Many of us, as we’re traveling through life, hit those times where everything is shaken. It’s in these times that we start to doubt those foundations that we thought were rock solid. Sometimes, we have the time to try and prepare ourselves. And sometimes, it comes when we least expect it. Violently and without warning. We start to question, “Where is God in all of this? Why is He allowing this to happen to me?”
But what if God has a plan? What if God is letting this happen for a reason? Maybe we should trust the gardener as He prunes the branches. Maybe we can get excited as God rocks our world, because He is refining us so we can do something great for His glory.
The earthquake is just the beginning. Have you been shaken?
You know, one of the privileges that I have being a professor, teaching at college and seminary levels, and even doctoral levels from time to time, is I get the privilege of speaking into the lives of young men and women that are going to go into ministry and make a difference for Gods Kingdom. Usually at the beginning of the class, when I’m going through what the class is going to be about and going through a syllabus, I tell them, “Listen, the one thing I want you to get out of what I’m going to teach you is I want you to get some tools, and I want you to get equipped so that you can handle some of the things that are going to come in your life two years, five years, ten years down the road that I failed at. But I want to give you some stuff that maybe you won’t fail.” Like the old Chinese proverb, if you’ve heard it, it’s funny, but at the same time it’s very true. The Chinese say it’s the fool that learns from his mistakes. It’s the wise man that learns from the mistakes of others.
So, what I want to do, as your pastor, is I want to do the same thing. When you come here on Saturdays and Sundays I want to make sure that you’re equipped. I want to make sure that you have the tools in your toolbox to handle the difficulties of life. To tell, sort of, how I got into what we’re going to be talking about over the next five weeks, let me, sort of, share a little bit of my own heart.
When I was 17 years old I came to faith. I came to faith pretty radically. I mean, I had one of those Damascus Road moments where God really arrested my attentions and showed me that He was God. It was that summer after my 17th year, I turned 18 in May, I went to a general assembly for the denomination that I was a part of as a teenager. Actually mom and dad were a part of, but I went to the church there. I was part of the teen talent choir. Now, I don’t know how I ended up on the teen talent choir because I can’t sing at all. Like, I’m bad, but I was there, you know? At one of the services I was in the very back of the auditorium, and it was a big auditorium, probably 15-20 thousand people, and the pastor was speaking. I don’t know what he said or what the message was about, I just remember at the very end he said, “And somebody in this building is being called to ministry.” And it was like a lightning bolt arrested me, and I knew that was me.
So, I got up from the very back of that arena, and walked all the way down, walked all the way up front, saying, “God, I want to go into ministry. I want to follow You. I want to do all the things that You’ve called me to do. I’m excited about this. Thank You, God. I don’t know why You’ve chosen me, but I want to do this.” You know I had great men and women in my life that said, “Chip, you can do this. God’s called you to do this.” And I’m so glad they spoke all of that into my life, but the fact of the matter is that when I got into ministry I was ill prepared for what came my way. My world was shaken, and my world was rocked. I wasn’t prepared for what happened.
And I got out of ministry, and I swore I would never go back into ministry again. I’m not going to sit here and drudge up all the things that I went through or whatever. I just want you to know that I was ill prepared to handle the things that happened in my life. And as I have grown, and as I have matured, and as I have gotten older, what I’ve realized, and it’s sad as a pastor, is that I’ve realized that the majority of people, Christians as well, are not ready for the difficulties that come our way. For the conflict that comes our way. For financial strains inevitably creep up in our lives. For relationship tensions, relationships that break up. Or hardship or whatever. And you may have a fill in the blank. It may be something else for you. But what I’ve found is that most people are not really prepared to be shaken at all.
The thing that really bothers me as a pastor, and it really bothers me, is that we Christians are not supposed to look like the rest of the world when our world falls apart. 1 Peter 3, you can go home and read it if you’d like, in verse 14 he says that we’re not to have the fear like everybody else fears. We’re not to be holding on and shaken up when our world is rocked. We’re supposed to be people that, when they look at us, they see a hope that they want.
You know, as a pastor who says, “Hey, what we’re all about here is to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ,” if we, in the moments when we’re shaken and our world is rocked, if we still can’t be intentional neighbors and if we can’t reflect Christ, if we look just like everybody else, we’re not holding out something that somebody is going to want. So, what I want to do over the next five weeks here at Grace Community Church, and for those who also watch via the internet and mobile app, I want to give you some things that will help you in your life when your world is shaken. When your world is rocked.
I can’t imagine anybody in here not going, “Man, I’m leaning in and I want to hear what this guy has to say,” because this is going to be some good stuff. So, all that being said, this is what we’re going to do over the next five weeks. This weekend what we need to do is we need to learn to look through some different lens.
Now, I don’t know if you are aware, but I am, because when we put the stage together they said, “Chip, you need wash lights on you.”
And I’m like, “Wash lights. What do you mean?”
They’re like, “‘Cause you’re just nasty pale white, and we need to make you look better.”
And I’m like, “Well, that’s not my fault. That’s the way God created me. I’d like to be darker. I’d like to go out and get a tan. I just get red and white. That’s it. And then, if I hit my foot I’m blue. So, I’m all American.” Anyway…
But they say, “The deal is that we’re gonna get you some wash lights, and we’re gonna make you look good.”
That’s why some of you all, when I hug you out in the Hub, you’re like, “Man, you don’t look as good as you did on stage.” Because I got these wash lights. I’ve photoshopped up here. I’m looking sharp. People are like, “Man, you’re ugly in person.” Anyway, the bottom line is, you all know this to be true, if I were to put a red lens on these wash lights, I would look red. And if I put a green lens on one of these lights I’d look green. And if I put a yellow light I’d look yellow. The lens will determine what you see. The lens that we look through determines what we see. This is huge when it comes to our lives when we’re shaken. When our world is rocked.
We tend to look through a certain that we shouldn’t look through, and we need to move to another lens that we need to be looking through when our world is rocked. And that’s why I’ve entitles today’s message, “Moving from Why to What.” You may say, “What does that mean?” Let me unpack that for you.
The average person in the world, Christians together with them, have a lens that they look through when they’re life is shaken. And that lens is the lens of “Why.” And here’s what it looks like in practice.
Why is God allowing this to happen to me?
Now, I’m not going to do a show of hands. I’m not going to ask you to man up, or woman up today, but you all know, let’s be honest, when our world falls apart the very first thing that we say is, “Why, God, are you allowing this to happen to me? God, why are You letting this happen in our world. God, why are You whatever?” And what we don’t see is that that “why,” when we ask that questions, we’re saying a lot of things that we’re not thinking that we’re saying, but we are.
Number one, we’re questioning God’s goodness. We’re saying, “Hey God, if You really were that good then this wouldn’t be going on.” We may not think we’re asking that, or saying that, but we are. We’re also saying, “Hey God, you know what. I’m entitled to some things, and if You could get Your life together up there, and Your world together, none of this would be going on in my life. So God, why is this happening to me?” That is not the lens we need to be looking at when our world is shaken. When your world is rocked, and my world is rocked, the question’s not “why is God allowing this to happen?” And let me explain why this is a bad lens to look through.
First of all, Scripture shows us how God acts in difficulties, not why the difficulties exist in which God acts. This is important, because we want to know ‘why?’ Deep down inside we all want to know ‘why?’ God why, why, why, why, why? When in reality Scripture never answers the ‘why.’ It just show you how God acts in the difficulties for His people. He’s constantly working good out of bad situations. He’s constantly doing something that is redemptive out of bad situations.
Now, a lot of you all like this about coming to grace. You know that I’m real. You know that I’ll share my struggles. You know that I don’t walk up here and act like I’m a pastor that walks on water, because I don’t. I’m going to be gut level honest with you here about this stuff here. Because a lot of people want to tell you certain stuff. I’m going to just be terribly honest with you. If you’re new here today, maybe you’ve never been to church before, you might have flipped through the Bible and you might have thought that there was a book called job, like maybe when you were looking for one, but his is Job. And I’ve done that, too. I thought the Book of Habakkuk was Have a Coke and a Smile when I was first getting saved. But the reality is that the Book of Job is a difficult book. I love people say, “I know exactly what that book says.”
I’m like, “Man, I have two doctorates and three master’s degrees and I still have no idea what that book’s about.”
The reality is this, you got this guy Job, he’s a good dude. Nothing wrong with Job. And all of a sudden these sons of God come before God, and you’re like, “Man, who are the sons of God?” I’ve seen people get in a room over who the sons of God are like they know. Like they were there when it was written. We don’t know exactly who they are. I love it. We get so digressed into all that stuff. We got so caught up in all of our doctrinal stuff, man, we forget what we’re really here for. Some Jesus Christ and Him crucified. You know what I mean.
So, you got the sons of Gods come in, and they’re before God. And all of a sudden there’s Satan with them. And you’re like, “Satan?” Now, if you’d been reading back when Job was written you wouldn’t even know who that dude was. I mean we have an idea because we have the New Testament. Satan, comes with these sons of God. We’re like, “Who’s the sons of God? Are they angels? What are they?” And Satan comes with them and he says to God – it’s like, “Man, dude, Satan talks to God? Man, I didn’t know Satan talks to God.” – He says, “Hey man,” because God looks at Satan and says, “Have you seen my dude, Job?”
And you’re like, “God, why are you even brining up Job to the Devil? Why would you do such a thing like that?”
That’s what I’m telling you. Nobody knows. It doesn’t address why. Because you’re going, “Why? Why? Why?” It’s not addressing ‘Why.’
And He says, “Have you seen my servant Job?”
He says, “Yeah man, I’ve seen Your servant Job. He only loves You because You give him everything. If You take everything from him he’ll curse You.”
God says, “Have at it.”
You’re like, “No, God! No! That’s…no, no, no, no, no. Why’s this going on? Is this the way it works in Heaven? Is this what really goes on?”
Satan goes out and absolutely plunders Job, and then Job gets the three Christian comforters. You know about them, right? When you’re going through difficulties? Yeah, those are always fun. Larry, Moe, and Curly come in and are telling you all the things that you’re doing wrong, and how you missed out and everything. So, you go through this whole thing and finally, at the very end of the book after Job’s gone through all kinds of stuff, all kinds of misery, all kinds of difficulty, his world’s been shaken, he comes out on the other end and sees God worked something great redemptively out of it. We saw how God did something. So, he goes to God and he’s like, “Hey God, I need to know some ‘why’ is what I need to know. I need some ‘why.’”
God’s like, “Job, where were you when I laid the foundation of the world?”
Job’s like, “Well you know, I think this may be a good time to have a drink.”
That’s not in the Hebrew.
So, He says, “Job where were you when I did all this stuff?”
Job’s like, “I don’t know.” Job says, “You know what I think I’m going to do, God. I think I’m going to take my hand and I’m going to place it over my mouth, and just be quiet, because You’re right.”
Because what God’s saying to Job is that even if I told you the “why,” you wouldn’t understand it. You wouldn’t get it. And any of you who have kids, you know that.
My little girl, Esther. Anybody ever have the kids do the “why” all the time?
“Hey, you love me.”
“Hey, you need to go to bed.”
She’s on the “why” thing. The reality is that she doesn’t know why. She just knows the word. I couldn’t explain to her why even if I could. God says, “You don’t know.” Job doesn’t get an answer, he gets God. That’s what he gets.
See Scripture shows us how God acts. It doesn’t explain the “why the difficulties exist in which He acts.” And on top of this, the reason that “why” is the wrong one is that Scripture expects that as followers of Jesus we’ll have a completely different response to difficulties. Scriptures like tough on this stuff. It’s just like, “Hey, when your world’s rocked you’re going to be okay. You’re gonna rock on.”
You go, “Whoa. That’s not the way it works for me.” Because again, we’re looking through the wrong lens. We’re asking “why?” The right lens to ask is the lens of “what?” And it’s, “What is God wanting me to learn from this?” “What is God wanting me to see from this?” “What is God wanting me to do from this?”
See, when you’re asking “why” you’re never going to get anywhere. You’re going to be all over the board. We’re going to be just all over the board. It’s not the question. It’s not the lens when our world is shaken. It’s not to ask “why?” It’s to ask “what?” “God, what is it that You want me to learn from this. God, what can You show me?” That is the lens that we need to be looking through when our world is shaken.
Now, I’ve said all of that. We’re going to go to a Bible passage here, and we’re going to get real and raw. I can’t take the whole time here to go through this, but just bare with me here as I sort of go through a very quick summary of the Book of James.
James is written to people who are scattered throughout the Roman Empire. It’s called the Diaspora. We call it the Dispersion. These people, if you’ve seen those movies where they get moms and dads and put them in different trucks and the kids, too, and everybody’s separated. And everybody’s yelling through the bars. “No!” And they’re going away. That happened. People were separated from wives. People were separated from grandparents. People were separated from kids. Dispersed out into the Roman world. No money. No anything. And they found themselves working on farms. They found themselves working for very wealthy landowners. And often times these landowners would take advantage of these people. They wouldn’t pay them their wages. And when they didn’t pay them their wages they didn’t eat. And when they didn’t eat they became sick. And some of them died.
James writes into this situation. He writes into a situation that’s far more of a shaking than probably any of us have ever had. It is a very difficult world in which he writes. And he writes to them, he says in chapter two, “Hey, when these rich people come into your services, you’re them up front. You’re treating them differently, because you don’t want them to take advantage of you. You’re missing the whole boat. You can’t do that. God is the one who you serve. You can’t show partiality.
Chapter three, he says in verse one, “Don’t many of you become teachers because incur the stricter judgment.” And in chapter three, we hear all these sermons preached on the tongue, you know. The tongue. Unruly. Evil and all that stuff. The tongue in chapter three is the tongue of the teacher. The teacher’s the one who can sway the body, which is the Church. You see, the teachers are teaching you all bad stuff. They’re not teaching you good stuff. They’re teaching you how to respond to certain things in a way that you shouldn’t respond in a certain way. They’re telling you how to get back. They’re telling you how to retaliate. Because, in chapter four we realize there’s quarrels and kinds of fights going on. And some people have actually killed people. People that follow God have killed people. And James is like, “That’s not what we should be doing.”
He says, in chapter five, there is a judgment day coming and these rich people that oppress you, they’re going to have to pay. God’s not going to let that go silent. You are to be patient. You are to trust God. You are to believe that God can do all the things that God has done. You are to be people of prayer. Pray, because prayer effects things.
All of this is what James is writing into, a world that has been shaken. Here’s what he says in the first eight verses of James. He says, “James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Most people believe James to be the half brother of Jesus. Mary was a virgin. She had Jesus, but later on Mary and Joseph had other children. We see that in the Bible. James was Jesus’ half brother. Now, I’m going to tell you right, if you are brother of somebody, or if you have a brother, there’s no way in the world that you’d be under any delusion that your brother was God. Can I get an Amen? Okay. Something must have happened to old James to think his brother, Jesus, was actually God. That would be called, “He got up on the third day after He died.” That’s what happened. James was like, “That was more than a man.” So, “James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, (he says) to the 12 tribes in the Dispersion, greeting.”
Now, for those of you all who love the Bible, and love all this stuff, there is scholarly on who the 12 tribes are. Is James writing to a Jewish church, and so he’s talking about the 12 tribes? The Jewish people? Twelve tribes had not existed for hundreds of years when James wrote. He’s probably referring to the Church. Jew and Gentile. Both under names that would be used for Israel. You see that in the Bible, in the New Testament, often. Peter calls them, “You didn’t used to be a nation, but now you are.” So, everybody’s sort of coming in. A lot of these designations for God’s people are now being attributed to both Jew and Gentile. But it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not germane to our understanding. But he’s writing to people that had been scattered. They’d be scattered in the Dispersion.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I know that if I would have been the pastor writing to these people I would have probably said, “Hey man, I know there’s some bad stuff going on. I know you’ve probably been separated from someone. I love you. I’m praying for you. I’m sorry with some of the stuff, and everything.” Totally not what James writes.
James says, “Count it all joy.” – You’re like, seriously? Come again on that one, buddy. Count it joy? What are you talking about?
Hey says, “I want you to count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” When your world is shaken, count it joy.
You go, “Man, that’s a different lens.” Yes, it is.
He says, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Notice there he doesn’t say, “Let me teach you how. Let me show you how.” He goes, “You know it! It’s not something I even need to teach you.”
He’s like, “Do you remember when you first came to Christ, and you knew that that Guy had gotten up on the third day. He was the same God that spoke the world into existence. He was the same God that knows every hair on your head. He’s the same God that brought Israel out of Egypt. He’s the same God that anointed Sampson to do all the things that he did. That’s the God that it is. You know that He’s God. You know. You know that there’s nothing going on in your life that God’s not involved in, and that’s He’s not capable to being God over.” He says, “You know this. You know that if you’re going through hardships there’s a God at work. You know it.”
He didn’t say, “Let me teach you about it.” He says, “You should know it. You know it. You know that this is what’s going on.”
And he says, “…and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing.” Because see, James knows if you and I can’t get shaken then there’s nothing really going to keep us from being all the things that God wants us to be, because that’s where normally we leak. That’s where normally things get ugly.
Anybody watch the comedian, it’s a great comic bit. You know. B. I. T. Comic bits are where they do, sort of like, the same thing when they get up and do standup on a regular basis. So funny. He talks about that his mom gave them Robitussin cough medicine for every ailment that they ever had. It’s so funny. He’s like, “Yeah, I came in one day. I had fallen off my bike, and my arm was gashed open. And she’s like, ‘Go get the Robitussin!’”
He’s like, “‘Momma, Robitussin is for cough.’
She’s like, ‘No, go get the Robitussin and pour it all on your arm. It’s got tussin in it. And if the tussin gets down in there and starts working it’ll heal it.’”
He’s like, “‘Mom, you’re crazy.’
‘Get the Robitussin. It’s got tussin.’”
He said, “I came in one time, my leg was broke. Bone was sticking out of my leg.” He said, “Mom, I gotta go.”
She’d go, “Get the Robitussin. We’re gonna pour the Robitussin in there and the tussin’s going to work. It’ll heal that bone.”
Anyway, the bottom line is James knows that we need to let steadfastness get in there, and work in us so that we would be perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing.
Everybody remembers Karate Kid, right? Remember Mr. Miagi and Ralph Macchio? Remember that, right? Remember “Wax on. Wax off. Wax on. Wax off.”
“Both hands Macchio. This way.”
“Mr. Miagi, I don’t know what I’m doing. This doesn’t make any sense. My arms are starting to hurt.”
“Great. Let’s go stand on a pole, with one leg.”
“Well, why am I doing that?”
“Just trust me. Now let’s go ‘Wax on and Wax off.’”
“This is crazy stuff. Why are we doing this? This is bothering me. I’m not liking it. My arms are getting sore. This is no fun. My leg’s sore.”
Until the end of the movie when “Wax on. Wax off,” and standing on an old pole starts to make some sense. All that difficulty, all that training led somewhere, to where all of a sudden Macchio realizes, “Hey, there’s something going on here.”
James says, “Listen, when you fall into a life where it’s shaken,” he says, “you can count it joy, because you know that God is at work. Allow him to work, because if you do you will be perfect, complete, and you will lack in nothing. But,” James says, because James is smart, he says, “some of you are going to say, ‘Okay, God. That’s great. I know that You want to do something in my life, but what is it? What are You trying to show me?’”
James knows what you’re going to do to that. He goes, “If any of you lacks wisdom…” – He knows. He’s already ahead of you. If you lack wisdom. You’re sort of struggling. “God, what is it that You want to show me? God, what is it that You’re trying to work in me? What is it that You’re trying to do in me? What is it that You’re trying to produce in me?” He says, – “If you lack wisdom ask God. He’ll give it to you generously, without reproach, and it will be given you.”
He’ll totally give you what you need. He’ll give you the “what?” He says though, this is important, “Let him ask in faith with no doubting.”
Faith says, “What do You got for me, God? I’m going to count it joy, because I know You’re working in my life, and I know that You’re going to do something great in my life.”
“Why?” is doubting. “Why, God, is this happening to me? Are You really up there? Do You really know what’s going on?”
He says, “Don’t do that. Be people of faith. Don’t doubt.” He says, “Because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
Now listen, I love all of you all, and you know that. You know I love you, but so often, let’s be honest, our world is shaken and we’re just like at sea going back and forth. Back and forth, because we’re asking the wrong question. We’re looking through the wrong lens. “Why?” When in reality God is saying, “Ask Me ‘What?’ Ask Me what I’m trying to develop in you. Ask Me what I’m trying to show you and you can count it joy then.”
You can go, “You know what, God’s working.”
He says, “But don’t be like the one that doubts. Tossed to and fro. That person must not suppose that they’re going to receive anything from the Lord, because they’re a double minded person unstable in all their ways.”
Now that’s tough. I wouldn’t have written those first eight verses to a church that was like that. But that’s what James writes. That’s how he says it to you and me.
Now, listen. I want to be honest here. I want you to listen to me. I am not saying that your emotions don’t go all over the place when you get shaken. I’m not trying to ask you to deny your emotions. What I am trying to say is, though, you’re not a servant to your emotions. You are a servant to God. You are a servant to your faith in God. And the question is not “why?” The question is “what?”
Now, if you have your bulletin, if you have a phone, if you have whatever, these are what we call the “Take homes.” These are things that we write down. We try to make sense out of everything, and try to really put something here that you can take out of here practically. This is important.
We are not shaken for affliction, but we are shaken for awakening.
This is important. I don’t know if you all have done this. Me and Mindy made a lot of mistakes as parents, and we own it. We got our kids iPads. I’m convinced that the “i” is just missing the “dev” before it, and the “l” after it. And it would be really good. That would be the DevilPad, because that thing just needs to be kicked all over the room. My kids get these iPads. They’re doing all their stuff. My mom and dad come over to my house and they get the T.V. controller and start pointing it at the iPad. I’m like, “No. No. No. You just press the button.” My little girl, Esther, is two years old. She presses the button. She whips through that thing. And she’s found Old MacDonald Has a Farm. E. I. E. I. O. And it is the bane of my existence, because it just goes around the house. She’s holding the thing.
[singing] “Old MacDonald had a farm…”
I’m like, “Man, give me that thing. I rebuke that in the name of the Lord.” I mean, I walk in at night and she’s like, “Daddy, E.I.E.I.O!”
I was sitting down on the couch and she’s trying to get into my pocket to get my phone to do E.I.E.I.O. I’m like, “What is going on?”
But my older kids, now, when they’re doing something wrong, part of the deal at our house is that we have “red light”, “yellow light”, and “red light.” You get on a red light and you lose your iPad for the evening and you don’t get dessert at dinner. It’s just ugly around the house. When that happens, they think they’re being afflicted. Okay. They’re afflicted is what they are. They’re like, “This is an injustice. My dad’s a pastor and he’s no good. He’s going to hell. He’s deceiving everybody up there at that church, because he’s no good.”
And I’m like, “I’m just trying to awake you to the fact that you can’t beat your brother up with a hammer over the head. He’s bleeding, and he’s lost a tooth. And I’m taking your iPad, because I want you to awake. I’m not afflicting you. I’m awakening you.”
Now, we all laugh, but when it happens to us we go, “God, you’re afflicting me.”
God says, “I’m trying to awaken you. And what I’m trying to awaken you to is some of these things.”
We’re shaken in order to draw us closer to Him. He knows that we get caught up in all kinds of stuff. He knows that we get distracted. He knows that we get focused on all the things that we shouldn’t focus on. And sometimes that shaking in our lives is needed to get us to come closer to Him. Not only that, we’re shaken in order for us to see what’s really important.
You know, it’s funny. I use that word funny. I don’t know that it’s funny, but you know we laugh at things that we don’t know what else to do. It’s like you cry. You laugh. But the reality is that I’ve met so many people that have gone through being shaken, and they went through it asking, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” the whole way through it. I mean, they bombed the test of looking through the right lens. But even they will look back over a difficulty in their life, years gone by, and they’ll say, “Man, you know what? I learned what was really important through that difficulty. I learned what was really important. I learned.”
See, God shakes us, and allows us to be shaken, so that we can figure out what’s really important.
And fourth, we’re shaken to be freed from fear so we can truly love.
Listen, there’s nobody that’s got more fear, in my opinion, than the American Church. We’re holding on to everything that we can hold on to. You see it right now in the political world. Everybody’s holding onto everything. I mean, it’s like white-knuckle. Everybody’s white-knuckled.
“I don’t want to lose my house. I don’t want to lose my 401k, and I don’t want to lose…”
God’s like, “You don’t get to trust in all that stuff. When you’re trusting in that, you’re holding onto it, and it creates fear. And I want to get that out. I want to get you down to the foundation level where it’s Me and you, because when it’s me and you, and you’re not holding onto something else, your security or your whatever,” He says, “It’s Me and you, and now you can truly love your enemy. You can truly forgive the people that have done you wrong. Because when you’re holding onto something, you can’t. Not the way I want you to.”
He shakes us to get us freed from fear so that we can truly love the way He wants us to love. To really invade the world the way we need to invade to invade. The way the early Christians did. With a reckless abandon. Because we’re holding on. We want to keep what we got. God sometimes get us shaken up really good to show us that we can’t trust in those things that we want to trust in.
Now, I could stop now and it would have been a good message, but we’re going to go to another level here. I do every once in a while. This is going to be like the real, real, real, real practical level here. This is PC’s Real World, Down Home Reflection Points as Pastor Chip, and “that may hurt a little.” Okay. And I love you, but some of you are going to be like, “Whoa, man. He read my mail this morning.” Some of you on the internet are going to be, “Woo. I’m just going to shut my computer right now.”
So, here’s the deal, I love everyone of you all, but you need to hear this. This is huge. Some of the things that shake us are a direct result of us not obeying God’s Word. That’s good preaching. It is. See, what happens is that people come into my office and they say, “Chip, why is God allowing this to happen to me? Why is my relationship, or why is my finances, or why is my relationship with my kid…?” Or whatever it may be. You know, and as a pastor you can’t go, “‘Cause you didn't listen to God!” You can’t do that. It doesn’t work. You have to do, “I know. I’m sorry. I wonder what the Bible says about this?”
“Oh yeah, maybe I didn’t obey the Bible.”
Look, I’m not trying to give you a hard time. I’m not trying to give you any guilt. I’m not being snarky at all. I just want you to understand something. Some of the things that we get shaken, we just didn’t do what God asked us to do, and there’s consequences for that. And some of you all are going to not like this, and some of you are going to laugh. This is tough medicine, but this is the truth. It took us a while to get in it. It may take us a while to get out of it. So, get over it.
See, what happens is we don’t listen to what God says. We don’t do what God says. We do it our own way. And then we get in a bad situation and we say, “God, why are you letting this happen to me? Why is this going on in my life?” The reason it’s going on in your life is because there’s consequences for not obeying God’s Word. And if God bailed you out you wouldn’t learn. Your “what” is, man, God knows what He is doing.
I got a friend that says it this way, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” I like that. Like a rap. I need like a turntable. *Record scratching noise*
But this is true. You move from “why” to “what.” God, what do you want me to learn?
“What I want you to learn, son. What I want you to learn, daughter, is that I know you. I created you in your mother’s womb. I know what will fulfill you. I know what will bring you the most satisfaction. I know the life you should live, and I’ve given it to you in My Word. And if you do opposite of what I say there will be consequences.”
Some of us just need to understand that. Some of our “what” just needs to be, “Man, you know what, I didn’t do what God said. No wonder I’m in a financially bad situation. No wonder my marriage is in shambles. No wonder. I’m not doing what God’s told me to do. I’m trying to do everything my way, and it’s not working out. And then I want to blame God for it when the reality is we just didn’t do what God wants us to do.”
And that’s not guilt. That’s not making you feel bad, or anything like that. That’s just owning up.
The second thing I would say to you is this. At some point we have to own this. This is what we have to own. We have to own this particular statement. There are some things we cannot control. Man, we want to as well. We want to control everything. We’ll make sure everything goes the way we want it. Just the way we like it, or whatever. You can’t control everything.
See, sometimes the “what” that God wants us to learn is that He’s the only one who can control. We’re trying to take His job from Him.
“God, I like some of the things You do, but we need to have a talk here in the Counsel of Heavenlies. There’s some things that need to go a little bit differently the way I’d rule the world. If I can just, sort of, take over here for a little bit in this situation I’ll make it happen.”
God’s like, “You don’t understand. You can control those things because you wouldn’t even begin to understand those things.”
Here’s what I would tell you here. Some things we give to God and then we do out part. Our marriage. God, I give you my marriage, but then I’m going to love my spouse the way you told me to love my spouse. This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to do my part. God, I believe everything I have that I’m supposed to steward, and I’m supposed to treat right. So, I’m going to steward it to the best of my ability, and I’m giving it to You, and then I’m going to do my part. I’m going to do what You’ve asked me to do.
Lord, with my relationship with my kids. God, I give my kids to You. There Your kids, but I’m going to make sure that I don’t provoke them to anger like Paul says in Ephesians 6. I’m going to do my part.
But some things you give to God and then you can’t do anything about it. People that come in and say, “If my wife would just get this way. Of if I could just get my son to do this. If I could just get this the way it is.” See, that goes back to your “what” is that you can’t control. What God wants us to learn is that we can’t control everything. At some point we have to trust Him. At some point we have to believe He’s really God.
Another point here is this one. This is important. Circumstantial Christianity is not only unbiblical, it is damaging. Let me explain to you what circumstantial Christianity is.
“Hot date. Good job. Bright red car. God loves me.”
“Ooo, they’ve taken my car. Ooo, my hot date starting dating somebody else, and I just lost my job. God doesn’t love me.”
That’s circumstantial Christianity. Circumstantial Christianity is all over the American Church. It’s unbiblical, because we base God on whether it’s good or bad, and then we, sort of, figure out where we’re out, or whatever. And then, when it doesn’t go right we say, “Why God? Why God? Why God? Why God?” And people are just tossed to and fro, and all of that stuff.
Listen to me. This is the best piece of advice that you’re going to get this week. Write this down. Take a picture with your camera. Your phone camera, or whatever. Make sure you get this, because this is huge. God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean He causes every bad thing that happens to you and me. It means He has the capacity to bring redemption out of it.
Whether I caused it. Whether I did it. Whether it’s something I don’t understand. When my life is shaken, when your life is shaken, what I know to be true is that God is a God that can bring redemption out of difficulties.
You should know it from the very beginning. The very beginning. The world’s without form and void. And what does He do? He creates something good. You should know it from the very beginning. He takes people that are no good. Scallywags. And makes them great. He takes the prostitute of Jericho and makes her a royal bride. He takes salty, just nasty fishermen and makes them the evangelists of the Church. He takes people that persecute and kill Christians and has them write the majority of the New Testament. He does all kinds of stuff. He’s the God that Paul says, “Out of all the suffering, God brings glory.” And in Romans 8:28 he says, “In all things that God is doing, He’s bringing something good out of it.” The “all things” in that passage are the difficulties. Are the shakings. You and I can rest assured that God can bring redemption out of our difficulties.
So, when we’re shaken we can ask the question “What is it that you want me to learn, God?” I can count it joy because I know that You’re doing something in me that I don’t understand, but I can trust it. I can trust the process. I can look at the world, no matter what’s going on, and say, “I know He’s God.”
And as your pastor, that’s what I want for you. I want you to walk in that victory. And over the next four weeks we’re going to really look at this in depth, and we’re going to create some people that have a toolbox that can handle when their world is shaken.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for Your goodness, and Your mercy, and Your kindness. Lord, I thank You so much for Your Word that speaks to us in ways that we don’t necessarily see it, but in ways that we need to see it. God, I ask right now, in Jesus name, that You would give us lenses to move from “why” to “what.”
And I pray, God, that you would minister to your people a word of encouragement today, no matter where they’re at, that would give them some tools and equipping to face life in a way that people can look at us and say, “I want what you have.” Because, as Christians, God, we truly are the ones who can say, “What is it that You want me to learn from this, God?” Because we know You’re there. The world can’t. The world has to ask “why?” But we can ask “What?” God, help us to be those people that do that.
Help us today, forever, to take away the glasses of “why” and throw them in the trashcan, and put on the glasses of “what” so that we can live lives that are truly pleasing and honoring to You. So Lord, I pray that as we leave today that You would watch over us and protect us. That You would lead and guide us.
And I pray, Lord, that You’d bring us all back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here today we’d drop those glasses of “why,” and we would put on the glasses of “what.” And we would go out there and embrace the world, knowing that You can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think according to the power that works within us. And that is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
So Lord, we love You and we honor You, in Jesus name, and everybody said, "amen."
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love him. God bless everybody. See you soon.