three months you do it, you will start seeing a major difference in you. You do that for three years and you’ll have people say, “I remember when you were – boy, really short and had a bad temper and really insensitive,” but now, you start hanging out with Jesus and you start allowing Him to frame every day, and you will begin living your days filled with the Holy Spirit and the fruit of Christ will be manifested in your mind, in your heart, and in your relationships. And it won’t happen overnight. It’s abiding.
Now, the final thing I just want to touch on is this. Please don’t get the idea that we’re saying, “Meet with God for twenty minutes. I have done my God thing.” Or, what you’ll find is, you’ll start enjoying it. “ thirty! I’m really enjoying it. I did forty-five. Now, I’ve got twenty-three hours and fifteen minutes where I totally forget God and I do my own thing.” That is not what we’re talking about.
What we’re talking about is How do you jumpstart your day in relationship so that it bleeds into every area of your life? And that’s the final portion. We’re going to talk about “Practicing His Presence” worship. Notice, in the very last verse here it says, “Giving thanks,” right? Verse 20, “Giving thanks for everything.” Well, how can you do that for everything if you’re not aware of what God is doing throughout the day?
The priority of “Practicing His Presence” worship, let me give you two passages. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking,” listen to this, “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” How could you take every thought captive if you weren’t aware of what God was doing, moment-by-moment, in your life?
Or, take this verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to 18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How do you pray without ceasing? You see, God doesn’t want you to spend an hour with Him or a half hour with Him. He wants you.
Here’s the definition: It’s the regular and learned practice of living moment by moment with an ongoing awareness and an ongoing dialogue with God throughout your entire day. That’s what “Practicing His Presence” worship is. It’s a learned practice of living moment-by-moment with an awareness that God is working and developing an ongoing dialogue.
The purpose of this is to live in communion with the Holy Spirit, with an attitude of gratitude, in every relationship and every circumstance, in light of His sovereignty and goodness. It’s to live in communion with God. In practice it’s really simple. At the heart of this is that there’s no such thing as sacred and secular. It is as holy to take a shower as it is to worship, as it is to go to work, as it is to play with one of your kids, as it is to go out for the softball team. You live before the face of God and the presence of God, 24/7, and you are an authentic, living sacrifice worshipper.
Now, you spend in depth time with your Savior, hearing His voice, learning, sharing your heart, you come corporately with God’s people and you worship and exalt so that you see Him like never before, and then, moment-by-moment, you get up. And when you get up, you say, “Good morning, Lord.” This isn’t a formal prayer time. “What do You have in store for me?”
And then you walk in and if you’re one of us men and you have to, you shave and you look in the mirror and you think, “You’ve told me that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. It doesn’t look like it this morning, but I thank You that You love me.” And you get in the shower and you’re doing your hair and you say, “Not a sparrow falls, but You know every hair of my head. You know what’s going to happen today.”
And then, your mind starts going, right? Anxieties, you’ve got this meeting, you have to do this, How are we going to pay the bills? What about one of the kids? And you turn that. You say, “Lord, I do feel those thoughts coming on.” And as you get dressed, you say, “Lord, would You help this kid who is going through a rough time? And You know the meeting and I don’t know how I’m going to pay the bills.”
And then you go spend time with God and quiet yourself instead of zipping out the door and a cup of coffee and toast on your lap and driving in between traffic as fast as possible to get your heart rate up, your stress level high, and so that you bring nothing to your job except a fired up, stressed out person. You set your clock twenty to thirty minutes back.
After you’ve done that, you meet with Him, you get perspective, and then you get in your car and you enjoy the ride and you look at the mountains and you talk to the Lord while watching headlights in front of you. And then you walk in and you sit down and you look at your desk. Even while you’re in a meeting, you can have a little conversation and you can feel tension in the meeting and you don’t say anything, but you say, “Lord, give me wisdom here. Help me know what to say or what not to say. Lord, I see real anger. Would You work this out?”
And then you go the drinking fountain and you’re talking, and just awareness, and someone asks you a question and God opens a door and you get to share just a little bit of what’s going on in your life. And then you go to lunch and then you’re in intensive meetings for three hours. You totally forget God and then He reminds you of that.
I remember, as an early Christian, I started meeting with God. It was so hard to build this discipline. And I remember I would do that and then I’d get ready to go to bed and I’d think, “Huh, shazam, I have not thought of God once the entire day.” I mean, not once. And I’d say, “Oh, Lord, I’m sorry.” And then I started to grow a little bit and I’d think about Him maybe twice, maybe three times.
And then about ten or fifteen years later, it would be just an ongoing conversation, little by little, every day. And you live in His presence. And you know what happens then? Then do you still blow it? Does junk come out of your mouth? Do you still get angry? Of course. But guess what the Spirit does? “Ingram, we don’t go there.” Oh, that’s right. And you confess it and you own it and you repent. And, see, what happens, then you’re not a hypocrite. It doesn’t mean you don’t sin, but you’re not a hypocrite. You’re living in the light and you’re walking in the light.