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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
What I want you to see is this is God’s plan and here is the plan, okay? Here is a lost world, there has been a coup, a rebellion. They rebelled against the Most High God, the King, the Creator, the Sovereign that we have talked about.
From the foundations of the earth, God giving the possibility of choosing, knew this would come, and so the second person of the Trinity, Christ, says, “I will go. I will save the people.” And so the coup has happened, sin has occurred, Christ comes.
Now listen to the wisdom of God. He is born of a teenage girl in a stall. Can you imagine what the demons were thinking? Well, you know what? I don’t know what God is up to but this doesn’t look like a very good plan. And then He is going to be raised by a carpenter. Well, that’s not exactly the upper elite of Jewish culture.
And then, finally, He grows up, lives a perfect life, and then He is going to choose people because He brings – what? The best possible plans by the best possible means for the most possible people. So He chooses a bunch of blue-collar guys to get the job done.
Peter, John, James, a couple of fishermen, a crook – Matthew, a zealot, a couple of whackos, “Should we call down thunder on them, Lord?” I mean, “Guys, would you just cool it?” And you look at the guys that He chose – why? The wisdom of God. Who gets the credit when regular guys like us, ordinary people like us follow Christ, are redeemed, get transformed, and then change the world? God does.
See, God is always working toward purposes that we rarely understand. But if we don’t understand the big plan of redemption and understand that’s His purposes behind His wisdom, we will get lost. Can you imagine how much of a failure it looked like?
Try to visualize yourself being there and you were a follower, you were Peter or one of the Marys and you cared and you loved Him and you thought He was the hope of the world and you’re looking up at a cross and He is hanging there and He is dying and He says, “It’s finished,” and He is dead! And you’re thinking, This is a fine mess You got us into! I left my home, I left my job, I have been ridiculed, I have been kicked out of the synagogue. And He’s dead.
And you could almost, in the invisible world, seeing the demons going, “Ah hah, hah, hah, ha! Ah hah, hah, ha! He’s dead! See?”
God’s wisdom is foolishness unto man. But what happened? When He died on the cross, He purchased you. Redemption is He paid the price for your sin. Between Friday night and Sunday when He rose, he went to – what? The old creed says, “What does it mean that He ascended except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth,” and He proclaimed to the invisible world, “Death is defeated! Satan is defeated, sin has been rendered powerless. I am the victor.” And then He comes out of the grave!
And what seemed absolutely ridiculous, it seemed foolish and ridiculous, was the wise plan of God. And, see, it is in redemption that we see that God takes the things that the world so esteems and He is always about turning them upside down.
Listen to J.I. Packer. I love his quote on this, “God’s almighty wisdom is always active, and never fails. All His works of creation and providence and grace display it, and until we can see it in them we just are not seeing them straight. But we cannot recognize God’s wisdom unless we know the end for which He is working. God’s wisdom is not, and never was, pledged to keep a fallen world happy, or to make ungodliness comfortable. Not even to Christians has He promised a trouble-free life; rather the reverse. He has other ends in view for life in this world than simply to make it easy for everyone. What is He after, then?”
See, you’ll never understand the wisdom of God until you understand the ends, is what he is saying. So what is God after? What is He after in the world? What is He after in the culture? What is He after in the society? What is He after in you? What is He after in me?
Packer goes on to say, “What is His goal? What is His aim? He plans that a great host of mankind should come to love and honor Him. His ultimate objective is to bring them to a state in which they please Him entirely and praise Him adequately, and He and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love – men rejoicing in the saving love of God, set upon them from all eternity, and God rejoicing in the responsive love of men, drawn out of them by grace through the gospel.”
You see, until we really grasp God’s ultimate purpose for our lives, now and for eternity, we will be perpetually frustrated and disillusioned. And I think for many of us, that’s what has happened, because our aim very subtly is not, God, make me like Your Son. Our aim is not very subtly, we have been veered off the course, Oh, God, help me fulfill whatever purpose you have for this brief time on this planet for You, because I will be with You forever and ever and ever.
We have reversed it. And we can’t figure out why life is so frustrating and God won’t come through, because His number one agenda is not my personal peace and prosperity. And His number one agenda is not my personal fulfillment. And His number one agenda is not to cure my loneliness with another person. His number one agenda is not to give me a bigger and nicer house, a nicer car, and the comforts that all the world can offer.
He may do all those things, out of His gracious love. But all of those, in and of themselves, if the means turn into an end, are idols. And His wisdom in your life is often bringing pain that feels unbearable, because redemption is so important to pry the idols out of your hand so you don’t miss out on what really matters.
It’s of a loving, good, kind, compassionate God that so loves you, that knows that you are trading what is great and eternal and best for something that is cheap and that promises much and delivers little.
And so He wants you to be wise. He just wants you to be wise. He wants you to understand how He has designed life and then He wants you to walk according to that design. And when you do, it will bring a goodness to your heart, a transformation in your relationships, a joy that you cannot fathom, and you will fulfill His purposes.
You see, it’s so subtle the little difference, but He is about, in that situation that is on your mind, He is committed to bringing the best possible ends by the best possible means for the most possible people for the longest possible time.
So let’s wrap this up with some specific action steps to respond to His wisdom. How must we respond to the wisdom of God? Very simply, we must learn to live wisely. We must learn to live wisely. Ephesians 5:15 to 17, what does he say? He says, “Don’t be unwise, don’t walk as unwise, but as wise, and understand the will of the Lord.”
He said, “For the days are evil; you are living in dark times.” He says, “Don’t be unwise, but be wise, live wisely, live according to God’s plan so that you can rest and so you can trust.” So there is a command, not only that we be wise, but that we live in a way that reflects that we are trusting God. He wants us to rest, He wants us to understand: This is how I have designed life.
And really practically, God says, “This is how you can learn, this is how to do relationships, this is how to handle your money, this is how to make decisions, this is how to walk by faith, this is how to fulfill your purpose for Me.”
And if you will discover the way of wisdom and follow it, then all those promises of Scripture about love, joy, peace, patience, goodness – the fruit of the Spirit and the rewards of that life are what God wants for you. But you don’t get that living in an unwise manner.
And so, second, not only must we learn to live wisely, it begins, then how do you get it? It begins with reverencing God. Reverencing God. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Job 28:28 says, “And he said to them, ‘The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’”
So how do you learn to live wisely? The first step is it begins with reverence for God. To have the fear of God. And you can do all kinds of word studies, do you know what to be afraid of God is? Do you know what the word fear really means? Like, in the Hebrew and the Greek and all that stuff? It means be fearful. I mean, reverential awe, yes, that’s true. But we try and…it means to be afraid!
But it’s not afraid that He is going to hurt you, it is you are afraid that you won’t please Him. It’s afraid that you are going to let Him down.
You know, I don’t know, how many of you, as a kid, in my generation, how many times did you ever say, “Man, I can’t do that. If I did that, my parents would kill me.” Right? And you know what? So I didn’t do it.
Now, you weren’t really afraid that they were going to actually, physically kill you. But it was a mix of consequences that you didn’t want combined with a sense of betrayal and letting them down in ways that you didn’t want to face.
And the way you got off the hook with your friends who were asking you to do it, “I can’t do it. My parents would kill me!” What you were saying is, “I have a healthy fear of my mom and dad.” And that’s where wisdom starts.
I’m afraid, I don’t want to mess up in my life. There are consequences. I want to do life God’s way. The fear of the Lord, essentially, is: I am going to choose to do life God’s way.
I’m afraid for the consequences and I’m afraid for what it will do to my relationship with my heavenly Father and what it says to Him in light of all that He has done for me. I want to live with a healthy, wholesome fear of God.
And I spent the first three years, probably, of my Christian life saying, “I’m going to be a Frank Sinatra Christian. I’m going to do it my way.” I mean, really. I’m going to do it my way.
And I just kept bumping my head, bumping my head, bumping my head. And God loves you so much, when you really mess up, He doesn’t kick you out of the family. He takes you to the woodshed. And Hebrews 12, He will love you, I call it “The Velvet Vise of Discipline.” And you know what? There is gentleness in it, but you know what? He’ll just bring, if relationships are the issue or money is the issue or time is the issue, He will get your attention. He loves you so much.
And He will just bring the velvet vise and you can either learn now, you can learn later. Some of us that are hard-headed, it’s painful. And some of you may be in the velvet vise of discipline and you’re not living wise lives with the fruit of living wisely because, basically, you have a salad bar mentality that, I will choose out of the Christian life the parts I like to do life my way on my terms.
And God says, “That is an interesting suggestion, but it’s not one of the options. It’s just not one of the options with Me. Not in light of who I am.”
And so, to respond to the wisdom of God, you have to learn to live wisely and to learn to live wisely, it begins with this reverential awe and fear that you are going to say, “I’m going to do life God’s way because,” are you ready for this? He’s God! Did you ever think of that? He is God! He deserves for me to live in that way.
Third, it requires growing or receiving His Word. There is no way to live wisely without the manual that teaches us how to live wisely. Psalm 119: 97 through 100 says, “Oh, how I love Your Law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on Your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts.”
2 Timothy 3:15 through 17 says, “All Scripture, all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness” – why? “so that the man of God might be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
I do not know, and I am not talking about reading your Bible a little bit. I’m talking about receiving the Word implanted. You need to ask yourself, How many videos, how many magazines, how many books, how much TV, and how much stuff is going into my mind versus how much truth from God’s Word?
Because I will tell you, you are what you eat. You are what you eat physically, you are what you eat spiritually.
And it’s not just a little thing like, Okay, I’ve got a little devotional, I’m glad I got it from that group and I read the devotional, it’s a good one, boy, I like it. I got a little check mark! Mm, got that done today, see you later, God.
I’m not talking about reading the Bible or even being in a Bible study. I’m talking about receiving the Word. Now, do you have to read it to receive it? Yes. Do you have to study it to receive it? Yes.
But I’m talking about us saying, God, I don’t want to go through religious routines. I want You to speak to me, I love You, You are showing me some things, so I want to take Your Word and I want to see what it says, and I want it to be the mirror to point out things that need correction, I want it to be the mirror that says that You love me and affirm me, despite where I’m at.
And then I’m going to write down those specific promises that I need on a 3x5 card and I’m going to read them over and I’m going to ponder them and I’m going to meditate on them, because I need to trust You in this because I’m a people pleaser. I need to trust You in this because I’m a workaholic. I need to trust You in this because I keep lusting and falling back into these patterns.
So I’m going to take these promises of Your Word, I’m going to receive them in my heart, I’m going to memorize them and meditate on them, and I’m going to ask You for the grace to take the written Word and make it the living Word in my heart as I trust in You so that You transform my life as I receive Your Word.
See, that’s what God wants me to do. That’s how you live wisely. It’s not just knowing the right thing. It’s putting it into practice. Knowing the Bible never changed anyone. It is applying what you know of the Bible that brings life change.
And so, to live wisely begins with reverence, it means receiving the Word, and then it requires asking for it specifically. James 1:5, “But if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach. But when he asks, let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for the man who doubts is like a wave in the sea, tossed here and there.”
This is an airtight promise. And the wisdom here is you don’t know what to do about a decision, you don’t know what to do about this relationship, you don’t know what to do about your finances, you don’t know what to do about a wayward child. You don’t know what to do, “Should I take this job or that job? Should I take the promotion? Should I move or not move? What do You want me to do?”
Don’t you have a lot of those things in your life? I do! You know what this passage says? It comes out of the context of enduring suffering. It’s written to a group of people that have been dispersed and they have lost their families and lost their jobs and they have been disowned and they have been told, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials and you know this testing of your faith? Tell you what, hang in there! Endure! And God will use it to develop your character.”
But in the midst of your pain and your suffering, if you don’t know how to handle it, if any man lack wisdom, let him ask. God promises, a hundred percent of the time, to show you exactly what to do if you will come and ask. And wisdom is not, Don’t make me smart in this. Will You show me what it looks like to follow Your way and Your will in this situation? That’s what wisdom is! That’s what you are asking. Show me what it looks like to do what You want me to do in this situation.
Now, here’s the condition. That little, “Let him ask without any doubting,” that phrase there does not mean an intellectual doubt or that’s not honest doubts about one verse in the Bible. This is a picture of a person who is coming to God, but they are coming, literally, we get our word schizophrenia, double minded, doubting, double minded.
It has the idea of someone who comes to God and says, “Should I date this person or this person? Should I take this job or that job? Should I do this with my money or this with my money? Should I move here or move there? God, I want You to show me exactly what You want me to do, so I can take it under consideration. I would really like You to show me exactly what You want me to do and I’ll tell You what, I’ll think about that and if it’s what I want, I just might do it. And if I don’t, I just might not.”
That’s the doubting of the double minded man. You want to know how to get God’s wisdom in areas where you’re not sure what to do?
Here’s a word picture. Whatever that area is, you imagine a blank check and on the top of that check where you write it out to someone, you imagine, I need to know what God wants me to do, or, I have this big decision about this or this or this or that, and then what you do is you write on the bottom of the check where you sign your name, you sign your name. And then you take that check and you walk over in your mind’s heart, and it’s the throne room of God, and you take it and you shove it under the door. There is light coming out from under the door. And you signed your name and He fills out the top.
And what you are saying is, Lord, whatever You show me, in advance, whatever You show me, I’m committed to doing. If You will show me, I will do it, one hundred percent. If You say, “Break off the relationship,” I will. If You say, “Move,” I’ll move. If You say, “Confront this situation,” I’ll confront it. If You say, “Quit this job,” I’ll quit this job. Whatever You tell me to do, I will do. I have signed my name on the bottom of the check, I put it under the door of heaven and now, Lord, You promised that You will give wisdom to anyone who asks, without reproach.
Even if the reason I am here is because I have messed up in the past, these are some consequences of my sin, and I really feel bad about asking You what to do because I’m here because I really know I messed up, that phrase is, He will come without reproach. God will not give wisdom and say, “I was wondering when you were going to come and you really did mess up and you’re getting what you deserve.”
The passage says just the opposite. God will say, “I’m glad you came. And I’m not here to condemn you. You understand what you have done wrong. You have come with an honest heart and you have repented. And now you need to know what to do and I want you to know, whenever any one of My children come and they are willing to do whatever I show them, if you will ask Me, I guarantee, one hundred percent of the time, I will show you exactly what to do.”
And so about ninety-eight percent of the will of God in these kind of areas is being willing to do what He says. And if you’re willing to do, in advance, He will show you. It may be through a book, it may be through a person, it may be through a counselor, it may be through a pastor, it may be through a series of events where seven people say exactly the same thing, that don’t know each other, to you. It may be a strong prompting in your sprit.
And, by the way, if it’s others-centered, loving, biblical, moral, and has some sacrifice involved, it probably isn’t the enemy trying to tempt you. You know, we are really funny, Oh, this couldn’t be from God!
If we are going to respond to God’s wisdom, we must learn to live wisely and that begins with reverence for God, it grows with receiving His Word, it requires asking for it specifically, and finally, we must learn to trust completely.
Trust that all that comes our way is from the hand of a good and loving God who, knowing all things actual and possible, is exerting His unlimited power to execute the best possible outcomes, by the best possible means, to fulfill the highest possible purposes.