What are you getting into? Is God's way becoming your way of thinking?
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Thanks for the special music. Really appreciate all the hard work that went into preparing that. I was inspired by the words of the song, and it made me change my sermon again a little bit when I saw them earlier in the week. Getting into you . That was a question in our family when I was growing up. When you got five kids around the house, and things get kind of quiet, my mom would always say, "What are you getting into?" It's always that question. It probably wasn't good, right? That's the problem. It probably wasn't good. So that was my mom's question: "What are you getting into?"
And life is kind of like that, I think. There is a list of things that we can get into. And teens, especially, are challenged today. There's so many issues, so many concerns out there, so many challenges of the things that we can get into, if you think about the things that young people worry about most. What are the issues that most concern our young people today? Teens, if you had to think of a list of things that you're most concerned about, what would that list be comprised of? Adults, what do you think that list would be comprised of?
I did a little bit of research. I looked around a little bit. Do you know what the number one concern for our teens is? Relationships. Now, that's a big word. Big category, but that would include relationships with their parents, their relationships with their siblings, their relationships with their friends, their teachers, all of those things. Those interactions, those are so important to our teens. That became number one concern. Now, the rest of the list is also interesting, because it goes on to very serious things. Things like abuse. Things like sex. Things like drugs and alcohol. And rounding out the top five, suicide. Our biggest concerns are for our teenagers.
And then down on the list is also the future. So when you put all those things together there are some serious things that we can get into, but how do we deal with that? How do we deal with these issues? Where can you anchor your life to be able to meet the challenges that these concerns deal with every single day? What do we do? How can we be secure as we face these concerns in our life?
Well, let's start with relationships, because that's number one, number one on teens' minds. And you know what's great about that? It's number one on God's mind too. Number one is God is getting into you. Talk about getting into things, did you realize God is into you? Now, what do I mean by that? Well, the most powerful being of the universe, the creator God of all things, wants you in His family. Not just for today or tomorrow, but forever -- forever. God is into you.
Look at 1 Corinthians 1:26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: See All.... God inspired this section where the apostle Paul wrote about how much God is really into us. In fact, it doesn't just stop with grandmas and grandpas, moms and dad, but it comes all the way down to teens and the kids. God is into family. He's into us being a part of His family, and Paul was inspired to write about that.
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, right at the very beginning of this letter to those at Corinth, and to us by extension, notice what God inspired Paul to write.
1 Corinthians 1:26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: See All... - For you see your calling, brethren, not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
V. 27 - But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shape the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty;
V. 28 - And the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.
Did you notice a couple of important things there in just those first couple of verses? Who does the choosing? Three times God says it. God has chosen. You see that? Verse 27, "God has chosen." A little bit farther down, "God has chosen the weak things." Verse 28, "God has chosen." You see God is into you. God does the choosing, and He wants us to be a part of His family.
Do you see it? That was the question Paul was inspired to ask. Do you see that calling? Do you understand that calling? That is such an amazing thing God has promised His people. And not just moms and dads. But if you were to look at Acts 2:39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. See All... that promise is to the kids. It's to the kids, as well as to the moms and dads.
So just image this. You're on Facebook, little IM pops up. It's not a friend request from someone who wants to be just your friend. This is a friend request from somebody that wants to be in a relationship. Not the kind of Facebook relationship. But this is the God of the universe that says, "I've chosen you. I've chosen you." This is a divine calling. This is an invocation from God to embrace eternity, to embrace salvation, to be a part of the family of God forever. Do you think God's into you? No doubt about it. No doubt about it. What a great thing. If the God of the universe is on your side and wants to be a part of your life, what could be greater than that? What could be a better start than to have God into you? What a wonderful beginning we have in this awesome relationship that we can have for eternity.
Now, that brings us then to a challenge. Where do we stand? If God wants us, he knows us. He cares about us. He's called us. He wants us as part of His family. What are we going to do about it? What are we going to do about that? Do we see the need? You see, because that takes us to the next level. It's not just that, well, be nice to be in a relationship with God. I guess it would be good to be, you know, God's friend. Like I said it might be nice to, you know, get to know Him a little better. You know, we start there. That is wrong. That is a misconception, because what this should help us to see is God is into us. It has to bring us to the point where we see we absolutely need God. It's not that it would be nice. It's not that, oh, wouldn't this be kind of quaint if I was in a relationship with the God of the universe? No. We need God.
The Bible describes it as hungering and thirsting for God. And, you know, that's what's missing in most people's lives, is there's something that's not fulfilling them. And because at their core, there's something missing, and they don't understand what it is. And, yet, it should be a hunger and a thirst for God. Christ put it in an interesting way. John 6:35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. See All..., notice how he points out our absolute need for God. Jesus laid it on the line, and He said to them, yeah, you're alive. You're physically going through the motions. But, you know, he tried to bring him to that depth at the core of their very being and point out something that they were missing in their life.
John 6:35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. See All... - Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, he who believes in Me shall never thirst."
In other words, you go through the motions in life. But if you want to talk about eternity, you're going to talk about the kingdom of God, going to talk about forever, you're going to talk about something that lasts beyond this temporary existence. It's only life is through Jesus Christ. He said, "I am the bread of life," so we need Him. When we are hungering and thirsting, that can only be filled through Jesus Christ. So on the other hand, if that's not what's filling us, Christ says, we're nothing. We're nothing. We're empty.
Perhaps you could think of it as maybe a part in us that's a vacuum. I think in every one of us, at our hearts and at our core, there's a vacuum. And you know what a vacuum is. Probably been through science classes. A vacuum is that space that has the lowest possible energy. A space of negative pressure.
So how does a vacuum act? A vacuum wants to be filled. A vacuum wants to be filled. And we all probably know a good example. How about a vacuum cleaner? What does a vacuum cleaner do? Well, it grabs all the dust and the dirt. It has a constant need to be filled. So imagine this vacuum cleaner. I'm sure you probably turned on the vacuum cleaner. Well, maybe you were like me. I remember one time as a little kid growing up I thought it would be a great idea to clean up my guinea pig with a vacuum. (Laughter) Uh-oh. Fortunately he was big enough not to get sucked all the way in. I was like, "Turn it off! Turn it off! Quick! Quick!" Because it's going to suck up anything that gets in the way. Well, yeah, that was the last time I tried to do that. But that's what vacuums do. They quickly, they forcefully suck up anything that gets near it.
Now, sometimes that was kind of fun. I don't have to pick up my brother's toys. Just suck them up and, hey, look. It's done. But that's the way vacuums work. They'll pick up anything that gets in the way because it's got to fill that bag. It's got to fill the emptiness. It's got to fill the hunger and the thirst, to fill it up.
So what about us? Think about us for a second. If we've got this compartment in us that's a vacuum, what should it be filled with? Well, it should be filled with God's Holy Spirit. We should be filled with the Spirit of God. If you don't do that, if you don't fill it with God's Spirit, what does that powerful vacuum have to do? Well, it's going to have to suck up whatever junk is lying around. Right? So what's it going to start pulling in? It's going to take up all the surroundings, and once it fills itself with all this junk and dirt that's all around us in the world, what's left? Well, there's not going to be any room for God. And so we suck up all the junk. It gets in our heart. It gets in our core.
And you know what? Even though it's full, there's still an emptiness. There's still something that's incomplete, because, you know, we're going after the things and pulling in all those things that don't really satisfy us. And so we suck up those distractions. We get into difficulties with friends, and it takes worse steps as it goes along. And those things that we pull into our lives that distract us, whether it's alcohol or drugs or sex, even a career, or maybe just staying so busy, and, yet, does that really fill our needs? Does it really fill our deepest desires? No. No. Until we fill that core with God, until we're getting into Him, until we're living close to God, we're going to continue to fill empty. We're going to continue to fill insecure. We're going to continue to fill inadequate and overwhelmed and incomplete. We're not going to be filling our lives with what's most important.
There's a great example in the Bible of this. You probably know the story of King Solomon. I want to turn over to Ecclesiastes. You read a little bit about this vacuum cleaner that was named King Solomon. He had it all. His life had sucked in, like a giant vacuum, all the world had to offer. Everything that was possible, the man could have. He was self-made, had it all, whatever he wanted: Women, wealth, wisdom. Any of those things, he could have it, and he did. And so he accumulated all this dust and dirt and junk around him. And ultimately, did it fill him? It filled him, but it didn't fulfill him. It didn't fulfill him. Look at Ecclesiastes 2:10And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. See All.... Here Solomon describes himself. He describes himself and the impact of this compartment of a vacuum that needed to be filled in his life and how he went about it in all the wrong ways.
Ecclesiastes 2:10And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. See All... - Solomon says, I desired myself nothing my eyes desired. I refused my heart no pleasure.
In other words I turned that vacuum on, and I took it all in, he said,
V.11 - Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless. Some translations say vanity, a chasing after the wind. He says, nothing, nothing was gained under the sun.
Now, you see, Solomon was in a relationship with this world. That's everything that he pulled into his life. So hold your place here. We're going to come back to Solomon in just a little bit. But I think it pointed out the fact that if we don't develop a relationship with God, if we don't see our absolute need for God, something else is going to take its place in our life. And like Solomon says, it's not going to be good. It is not going to be good. So I think we've got to ask ourselves, what have we allowed into the core of our very being that's taken the place of God? What's taking God's place in our -- maybe a different way to think of it. What's our savior? Is it really saving me, or is it something that's just contributing to my downfall? Are we vacuuming up all the junk? If we are, guess where that's coming from?
That is Satan's way to fill your needs, soaking up wrong thinking. Soaking up the idea that somehow I have to be important. I have to -- I have to be in control. I should be appreciated. I have to be beautiful or pretty or appreciated or respected or loved. I have to be secure. I have to be included. You fill in the blank. See, those are all the wrong things. These are counterfeits. These are imposters to the truths of God. You rely on those things to save you? You rely on those for your confidence? For your trust? You're going to end up filled, but you're still going to be empty, because it will ruin you over time. See that's -- that's the part of the sales pitch that Satan leaves out, that those things will ruin you over time.
So I think it's good to step back and really identify what has gotten drawn into this life of mine. How can you know that? How can you identify those kinds of things? Well, I think one way is just to look at why we do the things we do. Why do we make the decisions that we make? Really examine that, why you chose to do the things that you did. What guides you? What motivates your choices? Now, as adults you say well, of course, God motivates all of my choices, right? Well, hopefully, more and more throughout our lives. But I think if we're honest, I think we might be just a little surprised at some of the junk that's gotten sucked into our lives. And that junk is subtle, and, yet, it has a dramatic influence on the decisions that we make, a dramatic influence on the actions that we take.
And so what do we do about it? We've got to let God and His truth fill us up. We've got to have His mind and His character, His love. That's what we heard about in the song. You see, it expressed that desire that we absolutely need God. Did you hear that in the lyrics, what the guys sang? They sang, "I'm getting into you because I've got to be." You're essential to survive. See, without God, we can survive physically for a while, but that's not real life. That's not the life that Christ was talking about. We want real life. We've got to fill ourselves with God's mind and His character. And, really, only then are we going to be the kind of people that He wants us to be.
Over in Ephesians 5:6Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. See All..., we see a little bit of that design that God wants for our lives. Now, I don't know if Paul was thinking of vacuum cleaners when he wrote this, but it still tells the story of that and how we try to fill our lives with the kinds of things that King Solomon did in Ephesians 5:6Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. See All.... I'm going to read from God's Word translation. It might be a little different than your King James or New King James, but it expresses such an important truth.
Ephesians 5:6Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. See All... - Don't let anyone deceive you with meaningless words. It's because of sins like these that God's anger comes on those who refuse to obey him.
Don't suck all of that stuff up into your lives. Well, it doesn't say that. It says,
V.7 - Don't be partakers with them.
V.8 - Once you lived in the dark. Once we were taking in all of these wrong things. But he goes on and says, but now, the Lord has filled you with light. Live as children who have light. Light produces everything that's good and has God's approval, and it is true. He goes on in verse 10.
V.10 - Determine which things please the Lord.
V.11 - Have nothing to do with the useless works that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are.
So we've got to be filled with light. We've got to be filled with the character and mind of God, and then that's going to be exhibited in the things that we do, our choices. Look at verse 15. He says,
V.15 - So then, be careful how you live. Don't live like foolish people but like wise.
V.16 - Make the most of your opportunities -- redeem the time -- because these are evil days.
V.17 - Don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants.
Do we understand the will of the Lord? You see, what we let into that vacuum is our choice. So do we turn it on and suck up the guinea pigs around us? Or are we taking in everything that is Godly? It's our choice. It's our choice. And we can get so sidetracked by different things. It's our choice.
I mean, I was amazed the other day. I was reading an interesting study, and it happened to be about divorce. And I was reading through this, and it was -- it just took me by surprise when I read it. Do you know what word appears in divorce filings more than three out of ten times here in the U.S.? Guess what word appears more than three out of ten times in divorce filings? Facebook, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Three years ago 20 percent of the filings contained the word Facebook. By last year, 2011, 33 percent mentioned Facebook as an issue that brought about their divorce, because friends talked about, you know, cruel posts and inappropriate things. All kinds of amazing things partner in relationship with the other. So you can imagine. So it was a contributing factor. And it just amazed me to think of challenges and issues that we have today that never existed in the past.
So Satan has figured out a way to try to sidetrack us from the truth from right relationships, from Godly relationships. And I think it makes such an important point that if you feel incomplete, when we feel something's missing, we can't respond to things that are unproductive. We can't fill it with things that are fruitless. We can't fill it with sin, sinful ways. So we've got to watch out. Whether we're adults, whether we're teenagers or kids, wherever we are, watch out. Watch out what we're filling our lives with. Is it useless entertainment? Is it fantasy? Is it video games? Is it a drink? Is it pride? Recognition? Things like that, that we try to soothe ourselves and cover up what really is missing in our life. Because there is something in common with all of these things, when we fill ourselves. You know, what are those? What are those things? What normally is regular, everyday, normal human beings, most of our strategies for quenching that vacuum within us are centered on things that don't last. They're fleeting. They're passing away, because this is a temporary world.
And so God keeps drawing us back to see that basic need we all have. We need God. He's the only one that can complete us. Maybe you could say he's the ultimate spiritual vacuum filler. That's what God is.
Now, if you still have your place back there in Ecclesiastes, go to chapter 12:1. No wonder Solomon came to this conclusion. Maybe by the end of this writing he came to understand at a different level that absolute need for God. And so, you know, he gives a heads up, not to us old guys, but to the teens, young people. Notice his advice after realizing he had filled that need within him with all the wrong things.
Ecclesiastes 12:1Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; See All... - Remember now your creator in the days of your youth. Don't wait. Get in that relationship with God. God's into you. You need God. Remember Him now. Don't fill it up with all the difficult things that are going to destroy your life. He says, before the tough times come, draw near to God.
Draw near to him in the days of your youth. That was the best time. And so he encourages us to do that. And so Solomon's advice, since God's into us and we absolutely need Him, then we better get into God, right?
Or, in other words, dedicate your life to Him. Now is the time to dedicate your life, once we realize there's an emptiness at our heart, our core, our nature. It's sinful. Our nature is corrupt. It's not Godly. So what happens once that vacuum cleaner bag is full? Ever tried to vacuum with a full bag? It starts to smell, and it's not picking up anything. It's just packed with all the garbage that it's collected over time. If you don't change out that bag, it's not going anywhere. So if we're going to dedicate our life to God, got to clean out the bag. Or maybe a different way of saying it, you got to change. You got to repent. You got to see where you were and turn around and choose what's right. You got to fill up that vacuum with all the things that God wants us filled with, His nature, His attitude, the mind of Christ. Do you think that would make a difference in our lives if we filled that emptiness in us with what's Godly.
Well, that's what Paul told the Philippians. Chapter 3:7 in Philippians, Paul wrote to them about this emptiness that was in him. He tried to fill it up with zeal. He tried to fill it up with anger. He tried to fill it up with murder and death, zealousness. But that didn't do it. That didn't help. It wasn't until God opened his eyes to truly see what was missing. And maybe he had some of those things in mind when he wrote to God's church here in Philippi, chapter 3:7. Here's what New Living says. It talks about all these useless things. It says,
Philippians 3:7 - I once thought these things were valuable. But now, I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
V.8 - Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I've discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.
You see, he's kind of talking about that vacuum within us, that we better clean out all the junk of this world and fill it up with what's Godly that we can gain Christ. Get rid of it, discard the junk and the garbage and trash and fill it up with what's Godly.
In verse 8 the message says compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my master, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant. I've dumped it all in the trash, so I could embrace Christ and be embraced by Him. You see that's talking about repenting, talking about changing our way of thinking. That's talking about filling our lives with dedication. Filling our lives with loyalty to God, filling our lives with enthusiasm and an unconditional commitment to following God. That's what we need to do. God's people are supposed to have that wholehearted devotion to Him, because ultimately, that's what God wants us to be filled with. That's what God wants for each one of us. In fact, a little farther down here in verse 13,
Philippians 3:13 - It says, Brethren, I don't count myself to apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
You see, we've got our eyes on God's goal. Where God is calling us. He's calling us onward and we are running and we are not turning back. We're going to take in everything that God has to offer. We're going to avoid the pitfalls as much as possible as we rely on Him.
And so we've got to take the right steps, if we're going to be dedicated to Him. If we're choosing to follow Him, what do we do? You know, sometimes I think the thing that's often missing, especially -- especially not only for adults, but for young people as well. I mean, we live in this technological world. Things change so quickly. Imagine, if you've got a text, your phone buzzes or it rings, the alarm goes off, and I got a text from a good friend. What do you do? You pull out your phone and you start reading it, right? You read the text.
Well, what if God texted you? Would you read it? Well guess what? God has a text. God has a text. He has texted you. Talk about your BFF's, right? Forever God is your friend. He's texted you. Have you read it? Have you read God's text? I mean, God's into you. You absolutely need Him. Do you think you should read what He's got to say? You see, I'm not saying you take the Bible home tonight and you read it from cover to cover. That's not what I'm saying. That's going to take a while. But, you know, if you're going to stay close to God, you've got to start somewhere. You've got to read. And, of course, people say, well, you know, reading's out of style. No, it's not. You guys do it all the time. I notice the phones. I hear the texts. Of course you read. If you're going to stay close to God, you've got to read His texts.
I mean, just think of it a different way. How much time do you spend texting? What if you turned that around and started reading what God has texted us? Because we spend time on Facebook. We spend time on video games. We spend time on Pinterest. We spend time on all of these. We do this or we do that, right? Well, can we take 20 or 30 minutes a day and read God's text? I think we can. I don't think we should spend any less, 20 or 30 minutes a day reading God's texts, His personal words to us. You know, there's six times in the book of Matthew where Jesus Christ Himself says, "Have you not read? Have you not read?" And, you know, if we're going to get good at it, it's going to take a little time. It's going to take a little effort. But learning and reading the Word of God is worth it. It's worth the effort.
Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. See All... tells us how amazing the Word of God is. But if you've ever gotten an exciting text, it's really fun to read amazing news, a cool happening, something neat that just came about, that was really encouraging or inspiring. Some accomplishment that a friend -- it's really cool to read those kinds of things. But imagine this text when God tells us about His word. Hebrews chapter 4:12 says the Word of God is living and powerful. Most the texts I get aren't exactly living or powerful. It's like, yeah? So? Okay. You probably get texts like that. I didn't really need to know that. All right. You're going to bed. Okay. Great. Wonderful. Glad they told me. But look at this.
Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. See All... - God's word is powerful. It's life changing. It says, it's sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces even to the division of soul, soul and spirits, joints and marrows, and a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart.
So it's like a surgeon's scalpel. It just gets right down cutting through everything. Cuts right down to the heart and core of what life is all about. And nothing, nothing gets away from the Word of God. We cannot get away from it, no matter what. So you can walk out the door today and try to put this out of your mind, try to get rid of it. But ultimately, we're going to have to face the facts and stand before God and look at His word and account for who we are. This a powerful word. Powerful word that is life changing. No wonder Christ said, "Have you not read."
And I was amazed as I read through a study the other day. It was a study that was done by the National Study of Youth and Religion. It was done a few years ago. And they were doing a survey on teenagers who were protestant. So these are supposed to be religiously committed teenagers. Now, of those teenagers, who are supposed to be religiously oriented, how many times a week do you think they read their Bibles? Or maybe put it in a different way. How much of them read them once a week? Three out of ten. Now, these are supposed to be committed kids. These are committed teenagers. Three out of ten. So I'm thinking, well, when would they read their Bible? Well, they -- if they're supposed to be committed teenagers, they probably go to church and probably counts as the one time in the Bible maybe. I don't know. But it was very interesting, what the principle investigator of the study says. His name is Dr. Christian Smith. Here's what he says. He says most religious traditions teach that faith and spiritual maturity does not happen automatically but that these must be intentionally cultivated and practiced.
So he went on to say, just as becoming good at sports or playing a musical instrument requires consistent practice, he said living well a life of faith also requires practice. That's what God's text is all about, isn't it? Putting His words into practice in our life. So God's ultimate text, the Bible, it's awesome. It is amazing. It challenges everything we think and do. The great thing about it is we can understand it. It's not so tough to understand. And you know when you really get into it, it applies, doesn't it? It applies to your life. It's relevant to your life. It's going to help you grow in your relationship with God. And I don't know if you've ever thought about it, but did God give us a movie as His communication with us? No, he didn't give us a video game. He didn't give us a painting. He didn't give us a symphony. He gave us a pretty thick book. That's what He gave us. But you know, it's filled with all the information that's necessary to have a productive, satisfying life. That's what God's word is filled with. So what are we going to fill ourselves with?
Isaiah thought about it. Isaiah 55 in verse 2. Let's notice what Isaiah had to say. He realized it wasn't a movie or a video game, but that God's word is something that is life changing, if we allow it to be. If we allow it to be. And so he wrote about this. Isaiah chapter 55, as he was prophesying, he noticed that the people around him were making the wrong choices, filling their lives with useless things that ultimately got them nowhere, trying to satisfy this deep spiritual need with physical things was not working.
The New Living translation puts it this way in verse 2 Isaiah 55. It says,
Isaiah 55:2Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. See All... - Why do you spend your money on food that doesn't give you strength ? I mean, we can think, why do you spend your time on things that don't really help? Why do you work so hard? Why do you have all this effort and put all this time into things that don't really get you anywhere? Why do you pay for food that does you no good? Who wants to buy rotten food? He says, Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You'll enjoy the finest food.
What's the analogy that he's using here? What are we supposed to ingest? What are we supposed to take into our heart and our core and our state of mind? It says, in verse 3,
V.3 - "Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I'll make an everlasting covenant with you. I'll give you all the unfailing love I promised to David. "
You see when we listen to God through His word, this Word of God, we're going to be filled with His spirituality. We're going to have a spiritual outlook on life. And so instead of the countless hours that we put into sports and music and video games and hobbies, whatever it is that takes us away from God, can we read about Jesus Christ and his ministry? There's some amazing stories. It's like wow, did that really happen? Read some of those stories. Read some of those miracles.
Imagine yourself at a wedding where water is changed into wine. How would you feel about that, if you witnessed that event? Wouldn't that be amazing? You ever thought about how cool that would be? That's phenomenal. And there's story after story if we just take time to read it. There are real events that truly happened. When you read about those first Christians in the book of Acts and the amazing things that they went through, their commitment to follow God, even after they were beaten, even after they were stoned, even after they were threatened. Wow! That's the kind of faith I want to have. It's inspirational. It's encouraging. Boy, when you read through those letters that the apostle Paul wrote, you read through Romans, you read all the way through Thessalonians, where God gives us specific instruction, those are things that I can live by. Those are things that I want to put into my life. I want to be like that. It can really inspire us. But it can't, unless we read it. So God expresses Himself and His desire for our lives.
And you heard the music today. Look how many songs are in the Bible. Read through the book of Psalms. It's literally a sponge book. It's encouraging and so inspiring, and God expresses Himself in many of His attributes, His character, through these songs, and gives us direction in our life as we read about these things and read the difficulties David had in his trial. But it can sure help me when I face those challenges.
And, of course, the Proverbs give us amazing sayings, wise advice. They give us direction in our life, counsel. Counsel that can help us every single day. Of course, there's also the prophecies. We heard some of that this morning as we studied the book of Revelation. We don't want to forget to read the words and the warnings of the prophecies as well. You see, all of that helps us as we draw closer to God. We realize He loves us and cares for us. We need Him. We want to be dedicated to Him. It brings us to making that commitment at baptism.
And so that's what we've got to do next. We've got to move in that direction. We've got to get into living. Get into living God's way. I think that's one of the great lessons from camp that we heard about today. God's way really does work. It really does work. It makes a difference in people's lives. And when you begin to get into living God's way, it's not just letting life happen, but choosing it. Putting it into practice. Then we're starting to take things to the next level. Now, we're starting to fill our lives with the things that really matter.
Over in the Psalms, we can read a little bit about that, Psalm 18:25With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; See All.... We can see how we can recognize the fact that God's way truly does work as we get into living that way, putting it into practice. We can look down the road. We can order our life so that it really moves in God's direction. Psalm chapter 18, in verse 25, we see God instructing us, and it gives us some insight into His thinking, as He's working with us, as He's guiding us, and as He's directing us. Notice what he says here in verse 25, Psalm 18. He says.
Psalm 18:25With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; See All... - With the merciful you will show yourself merciful. Some translations say faithful. When we put things into practice, when we strive to live by God's way faithfully, God's faithful to us, when we show that's what our choice is. That's our desire to live God's way. He says, to those with integrity, or those who are blameless, God holds them blameless. Right?
V.26 - To the pure God shows Himself pure. With the devious You'll show Yourself shrewd. Yeah. There's a consequence when we don't act right.
V.27 - You will save the humble. Some translations say rescue. You will rescue the humble, but humiliate the proud. Don't fill yourself up with pride. It only leads the wrong way.
V.28 - For you will light my lamp. You're a lamp for me. The Lord my God lights up the darkness. He enlightens it all around us. Says,
V.29 - For by You, by God, I can run against a troop , or I can crush an army.
And, boy, there's an army out there of evil that is working against us. But you know with God, with us, we can overcome. We can overcome those challenges. We can overcome that influence. We don't have to be taken in by it. We can overcome with His strength. Not with the things that I normally fill myself with, but through God's Holy Spirit, we can overcome sin. We can overcome sin. So we can crush an army that comes against us. He says,
V.29 - I can scale any wall, any wall, leap right over it .
It says in verse 30,
V.30 - As for God, His way is perfect. It's perfect. The word of the Lord is proven. God's promises are proven true. God said it. We can read it. We can believe it. It is fact. He's a shield for all who look to him for protection. He is the shield when we trust in him.
V.31 - For who is God, except the Lord? Who is a rock, except our God? Who is that solid rock? Who arms us with strength? It says He arms us.
V.32 - And makes my way perfect. The way I choose to live, I might get off the path, but when I look to Him, when I strive to follow His way, He's going to keep me on that path. He's going to redirect me when I get off, and He's going to make that way perfect.
And you know what's great about that? You know the implication here is now. It's not just God's way, it's my way. God's way is my way. God's way becomes my way. When I'm filled with everything that God is, there is no other way. That is God's way.
In fact, that's what Paul wrote about in Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. See All.... Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. See All... talks about being filled and dedicated and getting into living more effectively and thoroughly God's way of life in every choice we make. Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. See All... Paul says it in such a remarkable way, in such an encouraging way, as he points out to us how much we really need to be focused on getting into living it, so that God's way is proven in our lives. Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. See All... Paul writes:
Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. See All... I've been crucified with Christ. Yeah, the old me isn't around anymore. The old me is gone, dead, buried. It's no longer I who live, but Christ living in me. You know, God is into me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
So now, God's way has become my way. God's way of thinking has become my way of thinking. We're pushing out. We're cleaning out the bag. We're getting rid of all the junk, and we're choosing and dedicating our lives to getting into living by the truth of God. Isn't that the choice we all want? Isn't that the best choice we could make in our lives? God's telling us we can face those big challenges in our life. We can face those challenges with relationships. We can face those challenges with worries that confront us every single day. And it's not just by showing up on the Sabbath. It's not just by accepting certain beliefs. But it's realizing something's missing if I try to do it on my own, that there is a deep spiritual hunger and thirst for God.
I need God, because my normal everyday person is a sinful being. I need to commit my life to God. I need to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, because you know, in a way, we're here by invitation. God's inviting us. He's called us, and He's offering us a part in His family forever.
Now, it doesn't say it's going to be easy. There's going to be some tough choices. We're going to fight sin and battle our nature for the rest of our life. He says He's going to give us the help to do that. He promises. He promises amazing things that are beyond our wildest imagination. And it's because God's into you. Now, it's up to us. What are you getting into?
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