The Best Advice I Ever Took
From the series Authentic
Are you tired of trying and trying to make a life change only to be met by failure again and again? It's like when you're car is stuck in a ditch and it seems like nothing you do, can get it out! In this message, Chip shares 5 simple yet profound behaviors that completely changed his life. These principles will help you get spiritually unstuck, and reveal God in a way you’ve never experienced before.
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About this series
How to be a Christian Without Being Religious
Is it possible to be a Christian without being religious? More than a list of activities, behaviors, and rules, this series will show you that the Christian life is, at its core, an ongoing relationship with the living God. You will discover how to live a life of faith; how to portray Christ's love and character in your everyday activities; how to know if you are growing spiritually; and how to develop a dynamic, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.More from this series
How do you live an upright, godly life in this present age? Grace. It teaches us how to do it. You don’t learn it all at once. It is a process. And so if you’ll open your notes and turn the page I want to talk about how grace works out. This is not about, please don’t hear this through the lens of, “I’m going to start doing these five things and I’m going to try harder, try harder, try harder.” No, no, no.
I want you to hear, “I want to trust God more deeply.” Grace begins to come into play when you are desperate, when you say, “God, I can’t do this. I’ve tried to get up and I can’t read the Bible. I’ve tried to cut down on my drinking and I can’t stop. No one knows about it but I do have a drug problem. I know I’m a leader in the church but in the wee hours of the morning I’m logging on to porn sites. I feel guilty, I feel terrible, I don’t like me, I want to stop, and I can’t!”
Grace is coming to the point where you say, “God, I can’t do it, I am desperate, I need You,” but that doesn’t mean that He just gives you a magic grace pill and then poof!
Grace, imagine grace like water. It comes free and it always flows downhill. Grace always flows where? To a humble heart. God is opposed to the proud but He gives grace to the humble. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt,” or, “lift you up.”
And grace, imagine water just doesn’t float around. It comes through a hose or it comes through a sprinkler. There are different vehicles through which grace comes to us.
When the Bible is taught, we receive grace. When we come with tender hearts and share the Lord’s Supper, we receive grace. When we’re in a small group and authentically share our hearts and our lives, we receive grace.
And I want to give you five habits that cultivate grace. This is the best advice that I’ve ever taken. And I want to give you five habits tonight that will cultivate grace in your life.
The best advice I ever took, advice number one, are you ready for this? Buy an alarm clock. Buy an alarm clock. Some of the best advice I ever took was to buy an alarm clock.
Now, many of you are much more mature, you’re sophisticated, you’re way more godly than me. But I’ve actually met two people here that I knew during college days. Brand new Christian, did not grow up in the Church, never opened the Bible until I was eighteen, went to a college campus, met a bricklayer, he began to meet with me and teach me how to get into the Bible.
But this was most of my college life for the first two years. See if you can remember this. It’s college or it’s Monday for you. The alarm goes off, thank God for a snooze button. Snooze one, snooze two, snooze three, snooze four, snooze five. I’ve hit it five times.
Then you look up and go, “Ah!” You can’t dress, you can’t shower, you run in, and since it’s college you put on sweatpants. You can’t shower so you put on a baseball cap. You can’t even brush your teeth so you grab gum!
Then you run across campus, you are sweaty and stink next to the lovely girl who has been up for an hour making herself beautiful for this class. You’re three minutes late again and the professor goes, “Ingram…”
And that’s how I started my day. No breakfast, no time with God, rushed. The first battle everyday is this: Mind over mattress. You gotta win that battle!
A man introduced me to a habit by which God has been pouring grace into my life for the last thirty-one years. And I want to tell you, it’ll come hard, you may not do very well for a while, but this bricklayer named Dave Marshall, every Tuesday morning, came down and he would knock on my door. It’s seven o’clock. Well, seven o’clock might have been three in the morning for me.
I would pretend not to hear him and feel very guilty most of that day. But about every two out of three times I would say, “Oh brother, here he is.” And I would put on my baseball cap, throw on my sweatpants, and we would go into a little kitchenette, everyone was asleep. He was not cool, he was not dynamic, he was ordinary, he was doing this after he got up, had time with God, ate his breakfast, and he was going to lay brick all day.
And he would open a Bible and I would open mine and we would read a couple paragraphs and we would talk about it and we would pray. And like a little toddler that didn’t know what he was doing, he spiritually led me along and taught me how to talk to my Father.
And then we would read and I would say wacky stuff that the Bible didn’t say and he would bring me back and say, “No. Could you read that again for me?” And every Tuesday until he got me to the point where three out of seven mornings maybe I got up fifteen minutes early. And then it was twenty minutes early.
Finally, I decided, when I started my day and allowed the grace of God to pour into my life by stopping and asking, “Since You are all knowing and all powerful and I am Your child and You love me and You know every person, every event, every circumstance that’s going to come into my life, I think I’ll talk to You about this day before I go running around.”
See, it’s very arrogant to do otherwise. But I couldn’t get out of bed. And so first I put the alarm clock on the dresser. But I found that I was so nimble and quick in those days I could snap the snooze alarm and jump back into bed! And so then I put it in the bathroom. Still to no avail.
And after a while, and I’m playing with you, but I developed the habit to spend about twenty minutes every morning with God. Revolutionized my life. And then as the time would go it was a half hour and after about twenty years I’ve found that I don’t use alarms anymore and God wakes me up and the first hour or two, because of my job and my needs and the pressure in my studying of the Scriptures, my best times in all the world I receive grace from God in the morning.
If you want your life to change, you must put first things first. I challenge you to set your alarm back twenty to thirty minutes and don’t get down on yourself if you only do it two or three times this week, and don’t give up and find one person that will hold you accountable, and if you have to call on the phone and talk to each other but you make God your number one priority and you meet with Him and you talk with Him and you get honest and you pray through your day and pray for the people that you love and say, “Lord, I’m going to sit quietly now. Will You reveal anything to me you want to,” and you read His Word and you do that and you give me an email and tell me how bad your life is.
Because what I’ll tell you is, if you do, your life will change. You’ll be a different person at work, thoughts will come to you like, “Maybe I ought to eat something. Maybe donuts and coffee probably are not best for this temple - to stick in my body. Maybe I shouldn’t be driving, zooming in and out and be under a rush all the time.” The Spirit of God does not work in people whose lives are characterized by rush and hurry.
The Spirit of God leads calmly, gently, wisely. He’s under, He’s got everything under His control and He wants to lead us. You don’t need to run so fast. Our desperation and our hurry reveals our lack of trust, and our lack of trust is because many of us have not cultivated the habit of buying an alarm clock.
And by the way, parents, early on my kids, by the time they got in junior high, I didn’t wake them up. They got their own alarm clock. And early on, nine, ten, eleven, twelve – not duty, not obligation, not legalism – but every one of my children, we cultivated and built in time, not only for breakfast but for them to spend ten, ten, twelve minutes and I’m going to just tell you this. The singular most powerful evidence of God’s grace in transforming my life personally was, I bought an alarm clock and not that I make it every day but it’s become such a habit, I just can’t remember the days I miss.
Because it’s not that I ought or should or God’s going to get, you know, I get brownie points. It is so now enjoyable, it started out as a pain, became a duty, later became a habit, it is now a delight. Are you ready?
First habit you are going to?
[Congregation] Buy an alarm clock!
Not bad. I mean, not good but not bad. The first habit you’re going to do is?
[Congregation] Buy an alarm clock!
Very good! Alright, are you ready? Habit number two: Take out the trash! And we’ll just leave that right there as a good, sloppy visual that will just bother the obsessive compulsives on this side of the room probably for the entire night.
There’s got to be one lady nudging her husband, “He should pick that up. I don’t know if I can listen until those bags go back inside there.”
I pastored in a little town called Kaufman, Texas. Kaufman was a little town of four thousand, didn’t have a stoplight, we started out with about thirty-five people out in the country and we watched God and see it grow.
And a family came in that were really hurting. And he was an older gentleman and his wife, and they had about three kids and he came after service and he said, “We really need some food.”
And so we had a little pantry and I gave him a little bit of food, and about two weeks later, “We need some food. I mean, we are at the end of our rope and I know this is a Bible teaching church,” and pastors kind of spot these people.
It was semi-legit, but it was not like, “We’re really in need and could you help us?” It was, “I understand the Bible teachings and if you don’t give me food, you’re really in big trouble with God and I want food, and I want it now, and I would like a little bit of money and a little gas in my car too,” you know?
So I remember, I said, “We need to check this out.” So I said, “Honey, why don’t you go with me. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, probably shouldn’t go to something like this alone.”
And we drive out through the country and we pull in this long, gravel drive and there’s a house and as we pull in there’s a horse out there. And I noticed there’s a bag where oats, where someone had put some oats in there.
And then I look and there were three dogs! Fairly well fed dogs, as best I could tell. And then we went inside and, oh man, have you ever gone on vacation and left something in the refrigerator for three weeks that spoils, and you open it, and you just want to…
The entire house - there were nineteen cats inside the house - open, you know, not dry food, but like the little Meow-Meow type stuff? Open cans of stuff, garbage laying around, I mean, it was like, “I don’t think I can take this.”
And they invited us in and then they started to tell us about all their need and how much food they wanted. And I started doing the math, like, how much food are these cats eating? You got, “How many do you have?” “Nineteen.” I said, “I don’t want to be out there, but have you ever thought of having a few less cats and a little bit more food for you? You know? How many dogs do you have?”
And I remember going through there and it was… the smell, and the dirt, and the trash was so overwhelming, I almost threw up. And my wife was just kind of doing, “Uhhhh. I think we’ve seen enough, Chip, why don’t we head home?” You know?
You know what amazed me? They didn’t see it. They didn’t smell it anymore. You see, if you live with trash and junk long enough, you get completely desensitized to it.
And if the first one gave us the principle of priority, the second one is the principle of transformation. Romans 12:2 says, “And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed,” how? “by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is. That which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Don’t be conformed, don’t be squeezed, literally, it’s in the passive tense. Don’t allow yourself to be squeezed or pushed around by the world. By the world system, by the cosmos, by all the advertisements, by all the books, all the magazines, at the checkout stand, MTV, VH1, by the news. Don’t let the world and the world system about what is true, about what’s right, and about what is holy, what’s pure, what’s not – don’t let it squeeze you into its mold, but have your mind continually flushed out or renewed, how?
By God’s Word so that your lifestyle, how you actually live, how you drive, how you speak, how you eat, how you talk, how you relate to your wife, how you think about your kids, indicates and demonstrates or proves – the word for “proves” there is a word for testing of metal to find out the genuineness – so that your life would demonstrate the genuineness or the reality of God’s will, which is good, acceptable, and perfect. You know, I want to say this real nicely because it’s going to sound a bit harsh, but I would like you to consider how much junk is in your mind - that’s like nineteen cats, trash all over the floor, and it smells bad, and it is polluting your heart and your soul - but you’ve just gotten so used to it, that you don’t even know it’s there anymore.
And so I would encourage you to first, buy an alarm clock and second, take out the trash.
Third, are you ready for this one? I would encourage you to do your own dishes. Right? You know, you take a glass of water, you eat a little bit, you stick it in the sink, and then someone else does it, and they stick it in the sink. And then later you have a meal and you put that in the sink and have you ever seen it up above the counter?
And it probably never happened in your house but on a rare occasion, it has in ours. And I want to encourage you to do your own dishes. And what I’m talking about here is the principle of responsibility.
I’m talking about learning to be faithful in the little things of being responsible.
I went to a summer training program with a para-church organization and I had a team leader named John. And we all got in this station wagon, it was called a “Faith Trip,” and we took no money … that passage, you know, “Don’t take any money or anything.” So we drove, I don’t know, about a hundred miles and served people, and we’re taking care of them, and we just watched God work.
And so, we don’t have any money, we don’t have any food, and we’re in this gas station and we’re splitting our money, breaking crackers in half, hoping God will multiply them and we won’t starve to death.
And we did some wacky things but we learned some good things from it. But I’ll never forget, and take this in the right spirit. Picture a bathroom in a gas station and I’m washing my hands. And you got a mirror, you got the little sink, and a couple stalls, and John is done. And the stall opens and he is taking toilet paper and he’s wiping off the seat.
And I’m just washing my hands going, “That’s different.” You know? Okay. And so I washed my hands, and it’s a double sinker, and he washes his hands and then he takes a little extra paper and, you know, I’ve left water and something over on the corner and he washes off the sink and puts it together and…
So we get in the car and I’m thinking, “This is a teachable moment. I’m not sure for whom but this has got to be a teachable moment.” And he’s my spiritual leader for the summer. I’m now questioning his sanity but he’s my spiritual leader for the summer.
You know, I want to say, “Do you have an obsessive-compulsive disorder, John, or…?” And I’m teasing, he was a very, very godly man. And we got in the car and I said, “John, I couldn’t help but notice that when we left… I mean, it was a gas station, man. I mean, they pay people to do that stuff. What were you doing?”
And I’ll never forget. He just looked me right in the eye and he said, “Chip, don’t you understand? A disciple of Jesus Christ always leaves everything better than he found it.”
He said, “Chip, someone is going to come in that gas station and, you know what? I don’t know their condition, I don’t know how they’ll feel, I don’t know where they’ve been. But when they open that stall, they will have a clean place instead of walking in like many of us have to a filthy place going, ‘Ugh. I guess we gotta keep driving.’”
He said, “I’ve just decided to be a light. Remember the verse? ‘Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven,’ Matthew 5:16?” He said, “I decided… you know, we think we’re going to do that in big ways and save people from our cars.” He said, “I decided I need to learn to do it in little things.”
Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in a very little thing will be faithful also in much.” The context is about money. But it’s a timeless axiom. If you’re faithful in little things, you’ll be faithful in much.
And you know what we have? We have a whole generation of Americans that think someone else is going to take care of them. You can go into organizations, Christian organizations, you can go to homes, you have kids growing up in our day – they think that they drink something out of here, and they take the chips out of here, they leave the bag over here, they take off their clothes, they leave the clothes over here, even some men do that. There are people who sleep in beds and throw the covers over here – they think there are genies and fairies that tip toe in from heaven and while they’re gone, clean up everybody’s dishes, pick up everyone’s paper…
And you know what we have? We have a world of people that think someone else is going to do your dishes. Do your own dishes. Do first things first. Do them well. It’s the principle of responsibility.
And I want to encourage you: Grace, when you are faithful in little things. And by the way, I’m joking, if you are a little bit obsessive-compulsive, let a few dishes get in there. This is not about, “Ah! There’s one glass!”
I’ve been in some homes where you take a drink and you got a little bit left and you leave it there, “Whoa! It’s gone, it’s clean, it’s back again,” you know?
Number four: Write it down. The first is you’re going to buy an alarm clock; second, you’re going to take out the trash; third, you’re going to do your own dishes. And, you know you. Pray. Ask God to show you. What’s it look like in the little things?
You’d be surprised how good it makes you to feel to get out of bed and make your bed. How good it is to do little things; it will create momentum, and grace, and motivation.
Number four is the pen. This is the mighty pen. It is mightier than the sword but here’s what I mean by it: Write it down. And here we’re talking about the principle of clarity.
Many, many people long to get clear on these first three habits but they still feel overwhelmed, “I’ve got the kids, I’ve got the carpool, I’ve got the job, I’m on the committee at church, I’m teaching Sunday School next week. No, it’s the other week because I do every other week. We’ve got to go out of town next week. Okay, well, I’m trying to read my Bible. Well, I promised Judy I would meet with…”
And you know what? We have people that are overloaded, overextended. You know what worldliness is? In the ‘50s, people thought worldliness was outward things like lipstick and playing cards and going to the theatre and…
You know what genuine worldliness is in this millennium? B-U-S-Y-N-E-S-S. For those of you who are not visual thinkers going, “Busy…uh…busyness!” Busyness.
Why are we so busy? And we take pride in it! How many times have you, in the foyer at the church, or seeing someone at Starbucks, or you run into them in the grocery store, you really have a good relationship, you really want to get together and you say, “Hey! We really ought to get together! Yeah, we will.”
And then, okay, do I have to even fill it in? “I’m so busy. We’re doing this, we’re doing this, we’re doing this, we’re doing this, we’re doing this.” I mean, I think the average quality family time is during the drive-thru at Burger King, Taco Bell, and McDonalds, as you go from ballet, to soccer, to softball, to baseball practice, all in the same week. In the name of loving our kids!
Whatever happened, this will sound old fashioned, whatever happened to saying, “God needs to be at the center, our family matters, we’re going to write down what’s important, we’re going to prioritize, and at least three or four times a week we’re going to sit around a table, with the TV off, and have a cooked meal. Maybe quickly cooked but cooked. And we’re going to eat food and then we’re going to talk about what we’re learning and how we’re growing and we’re going to take five to seven minutes, join hands, pray for one another, and ask for God’s help.”
Do you understand what that would do for your family life?
Proverbs 20: 5 says, “The plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.” You’ve got plans and dreams, and how you want your kids to turn out, and where you want your marriages to go, and how ministries can be launched, and the kind of person you want to be, and things you want to develop.
But you can’t be scattered, going everywhere, because what you’ll be is just like you are now. You can’t keep thinking the way you’re presently thinking and expect something to change. And you can’t keep doing what you’re presently doing and expecting something to be different next week, next month, or next year.
The plans, the dreams, what God has in your heart – they’re like deep water. A wise person writes them out, gets clear.
Let me give you three or four quick ways that have been helpful to me.
Number one, I think 3x5 cards are miraculous. It’s the power of clear-cut objectives. And if you’ll write next to that, “I Corinthians 9: 25 to 27.” The power of clear-cut objectives. The apostle Paul said, “I’ve become all things to all men that I might save some.”
And then he goes on to say, “Look! Look, I don’t live my life like a boxer beating the air. I beat my body, I have clear-cut objectives, I cause my body to do what I tell it to do, lest in the final analysis I be spiritually disqualified.” He had a very clear-cut objective for his life.
On a 3x5 card you need to write down some goals. I’ll never forget where I picked this up. I was in a prison with one of the elders, early in ministry, twenty-nine, thirty years old. And a guy named Bill Glass, anybody remember him from the old NFL? Cleveland Browns? Yeah, All-Pro Lineman, Bill Glass.
And we’re just sitting around this table in this prison and we’ve been in maximum security and I’ve been scared to death, like, I thought I was going to die or get killed and it probably could have happened.
And Bill Glass is talking with these guys and he was just was casually talking about how he writes down goals or desires on 3x5 cards, he doesn’t try to memorize them, but he would say, “This is the kind of marriage I want with my wife. This is what I’d like to invest in my kids. This is where I’d like to see the ministry in three years.”
And he said, “I just read them over.” And he said, “Your mind and your heart and your schedule will unconsciously gravitate toward the target you put on the wall.” And I heard that and, I mean, I wrote them down for my personal life, my walk with God, my wife, my children, my ministry…
And I just found them the other day, I did a message on something a little bit similar. I found the 3x5 cards that I wrote twenty-five years ago. And I read through them, I’m just telling you, I read them, and read them, and read them, to where they were in my head.
I’ve watched God arrange my life, and my focus, around those goals. What’s your clear-cut objective? What kind of man do you want to be? What kind of marriage do you want to have? What kind of kids do you want to raise? What kind of ministry has God called you into? What kind of impact do you want to have at work? Just write it down!
You don’t need to get crazy going in seven directions. Just write it down.
The second, little thing that’s been helpful is calendars. I hate them. But it’s the freedom of structure.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” I don’t like calendars but unless I lay it out on the calendar, I do everything but what’s really important.
And so once I get my goals, I get a calendar out, and I go to Starbucks with my wife, and we sit down and look at the next season, and then usually we go away for a night or two, I’d like to say once a quarter but I’d be exaggerating, a couple times a year.
And then I sit down, and I say, “Okay, here’s going to be the times I’m going to block off for getting with our neighbors. Here’s the time for ministry.” And I put all the knowns, of the things I know for sure God wants me to do, and I write them out on my calendar. And now I’m free! I can do anything I want with the rest of the time. But when I put those things in, I build in time with God, I build in time to grow and develop, I build in time in my marriage.
There is a freedom that comes with putting some structure around those goals. And then a to-do list, it’s a necessity of focus. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
I don’t know about you but if you don’t write it down, you don’t have a plan. And once I have my schedule, and maybe it’s basic, but I meet a lot of people who don’t do it.
I write a to-do list for the week, and then I pray over it, and then I put a, are you ready for this? I put an “A” next to the ones that are highest priority that only I can do. And then I put a “B” next to the ones that are really important but I can do or maybe someone else could do, or maybe only I can do but it’s not the most important. And then I put a “C” around things I really want to do, can do, and then, here’s the most amazing thing, it’s scary, hold onto that pen, you ready? I do the “As” first.
And sometimes I only get to do two “As.” I’m always tempted to do four “Cs” because they feel good. But they don’t get me to where I want to be, as the man God has called me to be.
And finally, journaling. And this would be: “Importance of reflection.” I think it’s so important, as believers, “What is God doing?” What are you feeling? What are you thinking?
Now, this isn’t for everyone. Don’t go on a guilt trip. I’ve met some people, I know some very godly people who have tried to journal, tried to journal, tried to journal and just looked at me and say, “It doesn’t work for me.” Then I said, “I got a spiritual word for you. Don’t do it.” But it has been awesome for me. And to take some time, couple, three four times a week, “This is what I’m feeling.” You ever have just those unrests in your heart? You don’t know what’s wrong, you feel kind of funky, and a little bit depressed and…
Just start writing and be honest and you will find it will get clear. And then what I find is I write down specific prayers and then when they’re answered I write them. I can go back year, after year, after year, “This is what God’s been doing in my life.” So all I’m saying is, it is critical for you to get out the power of the pen and write it down.
Final, little habit is this: Most people are filled with good intentions but, unfortunately, we have a personal life of broken promises, mostly to ourselves and to others. Do it now.
It’s the principle of inertia. When I get home, I do not want to work out. I do not feel like working out. Working out is for later, maybe after supper. I, if I don’t do it now, guess what? I don’t do it at all. Do you? But it’s not working out.
Attack life; don’t procrastinate. Seize the day!
Live! Go for it! Try this: You’re saying, “I don’t have time.” Try this: Take the remote and pull out the batteries, then unplug the TV for ten days. I’ve just given you somewhere between ten to thirty-five hours this week. Do it now. Do first things first.
It’s where we get killed. Take the first four things. You’re saying to yourself, “You know, when am I going to get around to it?” Buy an alarm clock; take out the trash, even if it’s a shoe; do your own dishes; write down. And you say, “Well, when?” Now! Go home now and start the first sentence. Write one 3x5 card tonight.
It’s the power of inertia. Once you get moving in positive directions, things happen. Most of us spend our lives thinking and talking about, “When things calm down, and when this season is over, how things will really…” And guess what? They never really do, do they?
A powerful passage for me, I remember studying was in Proverbs 24:30 and 31. I’m going to read it with the emphasis I think the author intends. Listen to where the accent is. It’s the wisest man in the world and he’s, look, taking an object lesson from nature.
And he’s seen things built, and he’s seen people fail, and he’s seen great successes, and he’s getting a great thought that comes to his mind as he’s observing nature.
And he says, “I passed by the field of the sluggard,” the lazy man, the slothful man, “and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,” the guy that really hadn’t thought very clearly about life, who didn’t write it down, who didn’t take responsibility. “And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, it’s surface was covered with nettles, and the stone wall that was built around these was broken down.”
Something that was for life, something that gave life, something that would create fruit, something that would be ground down will be times of celebration. Instead, it’s overgrown, it’s neglected. And then he gives us why. Watch the text.
“When I saw it,” and this is how to read Scripture. “I reflected upon it. I reflected upon it.” He stopped. He thought. Huh, He says, “Ah-ha. Here’s something created for life, there was a stone wall that used to work, here are plants that could produce income and fruit and joy and food for others, wine for celebration. And I see it and I thought and I reflected.”
And here’s his conclusion because he received instruction: A little sleep, “I’ll do it later. Just taking a nap. I’ll catch it later. I’ll watch a ballgame. I’ll go shopping, then we’ll do it.”
A little slumber, “I’ll take a second nap. This La-Z-Boy feels good. This is an important game, this is Louisville and Kentucky, I mean, I gotta watch this one.” A little folding of the hands to rest. “Then your poverty will come as a robber and your want, like an armed man.”
Do it now. In the little things, do it now. When you have a bill, pay it now. When you need to ask for forgiveness, do it now. When you need to make something right with someone, do it now. When God gives you that little prompting and you’re thinking, “Oh, is this really from God?” and it’s a generous, kind act that will really help someone else, it’s from God. Just do it.
When it’s an unpleasant conversation and someone you need to confront, do it now. When it’s the hardest task of the day and the thing you dread, do it now.
And as you do, you will find that far from being a legalistic, duty-filled person you’ll understand that these are five different hose lines that, when done with the right attitude, when you’ve come to God and said, “I can’t do this, I need Your grace,” He will say, “Let Me pour My grace through your heart and life at the beginning of every day. Get an alarm clock and meet with Me.”
“Oh, God, I just can’t break this habit. I’m struggling. Relationships aren’t going well, I feel depressed.” Okay, I’ll tell you what, take out the trash and get it out of your life and do it tonight. Break off the relationship, cancel the Internet subscription, tell a friend that you can trust you’re addicted to porn, explain to someone how, even as a leader, you do have an alcohol problem and come clean, and do it now.
And God will pour forth grace and transformation because there’s not a person in this room that’s got it together. Not anybody even close. We are all insecure, fellow travelers struggling with problems, and thoughts, and lust, and struggles, and laziness, and we need to be real, and honest, and clear, and clean, and ask God for help and then position ourselves. That’s what these are.
Position ourselves to let God work through these things and through His Word and through people and you know what? He’ll change you because if any man or any woman is in Christ, you are a new creature.