First, you need to understand faith is built on God’s Word. Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God.” I do not understand this. I don’t understand it, but I’m telling you that when you expose yourself to the Scripture, when you hear the Word of God, when you read the Word of God, when you put Christian music on that has content, and lyrics, and truth, faith grows.
Secondly though, it’s not enough just to be exposed to the Scriptures, it grows when you renew your mind. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Don’t be conformed any longer to distorted mirrors. Don’t be conformed any longer to this world, but be transformed” – how? Metamorphosized – from within – changed, “by the renewing of your mind that your life or your lifestyle could demonstrate what the will of God is. That it’s good. That it’s acceptable. That it’s perfect.” The key is the renewal of your mind.
See, one of the things, I’ve got some real problems with the whole “positive thinking” movement. They promise pie in the sky, you think it, think and grow rich, think and do this, think and do that. A lot of that is, think and buy their books and they get rich, is how it works. But there’s a tremendous kernel of truth in the positive thinking movement. You know what it is? You are what you think. You are what you eat and you are what you think.
Whatever you think, eventually, because that’s scriptural, Proverbs 23:7, “As a man or a woman thinks in her heart, his heart so he or she becomes.” Now ask yourself. You watch twenty to twenty-five hours of TV, you read three or four cheap novels, make sure you get in the sports page, the business section, every day, or four out of five days.
And you put all that information combined with all the commercials, all the billboards, and all the people you meet, and their agenda is to say: your value depends on your appearance. Your value depends on your status, your value depends on your performance. What do you think you’re going to believe? Lies.
But if instead you took some of that time and you began to take seriously mastering the English Bible. In fact, memorizing key passages and studying it, and getting God’s view of you, you know what’ll happen? You’ll be transformed. You’ll be transformed because you’re going to be what you think. You only have a hundred and sixty-eight hours every week, and if you think that forty-five minutes or an hour or so here together is going to offset the content of what’s going into your head the other hundred and sixty-seven, you’re dreaming.
For some of you, memorizing some Scripture in the next four to six months, if you got really serious about it, could change and transform how you think about life, into how you feel, and that would change all your relationships. But, it’s hard work.
In fact, more than renewing your mind, I think you have to come up with a plan. Notice, three, develop a plan to remove the distorted mirrors of the world with the mirror of God’s Word.
I stole this material from my wife. I watched my wife for over five years read this every morning and read it every night. These are affirmation statements from Scripture about appearance, belonging, worthiness, security, and competence. She didn’t try; it wasn’t legalistic. She didn’t say, Oh I’ve got to read this this morning. She wanted to see herself how God sees her, and so she would read in the morning.
“Appearance: my physical appearance and my unchangeable aspects are beautiful or handsome in God’s sight. He is my designer and maker.” And then she kept reading it over and she memorized the passage underneath.
“Belongingness: I am wanted, appreciated, and loved by God, the most important person in my life.” She affirmed that. She’d pray and just let it wash over her.
“Worthiness: I am now a righteous person in God’s sight since I’ve trusted Christ.
I am covered by the robe of His purity and goodness. Also, since I have a new nature, I am a good person in my general practice of life as I continue to grow in Christ.”
And she would read this over, and read it over, and you know what happened? I watched my wife, like a flower, bloom. Years it took, to where she began to look in the mirror and say, “I’m unique. I don’t have it all together. I’ve got a lot of room to grow, but I’m not a bad person. And what other people think of me is their own personal business. I will not give it the power to determine whether I’m an okay person or not.”
I put that in there because some of you, some of you what we’re talking about, if we were one-on-one and we knew each other better, tears would be coming down your cheek right now, because you don’t like you. You don’t like you at all, and you’re hurting down deep inside. And you know what’s amazing?
Some of you that feel the most this way are some of the prettiest, most talented, gifted people in the room. There is no correlation, no correlation whatsoever between how you really look, act, feel, competence, and what goes on inside. I’ve learned that over the years. But God can change you. How does it start? You get God’s view of you, number one. Number two, believe God’s view is true.
Now, three, here’s the kicker, and my wife told me to warn you all, especially those of you this is hard, alright?
So, I’m going to warn you. She said, “Chip, make sure when you get to number three that you let people know they may not be able to do this one alone. They might need a coach. They might need a cheerleader. Chip, we’re different in personality and you’ve got to make sure to tell people. For some people this is really a scary thing.”
And what I want you to know is that I’m going to ask you to do some things that will be really hard for some, but if you’ll do them, God will show up.
Because, see, you can know it, you can start to believe it, but some things can never, ever become a part of your psyche and your life until you experience them. So, you have to discover the you that’s true.
Jesus taught this way. Remember when Peter was in the boat and Jesus was walking on the ? He believed. “Is that You, Lord?” He said, “Yeah!” Peter said, “Well, if it’s really You, I believe, then have me walk out to You.”
What did he learn when he was walking on the water? It’s true! It’s true! And then he did what we do. And he looked around and he said, “Uh-oh.” But that’s how faith grows. It’s true, it’s true. Uh-oh. It’s true, it’s true. Uh-oh. That’s life. The spiritual life isn’t this. The spiritual life is this. But notice the direction. Lots of ups and downs.
Remember when they were fishing? Jesus let them experience it. They’d been fishing all night, they heard a sermon, He wanted them to have some faith in who He really was. You have to discover it. You have to experience it.
So, Jesus says, “Hey, why don’t you take your nets and throw them out on the boat on the left side?” They’re professional fisherman. Their basic answer is, “Look, we’ve done this a little bit ourselves. We’ve been out all night. They don’t bite at this time of day,” you can almost hear them say. “And there are no fish here.”
And you can almost hear, as you paint the text in your mind, Jesus sort of looking at them like, “Humor Me, guys. Just humor Me; just throw the net out.” And they do and you remember what happens. It’s so filled with fish that the nets start to break. How did He teach them? It wasn’t just lecture. It wasn’t just intellectual, cognitive, faith and belief. You have to discover it. Here’s the axiom. Here’s how a lot of things transpire in your life.
The principle is Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, for by whatever measure,” the idea is a scoop, “by whatever measure you give, in that same measure it will be given back to you.” Now, that passage is often quoted with reference to money. It’s true. But that passage is not a money reference in Scripture.
You go read Luke and you’ll just find it is in a section of Scripture that talks about how life works. When you give away friendship, what happens? People want to be your friend. When you give away a listening, attentive ear, what happens? People want to listen to you. When you give away compassion, what happens? People are compassionate to you.
When you give away short, quick, abrupt, rude actions toward others what do you get back? It’s axiomatic. Some things can only be learned by experience. I’m going to give you five things, and by the way, this is a mouthful.
Someone asked me, “How long does it take to prepare messages?” This one took about twenty, twenty-five years. I’m dead serious.
These are things I’ve been learning for twenty-five years, and I’m just skipping over the mountain peaks, and encouraging you to go back and study, because all I want you to get is the big, main points. See yourself the way God does, believe what God says about you is true, and then discover the you that is true by experiencing it. Let me give you five key ways to begin to experience what’s true of you.
Number one, unwrap your spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 1 says, “Now about spiritual gifts brothers, I don’t want you to be ignorant.” God wants every person in this room to know that you have a supernatural ability, if you’ve trusted Christ, if you’re a part of His family.
He’s saying every believer has a supernatural ability, at least once. When you put that out on the playing floor of the body of Christ, boom, stuff happens. People get loved. And you know what happens when you exercise your spiritual gift and you see people moved and changed through you, guess what happens to you. God used me. Maybe this is more real than I think.
Second, unleash your spiritual passion. Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; He’ll give you the desires of your heart.” Some of you have these desires, but you’ve never shared them with anyone. You’ve got a desire to see disabled people reached for Christ. You’ve got a desire to see what would happen to third graders. You’ve got a desire for an Hispanic ministry to grow. You have a desire for people to meet in homes all over the county and study the Bible, and become close friends. You have all these passions and desires. Nobody knows what they are. And you’ve not put them out on the playing field.
You know why? Because no one would ever want to listen to someone like you. And if you tried it, of course, it wouldn’t work, would it? Of course not. An inferior person like you, like me? Hey, unleash them! Unleash them! Get them out there in the playing field of the body of Christ and see what God will do. This is the part where those of you are thinking, This guy’s nuts. Theresa was right. This is scary. You’re right. Give and it’ll be given unto you.
Third, use your God-given talents. Speaking of the building of the Temple, the Lord says, in Exodus 31:3, “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” Some of you can work with wood. Some of you can crochet. Some can work with computers. You have all kinds of talents. You know where a lot of the talents are in this room? Buried under the floor. We don’t even know what you can do. Because you’re thinking, Oh, well, I mean, that’s…
You know what? When you’re really talented, here’s my almost ninety-nine percent experience with talented people. Everyone here has talents, but the one that you’re good at, because you’re good at it, you say, “Aw shucks that’s nothing.” Yeah, for you. For the rest of us, it’s like, “Whoa, where’d you learn how to do that?” “Oh well, my dad played the guitar and I just started picking a little bit,” and [makes guitar noises]. You know?
And you know, you’re saying, “Oh, I don’t know much about computers. I just taught myself,” [makes computer noises]. You know? “I don’t build anything. I just tinker out in the garage and, you know, it’s forty-five hundred square feet. I did it in a week.”
Hey, get your talents out there! Let us know what they are. Put them into play. Serve people. Take your gifts and say, “I want to serve people.” Get your passions out on the playing floor. Take your talents and say, “Hey God, I’ll help somebody with these. I don’t think it’s much, but I’ll put them into play.”
Fourth, embrace your God-given personality. 1 Corinthians 2:11, the Living Bible says it well, it says, “No one really knows what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like except that person himself. And no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.”
You know what? There are different personalities. There’s not a right one. Have you got that down yet? You don’t have to be upfront, outgoing, visible, motivating people. And you don’t have to be sly, and cool, and reserved, and stoic. You can be you. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re laid back, be laid back. If you’re driven, get driven in the right direction.
Just, do you know who the most attractive personality in the whole world is? You! There’s only one of them. Why copy something else? Put it into play. Pull off the mask. Just be you. A sanctified you, Lord willing. A Spirit-controlled you, Lord willing. But just be you. The person that people will most be attracted to is not you trying to fulfill what you think they want. It’s you being who you really are.
Fifth, leverage your past experience. Romans 8:28, great promise, it says, “And we know that in all things God works for good of those who are loved by Him who have been called according to His purposes.”
Some of you have educational experience. Some have vocational experience. Some of you have marriage experience. Some of you have parenting experience. Some of you have suffering experience, and you’ve been through the agony of cancer, or of a divorce.
Or you’ve been through a childhood that was just unmentionable. God doesn’t waste pain. 2 Corinthians chapter 1 says that the comfort and the grace that God gave to you through your pain, He wants to take that so you can comfort others in the same way. God doesn’t use people’s strengths, normally. He usually uses your weaknesses. When someone has it all together and says, “Hey, do you want some help from me? I’m really good at this.” Most of us say, “No, not really.”
But when someone walks up to you and says, “Boy, I struggled with that, too, and you know what? My dad left when I was five too. And I’ve surely had some struggles and here’s what the Lord showed me as I’ve grown up without a dad.”
Leverage your experience. Do you hear what I’m saying? Let’s get out of the cubicle. Let’s move out of the little TV room with the entertainment center.
Let’s get out of the fences that go all the way around that keep our life safe. Let’s get out of making sure our 401K and all those things that we think are going to keep us secure that won’t. And let’s serve other people. Let’s get our focus out on others because here’s the axiom. Ministry is how God makes what’s true of us, true in us. Think of that.
Ministry, giving it away, is how God makes true in us what’s already true, of us. Sometimes it’s only in the act of loving others that we can fathom that we ourselves are loved.
Sometimes, you can only fathom how deeply loved you are when, by giving love to another, God lets you see how very real it is. I struggle with grasping that God loves me, unconditionally.
“For even the Son of Man came” – what? “not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” to serve. Are you hearing it?
Believe what’s true, but discover it by giving away what He’s given you. Risky? Yes. Need a cheerleader? Probably. Need a coach? Yes. Need help? Absolutely. But according to a Gallop Poll, only ten percent of all laymen are involved in ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ. Fifty percent of them said they have no interest. I feel sorry for them. I feel really bad for them because they’re ignorant. I don’t mean bad ignorant.
People that have no desire to be involved in ministry, they’re going to miss out on the richest blessings of life. But forty percent of them said, “No one’s ever asked me,” or, “I just don’t know how.” I’ll tell you what, if you’re involved in ministry here, I’d start asking people to join you.
People just need to get hooked up, put their gifts into play, get their talents on the playing field. You must get God’s view of you. You must believe God’s view is true and you must discover the you that is true. Let’s go for it.