Beth Moore - Captivated: The Wonder of Christ on the Winding Road
We are here to digest what God is doing. I want my Word, and I want it to become part of me, and the more you just engage, the more you're gonna find he's gonna do and make it stick. Now, we're opening up to the book of Colossians. Let me tell ya a couple of things about it. It is written by the Apostle Paul. We know from three very, very moving, poignant words at the very end in the benediction of Colossians, we know that he's in prison because he ends it by saying, "Remember my chains. Remember my chains". He's believed to be, because of connections between the book of Colossians and Philemon, he's believed to be in Rome at the time that he's writing it.
I can't tell you what a mistake it would be if the way we approach, is we're gonna let our minds wander when the Scripture is read because, I mean, the Scripture and it's boring, which I pray will be turned totally upside down to you today if you came thinkin' that. I hope so many did because all of us had been there. All of us have. All of us started, I would imagine. Any of us that love the Scriptures started by just, "This is what we need to do. This is what we need to do". Then somewhere along the way, everything changed, and, I mean, it was what we could not wait to do. Oh, well, what sometimes happens is our minds will wander while we're reading the Scriptures, then our minds will come back in while we're making some kind of human points from it. No, no, it's the Word of God that has the power. It's the Word of God that has the power. Everything else we'll do today is gonna be, "Please God, help me. Let it be accurate commentary".
So the beginning of Colossians 1:9-14, "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you and me to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation". Have you ever heard anything more beautiful than that? He is the image, the invisible God, the beginning, the one who created everything, the one who holds it all together. It's magnificent.
I wanna show you where I'd like to launch how you and I are hoping God's gonna connect us to these words throughout this day. I want you to look back at the very beginning when I started reading it to you at about verse 9. Let's lock into the prayer because what I want to offer you is that I believe that God has gathered us on this day, that before time, that anything on his agenda, as he lays out his calendar and he's putting this on this date and this on this date, I believe he preordains and times in the working of the Body of Christ, all over the globe, throughout the generations, exactly what it is he is after, and I believe for us in this gathering, to the ten thousands of us who are together today, I believe one of the things that God has for us is that we are gonna come to him, availing ourselves to be an answer to this very prayer that starts in verse 9.
So I want you to listen carefully to it because sometimes we'll think to ourselves, you know, "I really want to do this thing, but I don't even begin to know how to get my mind wrapped around where to start". What does a victorious life even look like? It can't be perfection because we don't ever come to the place of completion and perfection in this lifetime. So what can you ask for? What is a life that is pleasing God? Anybody but me wanna ask those kinds of questions? What's it supposed to look like? Well, I mean, is it even livable? Would you look with me at verses 9 through 12: "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will".
Anybody need to just be filled with the knowledge of his will? Anybody? Let me just put that in a different way. Anybody need to know what on God's green earth to do next? Anybody? Anybody just tryin' to figure out what is the will of God in this situation? Sometimes it is just black and white. Sometimes we know it. Sometimes it's plain. We just don't want it. We're not having a knowledge problem. We know what to do. We're having an obedience problem. We don't wanna do it. But other times, we're just goin', like, "I'm clueless here. I've absolutely no idea what he wants me to do". "That you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy".
All right, here's what I want you to do. I wanna show you on the screen this segment of Scripture in the NIV, and the reason why I'm doing this is because it has beautifully diagrammed it for us in a sentence by using a colon and then all of our commas. So look at it, and I'm gonna pull out a couple of phrases with you so that you can see what I'm talkin' about because let's lock this thing down. I believe God has such a wild and fabulous and powerful plan, meaningful plan for every single one of his children, but sometimes we don't even know how to begin. How do we get started here? Here you've got it: bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, being strengthened, giving thanks. What is it that is fully pleasing to him? What is it that makes a life lived worthy of our calling? What does that look like for human flesh and blood like you and me? 'Cause I'm prayin' we're gonna get to it. I pray we're gonna step up and ramp up into it.
And so we see four things, and I want you to say all four of 'em with me: bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, being strengthened. Okay, now here's what I would do if I were wanting to memorize these four little phrases. I would look immediately, I love to memorize because it's the way I stay sane, and so I do a lot of just, I like to stick a lot of Word in there, and I also just like to work my mind and do games with words and see how I can figure out how it makes the most sense to get it locked into the memory, and so here's what I'd be doin' with those four phrases. I would notice that, at the beginning of it, those first letters, it goes B-G-B-G, notice that? B-G-B-G, anybody already notice that? Okay, so what I want you to do, would you just draw a little vertical rectangle around those four letters? So just give it a B-G-B-G. You understand what I'm sayin'?
So you might call this just the Bee Gees, okay? It's the Bee Gees, and it's gonna help us a ton. Now I want you to do somethin' else. Have you got your rectangle drawn? So you got your B-G-B-G all in one rectangle. All right, now I want you to go to every single one of those first words, those verbs, and I want you to underline the -ing. How many -ings do you have? Is there one in every single one of those lines? See, as a thing about it, there's a lot of -ing going on in the believing life, and a lot of -ing, and I want you to just lock into that because I think it is very, very important to understand that we are in a process that is ever taking place, that there is no time that we have finally, just, like, grown into everything he wanted us to know about him.
When we quit growing, we have quit living. When we quit searching for him on the pages of Scripture, when we think, "I already know what I wanna know", "I don't wanna know anything else", "I don't want anything to mess up my systematic theology", "I've got it worked out and I don't wanna know anything else", "I just wanna read things that already affirm what I already believe". Can I get an amen from anybody? And he says, "Keep growing, keep bearing fruit, keep being strengthened, keep giving thanks". There's just a whole lot, a whole lot. The thing about -ing is it just never stops. Somebody look at somebody and say, "The thing about -ing". That's the thing about -ing. And we're all about the -ing. And it ought to make complete sense to us that an eternal God would be end of the -ing because -ing is his thing.
Ever living, ever loving. Somebody say, "Where is the love"? I mean, "Where is love? 'Cause, Beth, if these are the four things, oh, it's all over, all of it, the way it would say it," and a lot of parallels between the book of Colossians and Ephesians and the way Ephesians would say it is that then everything would be held, that above all of it would be love holding everything together in perfect harmony. In this one, it starts out, Paul begins Colossians by saying, by building them up and affirming them in their law. So we've got "In love bearing fruit," "In love growing in knowledge of God," "In love being strengthened". And listen, ladies, not just being strengthened with our own grit, strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might.
This is Ephesians answer, too, being strengthened with all might. "Take on the whole armor of God". "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might". That we're literally getting in the practice of wakin' up in the morning and saying, "I need your strength. I need your might. Lord, I literally cannot do this without you. I need you. Here's what I wanna do today, Lord". I wanna live a life that is bearing fruit, that is being strengthened, that is growing in knowledge, and that is ever giving thanks. That's not just somethin' we tag onto it. It's part of what makes our lives work, that we live out of gratitude and thankfulness. It's been so important to those of us who have been through these hurricanes that we've would constantly, over and over, look for things, look for things. "What? Oh, thank you, Lord, for that. Lord, thank you for that. Look what you've done. Look what you've done".
Giving thanks, giving thanks, giving thanks, giving thanks. Eternal God has a thing for -ing, and I'mma tell ya somethin'. We desperately need these things in the days that we're living in. Our current world with its woefully widespread unstable conditions is more than any of us signed up for. Can somebody say, "Yes," to that? I mean, did anybody sign up for all of this? I don't think so. I don't think so. And over the course of our lifetimes, we, who are older, are just looking with our eyes wide open, going, "What in heaven's name is going on here"? And, yet we were chosen by God before the foundation of the world. He chose us, look this up in Ephesians 2:10 if you want to. Jot it down somewhere on your notes. Our works were even chosen for us before time began so that we would be operative and profoundly effective in our generations and in the sphere of influence that we have. We were chosen for this time. When you look out there and go, "What in the ever-loving world is going on here"?
This is the very world you are called to. When people say this is a Godforsaken world, you are proof God has not forsaken this world because we bear his Gospel in this world. And here's what I wanna just throw at you, and I wanna do it tenderly and carefully with a whole lot of reverence and without romancing in any way our harsh, harsh trials and many crises. I do want to say this though: The one favor that these troubling conditions do us is that some of us, some of us are waking up. I can tell you what this day is аbout: wakin' up. Wakin' up. Wakin' up to get with what he's called us to do, to be bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, being strengthened with literally divine might and giving thanks. This is our job. We gotta wake up and do our job. No one can fulfill your calling for you. No one can. No one is gonna answer for you but you. Nobody can answer for me, but me.
And he has in mind, if you're frustrated and all of the things that go with just living on planet earth, listen, he's the one who knows what you were fitted for, what you were meant for, what your life was purposed to bring. You want at it, and I want at it, and I just want you to think with me because, good grief, what has happened to us is that our phones have become "the precious," and we are like Gollum, staring, staring into its reflection, staring at it, and staring at it, and staring at it. If there were aliens that could drop on the earth from Mars, they'd go, "What are they doing? What are they doing"? because, I mean, we're just, like, consumed.
Right here, now somebody's thinkin', somebody's thinkin' right now, especially somebody maybe around 18 years old, "Oh, she's about to go off on our phone," oh-ho, yeah, I am. Yeah, I am. Yeah, I am. Yeah, I am, but it's not because I'm old-fashioned. I'm old, but I'm not old-fashioned. The reason why I wanna go off on our phones is because I am an addict to my phone. I need to see another hand. Anybody? Oh, get your hands in the air like you just don't care. Oh, get your hands in the air. Listen, people are constantly asking leaders in the Body of Christ, "What do you think the Spirit of God is saying to the churches in America"? "Put up your phone".
I think that might be what the Spirit would like to say to the churches because the thing of it is, listen, y'all, we practice boundaries about so many things. I mean, I'm not gonna go put my phone up and never I'm not about to give up my phone. I can't give up my laptop. That's how I do my job now. There are wonderful things that go along with what we're able to do online, wonderful things. I love social media, but I just wanna say this to you because we're on a full-on addiction, a full-on addiction. Our devices have become our vices, and we don't want anybody to say what's true. We are so incredibly intoxicated and distracted by them. We don't know what to do, yet we'll put boundaries around lots of other things. We don't eat all day long, most of us. We mostly eat meals, but we don't make a meal out of our phones.
We have made a life out of our phones, and there is no calculating the kind of cost it is having on the lives of believers in Christ, because we've lost the art of meditation. We no longer know how to really, really get into the Word and tarry before the Lord anymore, and this will have terrible repercussions if we do not wake up. Imagine standing, hearing Jesus say, one of these days, and he's gonna tell us, he's gonna speak words over us, "but I was this and I was this and I was this, and 'You were not this," and we're gonna say back to him, "But Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you"? And he's gonna say, "You never did see me because you did not look up".
We think seeing it on our phone is the same thing, that a good feeling is good works. Listen, you have come to the wrong place today if you wanna be comfortable. I don't think we're gon' be comfortable all day long, but we might be transformed, anybody? We might be. If the Lord gets ahold of this, we might be. In the parable of the virgins, the foolish virgins ran out of oil for their lamps. We're worried about runnin' out of battery for our phone. And the impact is incalculable. I mean, we're barely hangin' on, but we can't hang up. Anybody? The experts say our brains are literally changing. Our sociology is being transformed.
The book of Isaiah says that we become like what we worship. And don't anybody try to tell me that this is not a form of worship. Don't anybody tell me that we are not bowed down to an idol. Don't anybody, it won't work with me. It won't work with me. And I'mma tell, I'm not saying it because of you. I'm saying it because of my own addiction. I'm gonna tell you, I have started, over the last few weeks, because this was sort of moving direction, I stop and look at stoplights in Houston and look around me. No one is talking in any car. No one talks in a restaurant. Restaurants have gone completely quiet. We'll be in, listen, please don't misunderstand what I'm about to say. I just wanna say it's weird. I don't wanna say that the next point I'm about to make is wrong. I'm saying it's weird.
What has happened with Bible teachers is we'll be in situations that go, "Turn to so and so, and so and so," and we don't hear a single page turn because they're not holdin' Bibles. They're goin' on their device. Listen, I love that. I use Bible software every single day. I absolutely love it, but what a strange thing that we don't feel the full weight of the Scriptures in our hands anymore, and it makes us forget that that word had a phrase, and that phrase had a sentence, and that sentence had a chapter, and that chapter had a book, and that book had a testament, and it's meant to go together. I mean, it's overtaken us like simpletons under a spell.
And here's the thing: We're not happy with it. We're not. We're not. We're dyin', and we're callin' it "living". We're disconnecting, and we're calling it "relating". We're talking about praying and thinking it is "praying". We're quoting people who study Scripture and call it "studying," and you wanna notice, one of the most prominent themes, this is just huge. You know what occurred to me this morning? I didn't even have this thought till this morning. Anybody on their phone have Amber alerts? I mean, I take 'em seriously. I pray right them, and I know that you do, too. I mean, to me, that is a profound, profound, and very useful tool, but I felt like, this morning, when I was studying this up, that God has missing children, children who have been abducted by their phones, by their phones, and there's an Amber alert with our name on it. "I mean, I'm still a Christian. I still go to church". We cannot even do what we have been called to do because we are too distracted to do it.
I wanna show you something here in Colossians. Colossians 1:18 through 22 and then 2:9. 18 through 22: "He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross". Now, listen up. "And you, who were once alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh," everybody say, "body of flesh," "by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him".
Now look at 2:9 again, 2:9 where it says: "For in him," and it's talking about in Christ. "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily". What's happening to us is that we, the people who comprise the body of Christ. I'm gonna take the chance with great hope that we have many with us today who are not familiar with that metaphor, that Christ refers in his Word to his people. He calls us the church but the church is his body. When I read that to you a moment ago in Colossians, you'll see it right there. The church, which is his body. He refers to us as the metaphor of the body, the body of Christ. So keep that in mind. We, the people who comprise the body of Christ, in our point in time, are increasingly living disembodied lives.
Somebody take that with me again. We, who are the body of Christ, what happens when we who are the body start practicing and living disembodied lives? But can anybody just sense where this is going? Anybody feel it with me? We've become voices with no bodies, increasingly personas more than persons. I mean, we're hiding from God in public. We don't think of it that way but that's what we're doing. It's an odd phenomenon. I was telling Melissa what I was teaching on. She said, "Mother, I'll tell you one of the things that goes with that". She said, "Have you noticed how many leaders now are referred to as voices? 'We so appreciate your voice.' 'Thankful for his voice in this.' 'This voice and that.'" And again, is that sinful to... no.
Do we know what they mean? Of course, we do. Of course, we do. But I want you to understand it in the phenomena of the body of Christ becoming increasingly disembodied because we're now voices, anybody getting this with me? We're now voices instead of actual servants of God in our persons. Talk is being mistaken as dialog. Posting Instagram pictures of light is being confused with actually being the light. We'll honestly think, "Oh, that did it". No, nobody's there, is looking at that picture and thinking, "Oh, you are the light of the world," because you know how long it takes to like the picture? Boom, done, done. Nobody's sitting there reflecting on it, having their quiet time with our Instagram post. I love it all. I love it, I love it. I'm saying it cannot be a substitute.
We now can go to a DIY church. Anybody know what I'm talking? Do it yourself. Podcast church. We can choose what topic we want and no one passes the offering plate. It does not get better than that. It doesn't get better than that. Listen, y'all. We could sit on the toilet and still be at podcast church, which gives whole new meaning to sitting in a pew, but Podcast church. I love podcasts. I love podcasts but it's not church. Podcast church, where men speak out of an iCloud. Disembodied church isn't church. Don't misunderstand me. Bricks and mortar, wood and nails don't make up a church either. And we are the church all over the globe, the church of Jesus Christ. But when the church is operating like Jesus, it's embodying him, and that takes place most vividly and effectively when I can grab on to your flesh and blood. When we are literally embodied, embodied in what we are called to do.
Is that resonating with anyone? Not forsaking the assembling together, as Hebrews chapter 10 would say, and what they meant by that, now listen, I love all the ways we can get discipleship these days. I love it. But none of it replaces that we could get together with other people and be near their very skin to worship, to serve, to suffer, to pray. I'm gonna tell you something. Disembodying the body of Christ has its very big conveniences in a world where, in the body of Christ, the toe hates the heel and the heel hates the ankles and the ankles think they're better than the knee, as in the fingers are putting out the eyes, and the hands are strangling the heart, and the prophetic voice of the church is being muffled because the mouth of the body of Christ can't keep its foot out of it.
I truly do believe that the Great Physician would say to his body in America, we'll just let the rest deal with the rest. But in America I think he would say to his body here, "We're in critical condition. We really are. We really are. And we're in desperate need of healing". Listen, the thing about disembodiment is that it is a degenerative condition because disembodiment eventually leads to dehumanization. I mean, count on it. Sooner or later, if we don't quit just like where we're so far off from people, we no longer have to look at their needs, we can stay in our more privileged condition, never even have to know what's going on out there, and we think it's just enough to read about it instead of getting out there and doing what we've been called to do.
Imagine what happens because if we can stay really separate from that, we're just disembodied, we're still being where we're being exposed to articles, all of this kind of thing, but now we're getting disembodied, well, the next step is dehumanization and you know what the next step is? The next step inevitably leads to disposal. Take 'em or leave 'em. 'Cause by the time we're dehumanizing, we can dispose of people. I bring this up not because I'm in a bad mood, but because I think we're on the cusp of change. I do. I think there's a remnant of people going, "I ain't happy this way". I saw it. I don't wanna romanticize the hurricane in Houston. It was awful, it was awful. But I'm gonna tell you something. The disembodied church, to a great extent, you know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about in general terms.
Of course, there's always individual exceptions to something like this but I'm talking about largely speaking in a social media church, the disembodied church in Houston, it came back into its body. I mean, those bodies marched themselves outside, swam to rescue people, got in boats, got in everything. Rescues you cannot even, I can't begin to tell you what I have seen. And I know Florida will say the same thing. Strangers spending the night with strangers. I mean, they didn't have any place else to stay. Just come, move in with us. They'd have to ask 'em after they're: what was your name? Do you know that our mayor reported our crime went down instead of up?
I mean, the church took care of people. And no one asked at their door, "Hey, let me tell you something. I need to know your sexuality because I'm not gonna come in and help you unless I know if we have the same views on". No one was asked, "Listen, let's see, are you Hindu or Muslim"? No one asked that. They just started showing up at doors, going, I mean, with their tools, hacking out people's walls, pulling all of their carpets out, their kids' toys on the curb. These total strangers and they're still doing, they are doing it today. They're doing it today. And I mean, I wanna tell you something. Everybody's exhausted. But I have never seen the body of...
I've been to many, many places over the last couple of weeks in Houston. Houston is my city, my city. That's my home. It has been my home for decades. And because I'm very much a part of a church and very much invested in a church, but my ministry is non-denominational so I've gotten to just go to a lot of different places and I'm gonna tell you something. I have never ever, ever seen the body of Christ shine any more brightly or be any more satisfied. And we look terrible. Nobody's got any make-up on. Everybody's hair's back in a ponytail. Even the women's. It's awful, it's awful. It is almost like Satan said, "I'm gonna give them all I've got. I am gonna give them my worst," and God said, "And I'm gonna bring out their best. I'm gonna bring out their best".
The New Testament refers to the last days as the whole segment of time between the Resurrection of Christ and the Second Coming of Christ. That whole entire segment of time is called, in Scripture, the last days. And he uses a concurrent phrase in two different places to describe in the last days. There are lots and lots and lots of Scriptures about the time of Christ's return and different references to his Coming. But I'm talking about using this phrase, "in the last days". We would find it in Acts 2 and we would find it in 2 Timothy chapter 3. One says: "In the last days times will be perilous". Perilous. I looked up that word in the Greek. It means a lot of the things that you're thinking that it does. It means fierce, it means dangerous, it means difficult, it means all of the synonyms that you can imagine. So there will be perilous times in the last days. Acts 2: "In the last days I will pour out my spirit".
So here we are, this is life for us. This is life for us. Living in the midst of the beautiful and the brutal, the gushing of the Holy Spirit if we can look up from our screens enough to want it and receive it. In perilous times, we were chosen to serve. I don't want you to let anything go in Colossians 'cause we're coming right back to it but I want you to go with me to Romans chapter 13. I want you to hear something I think is a word of God over us this weekend. I don't know. You know what, y'all, I guess what makes me most satisfied is just to know God is speaking. I want his Word to be alive in my heart and reason why I say that is because even if what I'm getting from him, the word he's saying to me is repent, d'you know, I think, "God's speaking through his Holy Spirit in my heart".
Even if he's giving me a rebuke, it's 'cause he's gonna do something wild and wonderful in my life because he's gonna bring correction and with his correction there's gonna be satisfaction and the return of joy. And it says in Romans 13:11-12, I mean, I think this is for us today, this moment, them when it was written, but to all of our eyes and look upon it in times when we're so distracted. In verses 11 and 12, when we're trying to determine what on earth is going on. Who knows exactly? Lots and lots of things. But he says this in 11 and 12: "Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than it was when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light". Said, "Let's wake up".
Ephesians 5 says it this way: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you". Do you know if just these ten thousands of people made the decision today, "You know, I'm gonna put some boundaries on the things, some limitations on the things that distract me, because I wanna do my job. I wanna live my life worthy of the calling to which I've been called. I wanna be fully pleasing to the Lord and I'll tell you what I wanna do". Do you remember what they are? "I want my life to be bearing fruit. I wanna be growing in the knowledge of God. I wanna be strengthened with divine power". What was the last one? "I wanna be giving thanks". Very good, class, very good. Very good.
All right, now I want you to go back with me to Colossians 1 in verse 13: "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son". Wait a second, wait a second. "He has delivered us from the domain," the rule, of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son". See, this is why pilgrimage terminology so resonates with us, because the moment we receive Christ, all of a sudden, wait a second, our citizenship is not here. It's in a place we have never seen, and we've been transferred but we do not yet live in a residence there. Is anybody tracking with me here? So do you know how interesting this gets? I've just begun to write down a couple of things I just thought this is why it's so hard. We've been delivered from the domain of darkness; yes, yet its presence still surrounds us. We have been transferred in the kingdom of Christ but until our house is ready for relocation we're still living in the treachery of earth.
So just think about this. Think about this. We're on our way to a home we've never known on a path we have never taken. Our paths will take us up mountains, down valleys, through howling deserts, through angry seas, through green pastures, and bustling cities and much of the time we'll feel like we don't belong in any of them. And we'll be right because we belong to a place we have never been. And all the having in this world cannot satisfy our longing because what we're longing for cannot be found here. We've been assigned jobs that we're gonna one day answer for, that are utterly impossible for us to do without the complete unction and intervention of God himself.
Meanwhile, we're being tracked by a ravenous lion who we cannot see, who wants to eat us alive. We're being shot at, shot at by fiery darts for crying out loud. We're under the attack of demonic enemies we cannot see who are led by the prince of darkness who is getting angrier and angrier according to Revelation 12:12 because he knows his time is getting short. And all the while, we're commanded to love with all our hearts and rejoice with unspeakable joy. Welcome to the kingdom of heaven invading the crudeness of this earth, without Instagram filters. The brutal and the beautiful, the hideous and the holy. One day, the kingdom of heaven is going to renew this earth. But until then, we live smack in the middle of what theologians would call the now and not yet, where there's both gory and glory.
I need you to know something. I need you to know something. I need you to know something. We have been caught up in an epic, the likes of which Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, together, cannot begin to match. Now, if you're saying, "I just think that's too much fantasy," then you do not believe that what the Bible says is true because every single one of those things I just read to you is coming straight out of what the Word of God says is true for us in our reality. We are living a narrative within a narrative within a narrative. Our personal narrative, then the narrative of the church going on at this hour and what Christ is doing, and then the narrative of what God is doing in his entire kingdom, an eternal agenda. "Through many dangerous toils and snares, we have already come. 'Twas grace that brought us safe this far and grace will lead us home". Make no mistake, we are not victims. We are not victims. The Word of God calls us in Romans chapter 8, "More than victors, more than overcomers".
We have triumph in our Lord Jesus Christ but let me tell you something, we got turmoil on this earth that we are called to minister in, to minister in the midst of it personally, and to minister to. As lame as we feel, behind the thick veil of our natural vision, there is an enemy, the prince of darkness, who is forced to watch weaklings who believe God wrap ourselves in armor of light and brandish shields of faith and swords of the spirit. That, child of God, is no victim. We're sojourners in a land of woundings and wonders. We're sojourners here. That's what the Word of God says, in a land of woundings and wonders. That's the theme. I looked up the word "vulnerable". Take a look at it, I want you to look at the Latin word and the Latin word means "to wound; capable of being physically or emotionally wounded".
We're vulnerable, all right. We're in a land of woundings and wonders. But here's what I wanna say to you. Since we've gotta deal with the woundings, let's go for the wonder of our Lord Jesus Christ while we are here, that we would be captivated by him. Woundings pale. I don't mean they disappear. I don't mean they don't hurt anymore. Woundings pale in the wakefulness to Christ's wonder. What happens in the wonder is that something we encounter is more powerful than our pain and it's Jesus. It's Jesus.
I want you to look now in Colossians 1:24 through 2:2. It says this, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake". Now remember, he's in chains at the time. This is the Apostle Paul talking to the church of Colossi. "And then my flesh, I'm filling up what is lacking Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you to make the Word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery," do you hear this word? "This mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ".
I love this verse 29, "For this I toil, struggling with his energy that works so powerfully within me". Verses 1 and 2, "For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". I want you to think what might be the connection between wonder and mystery because this is a gorgeous thing because we're talking about both of those elements, but we're coming at them from two different directions because wonder and mystery can be, if we'll push it just hard enough, we could see them in two parts as mystery being what is hidden and wonder being the wakefulness to the revelation of what has been hidden.
I want you to stay with me on this for just a moment because what we're seeing in Christ is that God said, his ultimate mystery, ultimate mystery, was his own Son being revealed. Now mind you, creation has happened long past, calls out Abraham, establishes a people under the covenant of promise. Then, of course, they are in slavery in Egypt and then they are called out of Egypt and they become a people that also go under the Mosaic Law. God is building up this people multiplied, multiplied, multiplied, growing, growing numbers of people working through them all this time. Centuries and centuries and centuries go by even the period of silence between the Old Testament prophets and then the opening of the gospels. All that time goes by and then he reveals his ultimate mystery, which is his own Son Jesus Christ, fully God and also Man in complete perfection, born wearing our human flesh and blood.
What kind of patience does it take to wait all that time with all of those generations waiting for the Messiah? And he just keeps going, and going, and going, and going, and then one day goes, "Now". Now, here's what so spectacular about it. What Colossians is telling us in Colossians 1 and 2, is it God's ultimate, I mean, the plan that they could not have seen in the Old Testament, they were foretold about a Messiah, but they would not have foreseen him coming as a suffering servant as Isaiah 53 said. They would not have seen him coming like he came in that kind of humility and that kind of modesty. They just never would have seen it coming that way. They would never have seen the coming of this glorious outbreak of faith among the Gentiles. They just could not have seen it coming. This was the mystery revealed.
What I want you to understand, this mystery was the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. And yet, it says, "In him, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden". I want you to try to understand this with me. Jesus Christ has been revealed. In him are all manner of things. We will never be able to exhaust the revealed mystery of God, a treasure box for everything else of any kind of value whatsoever. God has an unavoidable affinity for mystery, an unavoidable affinity for mystery. I believe that this is one of the most important things we can know as we are called to serve the world we find ourselves within, that there is something we have to embrace about God that we will find anywhere from amazing, astonishing, fascinating to bewildering, if not in our human flesh, sometimes purely demoralizing because there are some things we will never be able to figure out in this lifetime. Can I hear anybody saying amen to that?
That it's unavoidable. You cannot have a close relationship with God and get through this thing, 30, 40, 50 years later, and you've never encountered the part of him that you're going like: I have no idea what's going on here, and Lord, I don't know where you are. I don't know what you're doing because we cannot take that mystery away from God. It's part of his holiness. It's part of his holiness. Remember when we talked about that prayer that you and I want God to answer the prayer of Colossians 1 in us and through us, and part of it was growing in the knowledge of God. Everybody remember that? In fact, why don't you go ahead and tell me what those four were because I didn't ask you. You remember what they were? What was the first one? Bearing fruit. What was the second one? Growing in knowledge and specifically in Colossians 1 is growing in the knowledge of God. What's number three? All right, and what's number four?
All right, we're gonna talk about growing in the knowledge of God, and one of the most important pieces of knowledge we can ever let sink down into our heads is that there are certain things we cannot know about God. To know that there are going to be some things we cannot know is extremely important. It means that we go for everything we can, but that we know going in, there are some things that this side, this side of heaven, we are not going to know that cannot be known by the human mind. They cannot even be uttered by human speech. I'm thinking in terms of, for instance, Paul. When he talks about being raised up he says, "I knew a man". But almost everyone, every scholar reading those passages, any pastor reading those, you'll hear over and over again, it is almost certainly Paul talking about himself, but he's talking about being raised.
He says, "I was raised up," he said, "whether in the body or whether through a vision, I do not know. All I know is I was raised up to the third heaven". And he said he saw things that were unutterable and heard things that were unutterable. We don't have the language, any language in any language. We don't have the syllables. We don't have the volume. We don't have what it would take to utter them. When we see his face, we will know as we've been known, but until then, one of the most important pieces of knowledge we can have is that there are some things about God that are unknowable. That's not fun, but if we don't teach that and we're not prepared and equipped when there are times we look around and we want to give explanation to somebody, but for the love of us, we have no idea what's going on ourselves, can I get any witness, any witness in the room?
So, you know in your personal life when you think, "What in the world's going on here? What in the world is going on here"? There are some things we cannot know about him. Ours is the God of mystery and he's the consummate drama King. People will say, "You're so, you're such a drama queen". Well, you know what? I serve a drama King. And created in his image, we were created for mystery. Listen, you know what the opposite of mystery is, mastery. God is going to make very sure he protects his glory, his majesty, and that he is far beyond anything are finite minds can come up with. He knows it. We don't get to master him. There's a portion in the Book of Daniel where an angel comes to him and goes, "Listen, I tried to get here sooner, but you just cannot believe what I ran into on the way". We got a donkey talking, for crying out loud.
When people say, "You know, some people just have too much imagination". No, we don't have near enough imagination. I'm not saying we interpret with our imagination. I'm simply saying we can't think this stuff up. We can't think it up. We lack the imagination to understand what God is like and what his agenda is. He designed us in a way that would thrill us to revelation. Have you ever noticed, we don't just want to know, we want to discover. There's something about that. He said, "Seek me, and you will find". What didn't he just go, "Well, here I am"? "Seek me and you will find me". Because there's something in us that loves discovery. We love it. We were made to love it. It's why we stop at something that says, "spoiler alert".
And some of us, some of us will go ahead. Others are going, "I'm not about to read that". It's why you don't read the end of the book because you want to discover. It's why you're mad at somebody if they tell you the end of the book. Here's what I want to do, I just want to throw you out some of these. I started making a list of ways that he has shown his affinity for hiddenness. And I just want to read a few to you and just think about this with me because it's treasure that is meant to be discovered. Ours is a God who covered himself with clouds on tops of mountains, a God of curtains and veils, a God who said, "My back you may see, but you may not see my face," to Moses, a God whose presence was conveyed through a cloudy pillar by day and a fire by night, a God who filled Solomon's temple, but covered himself.
I mean literally filled his temple, but he covered himself there with Shekinah glory. A God who walked among men, yet veiled in human flesh. Hebrews 10:20 even calls Christ's body his curtain. Nobody could have looked upon Christ's unveiled body and even lived. Christ was hidden in a tomb for three days. Forty days later, during that 40 days, he would appear and then not be there. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? Like he didn't just like move in with the disciples for 40 days. No, they would just go, "Oh, where in the world did he go"? And then here he'd be again. Who was the seeing all that time? Listen, these are things I'm gonna know one of these days, and so are you. I want all of this on video, VHS, ancient VHS. Stick that in where we can look, what were you doing all that time? Forty days and then here he goes, ascends off the mountain to the right hand of the Father wrapped in clouds. God even shows his penchant for mystery and revelation even in the way he did creation.
Have you ever noticed that back in the Book of Genesis when it starts describing what happened on what day, it says, "And the evening and the morning was the first day," and the evening and the morning was the second day, and the evening and the morning was the third day". Do you know that the Hebrew day always moved from darkness to light? Always, always. In our mind, our day starts in the morning and goes to the evening. It moves from light to darkness, not God's day. Even the way he did day was to take it from darkness to light. Through seasons in seedtime and harvest, that seed moves from death to life. And the farmer in the parable of the farmer it says that he plants the seed and he doesn't even know what's happening under ground. It's just like and then it just sprouts. What's going on in under there? Hidden, mystery because God knows us and God created us. We love discovery. We love it.
Here's what I want to do with you over the next couple of minutes. Let's push that. Let's push it. Let's push it further than the amazing and the astonishing, to the, "What in the world is going on"? Because we're not going to miss that experience. This year, I felt like what God was trying to convey to us is: you know what I want to do? I want to raise people up. I want people to start paying attention. I want people to get focused because I've sent them into this world for this time. I am looking for people of God, people of God, that want to be worthy of their calling and that want to be pleasing to their God, but really honestly bearing fruit by really honestly growing in the knowledge of God by truly, truly taking me up on divine strength for all endurance and patience with joy, and people that truly are grateful. Those are the kind of servants I'm out for.
This is what I think he's doing here today. I don't think he's trying to wow us. I think he's trying to say, "Let me tell you something, what I want to do is I want to see people who stand up and go, that's gonna be me, that's gonna be me. I want that to be me". We don't have something better going than this. Matthew says that if we would seek him first, he'd add everything else of value to us. What deal are you gonna get with that? There's no person out there, there's nothing you could choose, nothing that could make you that promise. I'm just gonna tell you something, there's nothing better going than Jesus on planet earth. There just is nothing better going than Jesus, nothing better, nothing better, nothing.
So, we got to be prepared that there are gonna be times, especially because remember what I was talking earlier about this whole segment of time, resurrection all the way to the second Advent when Christ returns to earth. This whole time is called the Last Days, but what Jesus describes is birth pains that there will be that will mean like in birth pains would be if you've given birth, you know what I'm talking about that the pains start pretty mild, and then they get more intense, and then they get closer together. And that is part of what he's describing here. I found it very, very interesting here lately because it's getting to be uncool to believe in Last Days kinds of thinking.
And now I'm gonna taste something. I'm not going getting all my canned goods and chaining up my refrigerator. I don't, you know, that's not, I'm living here and serving here is what I'm doing. But this I do want to say, Jesus did believe in End Time events, he did. And so, it has a merit to think, "I better be paying attention because he said things could get harder". Doesn't mean we don't have a shelter in it. We do. Doesn't mean there are not joys. He's commanded us to joy, but it does mean this, that if things like we've had happen in the last month happen, it puts us in a situation to go, "God, what are you doing? Where are you"? And I think that the idea of going ahead in advance and receiving that there must be a knowing that some things can't be known is very important. Because should there be other events in our lifetime that are like astonishing, we got to know, we got to know who God is when we have no idea what the world is doing. Anybody hear what I'm saying?
So, I want to push that with you. Remember, we got concurrent things happening in that whole segment, and that is gonna be the outpouring of the Spirit in perilous times, the outpouring of the Spirit in perilous times. So, here's what happens. I want to throw out to you two really debilitating ways, and I do mean debilitating. I mean, these are the kinds of things that can really paralyze us. Two debilitating ways that you and I are most tempted to fill in the blanks when we don't know what on earth is going on. Two blanks that are debilitating to us are filled in this way, "God is mean. My life is meaningless".
I want you to just like lock into that for a moment because I am convinced that we have never had the depth and breadth of depression that we have right now in the body of Christ. We truly are gonna have a call to joy today because it is critical to see. I want to remind you of the time that Jesus said that we are the light but when that light is dark, how great is that darkness? In other words, there's nothing that feels any darker than when a child of light is just like, "I'm standing in the black pitch. I have no idea what's happening here". And you and I need to know before that moment ever happens, and it's happened to us where you just thought, "What, what? Lord, where are you in this? Where are you in this"? That is part of the journey of living. We gotta know who our God is.
I love this, G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Job. This is in the introduction. You know that speech when God says back to Job, "Okay, why don't you brace yourself and now I'll talk"? I mean it's just, he just keeps going. "Were you there when"? And Job's like, well, he says, I love this. G.K. Chesterton. "Instead of proving to Job that it is an explicable world, He insists that it is a much stranger world than Job ever thought it was". Anybody? Like wait a second, wait a second, we want an explanation. He goes, "Listen, it's a whole lot weirder than you think it is". What are you gonna do with a God like that? I want to speak into something if I could please. I want to speak into that sense of meaninglessness and emptiness. There's nothing quite like that.
You talk about a crisis for us believers when we just think like it's just in vain. It's just empty. It means nothing, means nothing. When we're tempted to think the Holy Ghost is ghosting. Anybody? You ever had somebody ghost on you? That's what they call it when somebody just all of a sudden disappears. They don't answer anything. They're just gone, they're just ghosting. You ever felt like that's what the Holy Ghost was doing? Like, "Where did you go"? I mean, you know we can't leave you or forsake you. You know the Spirit of God is living if you're born again in Christ. Sometimes you're just going like, "For the life of me, I haven't sensed anything of you in days". It can be brought on by illness. It can just be brought on by something catastrophic happening in the life, loss. It could come, it can be brought on. I mean, just look, look at Ecclesiastes. It was brought on with Solomon because he had everything in the world and needed nothing.
Ever wonder what God, what Jesus meant all those Beatitudes? Blessed are you when this happens to you, and this happens to you, and this happens to you? You ever think about, "Why on earth would that be blessed"? Because Jesus was essentially saying, "Blessed are you when you need me because you'll get me. You will get me because I will come through for you. I will come through for you". This feeling, emptiness, meaninglessness. You see, we think that God can hide himself anywhere that has like substance to it, but can he hide himself in the emptiness? No. Oh yeah, he can. Oh yeah, he can. You can feel like he is completely absent and him still never leave you for one minute, nor forsake you for one second because he has promised he can't and that he won't.
I want to pitch something to you. This is the benefit of having a lot of years behind you. I like a lot of things about getting older, a lot of things. A few things I don't like, but there are a lot of things I really do. I love a lot more things than I hate. But one of the things, especially when you're a people person, and especially when you're in the life of faith and you love the Scriptures and you're very, very flawed, and very desperate for Jesus. But you're in the thing. And so, I've had the occasion to do a lot of years of studying, and I've also had the occasion to look at a lot of the lives in Scripture, but I've also had occasion to just watch people, to watch people and watch patterns. And I think I just wanna pitch this out here. I've never taught this before, and you're gonna have to check me and see if it is so.
So, go to the Scriptures, but I'm gonna try my hardest because I want to help people. I wanna help people, so I'm gonna take this risk and just tell you a pattern and how I'm basing it on Scripture, a pattern that I see when it comes to just the loss of vision. Anybody know what I'm talkin' about, when you just feel like, "I thought we had somethin' goin'"? Anybody? I need to see somebody's hand if you've ever been through a season when you've thought, "Okay, I thought I understood what you and I were doing together, God, and for the life of me". I need to see somebody else's hand. Like, "What? Whoa, what happened? I thought I had a calling. Man, I thought this is where we were goin'. What happened? What happened"?
So, I wanna try to address it because what I'm trying to do today is, let's do the real help, even if it's not just wowing us up and we're doin', like, rally cheering. Yeah, but would it help us? Because that's what we're after today, is just walkin' worthy of our calling, just, like, bearing good fruit. This isn't, like, I'm not bein' all romantic with it here and all mystical here. I'm talkin' about that just grass-roots, "We've got a job to do. Let's get to it". So, how can we be set up for the most victory? Well, let's address some things. Let's address some mystery when we're lookin' at it and goin', "Okay, now I can't figure any of it out. And I think he must've changed his mind, and I bet it's because".
Have you ever done this? I can go back. I've got so much failure in my life, I can go back and look, "Oh, this is where he gave up on me". Anybody besides me? "Mm-hmm, that was it. That's where I blew it. See, I was called till that". And we don't think about Romans 11:29: "The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable". Oh, no, no, no, no. We'll think, "Okay, that was when he let go of me, right there, that's when he changed his mind. He didn't see that comin', no, no". So, I wanna talk about vision a little bit, and you know how I mean that. I love this Jonathan Swift quote. He's a poet and a cleric in Ireland in the 1600s and early 1700s. And he said: "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible". I think that's beautiful. But by vision, I just wanna say it's when, you know, we just have vision for life, like, "I think this is what I'm supposed to do. I think this is what wakes me up in my soul. I think I'm on to really what God's purpose for me is".
And so let's start with the initial vision. So that's when it first begins to happen, where you're just kinda like, a light comes on for you and you think, "I think this is what I'm supposed to do. I mean, I think this is probably what my gifting is. I mean, this, man, this is what I wanna do for the rest of my life". Anybody had that kinda feeling? So, let's call that the initial vision. In time, sooner or later, there's no set time where this happens, but very often, I'm talkin' about a common pattern. I'm not sayin' there are not many exceptions. I'm saying, "Be aware of this if you're caught in this somewhere". In time, what can also happen is that the next step can be unwanted vision. You have seen something you did not want to see, and it has thrown you off.
For me, I mean, I saw a lot of darkness, but do you know that that did not really throw me off with my vision? What threw me off was seeing it in myself. I mean, honestly, to where you think, "There is no possible way God could use someone like me. I mean, like, not even God can use this mess". Anybody with me? Anybody with me? Now, someone is gonna say to me, "Okay, we do need some kinda Scripture". Oh, I can give it to you all right. I can give it to you. Do you remember? You're in Colossians. Leave something there. Go with me all the way back to Genesis chapter 3. It says in verse 4: "But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die.'" Verse 5: "'For God knows when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'" "Your eyes will be," what? Tell me again. "Your eyes will be".
Oh, well, they want their eyes opened because, I mean, don't we love discovery? They want their eyes open. So, here's what they did. They took it. I mean, it tasted good, it felt good, and then it says in verse 7: "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew they were naked". Oh, there's just nothin' like this moment, nothin' like it because what it was supposed to deliver is, "Oh, man, is this ever gonna be good". But instead, what your eyes open to is, "I am stark naked"! Is anybody gettin' in this with me? Anybody see the metaphor that we're like, "Wait, I was signed up to see grandeur, and what I got was the goriest thing I could ever have imagined". This is what happened.
Listen, most of us will not escape this. Most of us, we're gonna get vision. We're gonna be, like, pumped up. We're gonna be pumped up. God is always good, but life is good. I mean, this is gonna be a blast. Every day is gonna be fantastic. And then we get this unwanted vision, like, "Dear God, what is that"? You know what step three is in the pattern? Loss of vision. It may not happen right away. Might take time, but then suddenly, we decide, "I think I missed it all together. Now I don't see it at all. Now I don't see it at all". All of us, all of us have calling. All of us have been justified by faith through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. All of us, chosen, beloved of God. It can be a painful thing. It can be a painful thing to even just have the death of naivety. It's mournful, it's mournful, and that goes in just seeing what, in too many people, what you didn't wanna see. Loss of vision.
You ready for the last one? Revision, revision, this is when you get new contact lenses. And I can't tell you how long it's gonna take because we can't look at patterns like that and go, "It's exactly this many years and then". What I do want to tell you is that when you have unwanted vision, and when you think, "Listen, I don't know what even I was thinking, 'cause I think it's all gone now. I don't even think, I'm not even sure he knows I'm here". You hang on because if you will keep the faith and you will stay steadfast in your God, oh, you're gonna get vision, but it's gonna be revision. It's gonna be revision.
And let me tell ya how this is gonna turn out because what I wanna use with you, remember the Apostle Paul? He was Saul, and he believed, if we had taken a lie detector test on him, he would've believed what he was doing was right according to his religion. He would've believed it, that his murderous pursuit and persecution of the people of the Way, of the Jews that had come to believe in Jesus, he would've believed he was doing exactly the right thing, that he was seeing it exactly right. And then God just, like, struck him blind. And all of a sudden, loss of vision. When his vision comes back, we don't know that his vision, his physical vision, was not impaired for the rest of his life. We don't know. But this we do know. Suddenly, he saw a whole new way. There is a seeing that is a whole new way. I'm gonna tell you about revision. Sometimes it includes the original vision, the initial vision, but it will always transcend it.
Now, here's the hard news. Here's the hard news. It is always harder, but it is always more meaningful, always. Whatever the revision will be, it will be harder than the initial vision, harder than what you pictured, but it will also be, God help us, better. Does anybody believe that by faith today? Somethin' deeper happens. Somethin' higher happens. Our security in the mystery is knowing God's mystery revealed. You know, that mystery according to the book of Colossians, I just want you to put out beside that: "Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ".
Listen, when we have no idea what in the world God is doing, you know what our security is in that mystery? I know who he is. I know him personally. I know him personally. I don't know exactly what's going on in this situation. I don't know where God is on this one. I don't know how to explain this. If you say to me, "Where was God when this..".? I don't know how to explain all of those things. But here's what I know. When I don't know where he is, I know who he is. I know who he is.
I want you to know that when God described himself, there is a place where, in Exodus 34, and I believe it's verse 7 'cause I do want you to write it down, where the Lord does, 34:7 Exodus, where the Lord does his own self-disclosure. Moses has wanted him to show him his glory. And the Lord passes by him while he's hiding him, and he declares his own name. And it says that the Lord said, and I'm gonna say it to you, "The Lord, the Lord," this is the Lord talkin' about himself. "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness". You wanna know who God is? That is God. That is God. Sometimes we will get so mad at him in the disaster because we'll think, "You know what? I'm gonna tell ya, even humans would've treated people better than that".
Do you know, every shred of compassion we have, every single speck of empathy and sympathy and mercy and love, every single bit of it, we only have because we were created in the image of God, who is completely holy, incapable of sin. "God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all". I can tell ya that when we're in the dark, God is not dark. He has no dark side. Romans 8:32, get that down in your arsenal where it lives in your bones no matter what is happening around us: "God, who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also along with him freely give us all things"? This is the God who said, "Let me tell ya, let me see now. I gave my own Son because I love this world so much. So, be careful, be careful when you accuse me of lovelessness, when you accuse me of evil of which I am incapable".
Not very long ago, somebody asked me a question that I have just loved. I've thought about it so much. We were doin' a Q&A at an event, and the question was, "What's the knot in your rope, Beth? What's the knot in your rope"? You know what she meant? When you're just like, I mean, you know, when you're just slidin' down that rope, I mean, like, you just feel like you're gonna drop in to that abyss, and life's just goin', like, crazy, and you're goin' through so much personal pain. Everything's turned upside down, and you just feel like you're freefallin'. Anybody know what I'm talkin' about? And you're just, like, grabbing onto, what's the knot? She said, "What's your knot"? And I said to her, and I knew what it was. I knew what it was.
I want you to leave somethin' here in Colossians, but I want you to turn with me to John chapter 15. I want you to see something 'cause it's magnificent. I mean, you know, just, like, we come to a time like this, and it's just like, "Are you gonna believe him or not"? I mean, you don't have to. But are you gonna believe him or not? Because this is what he says. Look at verses 8 and 9: "'By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.'" Look at verse 9: "'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.'" I want somebody to get this with me because that's the knot in my rope. That what I know, every single second, every single second, what I know when I feel like I am just sliding, I am just freefalling, where I grab on for dear life no matter what happens is, "I'm not sure what all this about, but I know this. Jesus loves me like God loves him".
I need somebody to get this. I need somebody to get this. No, no, no. No, no, no, I don't think y'all are gettin' it. Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on. Okay, like, think about how much God loves the Son. I mean, can you? There's no estimating it. What is the breadth, the length, the height, and depth, what in the world? Measureless, it's measureless love. And Jesus said, "You know how the Father's loved me? That's how I love you. Now, live in it. Live in it". When my life's goin' like this, when my life's goin' like this, the earth's quakin', just, like, "Live in it. Live in it".
This is gonna sound so elementary to y'all. Oh, it's gonna sound so elementary, but you know one way I get by? When I don't understand what in the world is going on, when it feels like my life's turnin' inside out, and I've got some areas that I just am not free to tell you about that are ongoing, extremely difficult challenges, extremely difficult challenges, but over and over again, over and over again, "My God loves me. Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Jesus loves me, me, the real me that nobody else knows. Jesus loves the real me. Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so".
Isn't it an interesting thing that it all comes back to that? That first little song many of us learned when we were three years old. It all comes back. When everything else seems to fall away and we know one thing... I had a very good friend who, years ago, lost her husband, I mean, out of nowhere, out of nowhere. They were movin' into a new home. She was drivin' right behind him. He drove on the side of the road. She gets out of the man's dead. He had a heart attack. She's been in the faith all her life since she was a teenager, raised in church. She knows every hymn in the hymnbook. And they said, "What song do you want sung"? She said she couldn't think of a single one. She couldn't even think of the name of a hymn. She couldn't think of anything. She just went, "Jesus Loves Me," and that's what they sang because when nothin' else would stick, "Jesus loves me".
You know what else helps me? That Jesus said, when they said, "Show us the Father," when I get confused and I think, "What? Is God different than Jesus"? And he said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. The Father and I are one". We gotta know Jesus, girls. We gotta know Jesus. We gotta know Jesus. I gotta tell you somethin'. And I don't know if I can get this out of my mouth without cryin' but somethin' occurred to me yesterday that just almost broke me apart. And I hope this is gonna land. I thought, "There is the certainty of mystery. We just gotta accept that. We just got to".
Is everybody hearin' that today? We've got to. There's a certainty of mystery. There's a certainty of mystery. But listen carefully, do you know somethin' else that is profound? Is God just put this so strongly on my heart, and when I wrote it down, I just stared at it. There's a certainty of mystery, but there's the mystery of certainty. Somebody get that with me, that what in the world? You wanna know a mystery? When human flesh and blood, veritable idiots, please forgive me. I'll just talk about myself if you don't wanna be thrown into that. I mean, like, comparatively speaking, idiots, idiots. People that have acted like fools in their lives.
When, I mean, all this weak flesh and blood, and somehow, you wanna know a mystery? When human flesh and blood is certain of a God we have never laid our eyes on, never laid our eyes on. Peter talked about us when he said in 1 Peter 1, hold it, hold it, hold it. It'd been so good if I could've just kept on goin' over there with it. When he said in verse 8: "Though you have not seen him, you love him". He's amazed, he's amazed. They knew him. They knew him. He says, "But you haven't seen him, but you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy".
Yes, there is the certainty of mystery, but you wanna hear a mystery? When, in all that mystery, there is certainty. Nobody said it like the Apostle Paul. And I put this on you today and challenge you with this, when he said in 2 Timothy 1:12: "I know the one in whom I believe". See, I ask you today. I'm asking you today a question. I'm not just gonna ask you if you believe in Jesus, just if you just sit back there and go, "Yeah, I thought, well, pretty well believe". I'm not asking you about that, because there will be times when that will not carry you, when the earth is absolutely crashing in on top of you. I am saying, do you know him personally? I'm asking you, do you know the person of Jesus Christ? Do you know him? Because he said, "The thing about it is," this is Paul talking, he said, "I'm not ashamed. After all my suffering," he said, "you know, this has been my calling. I'm a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher, and yet this is why I suffer as I do".
In other words, like, "This is what I'm doing, and this is how I got all this suffering". But he said, "I'm not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set. And I am convinced he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day". I ask you not just, do you believe? Do you know? Come into faith believing. Then come to know Jesus Christ personally. So when you have no idea what he's doin', you go, "I know him". The only way you can be confident that you know the real Jesus is to know the Jesus of the New Testament from Matthew 1:1 all the way to the end of your New Testament.
Listen, you can't just let people tell you who he is. They could be wrong, completely wrong, or they could be just partially right. You need to know. Get to know him. Get to know him. Get to know him. He will be the thrill of your life. He will be the wonder of your life. Jesus can come. He can become for you the greater reality than anyone whose flesh and blood you can touch. There is no one in humanity that is as real to me as he is. I don't tell you this because I've really got it goin' on. I tell you this because I'm 60, for cryin' out loud, and I received him when I was a child. He and I have been around a few bends together. He's the thrill of my life. Nothing and no one is like Jesus.