Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
The Real God Resources on sale now.
About this series
The Real God
How He Longs for You to See Him
There is a deep sense of unease in our rapidly changing world. Popular culture says that love means self-satisfaction and that status and appearance are what count. Social media reinforces that It’s all about me. This ultimately self-destructive perspective has thoroughly infiltrated the Church as confusion replaces conviction. At the root of our problems lies a distorted view of God. We’ve created a god in our minds that comforts our emotions but is powerless to deliver us from evil or transform our lives – because our creation is actually an idol based on who we think God is, not who He says He is. The way back to truth and hope starts with knowing God as He declares Himself to be. The Real God is an in-depth study of seven attributes of God – His goodness, sovereignty, holiness, wisdom, justice, love, and faithfulness. You’ll see and understand Him in a whole new light. It will revolutionize the way you think about God, others, and yourself. Are you ready for a new adventure? Join Chip on this journey to discover the real God.More from this series
If you would come in to my home, we have a foyer. And at the very end before you go anywhere, there is a picture that hangs. And as you get a close-up, we happened to take a good one. It’s about a year old..
The pastor’s family. Everyone looks nice and happy and each one of my sons and daughter, they have married well and they are all walking with God and they are raising these kids and you would just think that that stereotypical, God must bless pastors and their lives are pretty easy and wonderful and things just turn out right.
That’s not why it’s at the hall. It’s not so much for other people but every day I have to walk past it. And this picture for me is a reminder of the greatest trophy of God’s grace is what He did in that group of people.
My wife and I neither grew up knowing God. We both came to Christ as adults. Both of us came from alcoholic families with fathers who were deeply wounded from World War II. And it produced some very unhealthy things.
We came to Christ and by God’s faithfulness, some people came into our lives and helped us get into the Scriptures and gave us good counseling and we did life in community and little by little we changed and we grew and then we got married. And we thought, Wow, this is going to be great. I love God, you love God, first generation.
And then after about six months we realized that we couldn’t communicate, we didn’t know how to resolve conflict, and we both had boatloads of baggage from alcoholic families.
By God’s grace He brought a professor and a counselor into our lives and we started going to marriage counseling and He began to heal us.
Well, Theresa had been married before, before she was a Christian. And when he found out that she was pregnant he left with another woman that he had been seeing. And I just couldn’t figure out how to love my wife because it was like BBs off of a tank. The way she saw herself from her background and being rejected and abandoned is that she saw herself so negatively and I saw her as beautiful and godly.
And then I saw God’s faithfulness where, again, we got some help and we dug into some books together and I watched God begin to heal her.
Well then these poor, these were twin boys. I got to adopt them, a great privilege, when they were five and a half. And so they had this overachieving, workaholic, over-the-top dad who was way too hard on them.
And my one son was, just because of his early background, very fearful. I had to make him learn to ride a bike. The other had a four-year rebellion that was the biggest heartbreak of our lives.
And the one who was afraid of people is now a physical therapist and has the best people skills in our family of loving people. And the one who we thought, Will he ever come back to the Lord? is now writing music that the world sings.
My other son, his senior year he had a pornography problem. And it happened “by accident,” it really did. And it was hidden for a year. And he took some major steps and still all the passwords, his wife keeps. He’s a pastor now.
My daughter was a lot younger. She is six years younger than my youngest son who is six years younger than the older boys. And she grew up with this psycho dad who is really intense and a very loving mom. And so she got a little bit perfectionistic.
And so my one son didn’t like school and then he lied about it most of the time. Does this ring true? Anybody else have family like this? He’s a pastor now. And my daughter, somehow, got thinking that she probably needed to do really, really well. So when my one son got a B, I took him out to dinner to celebrate. And when my daughter got a B, I took her out to celebrate for a different reason. It was the first one in, like, nine years. All As. I said, “You need to lighten up.”
In a word, our family and our family picture are nothing more or nothing less than the faithfulness of God.
This is what God does with people who have messed up backgrounds, who make big mistakes, who struggled with sin, who had problems in their marriage, who really wanted to do it right but often found they didn’t do it right but had one passion in the midst of it all to say, Lord, we don’t know how life works but we want to break the cycle of our backgrounds and we want to pursue you with all of our heart and we experience forgiveness and healing and restoration, and often three steps forward and two steps backward because God is faithful.
The Lord’s mercies, His kindness never ceases. His compassions, His heart, His tenderness never fails. Great is His faithfulness.
Three observations that you already know but because I like to be logical I wanted to give them to you. Observation number one is: All of us depend on something or someone to hold us up inside. We all do. For some, it’s your mate or a relationship, a job. For some it’s how you look or how much money you make or how successful your kids are. But we all have something or someone – it can be money, it can be fame – that hold us up inside.
Then what we know is when that something or someone is coming through for us, we have a sense of satisfaction and optimism and things are going well. When that something or someone doesn’t come through for us we have anxiety, we have no peace, we have fear, and often, despair.
And all I want you to know is that there is no one and there is nothing that can come through for you one hundred percent of the time except the Lord Jesus Christ.
So if you put your hope in a job or in a mate or in kids or in money or how you look or whatever it is you are a blink away from that completely changing. And so your life goes up and down with circumstances and relationships. And so the key or the secret to life is to find someone who will come through for you one hundred percent of the time in any and every circumstance.
And I just want to tell you, the real God, His faithfulness is that is what He will do. His mercies are new. His loyal love for you in the midst of your hurt, your pain, your weakness, your sin, your failure. If you would, out of this study, say, I am going to pursue, I want to make knowing God the most important thing, I want to get close to Christ, I want my life to revolve around what His Word says, I want to be wise and do life His way, I will tell you there is a friend with supernatural power who is fully God and fully man, who rose from the dead, who will never, ever let you down.
As you open your notes, let’s define faithfulness so we are all on the same page, the dictionary says it’s steadfast in affection. I like that. Steadfast in affection. He’s in love with you. Allegiance, loyalty.
When we say, “God is faithful,” we mean He is dependable, trustworthy, staunch, resolute, constant, reliable, true to one’s word, keeps His promises, always comes through.
And then you ask yourself, Well, how can God be faithful all the time? And it allows us to do something that is really important. Because if you’re not careful, you can think of, Okay, we talked about His holiness and we have talked about His love and we have talked about His justice. But those things operate all together in unity, simultaneously, in harmony with one another.
God can come through for you and me one hundred percent of the time because He is all-powerful. He never encounters anything that can thwart His plan or His purpose. He can come through because He is holy. He is pure, He is full of integrity, He is unable to lie. He is absolutely unapproachable light, He always does the right thing.
He can come through because He is eternal. He is not affected by space or time. He sees the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. He can come through because He is omnipresent. Nothing can ever happen outside the sphere of His influence. And, finally, He can come through for you because He is immutable. He never changes. He is consistent. God never has a bad day. You never go to Him and pray and He goes, You know, maybe later. I’m having a really rough day. His love, His justice, His kindness, His compassion one hundred percent of the time.
A.W. Tozer writes in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, “All of God’s acts are consistent with all of His attributes.” And then I put it in bold because this is one of those sentences that it’s so profound it hurts my head. “No attribute contradicts any other, but all harmonize and blend into each other in the infinite abyss of the Godhead.”
The infinite abyss, His love, His majesty, His power, His goodness, His holiness in the infinite abyss. This God who spoke and galaxies, billions of them come into existence. And, yet, says to you and me, I want to be your friend. And I will never, ever leave you and I will never let you down and anything that I have ever said, any promise I have ever made I will guarantee, based on My character and My track record that I will be with you. It is absolutely amazing.
So what I want to do in our time is talk a little bit about, intellectually and biblically, well, how has God revealed that? But I want to spend the great majority of our time on how that faithfulness impacts the deepest struggles and challenges of our life.
So let’s talk about: How has He revealed His faithfulness? First, by creation. Psalm 119:89 and 90 says, “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations. You established the earth and it stands.”
My dad was a science teacher and I had many majors in college and science was one of them. And I liked the physical sciences and you learn about the planets and you realize this planet of ours is going around the sun, I think it’s twenty-four or twenty-five thousand miles an hour. It’s crazy.
And then we are spinning around very fast. And, yet, year after year, thousands of years after thousands of years, we go around the sun within a fraction of a few seconds exactly the same. Exactly the same.
When our atomic submarines, because of the magnetic pulls of the earth want to come up and they have got those really powerful rockets inside of them and they can’t be off, they have to surface every ninety days and they put up an antenna and what do they do? Lock on to the North Star because the North Star is more accurate.
We call it “science” because what we have learned is these things are predictable. They are the same. And so we say, Oh, that’s Mother Nature. That’s the first or second law of thermodynamics. And we observe all this consistency and God would say, Well, you can observe it. But it’s there and it’s consistent because I hold it together by the word of My power. I am the Creator and the Sustainer of all life.
Second, it’s through people. God shows His faithfulness through, He made promises to Abraham and the patriarchs. Abraham, He said, “I am going to make you a great nation.” Now, can you imagine this one, little nomad guy running around in a tent – four thousand-plus years later, the nation of Israel? It has endured.
Jesus said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell can’t prevail against it.” And so you have got twelve little followers and one betrays you and you start this big movement with a hundred and twenty people and you are going to change the world?
You had never traveled forty, fifty miles beyond where you were born and you are living in a world where there are two billion followers of Christ and law and culture and all of history is defined by the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I could tell you of a time when I prayed for one of my sons in the ICU just before he went into surgery and God healed him. I could tell you about times in my marriage when I thought, There is no way this is going to work, and crying out to God and the lights coming on. God is faithful to His people.
Third, He is faithful by virtue of His character. If you want to know what the Father is like, the Son is like, the Scripture is absolutely clear. The Old Testament picture of God the Father, classic verse, Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should repent;” or change His mind, “has He spoken, and will He not do it? Or has He said it, and will He not bring it to pass?”
In other words, God is always consistent and faithful. If He speaks, if He promises, one hundred percent, He does it.
The Sprit, we talk about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control. The character of the Holy Spirit develops faithfulness because it is the very character, it’s the fruit of God the Spirit.
Or Jesus. You could read the entire New Testament and you get to the end and He came as the Savior but the whole book of Revelation, the theme is He is going to come back and judge righteously. He is going to make things right. And at the very end of history we have the Conqueror, the Righteous Judge on a white horse and He has a robe and on His robe has two words, and on His thigh, are you ready for the words? “Faithful and true.” He could have chosen any words. He wants you to know: You can depend on Me.
And, finally, I don’t know about you but I did not grow up ever reading the Bible, I didn’t understand it. But His Word is true. You can depend on the promises in Scripture.
On the last night, Jesus prayed in John 17, “Father, sanctify them,” or, “set them apart,” or, “make them holy, these followers now and followers in the future, make them holy by Your truth; Your Word is truth.”
In Deuteronomy it says, “God keeps,” or, “is faithful to the covenants that He makes with us to a thousand generations.” In Hebrews it says, “Let us not sway,” or, “swerve,” or, “fall away, for He who promised is faithful to us.”
And then we have, in Christ’s first coming, hundreds of very specific predictions. Seven hundred years before Christ was born, “He will be born – Bethlehem.” “Of a virgin.” This is what will happen. Hundreds of specific prophecies, all for you to say and to learn, God is faithful to His Word.
So that’s the intellectual, biblical basis for trusting God’s faithfulness. What I want to do now is talk about when it really matters. I have got to have that because I am not going to throw my brains in the trash. But the fact of the matter is, the final one, I think, is most important to digest and to apply.
God shows us His faithfulness in the way that He shapes our life. The way He intervenes in our lives when we are weak, when we are tempted, when we sin, and when we utterly, utterly fail.
It’s when you feel like you don’t deserve it. When I feel like I could go back to this picture and I could go through seasons where my wife and I just sat up in bed and cried over one of our kids and thought this was never going to work.
I have had seasons where I have been so mad at her and thought, This marriage will never work and I am going to hang on to Your promise because I don’t have any other option. And God worked in our lives.
The apostle Paul was having a conversation with God in a moment of weakness. He had some physical issue that God allowed Him to have, a thorn in his flesh he called it. Some people think malaria, some people think an eye disease. Personally, I think it was a bad back. Constant pain.
And God speaks to Paul. After Paul asked, God says, “No.” Paul asked, God says, “No.” The third time God says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you. For power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
And then look at this crazy application, “Therefore I am well content,” literally the word is: I will delight in. It’s a choice. “…with weaknesses,” plural, “with insults,” plural, “with distresses,” plural, “with persecutions and difficulties,” – why? “…for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
What you need to know and the reason I showed you that picture is this is a testimony, not of a family or of a marriage or of a man. This is the testimony of struggling people that didn’t know anything. God was faithful in our weakness.
In my weakness I wanted to bail out of my marriage. In my weakness I wanted to knock one of my kid’s heads off because he made me so crazy. In my weaknesses I struggled with lust. There wasn’t even the Internet back then. Praise God. Praise God. But there were four girls to every guy. And I struggled and struggled and struggled.
In my weakness God met me. See, when we are weak, we tend to run and we want a silver bullet or we will find that person or we go eat or we open the refrigerator and put something into us that we know is not good for us. In our weakness we try and fill the holes.
And here’s the deal: God is faithful. If, in your weakness, rather than running to shopping or to work or to prescription drugs or to focusing on your kids or focusing on your work defining who you are going to be – in your weakness say, God, here’s His promise, I will sustain you. My power is perfected in weakness. And your prayers are, I can’t do this.
I remember a little rhyme that my wife learned from some lady. It goes something like, “When you say, ‘I can’t do this,’ God says, ‘I never said you could.’” And then He says, “But by my strength, I promise you always can.”
And God wants to meet you in your weakness. He wants to shape you. He wants to change you. Your character gets changed in weakness.
Joni Eareckson Tada is one of my heroes. Some of you may know of her. She is a gal, when she was young who thought the water was very deep and dove in and it was only about two feet. She is a quadriplegic. She paints with her mouth, amazing pictures. She has a beautiful voice.
I don’t know her really well but on a couple of occasions I was speaking and she was speaking and they have these green rooms and you talk with the person who is going to speak next. And I can tell pretty quickly if people are legit. Man, is she legit.
Something happened, I was supposed to speak and it was at this big organization and something went upside down and I realized I needed to come up with a completely different message to help these people. And I was talking with her about it just a bit.
And it was really interesting, her perspective on life is so different. She said, “You would think it would get easier by now,” by then she had probably been paralyzed thirty, forty years. She goes, “Every morning I wake up and someone has to put on my makeup, someone has to bathe me, someone has to put my clothes on me. And all I do, and I just want to be discouraged and want to have a pity party and I want to say, God, why me? and all the rest. But then I realize that power is perfected in weakness.
And I say, Oh God, if You would give me just grace for today to walk with You, and I do that every, single day and it doesn’t get any easier and I thank God that there is a heaven and I will walk and I will play.
Until that day comes, I am going to ask Him to take my weakness and cause His power to be displayed.”
And I have been all over the world and I meet people with wheelchairs impacted by Joni. God wants you in your weakness to know, I will be faithful. Don’t bail out. Don’t take a cheap substitute. In your weakness, that’s when I will draw you near.
Second is when you are tempted. 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13 says, “No temptation has overtaken but such as is common to man.” So anything that you are tempted in, everyone else has had it as well.
Now, notice this phrase, “God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape that you might be able to endure it.”
Two little points I want to make. You must understand the difference between temptation and sin. I meet people who don’t understand that and they live with shame and guilt over things that are just normal.
In other words, if you’re a guy, excuse me ladies, but if you’re guy and an extremely attractive woman walks by with very little on and you look at her and you, Oh! I can’t believe I looked at her! If you’re not a guy, there’s a reason. You’re designed to be attracted to that. Now, what you do with the second look in your thoughts, now, that’s where sin comes in.
But to be attracted and feel like, Oh, I have sinned because, wow. Any more than if you were a woman and you go to someone’s house and they have just remodeled their kitchen and they have re-landscaped the backyard, and you are tempted to be envious. Right? There’s a thought like, Oh my! Oh my! You haven’t sinned. You’re tempted.
Okay, let me put it, okay, I want you to take, here’s a little shelf right here. Okay? This is all make believe. I am making this up so I get to make up whatever I want. I want you to imagine that God has said to you and a lot of you don’t need this but probably some of us do. It’s not God’s will for everyone but you are to be on a very strict diet. No chocolate.
And here’s a piece of chocolate cake. It’s like unbelievable, decadent, wicked chocolate. And so you happen to be in Costco. Temptation: Oh, I want that chocolate. I want that chocolate. “Are you giving out samples?” “Yes, would you like one?” You’re just tempted. You love chocolate. It’s a besetting sin. You can’t live without chocolate. No, no.
Then you come down another aisle. Mmmmm. Right? Okay? You’re tempted. You haven’t sinned. It just means there is something that attracts you to make you want to do something that, in this particular case, you know for sure is not God’s will, it won’t be good for you.
Now, sin has just occurred. Now, I used chocolate cake, okay, because it is very benign.
For some in this room, your besetting sin is not chocolate. It’s pornography. And you look for times to privately log on. For some of you, you have an eating disorder and you hide it.
For others, it’s shopping and every time you feel a little blue you are tempted to go spend money you don’t have and charge things and, by the way, every besetting sin is always covered by something called “lying.” And that’s the bigger thing that happens, then pretty soon this discrepancy because when we do things we know are wrong, then these facades and lies come up.
For others, it’s actually work and then the denial is, “I’m doing it for my family! I need to work eighty-five hours!” As you hear your mate say, “We don’t see you,” and the kids wonder what is going on and…
Let me ask you: What’s your piece of chocolate cake look like? What do you struggle with? For some it’s their body. Some guys it’s really cold outside and they have got a muscle shirt. Why? Well, if you’re going to work that hard, you want to show it off.
For others it’s their youth. Their sex appeal. And the one surgery leads to another surgery that leads to another surgery because somehow your identity is so wrapped up if you’re not still beautiful. But forties you can hang in there, fifties it gets harder, sixties it’s pretty tough.
The lie is, and this is throughout the Church, is not just that you are tempted. God promises you don’t have to cave in. But you have tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and failed. Willpower won’t work. He says, “There isn’t a temptation,” and the lies are, This is just mine. It’s unique. It’s my family background, it’s the way I am wired, I can’t help myself. Liar, liar, pants on fire! Not true.
There is faithfulness that can allow you to break free from that. It gets even better. When you take the bite of your chocolate and in your mind, I want you to think what it is, because I think I left out the prescription drug people and the second, third, and fourth glass of wine people. You are just a functioning alcoholic. And people have talked to you about it.
And, by the way, what my prayer before we started, for me and for you, Almighty God, Holy Spirit, will You peel back the layers of denial? Would You cause us to see ourselves for who we really are instead of all the excuses and all the denial and all the ways that we have somehow been able to live these lives of duplicity? Because if you don’t get real and if you don’t own it, if you don’t say, “That’s my chocolate, that’s my besetting sin, that’s my struggle,” and there’s a way out, then you don’t change.
And then you receive the consequences of your behavior and it breaks your heavenly Father’s heart. But even when you blow it, when you sin, here’s God’s faithfulness: “If you confess your sin,” 1 John 1:9, “He is,” are you ready? Here’s our word, “…faithful and just to forgive you your sin and not just that, but to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”
See, once you take the chocolate and you have logged on one more time and you have spent money that you don’t have and you took the vacation because it made you feel better and then, Ahh!
When you have posed and gossiped about someone else because somehow saying untrue things or shaded things about someone else puts them down and makes you feel better out of the envy in your heart. We all do these things! Then you feel such shame, especially if it comes to light.
And He says, I am faithful. I will help you in your weakness. I will help you when you are tempted. When you are biting the chocolate like this, if you’ll come clean and say, “Oh God. I agree with You.” That’s what the word confess means. I agree with You. This is wrong. Would You forgive me?
Jesus said, Well, that’s why I died. And I want to forgive you and I want to cleanse you and I want to put you on a new path. In fact, it gets so radical. This is a God that I don’t think most Christians know. I think most Christians are living with sort of a healthy dose of sin management. I don’t think I’m sinning quite as bad or as much as other people. And I’m doing this and I’m doing this and of course the Scripture says this and I know it’s a violation but everyone else is doing it and I think if I only do it at these times and these certain ways…
And you live with this God-consciousness over here and these blatant things that you know are wrong over here. And it’s just duplicity. And it tears at your soul. And it embarrasses the reputation of God.
But even if you go beyond weakness and temptation and sin to, I mean, just failure like, I’m done! Notice what the Scripture says about this wonderful, great God that takes messed up people like this and is faithful to change them from the inside out.
And, by the way, that picture? There are other pictures coming. And I would have new stories about other issues and struggles that we will have. Because we will arrive when we see Jesus face-to-face, just like you.
2 Timothy chapter 2 says, “It is a trustworthy statement that if we died with Him we will also live with Him. If we endure we will also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will deny us.” Did you get the parallelism? We have died with Christ like in belief in baptism, we are going to live with Him. We endure, even if we are persecuted, we are going to reign. There is reward. If we deny Him by our behavior, by our actions, He will deny us.
When you’re not walking with God, He doesn’t give you peace. His blessing is not on your life. He keeps wooing you but if we deny Him, He will deny us. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful,” you would you think it’s doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, should be, and, no, no, no, no.
“When you are faithless,” when your whole spiritual engine breaks down and you have messed up beyond just sin, you are running away from God and you think there is no hope, you’re in a black hole and you think God could never, ever, ever. And part of you, your heart is getting so hard you don’t even care and you’re running away. When you are faithless, are you ready for this? He remains faithful. Why? “Because He can’t deny Himself,” it’s His character.
This may come as a surprise to those of you who don’t know me very well but I grew up in a church where there was huge hypocrisy. We didn’t use the Bible. But I knew that I didn’t want anything to do with God or people who said they were Christians.
But I was a basketball junkie and I went to a camp and I saw people live it out and they gave me a Bible and I realized I rejected it but I had never read it. So I said, Oh, I don’t know. God, if You’re real, literally. I got a yellow pad out and, God, if You’re real, prove it. I will read the New Testament.
Memo. He is. But I was in the faith for two years and I had a besetting sin. It was lust. And praise God there was not the Internet. There were four girls to every guy on our campus. And first it was behavior and then I started to grow. And then it was some actions in my speech and then it was my thought life. And I would sit around a table with the basketball team and if you know what locker rooms, and I just, God, I’m sorry I said that. I’ll never say that again. God, last night on that date I did this. I’ll never do that again. God, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
The next day, next week, next day, next week, next week, I just. And I said, “I’m sorry,” five thousand times and went back and did the same thing over and over and over. Can anyone identify with your chocolate cake problem?
And so I thought I was taking the high road. I thought, Well, you know what? I can’t live this life. But I am not going to be like the people in my church so, literally, I quit. I had a Bible and I had one little poster in my dorm that said, “To the glory of God.” I had masking tape behind it. I pulled it down, folded it, stuck my Bible and the poster and, This is Chip Ingram turning in my jersey. I’m done. I quit the Christian life. I can’t live it so I’m not trying. I’m done.
Whew. That afternoon I’m walking across campus and a verse comes to my mind. Oh my gosh. Hellooo! We’ve got a communication problem here. It didn’t make it all the way up to the throne. I’m done! I turned in my jersey. I don’t pray. I don’t read. I’m not trying to be moral anymore, okay? Okay?
The next day, some Christian, “Hey, how are you doing? What’s going on?” “Oh my gosh. You haven’t heard. I quit the Christian life. I don’t want your encouragement. I don’t want to go to Bible study. Leave me alone.”
The next day, God just wouldn’t leave me alone. When I sinned it was just like, when I was a non-Christian, I sinned, it was just fun. I had a little bit of guilt, not much. But after I became a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes inside of you and you grieve the Spirit, you break God’s heart.
And it hurts. Now, you can sear it over time. But I was breaking God’s heart. And so I would sin and I had that same conviction. And it was like, Chip, do you remember when you prayed to receive Christ and became a follower of Jesus? “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” Remember that verse, Revelation 3:20? “Yeah.” Remember it said, “Behold, I, Jesus, stand at the door and knock. If any man or any woman would open the door of your heart, I would come in and live with you and eat with you and you would have a new life and we would go on together.”
“Yeah.” Well, didn’t you open the door? “Yeah.” Well, I came in. You can keep trying to not keep your word but I can’t violate My word. I said I would come in. Now, I may bring the velvet vise of consequences. Life can get harder and harder and harder and harder and harder until I get your attention. In fact, in the Scriptures, there are some genuine believers that God takes home early because they just get so hard hearted.
But He goes, I am your Dad. I love you. Even when you are faithless, I am faithful because I cannot deny Myself. Wouldn’t you like to go through life with a friend like that? Wouldn’t you want to go through life with someone that, when you are tempted and when you are weak and when you sin and when you just fail that would say, “Come unto Me. Let Me love you. Let Me restore you.”
I’d like you to think about what you are going to do with your life as we close this series. I’d like you to really think about what it is going to look like for you to say to God, I am going to own my stuff, no more double life, it’s going to be a little bit scary. But I am going to pursue making Christ and knowing Him the number one priority. And family and work and hobbies and money and plans will revolve around, I want to do life the way that would honor and please You.
And all I can tell you is it’s the life that is truly life. There are three things you need to do. Would you get out your pen and jot them down? Number one, put your past behind you today. Take out your chocolate cake issue, bring it before God, confess it, and tell Him, I’m done with this. I am going to ask You to forgive it. I’m going to own it. I’m putting it behind me. And His promise is: I am your friend.
I have to tell you, I bet the first ten years that I was a Christian, I knew intellectually that God loved me, I knew I had a saving relationship with Him, I knew He loved me but I didn’t think He liked me very much.
Do you think He likes you? What are friends like? In my weakest moments or when I have been with a friend who is really hurting and they start to cry, I don’t cross my arms and say, “Be a big boy! Stop crying!” What do we do? What do you do with people that you really love? You cry with them. And then you say something like, “Hey, I get it. I know your wife left you.” Or, “I get it. It has been twelve years you have been off meth. And you lapsed. We are going to make it through this.” Isn’t that what friends do? You have got one that will never leave you.
Second, bring your present problems, pains, and failures to Jesus today. I think there are some of us that we know Him but it’s by grace we have been saved and by our effort we are going to mature. Wrong. You need to bring the troubled marriage, the struggle, the attitude, the resentment, anything in your life, one of your kids, your frustration with being single and Jesus would say, today, Let’s start new. Come unto Me all of you that labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me. I am gentle, humble in heart. You will find rest for your soul. My burden is easy. He is not down on you.
But it’s a picture of two oxen and the yoke is the thing that connects them both. He says, We have to do life together. It’s not about: read the Bible and pray to earn any of God’s favor. It’s: Listen to Me, let Me help you, let Me bring people into your life. But you have to take your neck and say, “I want to get hooked up and do life with You, Jesus.”
And then, finally, you place your hope for the future in the One who will never let you down.
Jeremiah writes, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” Notice he goes on to say, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” And then notice the rest of this verse, “It’s like a tree planted by the streams of water and its leaves are green.” In other words, circumstances don’t have the power to make your life or break your life.
Put your hope in Christ and the only way to do that is you have got to get to know His Word and you have to connect with people and you have to recognize you can’t live this life but Christ can live it through you.