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Finding God When You Need Him Most
In Finding God When You Need Him Most, Chip Ingram reveals how you can meet God in the midst of your most difficult moments. Through Chip's teaching from some of the most comforting and encouraging Psalms, you will move from "knowing about God" to profoundly experiencing His presence and power in your life. Whether you're struggling with a rocky relationship, an unexpected crisis, depression, or injustice, this series will remind you that the Lord is faithful to hear your heart's cry and will be there for you, time and again.More from this series
I’d like to try and help you think back of when the first time you felt that emotion of confusion. You know, when you got paralyzed, when so many things were coming into your mind, and you just didn’t know what to do.
I prayed this week and thought about the most vivid time I could remember was late elementary school, maybe it was junior high, I’m not sure. But I really was struggling in math and I worked and worked and worked and… remember this? Remember in school?
And the teacher, back then, they would come and they would give your papers to you and she graded them in big red letters, they’re right there.
And had worked and worked and worked, and I got my paper and I thought, “I really nailed it this time. I mean, I really worked hard.” And it was placed on my desk and, you know, you don’t want anybody to see it, especially in mine, D minus.
Have you ever thought for sure, “I’ve really got it down,” and I thought I got either a high A or a low A. You been there? And I know I was old enough that it’s not a good time for a boy to cry in school, that’s how I felt, you know? And then I covered the grade and I just looked, and everything was marked off wrong.
And another student, or my teacher, I can’t remember who it was, because I did all the work and I reworked them, and I still thought I got them right.
And then someone came from the outside with a second set of eyes and said, “Watch very carefully. On all these problems, you have to invert before you multiply.” I was confused because I needed one person to give me one piece of information that would bring perspective to my situation because as I sat, I was convinced I was the dumbest kid in that class. And I was convinced I would never do math again. Little did I know, later in high school it would be one of my favorite subjects.
Now, that’s sort of a light way to start off, isn’t it? I remember another time I was confused because I loved my wife very much and she loved me very much and she was making me crazy, and I was making her crazy, and we were very confused.
And what we needed was another set of eyes. And it was a very humbling thing, during seminary, to go to a marriage counselor and say, “You know what? I don’t know what background she came from or what I came from but I know she loves God, I love God, I love her, she loves me, but we do this all the time.”
And we spent about ninety dollars a session for twelve sessions for a second set of eyes to help us get clear and to remove the barriers.
We’re talking about facing the future in times of confusion. And what I want to suggest is you need another set of eyes. You need a wise counselor, you need a mentor, you need a teacher, you need a coach to take the confusion that you have in your life. And whether it’s spiritual or emotional or financial or the world situation or God’s will or a big decision, we’re going to get to a counselor who will help you see, maybe like never before, perspective in your situation.
The problem with being confused is it immobilizes, it paralyzes, and it demotivates.
If you have some of those feelings, it might be because you, literally, are confused. And to be confused means that intellectually or emotionally you feel mixed up, things are jumbled together, they’re in a sense of disorder or chaos. And you can’t think in an orderly, coherent way in the midst of complex problems, relationships, or decisions.
Now, what I’ve learned is the cure for confusion is twofold. Whether you go to consultants, or great coaches, or a counselor two things you have to do to eliminate confusion.
Number one, you have to reduce complexity. The old business adage, right? K-I-S-S? Keep it simple, stupid. That’s what you gotta do.
You gotta reduce complexity and then you’ve gotta increase clarity. You gotta get clear, “Where am I? What’s the situation? What do I need to do and why?”
“Get back to the basics.”
There are at least six basics when Moses looks at all of life, in complexity. If Moses were here and we could put him in this chair and we could do Q & A and give him a microphone. I think Moses would tell us the truth of Psalm 90. And we would say, “Well, what about the down economy? And what about one of my kids that’s having a struggle? And, you know, my marriage, I’m really struggling in that one right now.
And I think Moses would say, “You know what? Life can be very complex. So, let me put my arm around you, let’s step back together, and let me paint the big picture about what life is all about. Let’s get back to the basics.
And when you see the basics, you’ll be able to come out of your confusion and make wise decisions. Are you ready?
Basic number one, God is great. And you say, “Where do you get that?” Look at the text. “Lord,” the word is “Adonai.” It’s a title for God. It’s His sovereign creatorship, ruler of the universe.
The corners and recesses of the universe, He is above and beyond, He’s transcendent, He’s great. But notice also, He is immanent. “You are our dwelling place.”
If you have that pen, jot down above that Deuteronomy 33:26 to 29. I can’t develop it but the exact same words used for “dwelling place” here are used when God tells the children of Israel, “I will protect you, I will carry you, I will be your refuge. My loving arms will be around you, and in the midst of all the storms, I will take care of you.”
And what he’s saying is, “There is one God, superior to all other gods, because He is creator, sovereign, ruler, holy of the entire universe.”
The very first basic in life is remembering who God is. He’s big. He’s powerful. He’s real. He’s personal.
And what I’m going to give you are six diagnostic questions to help you work through your confusion. Am I rightly related to God?
If God is great, if He is the center or the infinite reference point of all of life in the universe, here is the question stated another way: Does God hold the same place in your heart, in your life, that He holds in the universe?
If so, everything else will come into order. If the infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, eternal reference point, who has revealed Himself personally, through Christ, is at the center and the vortex of your life, then everything else falls into order and not in confusion. If a person, if money, if a job, if a child, if a future, if anxiety is at the core of your life, then your life will be confused.
Is God the center point of your heart? Is He your North Star? Does your time and energy and money and decisions all go back and revolve around: God is great, He is personal, He is powerful. Is He your reference point to all of life? If He’s not, if you’re even off a few degrees, confusion.
The second basic Moses is going to pick up is not only God is great, but he’s going to say, “Life is short.” He says, “You turn men back to dust,” quoting Genesis 3. “Return to dust, O sons of Adam,” literally, or “Adam,” men.
And then he gives us three quick pictures of why life is short. He says, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night,” which was four hours.
“You sweep men away in the sleep of death.” And the word “sweep” there is a picture of a torrential flood that it pours down rain and goes right through a valley and just wipes everything out instantaneously.
“They are like the new grass of the morning: Though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.”
His point, very simply, is the brevity of life. You are mortal. I am mortal. Life is short. God is great; life is short.
If you wanted to put a key word write the word “perspective.” When you understand God is great, you’ll get perspective instead of perplexity. And if you want to put a key word under number two, because here’s the question: Am I prepared to die? Put the word “priority.”
See, what Moses is saying? “I’ve done all these funerals, all these funerals, all these funerals. I have done the deal where I had the money, I had the position, I had the power. I was the king of Egypt! But when I look at it all I understand it all begins with God, He’s great, and then I’m going to live my life, evaluate my relationships, and make my priority decisions based on something that I’m going to remember. Life is short. It’s brief.”
We are all guilty of what? The great “P” of procrastination. “I’m really going to get close to God - later. I’m going to get my priorities in order - later. You know, I’m going to really get serious about those important things - later.”
And what Moses would say, that produces confusion. You better do what you need to do and you better do it now. Could I ask you one of those, kind of, provocative questions? Let’s just pretend next week, exactly at this time, you knew for sure that your heart would have its last beat. Okay? Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum…
You’re done. Is there anything you would do differently this week than you did last week? If you knew for sure. You’ve got seven days. Anybody make any phone calls you need to make? Anybody write a will out, you’ve been intending to do that. Anybody think, “Maybe I ought to go ahead and make that call and apologize to so and so.”
If you had seven days to live, would you watch as much TV this coming week as you did last week? See, once you understand life is short, you think differently about how to live. Moses said, “It will bring unbelievable clarity to your life.”
And don’t get the idea, I’m not trying to be morbid. Here’s what I have learned: Until you face death boldly, you will never live life powerfully. Most of us play a game that we’re not going to die. Shhhh. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. And if some of you are thinking, “You know, that made me feel very uncomfortable, I can’t believe that guy talked about my heart stopping in seven days,” I was being generous. I can’t guarantee you seven days.
You drive on the freeways. You may only have seven minutes. You might check the mail, get hit by a milk truck! I don’t know, I could too! I don’t have seven days, I’ve got today. And when I begin to live like God is great and life is short, not only does it give me perspective, but it totally rearranges my priorities.
Now ask yourself: Well, why is life so short? He tells us in the very next section. It’s because sin is serious. Verse 7, “We’re consumed by Your anger and terrified by Your indignation.” Moses writes, “You have set our iniquities before us, and the secret sins in the light of Your presence. All our days pass under Your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years, or eighty, if we have the strength; yet the span of them is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and then we fly away.”
And we fly away to what? We fly away to judgment. Moses is talking, he’s saying, “The world that we live in is not what God intended. It’s a fallen world, sin entered in,” and he’s saying, “because God is holy, there is going to be judgment.”
That’s why life is short. If sin would have never happened we would live forever, in the Garden, with our Father, with every relationship just in perfect sync.
Circle these words if you want to get an idea of what it’s like to live in a fallen world according to the meekest man on the earth who talked with God face to face. Circle the word “consumed.” Then, “terrified.”
Then skip down to verse, the end of verse 9, “moan.” Then, “sorrow; quickly pass; trouble.” In three quick verses, “Terrified, consumed, moan, quickly pass, sorrow.” Doesn’t sound like everything is going to go smooth here on this earth, does it?
And you want to know why? Put a box around these words, put a box around the word, verse 7, “anger.” Put a box around the word “indignation.” And then finally, in verse 9, put a box around the word “wrath.”
The holiness of God demands that He judge our sin. It is a fallen world, I live in a fallen world. And here’s what you can know for sure: One of the basics is take sin seriously. We go into denial on this. We think God is Santa Claus. We think, “Oh, He’ll understand. And, you know, I’m having a bad day and it isn’t all that serious.” And we take all of our cues from other people.
Moses says, “I tell you what, I’ve done 1.2, 1.8 million funerals. I’ve watched what happened, I was there when Korah thought it wasn’t a big deal. I just read that in my morning devotions this week.
And Korah said, “Hey, Moses! Who do you think you are, man? You think God only speaks through you?” And God says, “Moses, step aside.” He said, “We need to get some things clear.”
And you know the whole story and they light their sensors and Moses lights his and Moses says [to the people], “You think it’s just an attitude problem? God calls it rebellion. You’ll know who God is speaking through: If the ground opens up and swallows all those people and closes back, you’ll know God is speaking through me; and if life goes on as normal, He’s speaking through them.”
And then the cloud comes down and God says, “Separate those people,” they do, and the ground goes, “Tchoooo!” The people go, “Whoooo.” Then the ground goes, “Tchoooo!” And you can almost hear God saying, “Other questions?”
And yet, in the Church of Jesus Christ today: “It’s just a little lie… It’s just a little immorality… It’s just a touch of materialism... It wasn’t a big gossip...” And we do things, almost now without thinking, that break the heart of God, that violate and destroy relationships.
And God, through Moses, is saying, “Part of the confusion that happens, when sin becomes to be habitual in our life, it clouds our minds and clouds our judgment.”
Scripture is clear, “In this life,” Galatians 6, what’s it say? “God will not be mocked; as a man or a woman sows, so shall you reap.”
There are consequences to our behavior that are unrighteous, not only in this world but in the next world. Hebrews 9:27, hope it’s a memory verse, “It is appointed unto a man or a woman once to die, and after this the judgment.”
See, Moses said, “Man, you’d better take sin seriously because He’s a holy God. He’s a loving God, He’s a merciful God, and we’ll get there, but you gotta start with, ‘He’s holy.’”
I had a guy come up to me after a service, and sometimes we say, “Oh, God, show me. God, show me. I got a big decision,” and with him it was in a relationship with a big job that was coming up. And he said, “I’ve prayed, I’ve prayed, I’ve prayed, I’ve prayed. God won’t speak to me.”
And I’ve learned over the years to very gently and lovingly but without condemnation to probe, to find out if there might be a little barrier between a person and maybe there’s some spiritual earwax that needs to get cleaned out.
And so I said to him, “Well, how is your time in Scriptures? I mean, because, you know, that’s how God speaks to us and how is your time in talking with the Lord?” He said, “You know, I’m really busy and it’s a real happening job, it’s the Silicone Valley, and I’m moving and shaking. I really don’t have time to do a lot of that.”
I said, “Oh.” I said, “Well, tell me a little about any struggles in your life.” And now, one thing that is different about the culture, they tell you things after a service that you’re thinking, “I don’t want to know that much about you.” You know?
And so, this guy turns to me and goes, “Well, I’m having a struggle.” I said, “Well, what’s it in?” He said, “Well, I’m sleeping with my girlfriend. And I know it’s wrong, I know God doesn’t want me to, and I’m trying real hard, and I’m still sleeping with my girlfriend.”
“Well, how long is this going on?” “A couple years.” “Oh. Okay. Now, you want to know God’s will, right?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Okay, let me help you out on this, okay? Let me help you with God’s will.” And I opened to I Thessalonians 4 and it says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.”
“Now, this says right here it’s God’s will right?” He says, “Yeah.” I said, “Are you keeping this part?” He said, “No.” I said, “Do you think God is going to show you His will about an area that is a little bit grey and vague when you aren’t keeping the parts that are absolutely black and white?” He said, “No.”
I said, “Do you understand why, that’s why the Bible is so clear. See, it’s not just that we sin and we all struggle. That’s why Hebrews 3:13 says, ‘Encourage one another day after day, lest anyone of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.’”
See, he didn’t wake up one day and say, “You know, I don’t want to hear from God anymore. I think I’ll just move in with my girlfriend.” It started with a little compromise here, and then another compromise here, and then, “Well, you know, it probably isn’t that bad and we really love each other,” another compromise here.
And pretty soon he can’t hear God’s voice. He’s coming to church, playing the game, doing the deal. And he thinks he’s okay.
I don’t think anybody is going to wake up on Tuesday and say, “You know something? I’ve got a great marriage, great kids, Tuesday, good day for an affair. I think I’ll just have an affair today.”
Or, “You know, I’ve been an honest business man and God has really blessed my life. I bet I can make another ten or twenty thousand a month if I just started lying a little bit. I’m going to cook the books.”
Hey, that’s not how it happens, is it? There’s a little bit of pressure, and then one day you flirt just a little. And, you know, you would never do… I mean, it would never go beyond that. And one day, you just think about an expense account and you, “Well, you put in a lot of extra hours anyway, right? And you’re not really paid what you’re worth…” so you you…
And five years later, you find yourself, after getting into the water knee-deep, and then it goes up to your waist, and you didn’t see it happening, and then pretty soon you are over the falls and you wake up and say, “How did this happen to me?”
Moses said the way it happens is the nature of sin is so deceptive. And until you get clear, then you can’t hear God’s voice. “Am I right with God?” is the first question because it gives perspective. “Am I ready to die?” is the next question because it aligns priorities. “Am I taking sin seriously?” is critical because it has to do with purity.
And until we’re pure with what we do know, God is not going to clear the confusion about what we don’t know.
Now, the fourth thing is he tells us why and how this happens. The fourth basic is that wisdom is essential. Listen to what he says. He’s concluding.
He says, “Who knows the power of Your anger!” Now, this is a guy that’s seen God do some powerful things. “For Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due You.” See, Moses has a high view of God. Moses has seen water from the rock, Moses has seen what happened even when a good man on a bad day speaks, just speaks, in a way that violates the honor and the name of God and realizes, “You don’t get to go into the Promised Land.”
See, we have lost the sense of reverence in God’s holiness and how serious He takes some things. And so Moses, understanding this, says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.”
“God, it’s a fallen world!” And a heart of wisdom, by the way, here, it’s not, he’s not praying, “God, make me a smarter person.” “God, give me wisdom. Teach me to number, and allot, and arrange my days so that I can present before You, one day after a day, one day at a time, a life that honors You.”
Wisdom is - the Hebrew word has to do with skill. Wisdom is - the whole world does relationships like this (in fact, most of the Church is doing that way, by the statistics). Wisdom is - “I’m going to do it God’s way even though it’s counter culture.”
Most of the world sees money and finances and position and power this way, including the Church, and, “I want God’s wisdom and I want to know how to navigate that in a way that honors You. Lord, in this fallen world, will You teach me to number my days, to align my life, so that You would look down on me now and one day greet me with, ‘Great job. Great job. You lived well.’”
See, wisdom is essential. God understands it’s very…. everything I’ve talked about so far, this is not hard to do, it’s impossible. It’s impossible to do on our own.
And so the question I think we need to ask ourselves, “Am I spending or investing my life?” Am I numbering my days? Is my life, am I building relational and spiritual capital where there will be eternal return? Or have I bought into the hedonism of the day that we talked about last week where I’m looking for the thrill and looking for the quick payoff and just spend, spend, spend with no return?
Now, I actually take this pretty literally. And so I did a little math for you. Are you ready? Just lean back, relax. Some of you look like you could use it.
If you’re twenty-five years old today you have approximately sixteen thousand and two hundred days left to live. It’s not a lot, is it? I mean, think about sixteen thousand dollars, you get to spend a dollar a day and when it’s gone, you’re gone.
If you’re thirty-five, you have about twelve thousand seven hundred and seventy-five days to live. If you’re forty-five, which I have moved past, you have nine thousand, about a hundred and seventy-five days to live. If you’re in this room and you’re fifty-five years, if God should give you the seventy years, you have about five thousand five hundred and fifty-seven days.
And if you’re sixty-five years old, you’ve got about nineteen hundred and twenty-five days left. And anything after that is gravy.
When you’re confused, and you’re wondering, “What’s going on?” It’s an amazingly sober thing that happens when you ask God to teach you to number your days.
Think about how short two thousand days go. And then ask yourself, “Am I living the kind of life that two thousand days from now, I would look back and say, ‘Lord, take me home, I’m ready. I have fulfilled the purposes for which You’ve called me.’”
When you ask whether you’re spending or investing your life, you’re dealing with the issue of purpose. Purpose is the key word there. Stewardship.
If you’re eighty-four years old, I had some people at the first service go by and one guy said, “I’m over eighty, is my time up?” I said, “No, you’re in gravy, grace time. But make all the benefit that you can. You probably have more to offer now than you’ve ever had to offer in your life for the years that you have lived and where He has positioned you.”
But the question is: Do we think with the TGIF? People live with a TGIF mentality. Except it’s, “TGIR.” Thank God I’m retired. As though, as though the whole goal of life is to somehow get to where you don’t have to do anything.
The purpose and energy… You know, I don’t have any verses that say, “When you get certain age, just check out.”
I have one good friend who happens to be in a situation where he ended up extraordinarily wealthy. And so he was friends with a very, very wealthy man in the Silicone Valley.
And so he took early retirement and had all this money. And my friend had lunch with him, he was eighty-four at the time, in excellent health.
And the fellow is not a believer. But in a moment of confession he said, “You know something?” He said, “If I would have had any idea I would be in great health and live from sixty-two to eighty-four, I would have not spent twenty-two years or a fourth of my life improving my golf game. What a waste.” So, how about you? Spending or investing?
Let me tell you that unless you face the hard news and come out of denial and see things clearly, you’ll never embrace the happy news and understand what it can really do for your life.
There is a complete pivotal change and it is true, God is great and He better be the center of your life. And it’s true, life is short and so we better get our priorities in order. And it is true, sin is serious so we need to get pure for our good and for the body’s sake. And it’s absolutely true that we need wisdom. It’s a fallen world and we can’t do it so we need to ask, “Am I investing or spending my life?”
But here’s the deal: Mercy is available! Moses looks at all that he’s learned and then he turns and he prays. He says, “Relent, O Lord; how long will it be? Have compassion on Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love” - why? “that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
That’s not negative, is it? “Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years have we seen trouble.” There are three specific verbs and three requests. He tells us mercy is available. God isn’t down on you. Some of the things I have said so far have pricked your heart and you realized, “Man, I’ve got to address some issues,” address them.
But understand who you are going to come to when you want to address them. He says, “Relent.” Literally, “Please, God, have mercy. Please don’t give me what I deserve. Don’t give me what we deserve.”
And you, far more than Moses, know that you don’t have to. There is a man that hung on a tree in your place to pay for your sin and lived a perfect life and was put into the earth and was resurrected three days later and walked for over forty days with five hundred eye witnesses to let you know that everything you deserve and everything I deserve was placed on Him as a gift. And God’s wrath, just wrath, was poured upon Him and your sins are paid for and mercy is available for every person who would cry out, “Save me.” It’s for you!
But notice, he doesn’t just ask for mercy. Notice then he says, “Have compassion on your servants.” It’s the idea of how a mother feels for one of her tiny babies when she has a temperature and she’s fearful. This is how God feels about you.
He’s praying, “Have compassion, O God, even though You are so holy. What Your holiness demanded, Your love provided. Have compassion. Have mercy. Be tender. Restore. Encourage” - why? “So that you can satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love.” Do you hear the wisdom?
He didn’t say, “Satisfy me with my 401k going back up.” He didn’t say, “Satisfy us with, oh good, now we don’t have a war, everything is okay.” He didn’t say, “Satisfy me with my family. All being exactly like we want it to be and all my kids are in good marriages and upwardly mobile and making good money and we sing Kumbaya around the Thanksgiving table.”
I hope you get all that, God bless you, walk with God and be a good steward of all that He gives you. His third request is, “Satisfy us and make us glad by Your unfailing love.”
“God, I don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy, I don’t know what’s going to happen with my family. But here’s what I know: There is an infinite reference point that never changes, that is personal and powerful and loving and You delight in me. I want You to satisfy me. And I want to learn where I get weaned off of all the temporal stuff and I want You to satisfy me with Your unfailing love.”
And the evidence? “Make me glad. Cause me to sing. And cause me to sing when circumstances are terrible because I’m in Your presence. Because You’re my source, not stuff. You’re my source, not my wife, my husband, or my kids. You’re my source, not circumstances working out the way I want them to.”
Jot down, if you would, Psalm 16:11 in the corner. “In Thy presence is fullness of joy, and at Your right hand are pleasures forever.”
You know, as you spend time with God, and I hope you do it at the beginning of your day. Do it anytime but especially then. I want to encourage you to, as you talk with Him and ask Him to teach you to number your days, and you begin to walk through what God is doing in your heart, I would encourage you to spend some time singing to the Lord. Spend some time rejoicing in Him for who He is.
We are in such a consumer oriented society, basically we have unconsciously gone into our prayer life and in reading the Bible and saying, “God, what have You done for me lately? God, how are You going to fix this? God, when are You going to take care of that?”
And Moses is saying, “God, I’d like to come before You, in the midst of a fallen world where You know I messed up, and I want to ask You, first, to forgive and to cleanse. And then I want You to have compassion and let me feel and know that You understand. And then I’m asking that You’ll satisfy me, not with anything out there, but with Your unfailing love.”
And the evidence of unfailing love, in the heart of a believer, is joy. “Make me glad.”
The early Church revolutionized the world because they had an amazing marketing plan. You know what their marketing plan was? Loving one another. I mean, think of the world! Oppressive regime. I mean, they didn’t have anything. Their marketing plan was, “Let’s love one another so radically that they will testify that the Christ has come, is risen from the dead, He lives in us, and we’re outwardly, lovingly focused, only by supernal empowerment.
And then, when you got close to a New Testament believer after the marketing plan started working, then they all had business cards. And you know what their business cards said? Three letters: J-O-Y. They had joy. They had a supernatural sense of wellbeing, in the midst of absolutely terrible circumstances, of persecution and rejection and financial loss.
And the first twenty-five or thirty years, the whole Church was all Jewish. And if you came to Christ as a Jewish believer, you got disinherited. And what do we do? We’re whining to God because everything isn’t lined up exactly how we want it.
And Moses says, “Here’s the question to ask: Am I experiencing the joy of the Lord?”
And I either choose to focus on how valuable I am to my Father and rejoice in that, or I end up going down the trail of rejoicing in accomplishments and activity and performance. And so, my joy or happiness is always dependent on other people coming through or how well I can perform.
And when I perform well, I become a self-righteous jerk. And when I perform poorly, I suffer from condemnation and feel like I’m the worst person in the world. Anybody have those continuums in your life?
Or I can ask myself, “Am I experiencing the joy?” And when I do, it takes me back to relationship.
The final thing he says, really good news, basic one, “God is great;” basic two, “Life is short;” basic three, “Sin is serious;” basic four, “Wisdom is essential;” basic five, “Good news! Wisdom is available;” and then basic six, “Success is possible.”
He says, “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants.” Literally, it’s a command. “Reveal, I’m asking, reveal, make known Your deeds to Your servants; Your splendor to their children. May the favor,” or literally, “the beauty, the magnificent beauty of the Lord our God rest upon us.”
And then notice the repetition, “Establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”
In today’s translation he’s praying, “Lord, I want to see You work in a mighty way among us. Lord, I want to leave a legacy for my children to see that You worked in me, and, Lord, I want to impact my world everyday in every way.”
And so I think the question to ask is: “Am I impacting my world for good?” The key word is productivity. Not activity. Productivity. He says, “Lord, I want to know You. I want to make You known. And I want You to do something so powerful and dynamic that my kids would see the reality of You in my life because I live Your way. I’m numbering my days. They see how everyone else handles their money and then they see how I handle mine.
“They see how everyone else spends their time and what they watch or don’t watch, they hear what comes out of other people’s mouths and then they see what comes out of mine, and they see when it comes out wrongly how I own it and confess and then apologize for the negative modeling.
“God, I want my kids to see that I am not a religious person. God, I want my kids to see, in this church, in this state, that there is a group of people that the Spirit of God pours forth, and changes the spiritual climate of this city because Christians live radically and they love radically.”
And when the market is up, there’s joy. And when the market is down there’s joy. And when you’re single, there’s joy; and when you’re engaged, there’s, for a while, even more joy; and when you’re married, there’s joy! And when you’re married for a while and it’s not going so well, there’s joy. And when you work it through, there’s joy.
“God, would You let my children see that it’s not, would You establish the work of my hands?” Do you hear what he’s praying? Unlike us, Moses is saying, “When a mother cares for a baby, when a trash man is picking up the garbage, or when a pastor is praying, before God, it is done unto the Lord, it’s an act of worship.”
Establish the work of our hands. Take the things that we do, day in and day out, as I’m putting in software, as I’m cutting a business deal, as I’m coaching some little league kids. Take every moment, of every day, and give it eternal permanence because I’m doing it as an act of worship to You.
There are no special people.
There are regular, ordinary people made of stuff like you and like me. And the ground is level. And as I understand my calling, and do what God wants me to do, He establishes the work of my hands.
And when a plumber fixes a pipe to the glory of God with an attitude that honors God, He establishes the work of his hands. When a mother has three kids biting at her ankles and she can only get fifteen minutes of just saying, “Kids, be quiet,” and tries to pray for a while, He establishes the work of her hands.
And when you cut the biggest business deal in the world, and do it for the right reason, in the right way, with the right motives, and make a lot of money and use it for God’s glory, He establishes the work of your hands. These are the basics. He wants to take an ordinary person like you and me, and do extraordinary things so that people would scratch their head and say, “Something happened to him. Something happened to her.”
And we constantly go back and say, “Well, it’s really not about us. The God who raised Christ from the dead gave His Spirit to dwell in us. And the only explanation I have is the grace of God.”
And what I want you to know, if you follow these six basics, Jesus said what? If you apply the truth, if you know the truth, the truth will make you free. If you don’t apply the truth and hear messages and read the Bible, the truth will make you of a hard heart and you will no longer be able to hear from God clearly.
You realize it’s a dangerous thing every time you sit under the truth of God whether it’s being taught or you read it? Because if you respond to the light Jesus says you get more. If you don’t respond to the light, even what you had, He’ll take away.
That’s why God is much more impressed with obedience than sacrifice. Much more impressed with a step you take toward resolving a relationship and loving a person than how many chapters you read last week.
What God is after is our heart.