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About this series
Trusting Jesus No Matter What
How to Build an Unshakeable Faith
In many cities around the world, there are buildings specifically engineered to withstand severe disasters - like hurricanes and earthquakes. In this series, Chip plays off that idea by helping us build an unshakable faith that can endure any challenge. Learn why the strength of our faith has nothing to do with our determination or resolve, but in getting an accurate view of God. Discover through various New Testament verses why we can completely trust in Jesus, no matter what comes our way.More from this series
In Mark chapter 4, Jesus is going to explain to the disciples how the kingdom works. How do you draw near to God? How do you overcome temptation? How are you born again?
“Then He told them a parable by the seashore.” And it’s one that many of you will probably know. It’s where, you know, the Son of man casts the seed of God’s Word and He casts it on four different kinds of soils.
And the first soil is hard, for people that have a hard heart. And then the second one is shallow, people that have a shallow heart. And the third, it drops in soil and then the thorns grow up and choke out the Word. And finally, it’s in good soil and it multiplies fruit, thirty, sixty, a hundredfold.
And the disciples say, “That was a really interesting story. What in the heck did it mean?” And He says, “If you don’t understand,” this is so critical, “if you don’t understand this parable, you can’t understand any of the others.” What He was saying is this: Life-change happens when the Son of man, Jesus, speaks God’s Word.
And people respond to God’s Word or God’s truth, His light, in four different ways.
Some people, their hearts are very hard. Satan just takes it away.
Some people, their hearts are shallow. They get emotional and they get excited. “Yeah! I love Jesus! This is really important.” Until things get a little rough and then they bail out.
And then there are some people that have a very legitimate relationship and they begin to grow and then it says the desire for other things and busyness and distractions and the deceitfulness of riches, little by little by little, it chokes the power of God’s Word and their priorities get out of whack.
But He says that there is one group of people whose hearts are tender and open. That the good soil is those who receive God’s Word with an open and noble heart and they put it into practice and it says, “with perseverance.” And they bear much fruit.
Here’s what I want you to know. Who spoke this Word? Jesus. Who is He? Creator, Sustainer. He’s the One who made all that there is. He is speaking to you and He is saying, “There’s life in My Word.”
When Jesus then modeled His teaching, do you remember what He did? He was tempted. And He said, “Well, how do you overcome temptation?” Satan said, “If You are the Son of God,” what did He say? “It is written, it is written, it is written.” Each time. He was teaching the disciples the centrality and the power of God’s Word.
And then what you find is as Jesus’ ministry continues and He shows them the power, then the writer of Hebrews will say to us, “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. It’s powerful. It cuts to the heart, to the division of soul and spirit and joint and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of our heart.”
In other words, He is saying when you are in God’s Word and you are walking with God and you spend time in His Word and you begin to digest it, and you begin to love it, He’ll speak to you. He’ll let you know what your motives are. He’ll whisper, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
As I was a young Christian, the most powerful thing I did in my Christian life, because of the group I was around, was memorize Scripture. And as I memorized Scripture, it was the key to overcoming a big issue I had with lust. As I memorized Scripture, God would give me a word when I was praying. As I memorized Scripture, God would speak to me about issues that I needed to address. As I faced difficulties, He would bring a passage to my mind that was a promise.
And I remember thinking Jeremiah said, “Your Word was found and I ate it. And Your Words,” I love this, “became for me the joy and the desire of my heart.” David would say, “If Your Word had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” When you study this Word, what you’ll find is men and women of God, they love God’s Word, they eat God’s Word, they digest God’s Word, they believe God’s Word. And most importantly, they act on God’s Word.
Jesus is the living Word. We have His written Word. It is without error. It is reliable. It will give you direction, it will protect you, it will deliver you. But it doesn’t become active until it’s connected with faith, when you believe it, when you trust.
Jesus would say at the end of Mark, because this is His way of life-change happening or, like, if you were a teacher, His pedagogy. Pedagogy is just the format or way that someone is taught, in order for people to understand it.
And Jesus would say to them, “He who has ears, let him hear.” He says, “If you respond to the light that I give you, you get more light. But if you don’t respond to the light or the truth from God’s Word, then even the light that you have gets taken away. In essence, knowledge doesn’t help you grow. It’s an important factor. Life-change happens when we obey. And we can only obey when we believe what is said is true.
Well, I have said a lot. We have covered a lot. I want you to begin to just think for just a minute about how to digest, I mean, Jesus is the Word, He lived by the Word, He gave us the Word, the Word is powerful.
So, here are two or three questions that I jotted down that I want you to ponder.
First is: What is your view of God’s Word? God created through Jesus, the Sovereign King, everything in the universe, visible and invisible out of nothing by speaking it into existence. How important is God’s Word to you in your life? Your everyday life?
Now, I hope you’re one of the tremendous exceptions in America, but I read a study just about a year and a half ago from the American Bible Society that says the average Christian does not read the Bible, the average Christian doesn’t know God’s Word, and the average Christian isn’t in it in a regular basis. But the study also found that people that were in the Scriptures about four times a week, there was a correlation. Their life changed, they had greater peace, they had greater joy, they got direction from God.
Second question is: How badly do you want to know Jesus? Jesus upholds all things by the Word of His power and is Himself God’s final and exact revelation of who He is. How much does it matter to you that you really get to know Him, that you hear His voice, that you enjoy His companionship?
You see, the fact of the matter is is that we say, “Jesus loves us, He cares for us,” but like any good friendship, you know what it requires? It’s spending time together. It’s sitting down and hearing His voice and in a relaxed, unhurried way. And not a transaction. Some of us who have dealt with performance issues or workaholism, you know, there was a day that I read four chapters as fast as I could and I put a check mark and then I had a little prayer list and it was, like, thirty minutes. I have to pray thirty minutes. And I would pray thirty minutes and, you know, just grind it out.
And, you know, keep looking at my watch and then you’re supposed to write in your journal, so I would write, “I’m going to do this today.” And I just became a Pharisee. God’s Word was never intended to be a club. It’s a love letter. Yes, there are commands to obey, but those commands are because He loves you. He wants to speak to you. He wants to give you direction about your job and your life and your family and your future. He wants to comfort you.
Rarely a day goes by that I don’t read the psalms. There’s something about emotional words of David and some of the other psalmists to remember that God understands when I get mad and when I get hurt and He understands that life is a struggle. In fact, there’s a couple psalms there where it’s pretty obvious David is depressed. And those are the kind of things that give me hope.
And there’s rarely a day that I go by that I don’t read a proverb. You know, there are thirty-one proverbs, so on the first of the month I read Proverbs 1 and so on. And Proverbs gives you wisdom. Just the practical wisdom about money and life and decisions and relationships and, you know, as I have done that for years and years and years and years, little by little, what the Lord does is He begins to shape your thinking. He starts to give you the fear or reverence of Him that leads to knowledge. And it’s a knowledge that you begin to think differently about life and it shapes your values.
See, what I want you to know is that Jesus wants to put His arm around you and He wants to say with me, “Let’s walk together. I am for you. I love you. My Word is a gift.”
The third question I have, and this is a bit more of a statement. Jesus’ words give life - they restore, they heal, they create, they sustain, they direct, and they protect. But here’s the key. And they have supernatural power when activated by biblical faith, that is evidenced by obedience.
You know, the Word is powerful and we hear the gospel. But It’s in exercising faith that we receive Christ and receive eternal life. The promises of God are true, but it’s by faith we trust that promise and we step out and we experience His power and His love.
And so, now, Jesus is going to give us a tremendous invitation. The One who made all that there is, the One who spoke the world into existence, the One who, because He loves us, has given us His Word to guide and direct, to empower, to transform us, here is His invitation. He said this to the disciples on the very last night, because He knew that to stay connected to Jesus had to happen through His Word.
In John 15 it says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up and they gather them and cast them in the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me,” and listen to this, “and My words abide in you,” access, “ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. These things I have spoken,” listen to the motive, “that you may have My joy and that your joy might be made complete.”
Staying connected to Jesus, certainly is about talking with Him on a regular basis. But it also means you abide. And the word abide means to take in the truth of God’s Word for the purpose of applying it.
In John 8:32, Jesus was preaching to a group of Jews. And it says, “And those Jews who had believed on Him,” they trusted Him, He said, “If you abide in My Word,” not if you listen, if you hear, if you agree, “if you abide in My Word, if you take in My Word and put it into practice, you’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
So, here’s my question. And this, please, don’t hear this through the lens of guilt. Please get those thoughts out of your mind, I know I should be reading the Bible more. I’m not a very good Christian and I have blown it and does God still love me? Stop it. Here’s what I want you to get. Jesus loves you, He wants to speak to you, He wants to protect you.
Your heavenly Father is for you and He has given you His Word so that you could take it in so it could birth life in you, so it would give you the power to say no to things that are tempting you, to say no to addictions, to say no to relationships that aren’t good for you, to give you wisdom and direction to take steps in relationships that are good for you and to guide your life so you have the career and the life and the relationships that bring glory to God and joy to you. “These things I have spoken to you,” Jesus said, “that My joy would be in you and that your joy would be full.”
And if we would go back to what the Lord is doing and what He is saying to us, we have our chart: Colossians 1: Who is He? Philippians 2: What did He do? Hebrews chapter 1: How did He do it? And the answer is: It is the Word of God. He revealed God. He reveals the truth. And His Word reveals Him to us now. The invitation is to abide. And here’s the result: joy.
Well, I found something that I want to close with that was new to me. I was reading the blog of someone that I really appreciate and in their blog they were sharing a story that I was unaware of. And the story goes all the way back to 1947 and many of you, in fact, me included, way before my time.
But there was a Sunday school teacher named Henrietta Mears, in LA. I think it was Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Godly, godly woman. She mentored hundreds of college students. And apparently there was a retreat and she had a very, very powerful message about living your life in such a way that it would be expendable for Christ. Basically, full surrender, give your life completely away and see what God would do.
And she got done with that and as she went to her study, there was a young man named Bill. And Bill was strangely moved by God. And he just felt so stirred that that was something he needed to do and he was wrestling with it. And so, he went to the study, knocked on the door, and Henrietta said, “Come in.”
And before long, there was another guy named Richard and same thing happened. No plan, no agenda, and he knocks on the door and he comes in. And there was another one whose last name was Evans.
And so, these three, along with Henrietta Mears, they began to pray about: What would it look like, we might say, to be all in? In the old word, to be fully consecrated, to just say, “Lord, I will do whatever. And I understand what it means.”
And it’s interesting, they had a little time where they decided that they created a little group and it was called The Fellowship of the Burning Heart. And they made four commitments. And I’m only going to read two of them. But they made two commitments for life. I’m not saying that you need to make exactly these, but the Bill is Bill Bright. And Bill Bright changed the course of history. Campus Crusade was created. Millions of people have come to Christ through Bill Bright.
Richard was Halverson who later became a noted pastor, but he became the chaplain of the Senate for multiple years. And this was their commitment. They wrote this out and made a contract and a covenant with one another.
Number one, “I am committed to the principle that Christian discipleship is sustained solely by God alone through His Spirit and the abiding life of John 15 is the way of sustaining me. Therefore, I pledge myself to a disciplined, devotional life in which I promise through prayer, Bible study, and devotional reading to give God not less than one continuous hour each day.” The Word. Prayer. Intimacy.
Number two, “I commit to the principle that Christian discipleship begins with Christian character. Therefore, I pledge myself to holy living that is by a life of self-denial and self-discipline that I might emulate those Christlike qualities of chastity and virtue which magnify the Lord.” In other words, I’m committed to being pure before God.
You know, those two men and Pastor Evans and Henrietta Mears, they really changed the course of Christianity. Henrietta Mears would later be, as a Sunday school teacher, she started what was called Gospel Light. It became later a children’s curriculum that has gone all around the world.
She ended up starting another publishing company that made a similar difference. Ordinary people who took God’s Word seriously because there’s power in the Word. It’s living, it’s active, it’s sharper than a two-edged sword.
So, here’s what I want to ask you. Are you willing to make God’s Word a part of your everyday life?
You know what? It might start out as duty. A lot of mornings, early on I would get up and I didn’t want to read God’s Word. But I thought, You know, kind of like breakfast, you don’t always like what you eat or not motivated, but if you don’t eat, you starve.
And I began to make that a habit. And that duty, little by little, became something of a discipline and I just, I get up each morning and make a cup of coffee and I feed my dog and I walk outside and I always try to look up at the stars. I’m always disappointed when it’s cloudy, because I want to remember that I am going to go in and I am going to open God’s Word and the One who is speaking to me spoke those stars into existence. And it reminds me of how small I am and how big He is.
And then I go in a room and I just have a chair; it’s nothing special. And I open my Bible and I systematically read with this in view. Lord, would You speak to me? And then I pause. And I just tell Him what is on my heart. Like this morning, I was concerned about my wife. And so I prayed for her in a special way. And I have a staff member going through a really hard time. So, I prayed for her. And then I put on a song and I sang that song to the Lord just to say thank you.
You know, nothing special, nothing super, you know? Just another day meeting with God, receiving His Word, sharing my heart, hearing His voice. And when you do that day after day after day after day, pretty soon you get to know Him better and you experience His love, you find rest for your soul, you begin to give your life away.
And believe me, I’m nowhere close to having it all together, but I will tell you, there’s nothing better, nothing richer, nothing greater than abiding in Christ and experiencing His power and His joy and His love each and every day.